Sea Without A Shore


Sean Russell


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

November 2, 2008

was afraid this would happen: I have always found that the second book in each of Sean Russell's duologies to be the weaker book. Sea Without A Shore is not as good a book as World Without End, just like Compass of the Soul (#2 of River Into Darkness) was not as thriling as the excellent Beneath the Vaulted Hills (#1 of River Into Darkness). Nor was Gatherer of Clouds as good as Initiate Brother. It seems that Sean Russell is better at introducing us to fanciful fantasy worlds, but I just don't like the way he resolves his story lines. However, his first book is usually such an interesting read that the second book, though weaker, is still a good story. Unfortunately, World Without End, while full of good ideas and characters, earned only an average three-star rating from me because it was slow rather than suspenseful.

Sea Without A Shore is supposed to resolve the many questions raised in World Without End. What about all these grand conspiracies? I was disappointed by the Duchess of Morland - all of the plots, hints, and intrigue - there should have been some big secrets and plans revealed.

I thought Tristram played too little of a role in the second half of this series. A whole lot of prose is devoted to the characters who didn't sail on the Swallow. We meet an artist engaged in a vast conspiracy. The ambassador from Farrland's arch rival nation. We meet the plucky young wife of Jamie (Jamie is Tristram's cousin). I think the story would have been better off if it had focused on Tristram and the dangerous, but beguiling island of Varua. There are mutinies, forbidden ruins, natives with strong taboos, stranded sailors - isn't this enough adventure rather than keep dragging us back to the court of Farrland?

The last third of the book seems to be an intricate arrangement of plot elements to get all the principals of the court of the King of Farrland to a ruined abbey. This takes too long, there are too many parties on the move (there is a huge cast of characters in a book this big), each group of acting on with their own agenda which happens to lead them all to the ruins at the same time. That in a nutshell is my complaint with this series: it takes too long to get things done, everything seems to be overcomplicated. I am disappointed, I really wanted to like this book from Russell. I still haven't read his Swan War trilogy, though I have the purchased books waiting on my bookshelf. Hopefully, in that series he returns to his previous high form.