Dolphin Way: Rise of the Guardians by Mark Caney

(7.5/10)

Dolphin culture evolved over millions of years so they could remain perfectly attuned with their world, Ocean. Unlike man, they have created an almost utopian society without feeling the need to manipulate their environment, collect possessions or wage war. But the growing pressure of man's activities become intolerable and in frustration one faction seeks an aggressive new path, making a shocking departure from The Way - the ancient philosophy that has guided them so well through the millennia. Sky, a male dolphin close to becoming an Initiate in The Way, unwillingly finds himself caught up in the violent consequences. To save the lives of his closest friends he will have to risk the worst punishment his clan can inflict and must decide between the two females who challenge everything he believes in.

Dolphin Way begins with the mysterious death of Born Into Summer, a young friend of the book’s protagonist, Touches The Sky. It expands into a conflict between The Way, a quixotic code of conduct that has kept dolphins eco-friendly pacifists for millennia, and the rapid toxification of the ocean that is pushing it towards obsolescence. Touches The Sky’s natural habitat is becoming a more violent and competitive place, and throughout his adventures Sky makes discovery after discovery leading him to believe that this is all thanks to those destructive, wasteful humans up above.

When I first read the synopsis for Dolphin Way I was reminded of another book, namely The Call of the Wild. As I made my way through the text however, I found it to be more like James Cameron’s Avatar than anything Jack London ever wrote. This novel isn’t about anthropomorphizing an animal. It is about a broader set of issues and constructs, like life cycles, conservation and environmental degradation. Dolphin culture, with all of its designations like “starwriters,” and “calculators” is portrayed with painstaking detail. Roger Ebert might compliment the author, Mark Caney on his “worldbuilding” abilities, but it does make one wonder how much of the sophisticated society portrayed in the book is fantasy, how much is hearsay and how much is scientifically accurate, especially since the author himself clearly has an encyclopedic understanding of biology. This attention to scientific detail quickly becomes the novel’s strongest element, even when it sort of ‘sexualizes the sea life.’ No, the reader didn’t really need to know about that “smooth, sweet belly” that Moon Over Antares apparently has, but it works within the context of Dolphin Way.

As silly and sentimental as it sounds, Dolphin Way was clearly written with a lot of heart and ambition. Caney is clearly enthusiastic about his book’s subject matter. Unsurprisingly so, since Caney is a sailor, world traveler and dive instructor (sometimes) to Arab Sheiks. One can’t help but think that an autobiography from Caney might be more interesting than a novel, but if that’s a possibility at all it’s on the back burner. Touches The Sky’s Odyssey will continue in Dolphin Way Part Two: Captured.

Review by

15+

Dolphin Way: Rise of the Guardians reader reviews

7.5/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Wind in the Willows

by Kenneth Grahame

Mr. Toad is the kindhearted, but spoiled resident of Toad Hall. He is bored and constantly obsesses over different crazes, like houseboating and caravaning, but it is only [...]


Published: 1908

Score: 102

Our rating: 9.7 | 5 positive reader reviews

9+

Duncton Wood

by William Horwood

The moles of Duncton Wood live in the shadow of Mandrake, a cruel tyrant corrupted by absolute power. A solitary young mole, Bracken, is thrown into leading the fight to fr [...]


Published: 1980

Score: 117

Our rating: 9.6 | 21 positive reader reviews

15+

Watership Down

by Richard Adams

Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren - he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver's sixth sense was never wrong. [...]


Published: 1972

Score: 101

Our rating: 9.5 | 6 positive reader reviews

12+

The Jungle Books

by Rudyard Kipling

Mowgli, the man-cub who is brought up by wolves in the jungles of Central India, is one of the greatest literary myths ever created. As he embarks on a series of thrilling [...]


Published: 1901

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.4 | 2 positive reader reviews

9+

Charlotte's Web

by EB White

Fern Arable lives with her mother, father and brother on their small farm. When her father decides to ‘do away’ with the runt of the piglet litter Fern takes it [...]


Published: 1952

Score: 110

Our rating: 9.0 | 20 positive reader reviews

9+

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

by Michael Morpurgo

It's 1943, and Lily Tregenze lives on a farm, in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton. Apart from her father being away, and the 'townie' evacuees at school, [...]


Published: 2005

Score: 121

Our rating: 9.0 | 31 positive reader reviews

9+

Just When Stories

by Edited by Tamara Gray

100 years ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote the internationally acclaimed Just So Stories. When Kipling wrote his story of the rhinoceros with the itchy skin, rhino numbers stood [...]


Published: 2010

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

9+

James and the Giant Peach

by Roald Dahl

When poor James Henry Trotter loses his parents in a horrible rhinoceros accident, he is forced to live with his two wicked aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. After three [...]


Published: 1961

Score: 152

Our rating: 9.0 | 62 positive reader reviews

9+

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

by David Benedictus

The rumours are true – Christopher Robin is back in the Hundred Acre Wood. From the excitement of Christopher Robin’s return to the curious business of learning [...]


Published: 2009

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

9+