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Sea of Death by Tim Waggoner

Posted by travizzt on December 7, 2010

After losing a powerful artifact, it’s up to Diran Bastiaan to stop the forces of evil from using it to summon a deadly threat from the sea.


Sea of Death by Tim Waggoner

Sea of Death is the final book in the Blade of the Flame trilogy. The first book is Thieves of Blood and the second book is Forge of the Mindslayers. The Blade of the Flame trilogy is set in the Eberron setting of Dungeons and Dragons. Tim Waggoner has written one other Eberron novel titled Lady Ruin. He has written a vast amount of other novels. His work includes; a Hyperswarm novel titled Defender, the Godfire series (The Orchard of Dreams and Heart’s Wound), the Nekropolis series (Nekropolis, Dead Streets, and Dark War), Last of the Lycans series (Monarch of the Moon), Dying for It, The Harmony of Society, a Dark Ages: Vampire book called Gangrel, Necropolis, an Exalted novel titled A Shadow Over Heaven, Like Death, Darkness Wakes, Pandora Drive, Cross Country, two novels in the Dragonlance: New Adventures series (Temple of the Dragonslayer and Return of the Sorceress), a novel based on Nightmare on Elm Street called Protegé, and a Stargate SG-1 novel titled Valhalla. He has written a vast amount of short stories for various anthologies and magazines, and has two story-collections titled All Too Surreal and Broken Shadows. Sea of Death was released in February 2008 and was published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

After stealing a powerful artifact, the lich Nathifa now has the means to exact her revenge. However, she is being chased by Diran Bastiaan, an assassin turned Silver Flame priest, and his companions. But before the group learns of Nathifa’s plans, Diran travels to the city of Kolbyr in hopes of dispelling a curse laid upon the city. As Diran faces down the evil of The Fury, a demon shows him visions of the future. An island that only told in tavern stories, the doom of Regalport, and a werewolf with human intelligence. However, demons tend to lie. But when the psi-forge Solus’ help, Diran sort through the images and the group learns that they could be clues to where the lich is going and set off to chase her down. Along the way, the group learns of secrets that can be both harmful to their careers or deadly if not told. Will Diran be able to stop Nathifa’s plans of revenge?

Criticisms:
1) Asenka. Out of all the good and interesting characters that are found in Sea of Death, Asenka stands out as the most disappointing of them. I will have to share a minor spoiler concerning her later on, so be warned. Early on in the novel, Asenka did have a presence and was a genuinely interesting character that could have brought a lot of potential to the story. However, by the seventh or eighth chapter, she was cast aside and was easily forgotten. It’s amazing how little of an impact she had on the story after this point, considering she was Diran’s love interest and should have been more of a prominent figure. But she’s not. In fact, during the middle I forgot she even existed. She was that forgettable and it’s made worse by what happens to her towards the end. Now prepare for the spoiler. She dies. All that came to mind after her death was, “So what?” Her death was needlessly drawn out to the point of being ridiculous. For someone who had as little of an impact as her, it felt needlessly long. Granted, the scene would have been touching if it wasn’t for her lack of presence throughout the majority of the novel. In fact, Diran was only torn up about her death for maybe ten or so pages, which didn’t help matters. It was like everyone instantly forgot who she was. Asenka was a very disappointing character with a lot of wasted potential.
2) Slow. Another issue I had with Sea of Death is that during the middle of the novel, everything developed at a slow, snail-like pace. During this part of the novel, nothing really seemed to happen. Anything that was going to happen seemed to take forever to develop. There were times when I found myself falling asleep during conversations or some action scenes. Also, it seemed like a lot of things were reiterated over and over. This didn’t help the pacing, and made the story seem to take forever to get through. However, the story did start out fairly well and towards the end it does pick up, but that slow middle was bothersome and awkward.

Praises:
1) Protagonists. Aside from Asenka, the old characters had some depth added to them and the new characters added something new to the story. The best about the characters in Sea of Death are the minor characters from the first two books, because now they have a lot more development. They become more dimensional and real, in some cases. Hinto, the halfling pirate, was forgettable in the first two novels. But here he has more of a presence and impact on the other characters. He doesn’t seem as timid and fearful as he did before. This could be because of the unique friendship he shares with the psi-forge Solus. Together they were great and I really got the sense of a true friendship between the two. As for Solus, he was introduced in the second novel and was really interesting in it, mostly because of what he is. In Sea of Death, that interesting quality about him grows, mostly due to his large role in this story. The thing I liked about him was the lessons he learns about concerning his abilities were really good. He really grew as the story moved on. Tresslar, the old artificer, also had some good development. After losing his magical wand, you see a different side to the character. He has to rely more on the ‘old way’ of doing things, before the dragonwand, and it added a different quality to him. Some of his interactions with various characters, specifically in Kolbyr with Hinto, were really entertaining. Yvka, the elven Shadow Network operative, really grew a lot and I was surprised. In the previous two books she just seemed to be there only because she developed a sudden relationship with the half-orc Ghaji. In this story, she really became an interesting and surprisingly deep character. Her troubles with keeping her secrets from Ghaji felt like something a real person would have and it was surprising. She really was a great character here. The new characters were good, but not really worth mentioning on their own. The only new character to have any real impact was Diran’s friend Leontis, but he only added something to Diran’s character. The two main characters however, really were great. Both Diran and Ghaji really carried the story. They both had wonderful moments and really became more interesting and complex characters. There really isn’t any point to delve to deeply into these two, mostly because I would give away a lot of the plot. Needless to say, they really grew into better and more realistic characters. All in all, the protagonists of Sea of Death were wonderful and interesting.
2) Beginning. The story of Sea of Death was really good. Having Diran and company help ‘cure’ the city of Kolbyr was really exciting and kept my interest in the story. It was a great side story that got you interested for the story. However, I would have liked to have seen more of the things that went on in Kolbyr. Truthfully, that was more interesting than the main plot of the novel. What made the beginning so interesting was that you didn’t really know what could have been the outcome, mostly because it really seemed like no one had any control. It really was exciting and I really felt like the main characters were in a dire situation and might not make it out. This the way you should start a story.
3) Climax. The climax of the story was exciting and fast paced. What made the climax so exciting was that you didn’t really know what was going to happen and a lot was left to chance. It honestly felt like the outcome could have went either way. All the action that was going on really did add to the excitement and it never really felt slow. It was just a good way to end the story.

Side Notes:
1) Were-wolf-shark. There’s a werewolf who gets bitten by a wereshark, and gains both werecreatures abilities. It’s a little weird and it didn’t really make much sense and it felt a little cheap.
2) Diran and The Fury. When Diran, Ghaji, and Asenka went to deal with The Fury, how did they know what to call it? I’m pretty sure Yvka didn’t say anything about it and they weren’t with Tresslar, Hinto, and Solus, who learn the name at a different place. So, how exactly did Diran find out what to call it before talking with the baroness? It may be a little nit-picky, but it’s still a small plot hole.
3) Cover Art. It’s awesome, but does look extremely ugly. Diran looks ugly, plain and simple. It could be because he is soaked, but his facial expression is just disturbing and ugly. The colors, while appropriate, don’t really give the cover any sense of beauty. It’s a bland color scheme, and the dark greens and blues look okay, but the yellowish sunlight doesn’t work with the other to colors. However, the scene is awesome. Diran attacking sharks with a knife, how could that not be awesome? Too bad it doesn’t happen in the story. Overall, the cover has an awesome scene, but the colors and Diran’s face is just plain ugly.

Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
Sea of Death is a good way to end a trilogy, but it could have been better. Asenka was just a total let down. She was built up to be an important character, but was tossed aside and mostly forgotten. Her death was overly long and wasn’t as touching as it could have been. If more time was devoted to developing her, it would have been extremely tragic. Also, the pacing in the middle of the story was extremely slow. There times when I closed my eyes and found myself asleep. The problem could have been due to the reiterated details about the characters or it could have been the lack of anything happening. Nothing really felt that important during the middle story that warranted me to stay awake. Aside from that, the characters were really good. Excluding Asenka, I was impressed by how much time was devoted to developing the minor characters. They became more than one-dimensional characters and had a more realistic feel to them. There was one minor character who really surprised me. That was Yvka. She was amazingly more prominent and had some really good scenes with Ghaji that helped with her development. The main characters, Diran and Ghaji, were just as good. They both had wonderful scenes that made them feel real. The plot was decent, albeit predictable, but the side plot at the beginning really had me hooked. It was exciting and I felt like the characters were in danger and could have actually died. Also, the climax was really fast-paced and exciting. It was good end to a decent story. The conclusion, however, felt kind of cheesy and cliché, but still enjoyable. Aside from that, Sea of Death was a good way to end a trilogy and worth picking up.

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