The Siren Depths: Volume Three of the Books of the Raksura Paperback – Dec 4 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
What I especially liked was Moon's emotional growth -- he might not trust Indigo Cloud not to abandon him completely, but he struggles to overcome a lifetime of disappointments. Also, Stone is fabulous as always.
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This was probably the most emotional of the Books of the Raksura, which is probably why it's my favorite so far of the three. Moon -- not the most emotionally together guy at the best of times -- has to muddle his way through a morass of his feelings for Jade, his fears about the future, his anger about his past, other people's hatred of him, and more. As if that's not enough to deal with, the Fell are back with a vengeance... along with something worse. Along the way, though, Wells treats us to the same wonders and horrors that make us love and fear the Three Worlds: amazing ancient cities, magical airships, genteel monsters, breathtakingly badass women, obnoxiously badass grandpas, and truly heartrending moments of pain and beauty.
If you even slightly liked either of the two preceding books, make sure you read this one. Seriously.
As in the first two books, the lush descriptions of this highly original world are simply breathtaking. i want to go live in a mountain-tree now. and have wings. of course.
One thing I liked about the story was how it tells a tale on two fronts. One one hand there's the immediate story of what Moon is doing and where he's being forced to go. On the other hand, The Siren Depths ties in with the previous novels to finally reveal Moon's full backstory. Readers finally get to find out what happened to him as a kid, how he was separated from his court, the identity of his parents, and more. By the end, all of the loose ends are tied up which gives the book a feeling of completeness. However, the future is kept wide open and there are plenty of major stories that could be explored in future novels.
On its own, The Siren Depths is an enjoyable book. It's certainly not something you would want to dive into without reading the other two books first. A lot of world building and character building is accomplished before hand. While you probably could jump straight into this book and enjoy it, you would be missing out on a lot. Regardless, this book fits in perfectly with the series. As part of the greater whole, it continues the fun, but it also ties things together nicely, answers lingering questions, and pushes the characters in intriguing directions.
Like the previous stories, there is a good mix of various story elements. It explores new, strange places and creatures. There's a new villain who turns out to be the driving force behind the Fell and their desire to crossbreed with the Raksura. There's a new groundling city discovered on the side of a cliff, built into a gigantic statue. It has harbors for flying boats and its citizens are armed with projectile weaponry. There's also a mysterious underwater city full of secrets that's explored. There's a lot of court intrigue as Moon ventures to a new Raksuran court on the edge of the Reaches. Meanwhile the story of Moon and Jade's relationship continues into new territory. The only thing that's not really explored yet is the raising of the Sky Copper royal clutch.
If you're thinking about investing in the series, it's worthwhile. The second and third books are on par with the first. It's also a good way for Star Wars readers to see what Martha Wells' storytelling is like. She does a good job of balancing between characters and plot. The dialog and character development is excellent. She's very imaginative and comes up with some really strange races, creatures, and places. Action is spread throughout the novel with various trigger points and mission points, but it's never drawn out to the point of being tiresome. There also isn't any graphic sex, and while there is violence, she doesn't dwell on it. All in all, it's a great mix for good storytelling that makes for addictive reading.
Now, though, a rival Court, Opal Night, exercises a claim on Moon -- one based on their contention that Moon's mysterious and shrouded origins actually tie back to them. But why does such a large and powerful Court want or even need Moon, anyway? It can't be as simple as a power play on the small court of Indigo Cloud -- so what secrets could Opal Night be hiding?
And The Fell are on the move. Worse, they have a plan that could spell danger not only for Opal Night, not only for Indigo Cloud, but for the entirety of the Reaches and beyond.
I had believed that the Books of the Raksura ended with The Serpent Sea but I joyfully have been proven wrong. In The Siren Depths, Wells brings us full circle and, in a real sense, back to the beginning. Since the start of the Books of the Raksura series in The Cloud Roads, the story of Moon's origins has been a simple if murky one. He's been alone for years, the Raksura that raised him killed long ago. He had no idea what he even was until Stone, the line-grandfather for Indigo Cloud, discovered him. There are a seemingly limitless number of sentient humanoid species in the universe of the Three Worlds, after all, although his shapeshifting was something Moon kept a deep secret, even among those he lived with and loved, for obvious reasons. Moon's lack of knowledge of the full story of his origins with the Raksura has has been a Chekov's Gun that has remained unfired all of this time. In The Siren Depths we discover where Moon came from, why he and his mother were alone and how that ties into the social web of relationships among the Raksura. In addition to revelations of Moon's past and what it means for his present, The Siren Depths marks the return of The Fell from The Cloud Roads. In a nice braiding of plots, the return of the Fell is not unrelated to the reason why Opal Night has demanded Moon be repatriated to their Court, and why and how Moon came to be in the first place.
There is a lot to like in The Siren Depths. The greatest strength of the novel has been one of the strengths of the entire series, and that's the social dynamics of the Raksura, as seen from Moon's outsider's perspective. It is a testament to the complexity of these relationships, and how well done the worldbuilding is, that three books into the series Moon and the readers are still learning and discovering nuances, complexities and features and aspects of the world of a Raksuran Court. Even seemingly throwaway lines add to the nuances of what life is like among the Raksura. I hesitate to reveal these, for fear of giving away the joy of readers discovering them on their own.
And, as always, the writing is strong, bright and clear. The voices of the characters are all nicely distinct, in tone and style of speaking as much as other cues. The suite of new characters hold up well, and the three main courts we see in the novel (Indigo Cloud, Emerald Twilight and Opal Night) together show a range of characters and relationships.
What didn't work in the novel for me? The greatest weakness I found in the novel is the pacing of the final section. The first two-thirds of the novel set up our conflicts and situation very well, with Moon being shipped off to Opal Night, learning his true past, and dealing with the consequences of who and what we is. In addition, the threat of the Fell is established and looms over the narrative and its characters like a Sword of Damocles. When push comes to shove though, there is a little too much economy in the amount of pages and time spent with that conflict. The story beats are all there, mind you, but it just feels a little too abbreviated as compared to the rest of the book. The payoff doesn't feel as large as it should be. What this resulted in is this reader being more invested and more interested in the Court interactions than the "A" plot of the Fell (from which the title of the book gets its name).
Although this novel nicely rounds out the story of Moon and the rest of the Raksura, there is still plenty more to explore with these characters, and the Three World setting in general. If and when should the author return, I would absolutely be up to immerse myself in this rich secondary world fantasy setting again.
And for readers who haven't tried Wells' Books of the Raksura, this is definitely not the place to start, especially because of how much it does reveal of Moon's origins and history. Start with The Cloud Roads and see for yourself the wonders the author can show you.
The Raksura books are extremely original second world fantasy novels with active (and very alien) flora and fauna(It's wonderful to have a world where the only way you can sometimes tell what creatures are sentient and what ones aren't is by having the characters ask).
I can't tell you the number of times trilogies have disappointed me. The first book is usually great, the second book is fine and the third book muffs the ending so badly you wonder what you saw great in book one to begin with.
In these stories the first book, The Cloud Roads is great, but leaves you wanting more, which you get in the second book, The Serpent Sea, which is also great and does its (very tricky) job by letting you get to know the characters better and still leaves you wanting to know more.
The third book, The Siren Depths, is better than great, Martha Wells provides you with a great and satisfying ending. I am about to reread the set because I'm so happy with it. Highly recommend.