The Men of the Sea by Seymour Hamilton

Rating 8.8/10
Highlights both the extraordinary and the ordinary in a brilliant manner.

Trying to purge a nagging guilt, Roaring Jack sails the Mollie south again, and this time Astreya’s friend Cam is a stowaway. Adramin does everything he can to make Astreya fail. At the City of the Sea, the lawful meeting place of the great ships, family politics turn violent, with tragic consequences. Astreya must hurry to protect Lindey from his marauding uncle Mufrid, who want the stone Gar gave her.

When I finished book one of The Astreya Trilogy, The Voyage South I was more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome as it was my first ever foray into the realm nautical fantasy/fiction. In The Men of the Sea, Hamilton keeps up his great story telling, so evocative that you could almost smell the salt air of the ocean and hear the seagulls squawk.

The Men of the Sea keeps true The Voyage south in its way of storytelling, writing and believable characters. Astreya was given a gift by his mother that belonged to his father, an armband with a green stone in it which sometimes illuminates. In The Voyage South subtle references were given about what it might do and what purpose it might serve and in The Men of the Sea Hamilton further builds a whole scene around these magical stones, This was something which I did not expect and something I found to be very imaginative.

There were several characters introduced in the first book and each had their own distinct personality. There was Yan the bully who was jealous of Astreya, Scar arm Ian, Roaring Jack, Red Ian, and Lindey the female companion who travelled with Gar and became a close companion to Astreya. Hamilton kept these characters true and there was no change in personality, each had different traits that I could relate to and I found understanding in the manners of the characters. The dialogue is written in a way that feels real and each characters’ personality is highlighted cleverly: jealousy, hate, anger are placed in perfectly. One character who displays these features most noticeably is Roaring Jack, the skipper of the Mollie. You can really feel his personal struggle as he tries to please too many people, and in the end he just tries to avoid everything and does not know what to do. On the one hand he feels obliged to help Astreya due to the events that occurred in the Village with his mother and in Teenmouth to Astreya himself, but on the other hand he cannot see blame in Yan and when he sees what the Men of the Sea did to Teenmouth and other villages cannot seem to forgive Astreya. These personalities stick in your mind and help you relate to the characters, and even though they do not play a major role, they certainly add flavour.

The best part of the book for me was the clash between the Mollie, Cygnus and Elusive. Here the story sucked you in like a whirlpool. Suddenly the storyline accelerates and showed a perfect way of depicting a pirate fight: Pirates, swinging on ropes from ship to ship, and much much more. The chapter where this scene took place was divided into many viewpoints, switching from the Mollie to the Cygnus and back to the Elusive. Often, when an author attempts to depict a scene such as this, with multiple viewpoints, a certain chaos ensues and the story itself become incoherent and hard to follow, but I did not get this at all here - it was perfect penmanship.

I mentioned in my review of the first that I thought it could have had a better ending for me, as I wished the Mollie would make an appearance in the end. This chapter was however found in The Men of the Sea. But I was still left unsatisfied as when the crew of the Mollie found out what had happened to Astreya at Teenmount, for me they took it far too casually and I thought they should have been far angrier.

The Men of the Sea is a worthy addition to The Astreya Trilogy and is a must read for everyone who read the first book. Like in The Voyage South I could not detect a strong plot line but more a course of events that took Astreya and his company to several places, each chapter led to new discoveries and the story flowed further. Hamilton manages in his Astreya trilogy to highlight both the extraordinary as well as the ordinary in a brilliant manner, definitely recommended.

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