The Endless Song by Joshua Phillip Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book, the second in a duology, solves all the mysteries and leftover plot threads of the first book,
The Forever Sea
. We find out what happens to all the characters, and the delicate ecology of the Forever Sea and the world is explained.
This ended up being as good as the first book, but it took a little time to get there. The reason for this is unlike the first book, with its tight focus on the hearthkeeper Kindred Greyreach, there are two viewpoint characters and two entwined storylines. They do end up coming together in the end, making sense not only of this book but the first and the series as a whole. However, it felt a little bit of a drag to get through Flitch's chapters in the beginning, as I wanted to be down under the Sea with Kindred. You might feel that way too, but stick with it. I promise Flitch's chapters will make sense and they will draw you into his story.
Both Flitch and Kindred have some impressive character work in this book. The theme of Flitch's storyline is his family growing away from him and leaving him behind:
First Idyll and now the baron--Flitch looked around at his family and wondered how many other lives they were leading, how many other friends and family they were finding and founding, how many paths they walked without him. They were like Gwyn's plants, and while he had been mistaking flowers for the plant, their roots had been growing deeper and further away from him, their stalks reaching away, budding and flowering elsewhere.
(As befits a world with a green grass Sea instead of a liquid water one, most of the phrases and metaphors of the culture are plant-based. This is another fine detail of the worldbuilding.)
Kindred, on the other hand, has to confront her goal of finding her grandmother the Marchess, a former pirate captain who stepped off her boat and dove to the bottom of the Sea. The Marchess raised Kindred and taught her everything she knows about sailing the Sea and tending the hearthfire. Kindred has to confront the fact that her grandmother is doing some very bad things, even if they are for an ostensibly good purpose. She has to break with her grandmother and stop her to save the people above, and this dovetails with Flitch's story. Both their stories, while wrapped up well, are a bit heartbreaking and bittersweet.
This is an immersive world with unique worldbuilding and well-drawn characters. I don't often buy hardbacks these days, but I bought both these books.
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