The Ruling Sea, by Robert V.S. Redick, is the second book of four in The Chathrand Voyage. The Chathrand is the last of a fleet of ships that are extraordinarily large. The great majority of this book, as well as the previous volume, take place on the ship at sea. As such, it makes the setting rather unique in fantasy books. The main characters, Pazel Pathkendle, Tasha Isiq, and Neeps, are all teenagers. Together with a few others, they are tasked to prevent the evil sorcerer Arunis from acquiring the Nilstone and ruling the world.
Much of this, other than the setting, sounds familiar to readers of fantasy. Redick does a nice job of keeping his story fresh. He adds "woken" animals (they can talk and think), the Ixchel (a race of 12 inch tall people that resemble humans), mermaids (rather vicious), a wise shape-changing mink/wizard from another dimension, and multiple twists and turns. As The Ruling Sea progresses, the reader is introduced to the larger world, expanding on the little we learned in The Red Wolf Conspiracy (the first book). As new lands are explored, new dangers arise. This causes new alliances to form, sometimes along the lines of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Also, Redick does not shy away from killing off characters, and not just the ones on the periphery. The novel ends on a major plot twist that doesn't just set up the next book, but offers up a paradigm shift. The characters learn that what they are battling against is so much bigger than they thought.
I have a couple of minor complaints. There seems to be some repetitiveness due to the length of the book. I feel like it could have been trimmed somewhat. Also, several of the characters become almost unlikable. I prefer to have some characters I can root for and like, not be annoyed by. Finally, there a lot of mysteries in this book. However, not many are answered, while several more are introduced. I need some things answered as I read. Too many unanswered questions left for the end can make a satisfying ending hard to achieve. That said, I've enjoyed the series enough so far that I'll be reading the third volume.
I would recommend this series to any fantasy fan, and particularly one who is looking for something a little different from the norm.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.