- Red Tide (The Chronicles of The Exile Book 3).
- Marc Turner.
- 672 pages.
- Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Grimdark.
- My rating: 5 stars out of 5.
The Augerans are coming. And their ships are sailing in on a red tide. The Rubyholt Isles are a shattered nation of pirate-infested islands and treacherous waterways shielding the seaboards of Erin Elal and the Sabian League, a region even dragons fear to trespass. The Augerans beseech the Warlord of the Isles, seeking passage for their invasion fleet through Rubyholt territory. But they are sailing into troubled waters. Their enemies have sent agents to destroy the Augeran fleet by any means necessary. The emperor of Erin Elal seeks to forge an alliance with the Storm Lords, hoping to repulse the Augerans with a united front. But the battle lines are not as clearly drawn as it first appears, for the Emira of the Storm Isles mistrusts the Erin Elalese as much as she does their common enemy. And the Augerans might just be planning a little sabotage of their own. But nothing in the realm of mortals escapes the notice of their meddling gods; every step they take is shadowed; and every choice they make is ensnared in a web so subtle and vast, its true shape may be fathomed only when it is far, far too late.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Red Tide is the third book in Marc Turner’s most excellent The Chronicles of The Exile series, following on from the previous two books, Dragon Hunters and his debut When The Heavens Fall. Both of which are great reads and my reviews can be found below:
Red Tide starts mere days after the events at the conclusion of the previous book Dragon Hunters. The first two books in the series are both very separate affairs with differing tones, locations and sets of characters. However, Red Tide is where Turner finally starts to merge the two previous books together as we continue with the aftermath of Dragon Hunters whilst becoming reacquainted with storylines and characters from When The Heavens Fall blending the previous two stories into one more overall coherent and over arching story where we get to see little hints and nods towards the bigger picture that Turner is creating.
Yes, we still have separate story arc’s to follow (of course we do – its epic fantasy) and not all the characters from When The Heavens Fall reappear but the foundations have been layed for returns further down the line in the series.
The book starts in the Rubyholt Isles where the Augerans led by Commander Eremo are attempting to create an alliance and form a treaty with Dresk – the Warlord of the isles to aid in their efforts in their war against The Sabian League. The Isles are a treacherous location of various passages, water ways, obstacles and creatures, including a terrifying area known as The Dragon’s Boneyard and the Augeran’s require the Rubyholters help to navigate the area safely.
The Rubyholters are a fractured bunch of different tribes and while they are led by Dresk, others want to cause trouble, take his place and be Warlord to, namely his son Galantas who takes the opportunity of the treaty as a sign that his Father has grown weak and weary and instead of united the Rubyholt tribes and being a rival for The Sabian League, Dresk has been content to let the tribes remain fractured whiling away his time drinking and Galantas realises that it’s time for change.
Also in the Isle are agents of The Emperor of Erin Elal, Guardian Amerel Duquy and the Breaker Noon who are there to cause sabotage and sow discord amongst the Rubyholters and Augerans.
We also have returning characters thrown unsuspectingly into the mix in the form Prince Ebon and Vale who are sailing across the Sabian Sea on a personal journey searching for Ebon’s lover and brother who managed to escape the siege of Majack in When The Heavens Fall but have failed to return home.
Back in Olaire, Mazana Creed the new Emira’s rule is tumultuous at best with daily fracas taking place between her mercenary forces and the former rulers still loyal followers. Add in the political machinations involving everyone from Senar Sol, the Chameleon Siblings, to the Spider and her Priestess Romany that are all linked to Mazana and are taking place as everyone awaits Mazana’s response to the Augeran’s treachery from Dragon day and you have a cauldron ready to boil over, finally erupting when The Emperor of Erin Elal Avallon Delamar requests an audience with Mazana to discuss the Augeran threat and what it means.
From here the story builds throughout the book as the players and pieces gradually take their places. And, as the story progresses you are treated to top quality storytelling, intrigue, action packed set pieces, visceral action, a multi threaded plot full of unexpected twists and turns culminating in an epic conclusion.
All the story arcs/plot lines in Red Tide are exceptional and Turner creates what is the strongest story in his Chronicles of The Exile series to date with a slow build and an action packed finale the book is a joy to read throughout. For some the pacing might be slightly slow in places, namely at the beginning but not all fantasy has to be fast paced action and a slower build, giving you time to become more involved in the characters lives and stories is sometimes far better as you get the emotional impact later on. – (I personally didn’t have a problem with the pace, I enjoy the slower parts in books as they add to the story and are informative but I know some people prefer constant action).
For me one of the best things about Turners work has always been his immense characterisation, he creates a large cast of characters but always manages to develop each separately, giving them all their own unique personality, traits and voices.
The returning characters from both previous books all continue to grow and the relationships between certain characters are also developed further. Mazana and her motley bunch of henchmen are all as engaging as ever. Mazana’s relationship with The Guardian Senar Sol grows in complexity and in turn his divided loyalties which are stretched even further with The Emperor Avallon’s arrival. Romany and The Goddess The Spider who continue to weave their web of intrigue and plots. The Chameleon Siblings Caval and Karmel and the familial rivalry that plagues their relationship. And, Ebon, who is perhaps the character in red Tide most likely to be described as “The Good Guy”.
The new characters are also outstanding, Eremo the Augeran Commander shows us a slightly more human side to the Augeran’s than what I was expecting while also managing to showcase their brutality. He is ably aided by Hex, a Dreamweaver, he was one of my favourite characters in the book and is a genuinely creepy and sinister creation.
Mention also goes to Gallantas who I found played a large part in the story and was an engaging and captivating presence to base the Rubyholters around.
Now onto The Guardian, Amerel, if Hex is creepy then Amerel is just downright bad, calling her psychotic seems slightly to harsh but she’s ruthless, cunning and cold-hearted, everything to her is simply a means to an end and she lets nothing get in the way of finishing her mission.
With both the returning characters and the new characters Turner manages to make them all seem real with real reasons behind their motivations and consequences to their actions. However even with a large cast of characters all are given the page time to shine and play important roles in the story being told.
The world building in Turner’s books is always top quality and being the third book in the series it’s a world that we now know and admire for its sheer scope and grandeur. It’s a world filled with history and lore and one of the best things is that Turner never over emphasises the size and scale of his created world, he doesn’t drop information on top of information, as a writer he’s far more subtle than that and adds little nuances, nod, suggestions and references at what is still to be explored and revealed.
The magic system is another great creation, it’s used to help propel the story forward and is an integral part to that story, feeling organic to the world. The Will has been present from the very beginning and is again used to great effect aiding the Guardians in both fights and with influences people. The water mages and water magic are again important and there are some truly epic sea battles and magic usage that take place in the book. And, this time we are also introduced to dream magic courtesy of Hex, the creations he conjures in the dream world are unnerving and menacing leaving you feeling dark and disturbed with a sense of dread whenever his power is unleashed.
Turner’s writing is again top quality as he pulls you into his story from the first few pages through to the last, great characters, settings, story arcs, plot twists, deadly magic, sea dragons, action dark humour and emotion Red Tide has everything that you could want and more in an Epic Fantasy book and is by far Turner’s best work so far.
With Red Tide, Marc Turner has written his best book yet. It’s a book that should propel him to the forefront of modern fantasy allowing him to stand alongside his peers and cementing his reputation as one of the must read authors in the genre.
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