Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Where Amirzade Sharouk, son of the Amirate of Ujmah, his cousin Dastyaf Begzada is sure to follow. When Sharouk decides that the only way to save his country and his people is to rebel against the Republic, Dastyaf is there to support his efforts and keep him safe. Their plan? Destroy the Republic’s fleet by allying themselves with the legendary sea folk, masters of the leviathans, immense living weapons born of the sea and magic. But during the initial battle, something goes terribly wrong and Sharouk goes overboard, taken by one of the leviathans. Now Dastyaf, warrior and tactician, must rely on one of the sea people to help him get back his cousin, the man he loves and can never have.
Nils is a sea mage, one who controls the leviathans of the deep and knows their secret. When one of his leviathans goes rogue during battle, Nils is at a loss to understand why. Furthermore, that action will cost his people their pact with the King of the land people whose prince has been taken by the rogue leviathan. Now Nils must join forces with a man from the land, Dastyaf, whose disapproval, desperation and need for control, is putting them at odds from the very start of the mission.
Both men will need to work together to save not only Sharouk but their kingdoms as well. To do so, Dastyaf must agree to transform into one of the sea folk in order to follow Nils through the ocean depths. For Dastyaf, it means not only the loss of his legs but of control over the situation and his body. He will be helpless in another’s environment, an unfamiliar feeling he despises. And by saving Sharouk, he will lose him forever to another.
For Nils, it means giving up his perceptions and assumptions, not only of the land people but of the very leviathans he is close to. The journey to save Sharouk, is full of dangers to all involved and time is running out for everyone before all is lost. Sharouk’s life, Dastyaf’s humanity, and for Nil’s? A love he never expected to feel for a man who loves another….
I love it when I find a book that unexpectedly opens the door into a mesmerizing universe. No Ocean Too Deep is just such a story. It is full of incredible creatures, dynamic characters and a plot as deep as the ocean in which all the events take place. Leona Carver is a new author for me but with this one story she turns into one of my must read authors on the strength of this story alone.
In No Ocean Too Deep, Leona Carver puts her own spin on mermen and the men who fall in love with them. Carver’s plot is guaranteed to pull the reader down into her universe from the first page. She sets up a situation in which two widely disparate kingdoms become allies to defeat a common enemy. One kingdom is human and lives in the desert Amirate of Ujmah, an environment that can be as hostile as it is beautiful. The other? Sea folk, mermen, almost mythical in their own right in their watery kingdom also full of its own dangers and delights. The two protagonists have more in common then they are aware, especially as neither has any experience with the other’s world. For Dastyaf, he usually has to deal with an ocean of sand, fraught with extreme heat, a dearth of water and constantly shifting sands. His is a world of light and dark where their caravans are guided by the stars above. Nils is a sea witch merman who lives in an ocean world of shifting current, little light, and a breadth and variety of creatures, small to gargantuan, with varying degrees of risk associated with them. Guided by his senses and shifting currents, darkness is of little concern, especially with his magic to assist him. Each character is fully formed and feels so believable no matter what world they belong to.
Carver throws her characters into a plot born of desperation. The kingdoms of a desert people and the sea folk make a pact to take down the Republic, a threat to both with its empire. The Sea folk will use their leviathans, enormous sea creatures of magic and myth, as weapons against the Republic’s fleet. The desert kingdom’s prince, Amirzade (Prince) Sharouk and his warrior/tactician cousin, Dastyaf Begzada, will be aboard one of the enemies vessels under false pretenses. This will help them direct their armies against the fleet when the battle starts. It’s a desperate and dangerous move made from necessity. Carver does such a splendid job bringing us directly into this precarious situation, a last ditch endeavor for Sharouk to break his people away from the control of the Republic with help from the sea folk. Waiting back home for Sharouk is his royal family and fiance. By his side, as always since childhood, stands his cousin, Dastyaf, a great warrior and best friend. As the ships pitch wildly in the ocean waves, tentacles start to appear over the side of the vessels,the battle is engaged and the reader is thrown immediately into the fray. Carver’s descriptions are dramatic and stirring, making the scenes scream with the emotions of the men on board.
But that is nothing compared to what happens when the location switches to the ocean depths and the sea folk themselves. Here the mermen and their watery environment comes vibrantly alive from its many denizens to the myriad ocean landscapes Nils and Dastyaf journey through. Vast living carpets of coral, phosphorescent invertebrates, forests of kelp, and dinners that consist of living organisms instead of cooked meat. Had I been able to stand within the story itself, my head would have been on a constant swivle as it turned here and there to observe all the amazing sights and creatures that Carver has in store for us and Dastyaf. An ever moving banquet for the senses made all the more palpable as Dastyaf experiences it for the first time in his new temporary merman body.
Nils and Dastyaf’s journey is full of wonder and fears as Dastyaf’s tries to reconcile his human experience with his new merman one. His frustration and fear as the light fades into almost constant darkness is tangible, and his emotions become ours. I could go on and on about the sea witches, the canyons, and the leviathans themselves…but the discovery of wonders and suspense of this desperate mission is part of the joy and revelations found in No Ocean Too Deep and I don’t want to spoil them for you. But I found myself going backwards to reread a description or scene to relive that moment over because it thrummed the wildness and surprise of life lived under water.
As I said the characters are as wondrous and layered as their environment. Dastyaf with his doomed love and desperate mission, Nils with his questions and assumptions, both men grow as individuals and together as their journey unfolds. I grew to love both men and couldn’t figure out how Carver was going to bring this journey to fruition in a satisfactory manner. She did but it tool me a while to realize that.
The ending is the slight bump in the road, the loose net in the ocean. It had me a little puzzled, so much so that I needed clarification from the author as to what happened to Nils. Turns out, I needn’t have worried but it was cloudy enough that others might feel the same way. Had there been a tad more clarity at the end this would have been a 5 star review. As it is, it comes darn close. Without revealing too much, it turns out that both Nils and Sharouk’s fiance have much the same role to play at the end, and no, its not the one you think it is. Luckily for us, there will be a sequel coming. That was the best news yet.
Not familiar with Leona Carver? Haven’t read No Ocean Too Deep? Remedy both and grab this terrific tale up and start reading. Be prepared to fall in love with these characters, their mission and the ocean deep. It will be an amazing journey you won’t want to see end.
Cover by Tanya Rehulak. I love this cover, so different and lovely.
ebook, 174 pages
Published April 9th 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
original titleNo Ocean too Deep
seriesA Loose Screw