Wednesday, 15 January 2014
177/111 - In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield
This is another book that I bought recently with a gift voucher from Christmas. I remember seeing it often on the shelves of Waterstones when I worked there and being kind of intrigued by the cover however I never ended up picking it up to read the blurb or the first few pages. I recently came across something online which mentioned it and I downloaded a sample onto my iPad, read it, bought the book and the rest is history.
This book is set in an alternate world where there are people who live in the sea as well as those who live on land, and they are split into landsmen and deepsmen. Angelica comes out of the ocean and marries a landsmen, becoming queen, in exchange for the protection of the deepsmen along their shores. Then, for the next generations, the countries of the world are ruled by the descendants of this deepsman queen. Generations later, a bastard washes up on the shores of England to be raised in secret with the hope that he will overthrow the throne, and in the royal household, the youngest princess is raised under very different circumstances.
I really enjoyed the first parts of this, getting to know Henry (the bastard) and Anne (the princess). The story opens with Henry being cast out of the sea by his mother to be rescued by Allard who takes care of him. Having never been out of the sea, Henry cannot walk or talk, has never eaten food other than crabs and fish, has never worn clothes, has never been in a building. I really loved seeing the world through his perspective as he starts to get to know the world of the landsmen. Anne's world is similarly confusing - her father who is to be King, dies in battle and she rarely sees her stern mother, and is not told that she has a sister who is potentially in line to the throne. S life is very confusing for both of them as they grow up. And then there is the world of the deepsmen, who the hybrid royals also have links with. They periodically go into the eaters to commune with them, and they send their dead to burial at sea, where they are eaten by the deepsmen.
Eventually this turns into a sort of political plot as Henry has been groomed forcefully take the throne, so this part of the story unfolds, which I didn't find as interesting. I think this was partly because it strayed a little too much into a historical/ political story about kings and queens, which doesn't really interest me as much. Moreover, whilst I really enjoyed seeing Henry and Anne grow up, once they became teenagers I found them kind of dull. Henry's stubbornness and dislike of the culture of the landsmen became a little repetitive, as did Anne's praying and crying and yearning for her mother. I definitely liked Anne better, but I didn't really care too much about Henry by the time the end of the book came around. But I really enjoyed the world it was set in, and I loved the descriptions of the deepsmen and their language, their culture, their movements etc. which were all really interesting ideas.
Next: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer