Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Taren Laxley’s life as a slave changed for the better when a handsome pirate, Captain Rider, abducted him from the inn where he worked and took him out to sea. Life abroad the Sea Witch was incredible. Taren had been chosen to become a third in an established loving relationship between the Captain and his lover, Bastien, and soon was happily climbing the masts as a rigger as an accepted shipmate and accepted between the sheets as their lover. But fate had more in store for Taren than he could have ever imagined.
An accident at sea sent Taren into the depths of the ocean and into a new life once more. Taren was rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic enemy Captain of the Phantom, a rival ship to the Sea Witch. Immediately, Taren feels drawn to Ian, pulled by emotions he cannot fathom. Once again the fates intervene, shifting Taren’s path forever. Shortly after his rescue the truth comes out that Captain Ian Dunaidh and his crewmen are mermen, a race called Ea, and in a truly stunning disclosure, Taren finds out he is one as well.
Taren and Ian each feel a tie to each other than neither can explain but the storm clouds of war are gathering that will impact them all. Old hatreds and suspicions, old and new alliances, between Ea and Ea, and Ea and Humans, will explode with devastating results. And Taren and Ian will be caught in the middle. Taren is going to have to learn quickly who he is and how to steal the wind if all are to survive.
I have to admit it, Shira Anthony had me at the word “merman”. With thoughts gone wild I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this story and throw myself into the characters and mermen universe that Shira Anthony had created. And it was even better than I had imagined. We first meet up with poor Taren as his world is collapsing around him. The only “family” he has ever known, a Master Rigger, is selling Taren to pay his gambling debts. This scene is almost excruciating as Taren gets ripped away from Borstan Laxley and the only home he can remember. His new destination? A inn where pirates and their crew are known to favor. Again, Taren’s fate is sealed as a certain Captain Rider makes advances that confuse Taren as much as they turn him on.
Quickly, Anthony swirls Taren off on another fated path when Rider abducts Taren and takes him out to sea. It is here that the story comes fully alive with every twist and swoop of the Sea Witch over the water. Clearly, Shira Anthony loves and is familiar with the sea and life aboard a vessel, size not withstanding. Through her almost visceral descriptions of the movements of the ship and the feeling of the waves and wind when Taren and the Sea Witch are sailing, the reader feels as though they are a part of the crews and ships found inside this story. Being near or on the ocean brings out so many deep seated emotional responses in people and those are apparent in the thoughts and feelings of Taren as he climbs the masts or looks out over the seas they are sailing through. Taren’s “gut deep” involvement with the water is both physical and emotional. He is drawn to it and it brings him peace. His stunning realization that he is a merman, an Ea, then brings a resultant joy and self knowledge that feels as natural as the next wave.
The world building here is impressive. Anthony constructs not only several cultures of Ea but histories as well, when a racial separation happened with some Ea retreating to an island nation with a resultant rise of an oppressive government and others staying on the mainland . There is the Ea Goddess based religion and Ea mages to go along with ancient temples and hidden cities. But it is with the Ea or merman form and physicality of that shape that is so enchanting and sensual that it will ignite your imaginations and passions for this race and these wonderful characters. The detailed descriptions of the glowing colors and fluid movements of their merman body is almost mesmerizing. Anthony’s underwater scenes feels so alive that one might feel as though they have their face pressed against the glass in some large city aquarium. It’s voluptuous and seductive as the sea the Ea are made to live in.
There is a duality of character here in both Taren and Ian. Both of them have memories of an intertwined past, one that is slowly revealing itself through this story and the next. But of the two of them, only Taren brings that other aspect truly alive. With Ian, it’s a little more blunt and one dimensional. We see little of the other character in him, unlike Taren whose duality is impressive as both characters have the same force of being and vitality. I am not sure if that is part of the author’s overall plan for this couple but it just seems that Taren has more depth and more secrets to him than Ian does. For me that is the only small hitch to this otherwise marvelous story. It could be that Ian is just coming into the role he will play in the rest of the series. Either way I can’t wait to go forward with this characters and the course that Fate (and a certain author) has charted for them.
Put this amazing story on your list to read and that glorious art work on your list of covers to drool over. Both are highly recommended!
Cover art by Anne Cain is just glorious. That merman and those colors are scrumptious and perfect for this story.
Books in the series planned to date are:
Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #2)
Into the Wind (Mermen of Ea #2) released May 5, 2014
Running with the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3) coming 2015
ebook, 1st Edition, 220 pages
Published August 12th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 11th 2013)
original titleStealing the Wind
ISBN 1627980547 (ISBN13: 9781627980548)
seriesMermen of Ea #1
charactersBastian, Taren Laxley, Ian Dunaidh, Jonat Rider
literary awardsRainbow Award Honorable Menti