Title: Ocean Realm
Author: Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson
Series: Crystal Doors #2
Elantya is recovering from the merlon attack that nearly overpowered them. The threat isn’t over, but now they have time to figure out how they can defend the island, and what they might do against the evil mages Azric and Orpheon. Gwen, Vic, and the others don’t expect to have a large role—and then a kidnapping puts them in the heart of the ocean, under Azric’s power. Can they free themselves and save Elantya once again?
This had an okay story marred by a few really annoying things that kept throwing me out of it. Basically, “like on land but underwater” kept being a dealbreaker for me. Take the behavior of light. Yes, light goes through water. Badly. And this gets worse the deeper you go. According to a quick search, to match the behavior of light in the book, most of this has to take place about 200 meters below the surface. That’s a really shallow ocean. Or take how Vic’s father treats diving with rapid descents and ascents. There is one nod on the last one that he got the bends, but overall I was either expecting magic to explain it away or him to do things properly. And so on.
I also wasn’t that fond of the merlons. We finally get to see their society, so I was expecting a little more of the society and a little less of evil/stupid slave drivers with a king that behaves like a toddler either throwing a tantrum or distracted by a shiny toy. Vic feels sorry for killing one. That felt really forced to me, since their behavior barely puts them above dolphins on the intelligence scale. And none of them show any signs of not being evil, even if it’s not quite at Azric’s level. They’re pretty much here to be cannon fodder.
That said, the plot took a while to get going, but once it did, managed to keep things moving. Most of the focus was on Sharif and his character journey. It’s got a lot of message about slavery being bad and not looking down on people, though I did appreciate Sharif wasn’t really obvious in his superiority and so didn’t recognize it in himself. I also really liked one quote from late in the book.
“Mmm,” the Ven Sage said. “A choice may be unfair, unbearable, unreasonable, dishonorable, painful, awkward, complex, unethical, or impractical. It may even seem impossible. But there is always a choice, even if it is a bad or painful one.”
Overall, I’m not all that interested to see where this is heading. It’s obvious Orpheon still has a role to play, and that the prophecy will be fulfilled (though I would hope a few twists in its interpretation materialize). I’m still annoyed at how the worldbuilding and the science worked out, so I don’t think it’s worth trying to track down the final volume unless you liked it a lot better than I did. I rate this book Neutral.