The Sea Rises – The Form and Void Trilogy – Book Three, A.J.Smith,
Head of Zeus, H/B, £20
Reviewed by Steve Dean.
You can read my reviews of the first two books in the series on this website. Just use the search function on the main page. Go now if you want; I’ll wait.
To recap, The Sea Wolves, sort of Viking invaders, have met their match and are forced to flee before the forces of the Sunken God, who is now fully awake and looking for breakfast. Some of the sea wolf clans have been taken in by the propaganda (some things never change) and have joined forces with the fishy deity. Other peoples, commanded by Marius Cyclone, are former enemies who have now aligned themselves with the Sea Wolves. A mysterious stranger opens a portal for the people to escape into another realm he created, where they will be safe. All they need to do is survive long enough to get there.
This book, like the others, is divided into two threads forming roughly half of the story each. Adeline Brand is still alive and is now the leader of all the surviving Sea Wolf forces. She is forced to fight a retreating action against both the traitor Sea Wolves and the fish men of the Sunken God, who wants to destroy them all. The second thread follows Lord Marius Cyclone as he, too, tries to stay alive and lead his forces to the portal while being hotly pursued.
If you’ve read my reviews of the first two books, as instructed, you’ll notice I was a bit lukewarm in my appraisal of them. There will be no repeat this time because this volume is great! (Ha, bet that surprised you.) It’s as if the author was saving all his best until last. The writing, the plot, the characters, the action and all that important stuff just come together in one near-perfect storm of a book.
It’s a page-turner right from the start; there’s a cliffhanger at the end of every section that fits the flow of the narrative. I don’t know how the author made me care about these gruff Viking-types who go around hitting everything with sharp bits of metal, but that’s what happened. I have to say, and I hope the author doesn’t mind, that the pacing and action sequences reminded me of David Gemmell’s works.
The ending comes all too soon and is just about perfect. It ends the book and the whole trilogy with heart, style and just a little sadness. And then the author sneaks in an epilogue which reveals something I’ll admit I didn’t see coming.