Saturday, July 1, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: The Siren Depths (Books of the Raksura #3) by Martha Wells

Long Review after the Jump (Again, Minor Spoilers for Books 1-2)

The Siren Depths is the third book in The Books of the Raksura series.  In a way, it's a conclusion to a trilogy although Wells actually released a fourth book last year and has a fifth book (supposedly the real finale) coming out in a few months.  As a result, this book really doesn't work as a stand alone novel, whereas in theory The Serpent Sea could've worked as a stand alone.  That said, this books is still very very good, and well worth your time.

----------------------------------------------------Plot Summary---------------------------------------------
Moon used to not know what he was or who his people were, and lived on his own amongst various communities.  But In the Cloud Roads, he discovered he was a Raksura, a shapeshifter race that shifted between a human-like form and a gargoyle/dragon-like form, and found a community, the Indigo Cloud Court, and a mate in the Sister-Queen known as Jade.  In The Serpent Sea, he continued to struggle to fit in with this community, but improved his relations as he helped find an artifact needed to save the new home of the Court.  In the process, the Reigning Queen of the neighboring Court Emerald Twilight seemed to take an interest in him.

It turns out that interest was for a reason: Moon's original home-Court, Opal Night, was known to them, and they communicated his existence to Opal Night.  But to everyone's surprise, Opal Night isn't just interested in Moon's story - they want him BACK.  And Moon doesn't want to go.  But despite trying, Moon has failed to get Jade pregnant with a clutch, and as such, cannot refuse the demands of his birth Court.  So he is taken to Opal Night, where he discovers that he is of particular unique relations within this Court....and that something is wrong inside the Court, something that will draw the attention of the deadly Fell.  As the Raksura of Indigo Cloud arrive to try and get Opal Night to allow Moon back, the two Courts will find themselves once again facing the nightmare of a Fell tribe that hungers for a cross-breed Raksura/Fell being, but also wishes to possibly release and even greater danger upon the world.  And in all of this, Moon finds himself torn for maybe one last time between worlds - can he really fit alongside either of these Courts?

Whereas The Serpent Sea built essentially a whole new part of the world, The Siren Depths really builds back upon what was shown in the previous books - the plot takes place in a different Court than in Books 1-2, but it's still a Raksuran community.  That said, the book introduces a bunch of new Raksuran characters - Celadon, Moon's sister, Malachite, Moon's mother, in addition to a bunch of others - who work very well. Whereas the first book in this series arguably struggled in that it was hard to care about more than 2-3 characters, at this point we have closer to 7-8 such characters that we've come to care about (Moon, Stone, Jade, and Chime from the previous books along with new characters Malachite, Celadon, Shade, and Lithe), amongst others.  And again, the book manages to treat Moon's insecurities with care without making them seem really really whiny.

Furthermore, the book really continues a plot point of book 1 - the relation between the Fell and the Raksura and the reason why the Fell were seeking to create cross-breeds.  The book does so in a way that is more questioning - dealing with cross-breeds this time who have been raised by the Raksura, not by the Fell, and who may or may not be evil as a result (not spoiling). If there's an issue with this book, it kind of comes out here: the book reveals the reason behind the cross-breeding late, and then resolves this conflict again really really quickly.  It's not anywhere near as abrupt as Book 2's final conflict and it actually fits the rest of the plot, but it's still pretty abrupt.

That said, again, I've really enjoyed this series, and would strongly recommend the first three books to anyone seeking a fun interesting fantasy series.

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