I am still reeling a little bit from the end of this series, and so I thought I would talk about it just one more time in more of a series review. Before we start, let’s link the individual reviews.
Now, let’s get started. This was a fantastic YA fantasy/ adventure series. The amount of culture and world building was amazing and really helped pull me in. You have these amazing, strong characters but you never forget who they really are- kids that have been hurt, a man trying to make a name for himself, a betrayed best friend. They are none of them perfect and many of their decisions are misguided….. but can you actually expect sixteen year olds to know how to save a world?
That said, let’s talk about story lines.
An exert from the reader:
‘Once there was, and one day there will be. That is the beginning of every story.
Once there was a world called Kelanna, a wonderful and terrible world of water and ships and magic. The people of Kelanna were like you in many ways-they spoke and worked and loved and died-but they were different in one very important respect: they couldn’t read. They had never developed alphabets or rules for spelling, never set their histories down in stone. They remembered their histories with their voices and bodies, repeating them over and over and over until the stories became part of them, and the legends were as real as their own tongues and lungs and hearts.’
…‘One of these rare tales told of a mysterious object called a book, which held the key to the greatest magic Kelanna had ever known.’
So we open with Sefia and her aunt Nin moving through a market. Sefia has something in her pack- the last thing from her dead parents. A book. But she doesn’t understand it. Doesn’t know what it is, or how to use it. When Nin is caught and taken away, Sefia is alone and scared. She’s running on her own for the first time. There are groups in the forest- strange and dangerous. One has a crate with the same symbol as on her book. Somehow she steals into camp and steals the content of the crate. A boy her age, branded around the neck. Taken to fight. In cage battles, later in war. The boy is so damaged that he doesn’t even speak. Scared and angry, he’s more animal than man but Sefia can’t leave him.
So starts the adventure of these two kids that have to fight foes and fate to try to save themselves, those they love, and their entire world. Sefia learns that she is a sorceress and a reader. Her mother had taught her the alphabet and how to use the book but she’d never understood. As the boy heals under Sefia’s care she calls him Archer. He had another life, but he can’t go back. Too many believe he’s The Boy From Legend- the one that will build an army and win the Red War. They work together to save others like Archer- boys that had no choice. They love, they fight for their freedom. They make mistakes. They make history. These are their stories.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are other side stories. The Pirate Canneck Reed and his crew on the Current of Faith who become allies. The Delian King Ed, called The Lonely King due to the curse on his family that everyone they love will die. The sorceress Tanin who would literally watch the world burn to find out why those she loved most betrayed her. This is a beautiful and complex world and I loved it so much.
Looking for diverse characters? We’ve got ya! Sefia for one, is definitely portrayed as a a more ethnic woman- I see her as asian/ african, so there’s that. There are more through out the book, but it isn’t talked about much. These are just normal things- this is them, this is what they look like…. but look what they can do! Race is definitely not a defining characteristic for these characters, and I love that. Then there’s the love stories. Chee created several amazing relationships here. Like ride-or-die, together-forever relationships. There’s our Lonely King who is in love with one of his best friends and advisers Arc (this relationship will be super important to the story, but I can’t say too much without huge spoilers). What I loved here was that the fact that Arc was male seemed like an afterthought. This was his person. Gegori, the cook for the Bloodletters (Archer’s group of saved boys) falls for another of the boys. It’s accepted as completely normal, as it should be (love is love right?). There are two older women- they used to be outlaws, and I guess they still are to an extent (really, what does one call a retired outlaw?) that are pretty obviously life partners. Then there’s Sefia and Archer who live for one another and it’s so sweet. I seriously loved all the romances in this book.
Through it all, there were several recurring themes. Storytelling, freedom, duty, how one choice can shape a world. Each of these books were five star books and I loved it. I own the series now both in eBook and hardback because it was so beautiful- not just the cover but the attention to detail inside the book. The light fraying of pages, the small pictures, the art. This was well thought out and for me, it added so much to the story.
This isn’t a world one can easily let go of. Trust me. I don’t know how there isn’t a huge, crazed fandom. There is some fan art on Pinterest and google images that I think is adorable. Out of respect to the creators I won’t be showing any here but definitely put in the key worlds Sea of Ink and Gold or The Reader and you’ll find some super cute stuff. But what do I really want? Merchandise. There isn’t any currently, but I would totally buy:
- A leather journal made to look like The Book
- A side story- The tales of Cannick Reed (one of the characters was actually working on this in The Storyteller).
- Pins with either the Current of Faith or Reed quotes (“I’m Captain Cannick Reed, I’ve done stupider stuff” or “Look to the horizon, that’s where the adventure is”)
- Shirts- see above for the Reed ideas, but also simplistic ones that simply say Reader, Storyteller, or Outlaw. I would also love to see ones with the country crests, or certain characters. In fact, I would buy shirts that just had the covers on them. I do love those covers.
- Funko characters- seriously, like all of them.
- Temporary tattoos of the Bloodletter’s saying.
What do you guys think? Have I gone too crazy here? Also have you read these books? I want to discuss things so bad!!!