I stumbled upon this book because it is an entrant in this year’s SPFBO… I was looking through blurbs in the e-version yearly sale and this one caught my eye.
As I started reading a bit of nostalgia came over me. A little Young Indiana Jones in a fantasy world spiced with magic. Tal Wenlock travels to a distant string of islands to hunt down a lost magical scroll.
I have done a list review in awhile. Here goes:
- Loved the premise. An old-fashioned archeological thief.
- A setting that connected well with the story and built good conflict. The Boiling Seas is a fantastic concept. Magma is so close to the ocean floor that the sea’s temperature is scalding. Life in this island chain is dramatically different: harbors are protected by walls, boats’ hulls are made of metal, and the heat powers the energy of the towns.
- The shifting timeline. Steer reveals the final showdown of the protagonist and the dastardly bad thief in the first chapter. A very good start that finds our hero breaking into a booby-trapped tomb in search of ancient treasure.
- Tal Wenlock: With an internal monologue that gets to the heart of his moral compass, he is a man sort of on the run from responsibility, yet to a necessary quest. He picked up a needed partner along the way, a scholar who matches perfectly with his plundering skills.
- Pacing: After an exciting opening scene, time backtracks to Tal’s voyage across the ocean. Steer does use this time on the ship to dole out some backstory, but I felt there needed to be a greater conflict to keep the tension going.
- The Ghost: A one-dimensional character who I felt needed a bit more of a chance to be fleshed out. Motivation?
Overall, an exciting debut that promises more for the characters. The pieces are here.