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Reviews of 'The Alien Sea'

The Alien Sea

by Lucien Soulban
The Champions, Volume 2

Reviews of 'The Alien Sea'

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Reviewer: BeezerMN

Rating: Stars

Alien Sea by Lucien Soulban is the second book in a series of standalone novels titled The Champions, Saving Solace by Douglas Clark being the first. The Champions novels follow minor characters from past Dragonlance books and give them adventures of their own. In this case fans of the Dragonlance Chronicles will remember several character, but most importantly these two; Apoletta (the sea elf who meets the companions in Istar) and Zebulah (Apoletta's human husband). I only mention those two because it took me half the book to remember who they were and once I did it meant so much more to me.

The character development in this book is average. I did not feel that Apoletta's development was anywhere near where it should have been. Some of the supporting characters actually had more character development than the main character. There were some very interesting characters in this book such as Brine-Wisker and Echo-Fury both anima characters that add depth to the overall story. While the character development was average, that does not take away that Lucien Soulban made me care about these characters. Normally, I am not a fan of books that take place completely underwater, but I found myself wondering what was going to happen with these characters and I quickly became invested in the outcome.

The plot is rather one dimensional in nature. There is a great evil in the west and no one believes this band of adventurers so they must bring back proof that it is out there. Yes, we have all read this plot many, many times. I would like to say that this book repackages it in a different way to make it feel fresh and new... but that doesn't happen. Attentive readers will know what is going to happen and guess pretty closely when it will happen. Yet, with that said, even knowing what would happen, I found it very difficult to put this book down. While simplistic in nature and only having one very small sub-plot I found myself always turning the page. The twist at the end is one that can be expected, but it is done in a reasonable enough way to not make the reader groan and say "again! Not this ending again." While simple I thought it was a tight plot and did not wander at all. The author certainly has a unique voice that is easy to read and allows time to fly by.

One of my complaints with books that take place completely, or mostly, underwater is that the fight scenes usually get jumbled and the authors often lose sight ad focus. A fight scene in water has the added direction of down. Yet authors seldom have their characters fighting from all directions and when they do it is often confusing. This is not the case in this book. The fight scenes are crisp and compact and to the point and well designed. The same goes for the use of magic, not too much and done well.

Overall, I could easily see myself recommending this book to Dragonlance fans. I would hesitate to recommend it to beginning Dragonlance fans simply because the back story, meeting the Companions, adds so much depth to the characters that I would make sure readers have at least read those first. Yet, if insisted upon the Champions books are proving to be a good look into the Dragonlance realm too. This was a fun, enjoyable read. Nothing that will make the reader ponder for hours, but it passes the time. All in all a good book.

Reviewer: Kranar Drogin

Rating: Stars

I am one who tends to get tired of always reading DL books that involve earth shattering events that will destroy the world if the heroes do not save the day, but as far as this book is, it was good. I am happy to see Apoletta back in the DL setting, even though for a DL elf she is getting old at almost 450 years old (for DL, that is like ancient, cause they usually get killed off! ;) ).

It is a sad story that involves her and her husband, Zebulah, but one couldn't imagine that he would live forever being a human and all. The ending of their life together was a sad one, one that ended with anger that drove Zebulah away, and then them sharing their life as he passed on to the next realm.

I think Lucien did an excellent job talking about all that went on under the sea in such a short amount of time (limited to 308 pages). I am hoping to see him write a trilogy involving the sea elves, there are a lot of things that need to be resolved, and looks like some trouble brewing. Overall, I will have to rate this book 4 out of 5, and would recommened anyone who asks me about the book to read it.

Reviewer: Paul Record

Rating: Stars

Let me say for this being Mr. Soulban's first Dragonlance novel (and only his third ever published) he has done a great job. His writing style takes sometime to get use to but other than that it its typical of other dragonlance authors. I will let the other fans decide if that is a good thing or not.

The story starts in the middle of things, amidst a Conclave called together by the Steward of Sunken Istar, Apoletta. A grave threat endangers the oceans of Krynn and the Dargonesti are the first to learn of it.

During the conclave pages, Mr. Soulban takes advantage of the page space and introduces the reader to the diversity of Krynn's ocean. Something that, to my knowledge, has been rather mysterious. One of the more interesting species introduced is the brathnoc. Bipedal manta rays whom until recently were nomadic barbarians who travel from one section to another in a blind orgy of destruction. It seems only chewing kelp leaves dulls their bloodlust.

Mr. Soulban does not stop there. Fans of the old Echo the Dolphin videogames will smile fondly when the War Dolphin's of the Dargonesti are introduced. Intelligent beings in their own right, the dolphins can bee seen in the company of the Dargonesti scouts, who travel the deep currents seeking out new frontiers and dangers that can threaten their people. Some take to this lifestyle so much that Abbakuk, The Fisher King grants them an improved version of their alternate form. Originally they could change into porpoises but once blessed they are gifted with the form of the dolphin. Some take to this form and rebuke their previous humanoid forms. These blessed sea elves often then breed with regular dolphins, siring an offspring that is as intelligent as a regular sea elf but unable to change shapes.

All of this cool good stuff makes one wonder what Mr. Soulban has done for the side of evil. Well do not let me spoil it for you but some of the so-called Dark Sea elves can shape change into a shark. If I am not mistaken, we see this in Specter of Sorrows. The fun does not stop there as Zeboim or Zura as she is called by the elves, has her hand in the story and in such a way that may raise a few eyebrows. I will keep mum on the other "bad guy."

Events move fast throughout the book as Mr. Soulban only has this single novel to tell his wondrous story. On their quest to stop this new danger from the World Gash, the reader is dragged along a rip current of an adventure as the heroes visit exotic locales and see things that leave your jaw dropped. The author is also generous to the hardcore fan as he sprinkles the story with tidbits of trivia.

Having action, romance, exotic vistas, and political intrigue, I have to recommend this book to all Dragonlance fans. Maybe the writing style is rough but still a delight to read. I give it s four out of five.

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