This is the second of my new Thursday Creation Review posts which will usually be Books, but I am still reserving the right to review Games, Films or other Works of Art – and I will add music to that.
Alex Lidell’s Tides is a series of books that has been on my Want To Read list for too long – and then I won Book 3, Sea and Sand (#3) in a Goodreads Giveaway. First, though, I read and reviewed First Command (TIDES, # 0.5), which was an absorbing taster that introduced me to the main character of Lieutenant Nile Greysik and her world.
The author kindly provided me with Book 1 of the series, and this is my extended review.
Air and Ash (TIDES #1)
Alex Lidell (Goodreads Author)
Born to privilege.
Trained for command.
Destined for danger.
After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission–and fails.
Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battle worthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.
But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.
Review 4.3 stars
After reading First Command (TIDES, # 0.5), the taster that introduced me to Lieutenant Nile Greysik and her world, I had to read Tides #1. This book was provided by the author but without any requirements.
When Nile escapes her Royal obligations and masquerades as a common sailor, events conspire against her. The author ensures that the decks are stacked against Nile in unexpected ways that had me guessing where the story was heading. This was a slightly devious storyline although with few plotlines to misdirect the reader from a fast read.
The characters are varied, and some have complex personalities with backstories that are never totally revealed – there must be more to come. The cast hints at the world created from the political situation and attitudes to the crucial seafaring.
Alex Lidell’s well-imagined world blends seafaring and fantasy, and yet brings back memories of reading the Hornblower books in my teens – although it is wrong to compare the books. This protagonist is female, and the author builds on that – as well as the princess angle. But there is so much more – like magic being a very mixed curse. For Nile, this force that flows through her veins is a primary motivation – and not just for herself.
This is a world where magic is going underground through misunderstanding and a growing sense of discrimination. Attitudes, not just in magic, vary from nation to nation and between cultures. For instance, the Ashing royals serve in their navy, but in other states, the nobility and rich pamper themselves.
The social divide is clear, but onboard a ship there is promotion from the ranks. The nautical details rang true from my limited mucking-around-in-boats and from my copy of The Hornblower Companion. The confined space of a ship adds to the cruel pecking order. However, rank brings expectations as does Royal blood. Nile needs to judge who to trust beyond appearances if she is to complete her goals.
Where do events lead Nile? I’m giving nothing away – even if you keel-haul me – all I can say is ‘don’t expect all the threads to be tied up’. This entertaining read is Book 1 of a trilogy and you won’t want to stop. I’m not, although I must clear the reading decks so I can open War and Wind (#2) and the conclusion Sea and Sand (#3).
Recommended for those that enjoy their seafaring adventures spiced with fantasy – 4.3 stars adjusted to 4.
Story – four stars
Setting/World-building – four stars
Authenticity – four stars
Characters – five stars
Structure – four stars
Readability – five stars
Editing – four stars