Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Report: Set the Seas On Fire, by Chris Roberson

I was all set to love this book before I even cracked the cover. High seas adventure during the Napleonic Era. What's not to love? The writing is top notch, and the setting intriguing. The characters are flawed and interesting, although I found the most interesting characters raised questions about themselves that I wanted answered, but weren't. I suspect that this is because this book was conceived as part of a larger series, but if that series actually exists I could find no indication of it.

My biggest problem with this work is the plot. The story question, which I'm told is vital to story coherence, keeps changing. At the opening of the book, the English attack a Spanish ship. Very exciting stuff (the research done here is flawless). The Spanish escape, making me thing that the story is about the pursuit of the Spanish into unknown waters. However, at that point, the story switches to a kind of Robinson Crusoe/Fletcher Christian thing. The protagonist meets a native woman in paradise and has to decide between his duty and his heart. This decision takes about half a page, which I thought killed the tension that had built up over the middle 2/3 of the book. At the end of the book, we switch back to catching the Spanish, only with supernatural elements that have been foreshadowed and hinted at through the rest of the book.

Honestly, it started like a historical adventure, switched to a romance, then finished off with a fantasy.

Sorry, but although I enjoyed this enough to finish reading it, I just can't admire it.

Ulysses Rating: 2 - I finished this, but I had a tough go.

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