Review Blog

Aug 26 2016

The ocean of the dead by Andrew McGahan

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The Ship Kings series, bk 4. Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760292188
(Age: Upper Primary and Lower Secondary) Recommended. The Ocean of the dead, the fourth and final book in the series, The Ship Kings, by Andrew McGahan, is worth waiting for. This is a fast paced adventure with many complex and unexpected challenges for Dow Amber to deal with.
A captain at twenty, in charge of the Chloe and the Snout, Dow determines to find new lands for the refugees, men, women and children, who have trusted him with their lives. To them, he is Dow Amber, the legend, the myth and the inspiration.
He decides to pass through the doldrums to the fabled lands of the south, 'a feat that had defied even the finest seaman in the world'. But for Dow, with Ignella of the Cave at his side, nothing seems impossible. Such a voyage requires stores and supplies of whale oil, and these first challenges are met without bloodshed.
But just when everyone is feeling confident, a threatening fleet of vessels under the command of Diego, Dow's sworn enemy, approaches. To everyone's puzzlement, Diego allows them to go on their way.
Now Ignella begins to have nightmares, visions that seem to foretell the future, a chilling future with a price to be paid for any success.
An eerie silence and sheets of slimy, foul smelling algal blooms slow their passage through the doldrums; even worse are the acidic white stretches of algae which damage both ships. But even more dangers are to be faced from the miasma and then the sudden reappearance of Diego on his ship, renamed The new world. It seems that Diego intends to join them on their journey south but can he be trusted?
Even more fearful than Diego's intentions, are the Sunken, the inhabitants of the islands of weed floating in the ocean. To secure their passage, Dow must make a heart rending sacrifice.
There are even more unexpected twists to this engrossing plot and young teenage readers, particularly boys, will enjoy following them to see whether Dow finally achieves peace and happiness.
Thelma Harvey

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