Monday, May 27, 2013

The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon*

*The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme: The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon.
(Long title.)

Long ago, in the Second Age of history, a young Nain explorer by the name of Ven Polypheme traveled much of the known and unknown world, recording his adventures. Recently discovered by archaeologists, a few fragments of his original journals are reproduced in this book. Great care has been taken to reconstruct the parts of the journal that did not survive, so that a whole story can be told...
Charles Magnus Ven Polypheme -- known as Ven -- is the youngest son of a long line of famous shipwrights. He dreams not of building ships, but of sailing them to far-off lands where magic thrives. Ven gets his chance when he is chosen to direct the Inspection of his family's latest ship -- and sets sail on the journey of a lifetime. 
Attacked by fire pirates, lost at sea, and near death, Ven is rescued by a passing ship on its way to the island of Serendair. Thankful to be alive, little does Ven know that the pirate attack -- and his subsequent rescue -- may not have been an accident. Shadowy figures are hunting for the famed Floating Island, the only source of the mystical Water of Life. They think Ven can lead them to this treasure and will stop at nothing to get it -- even murder.
In a narrative that alternates entries from his journals and drawings from his sketchbooks, Ven begins the famous chronicles of his exciting and exotic adventures -- adventures that would later earn him renown as the author if The Book of All Human Knowledge and All the World's Magic.
Hailed by reviewers and embraced by legions of fans, Elizabeth Haydon, bestselling author of the Symphony of Ages series, has created an unforgettable epic fantasy for a younger generation of readers.

~Print copy (library), 351 pages
Published: 2006 by Tom Doherty Associates (Starscape)

Whew, that was a long summary.

Of course I have problems with it -- I have problems with most back cover summaries -- but I shall not point out every last detail. (But I will mention the overabundance of hyphens in that thing. I type that stuff all out by hand into this post, you know.)

(Also, I'll say that for awhile after reading that summary that those books were real, before realizing, oh those books are made up famous, not real actual legendary books.)

Anyways, I liked the book. Since I finished it Saturday, and started reading the next book in the series (The Thief Queen's Daughter), I'm just going to make a list of Likes and Dislikes.

What I liked about this book:
~The characters. Some awesome ones include Ven (of course), his curate-in-training friend Clemency, the captain of the Serelinda Oliver Snodgrass and his wife, and the ever-loyal friend, Char.
~The world. I mean, a world that includes Spice Folk (fairies)! And merrows (mermaids)! And species like the Lirin, storytellers who take a vow of truth so the stories don't get mangled over the years! This world is really well thought out.
~How it's written. It switches back and forth between paragraphs of Ven's journal to longer paragraphs of 3rd POV. Well handled, and really does feel like a story pieced together between fragments of old journal.

What I disliked about this book:
~I don't know why, but it was a bit hard getting through this book. It took me 6 days to read 351 pages -- that's about 50 pages a day, instead of my usual 100. But I don't know what it was that caused this; it could have just been one of those weeks, where nothing was too appealing, even reading. (In fact, I felt kind of off all last week -- not physically sick, but more just emotionally sick. Probably a factor in my lack of obsessive reading.)

Really, I did like this book. It says up there that Haydon is a bestselling author and has legions of fans, but I was ten years old in 2006 and not really on the literary scene at the time. So, I can't really tell if this was a super-popular book at one time or another and I'm really late on the pickup; but it doesn't matter. I found it in the library now (well, a couple weeks ago), and I liked it now.

So, I recommend it now. To anyone who loves fantasy, or really anyone who wants something good to read next (as opposed to some fluffy romance that really isn't all that good when you look at it in retrospect. Ahem. Pardon my dislike of romance.) 4 stars.


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