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01 December 2012

'Sea of Ghosts' By Alan Campbell

Fantasy books entertain me.  I enjoy them, deep or shallow.  I am often satisfied when there is a new twist to magic or an addition to dragon lore.  This book, though, holds several surprises.  The poisonous, ever rising seas and the nature of its poison is fascinating.  It mirrors our own dirty rising seas but this fantasy ocean has the good grace of being polluted by none humans.  The mystery and the tragedy of the drowned still haunts me.  The drowned (as the creatures who exist in the poisonous seas are called) become a character, a force in themselves and have the potential to be the danger or the salvation no one sees coming.  Campbell's world is unique and interesting.  All his details fit neatly together and it is obvious that his back story is well thought out in order to give his book depth.

The story is complex, but told in such a way that I want to stop and enjoy the scenery.  I want to know more about every detail.  There are magical books I want to explore, sources of strange magic, enslaved addicted dragons, different races, cruel telepathic women (this theme is the exception to the joys of this book, it is getting old) and obviously soldiers in vain, wasteful wars where our hero learns his martial skills.  The main protagonist, Thomas Granger, is refreshing in being ugly and pragmatic with firm principals. Thomas Granger is a balanced man in a cruel, corrupt world.  He is not moral per se; he will steal if that is what he needs to do.  By balanced I mean a man who's strengths and weaknesses are not always on hand to the reader or to himself.  Nevertheless, he is on the look out for his own weaknesses and hopeful in his search for strengths; such a man is Thomas Granger.  He is a great deal of fun to read.

The end of the book was satisfying and a cliff hanger at the same time.  This is important since the full title of the book includes the words 'The Gravedigger Chronicles'; so this is book one. I am tired of picking up trilogies and chronicles that a good editor could have turned into one or two good books.  Campbell made a compromise.  I am glad and will try to find the next book.  I like Thomas.

Alan Campbell
ISBN: 9780330508780

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