Wednesday 4 February 2015

The Burning Sea

The Burning Sea by Paul Collins and Sean McMullen (Ford St)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781925000924
Reviewed by Emily Meldrum

Dantar and Velza are siblings aboard the mighty warship ‘Invincible’. As in many families sibling rivalry exists hand-in-hand with high levels of competition. This family is no exception. Their father is the emperor’s battle warlock Calbaras, Dantar a lowly cabin boy and Velza a female shape-caster and officer with magic fire powers that do not work at sea. 

The story begins with this fleet of warships close to enemy soil but under attack from a lone dragon – Dravaud. The dragon’s motives are simple, he is searching for confirmation of a dragon chick or egg that he suspects is within the ships below.

Dantar learns that dragons only attack the stronger side prior to battle and so he braces himself for his first encounter with a dragon. It appears to come in for a direct attack but the force of its flames land upon a nearby warship instead. The dragon then mysteriously flies back to his overhead vantage point observing all below. What is the dragon doing?

The reader learns that traditionally those who were called Dark Hands developed great power but not the sense in using it forcing dragons to intervene to break human magic into four parts – earth, air, water and fire. These days it was only the almighty dragons who wielded the complete power of all the parts enabling their magic to work enough across the deepest oceans. Such power was to be respected and guarded forcefully. Based on the notion that Savarian wizards were trying to join the four magics back together their emperor has ordered Dravinia at war with Savaria.

Told from alternate perspectives between brother and sister, and three from the dragon flying above their heads, The Burning Sea is a compelling introduction to a six part series entitled – The Warlock’s Child. It is a short book by fantasy standards with 119 pages and consequently many questions are left unanswered. What will happen to the invading fleet? Why does Dantar seem to be developing powers to protect him against heat and fire? What and where is the dragon chick Dravaud is so certain that is on-board the ‘Invincible’?

Readers who become entangled in this latest series published by Ford Street will be relieved to know that throughout 2015 there is to be a staggered monthly release of each volume from April through to September. It is recommended for ages ten and above.

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