Robert V.S. Redick – The Ruling Sea

The voyage truly begins in The Ruling Sea (2010), the second book of The Chathrand Voyage, a fantasy series by Robert V.S. Redick. In the first book most events still took place on land. This time that is much reduced and the titular ship is now the location of the majority of the story development. In a way this means less variation. On the other hand a setting which is more limited allows more space for character interaction and development.

However, it takes some time before Redick gets there. The novel starts slowly. There are still events from the first novel to be played out and Redick takes his time for it. I guess this is the main weakness of Redick’s story. The story contains a number of destinations and the chance is big that they need to be reached as any large twist will automatically endanger several destinations. Thus the reader has to be served with the journey. Luckily Redick puts in a great effort to create a lot of twists and struggles for the main characters to overcome and he manages to avoid getting predictable there. He makes fair use of the constrained setting while adding a few small story threads for some extra variation.

One thing that added to the unpredictability is that the majority of the main characters are still young and unexperienced. Or rather, they lack sensibility despite the hardships they have gone through. One important aspect is that there is a lack of real unity and most of all, leadership. Everybody does something different and even the adults fail miserably. Even among their adversaries there is not much consistency and it is on both these accounts that I got a little annoyed at times. Sure it adds up to the unpredictability, but it also causes me to feel less connected to the characters. As mentioned earlier, the setting allowed to go more into the deep with the characters. Instead, Redick took them mainly into varying situations of conflict and unpredictable behavior. So in the end I had some mixed feelings about the characterization.

Funnily enough I started to notice some plot analogies to The Lord Of The Rings. A bunch of unexperienced youths trying to keep their enemy from obtaining an evil object while trying to destroy it, with familiar kinds of companions. Of course fantasy quests always have many similarities. It is the combination of elements and characters that gave me the familiar feeling. The plot development and the story approach is of course very different. I mainly mention it to find out if others agree to some extent.

I am unable to say if this novel is better or worse than the first novel. This is in a way a middle novel as it opens immediately after the events of the first book and does not really reach a conclusion. Redick does provide a surprising and compelling finale so that it contains some conclusions to a few minor story threads. I thus have to say Redick keeps the quality of the story at the same level as the first novel. There were some minor things on which I had some mixed feelings. Overall it can be named as rather original and unpredictable and I cannot compare it to any other series I’ve read, so those are all very positive points. I certainly want to find out what happens next although there is not the eagerness I have with other series when the book has reached its end.


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