Already a publishing sensation in England, marks the debut of a remarkably gifted young writer. Robert V. S. Redick has been compared to Philip Pullman, George R. R. Martin, and China Miéville, among others, and like them he is a spellbinding storyteller, unafraid to sail his imagination into uncharted waters. With The Red Wolf Conspiracy he launches the first book of a trilogy destined to take its place among the classics of epic fantasy.The Imperial Merchant Ship Chathrand is the last of her kind. Six hundred years old, the secrets of her construction long forgotten, the massive vessel dwarfs every other sailing craft in the world. It is a palace with sails, a floating outpost of the Empire of Arqual. And it is on its most vital mission yet: to deliver a young woman whose marriage will seal the peace between Arqual and its mortal enemy, the secretive Mzithrin Empire. But the young woman in question - Thasha, the daughter of the Arquali ambassador - has no intention of going meekly to the altar. For the ship's true mission is not peace but war - a war that threatens to unleash an ancient, all-consuming evil.As the dark conspiracy at the heart of the voyage unfurls, Pazel Pathkendle, a lowly tarboy with an uncanny gift, will find himself in an unlikely alliance with Thasha and her protectors: Hercól, a valet who is more than he appears; Dri, the queen of a race of tiny stowaways who have their own plans for the great ship; and Ramachni, a powerful sorcerer from another world. Arrayed against them are the Chathrand's brutal captain, Nilus Rose; the Emperor's spymaster and chief assassin, Sandor Ott; and the enigmatic Dr. Chadfallow, a longtime friend to Pazel's family whose kind words may hide a vicious betrayal.As the Chathrand navigates treacherous waters to complete its mission, Pazel, Thasha, and their allies - including a singularly heroic rat - must also navigate a treacherous web of in...
"Redick's debut presents a unique setting for an epic fantasy and includes memorable characters. With comparisons to George R. R. Martin and Philip Pullman, this is highly recommended." (Library Journal)
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This book as been compared to George R.R. Martin and Philip Pullman's works, its not as good as either. Although it has a expansive convoluted plot it lacks any of the realism or character insight that Martin has. Although many of the characters are young adults and talking animals the plot is no where near as tight and fun as Pullman's books.
There are no outright bad ideas in this book, each plot element is well thought out in itself and the cast of characters is interesting. Where this book fails in in tying together any of this. I'm not speaking of the plot twists, as the first book of a series I don't expect every element to be brought together (even though this book does this) Its more like this author didn't know what kind of fantasy he wanted to write so he tried it all. If this book had been twice as long this may have worked but instead you get the feeling that he had to rush through certain parts.
The characters spend the vast majority of the book in terrible danger but since nothing truly bad ever happens you eventually stop worrying and just wait for the deus ex machina to kick in and save them.
Despite these things this is not a 'bad' book, its just not as good as it should be. This would be a good listen for young people or sensitive adults. There is no sex or really horrible violence in this book.
For those looking for a good nautical fiction, this book isn't really about the ship or sailing, much of the action actually takes place in the various ports. The sailing isn't described with much detail although you can tell that author has done some research.
The reader does a good job pronoucing the many invented lanquages and names that this story has, a difficult task in a book like since nearly every sentence uses them.
The narrator made this book for me. The story is very good--I've read the two books in the series so far--but Michael Page brought it alive in a way few narrators can.
The description of this book compares the writer with George Martin, but that is extremely misleading. George Martin is a good writer, true, but his stories have no clear-cut heroes, no good guys or bad guys, which makes it difficult to root for any of them. This disconnection between the reader and the characters makes one enjoy the story, admire the art of prose, and marvel at the characterization, but lacks a certain something that makes his books truly great.
But this isn't a review of George Martin.
Robert Redick's books are about people who recognize the corruption within their respective empires and amongst their respective peoples, and rather than submitting for the sake of solidarity, choose to do the right thing. Unlike other fantasy books, where the enemy is a demon, or someone possessed by evil magic, the enemies are people who think they have the right to rule unjustly, and treat the world like crap due to some sense of entitlement.
Robert Redick's ability to make the fight for good feel like a true struggle for the protagonists is amazing. I found a few of the good guys rather obnoxious, which can make the story difficult to get through at times, but overall, I'm very glad I purchased these books. I will warn you, though, that the series isn't complete, yet, and the second book ends on a rather extreme cliffhanger.
All the same, a definite must read for any fantasy reader.