Scoville Units Unite

27 Jun

Reread: The Singer and the Sea – Winter of the World Part 5

The Singer and the Sea is the fifth book in a 6 book series by Michael Scott Rohan and the second part of a 2 book arc.

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Book 5 is a sequel to Castle in the Wind, set a few years later. Olvar and Gille have moved south to Saldenborg. You hear snippets of what Kunrad has been doing in cleaning up the salt marshes.

A trading ship arrives in town, setting the flavour of the story. By warning them of corsairs as they come in, Gille is rewarded with a kantel, a type of musical instrument, which he can tell has power. A hidden sheet within reveals the secret of making suitable strings for it rather than the rubbish ones it has been equipped with. It turns out to have been manufactured by the legendary Vayde.

Having been annoyed at the local merchants and the guildmasters and the like, they try to secure funds to run a trading expedition to the south. Gille is still his old womanising self, and is distracted by a mysterious woman on the beach. She turns out to be a minor power – Saithana. She assists him to find some sunken gold which wins him a bet to get support for their expedition.

Some goods-laden tradeships head south and encounter a small boat lost at sea with a number of dead and one barely living person in it. With some of the northerners speaking a similar dialect they manage to communicate enough to find out his story. This starts off the main adventure. The boat was carrying refugees fleeing the from the Ekwesh in the west.

Having had books focusing on metalworking, this is an interesting turn to have details of seafaring spread throughout. They sail west and encounter a group of westerners as well as marauding followers of the Ice. Gille has further encounters with a number of the powers, including Niarad and Ilmarinen who discusses having living as Vayde.

This book has far less about smithing in it, and a lot more theology and worldbuilding. It fleshes out some of the history discussed later chronologically in the first three books. I would probably have to re-read those again to catch all the references. One is mention of Vayde having perished in the saltmarshes – when Elof finds his corpse millenia later.

I find it hard to judge this book: as a novel it isn’t that great, as a fantasy novel it’s decent, as a part of the series fleshing out the world it’s good, but compared to the rest of the books I have re-read so far it falls short for enjoyability. It was read in small bursts over the course of 2 months, whilst I rarely found a reason to read something else ahead of the first book in the series which may illustrate how much it falls short.

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