Sea of Kings by Melissa Hope (Book Review) // entreating, adventurous and enjoyable middle grade fantasy
Sea of Kings by Melissa Hope
Expected publication Date : April 27th 2021
Publisher : Jolly Fish Press
Genre : Middle grade fiction / Fantasy / Pirate / Adventure
Pages : 344
Thirteen-year-old Prince Noa has hated the ocean since the day it caused his mother’s death. But staying away from the sea isn’t easy on his tropical island home, where he’s stuck trying to keep up with his dim-witted and overconfident younger brother Dagan—the brawn to Noa’s brains.
When a vengeful pirate lays siege to their home, Noa and Dagan narrowly escape with their lives. Armed with a stolen ship, a haphazardly assembled crew, and a magical map that makes as much sense as slugs in a salt bath, the brothers set sail for the realm’s other kingdoms in search of help.
But navigating the sea proves deadlier than Noa’s worst fears. To free his home, Noa must solve the map’s confusing charts and confront the legendary one-eyed pirate before an evil force spreads across the realm and destroys the very people Noa means to protect.
*** Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher and NetGalley. ***
Sea of Kings was fun adventurous middle grade fantasy that revolved around 13 yr. old Prince Noa and his journey to save his kingdom and his people. It was about secrets, friendship, family, teamwork, loyalty, trust, betrayal, and forgiveness.
Writing was easy to follow, engaging, and entertaining. Story was written in third person narrative from Noa’s perspective. Plot was fast to steady paced filled with lots of adventure on sea, magic, mythical creature, interesting islands of the world.
It started with introduction of Prince Noa and his younger brother Dagan, how they spent their days on island, life as princes, their relationship with each other and their father. Noa never believed in magic or mythical creatures, he was happy to follow one rule among many rules of his father on them and their island, never leave the island. But when a perfectly normal day turned to series of bad events and island was attack by pirates on the day of his sister’s birthday celebration, his father thrust a magical map into Noa’s hand and asked to leave island and follow wherever it leads to save his island and people. Noa was sceptical following his instruction but it seemed his only chance. With his adventurous brother, stolen ship, magical map and unlikely crew, he set out to find help for his kingdom needed and follow the map but a legendary pirate was on their tail who had his own plans that might destroy all the realms and people he loved.
During the journey Noa and his crew discovered a lot about the world outside their kingdom, had many questions – why the world and facts about mythical creatures were kept secret from them, why adults lied to them, why magical map only revealed the route to Noa, where it led and how that relate to Noa’s destiny. It kept the story intriguing and we get all of the answers by the end.
Plot, characters and the world were well balanced. There was right amount of darkness, fun, adventure and entertainment. Whenever story turned too dark or gloomy, responsibility of saving kingdom and staying safe weighed down the characters, it instantly turned light and fun with quirky and fun characters and scenes that made me smile and laugh making it perfect for young readers.
Characters were interesting I enjoyed reading about many secondary characters specially the crew of Evangeline, the ship they stole. They were all preteen, only few of Noa’s age and other younger than him. Vim- the village bully, who kept criticising everything and everyone. He also developed along with Noa. Chaston- Vim’s best friend. Aron- the youngest. Notorious twin brothers Fig and Pan- who kept crew and readers entertained throughout the book with their pranks and mischievousness. Bones- Smithy boy, craftsman of the ship and Noa’s best friend. Malloch- Only person who knew a little how to sail the ship but never had experience before. Other two member also joined them on the way which was lovely surprise.
Dagan was my most favourite of all. He was fun mischievous, adventurous, brave, and fearless. I have to say he wasn’t dim-witted like said in synopsis. He wasn’t as smart as his brother but he was amazing at fighting and all outdoorsy things. He never backed down to challenge. He always wanted to visit other islands and when he found out they were sailing out to sea, he was happiest person among the crew. His enthusiasm was infectious and I admired how he fought the pirate, stood up for his brother and kept the crew under check with his royalty card if they went against Noa. He won my heart when he saved Noa and what he did to keep him safe. He and twins made the dark and tense scenes light and entertaining.
Noa was great throughout the book. With brother like Dagan it was obvious Noa was sensible and more grown up among the siblings. He was smart, uptight boy who kept his nose buried in books, knew lots of things through books, was great at drawing and following maps, and kept saving his brother from many mischiefs. He was angry at his father for abandoning them when they needed him most. His outburst and fight with him didn’t make sense at first but it felt realistic when, along with him, we discover how many secrets his father kept. It made sense why he wasn’t ready to forgive his father when he revealed what happened to his mother and along with it, we see why he was always serious, uptight, kept to books and also what made him what he was. He was down to earth and I liked how he never took advantage of him being royalty. I admired him for leading the ship in sea and keeping his crew safe at all cost. His development was amazing. I loved how he realised his mistakes and understood it’s not just books and brain one need to survive in world but courage, confidence in oneself, trust and love of family are also important.
That cover perfectly shows the nature of both brothers in their expression. Their bond was amazing to read and I loved how they both loved their sister. I specifically liked that scene where Noa told explained why there was no jealousy among them or never envied each other.
The world was amazing. It was interesting to read about Aztrius realm, theories and history about realm’s beginning, five kingdoms that made Aztrius, trade and treaty between kingdoms, islands and places characters discovered outside the realm, dangerous mythical creatures, death king and his legend. There was electric octopus, magical shell, glowing jellyfish, many other interesting things and species.
I liked the message of forgiveness, bravery, and perseverance in the book. The mystery of map and what awaits at the end of the journey was brilliant. Climax was sad, tense and thrilling at the same time. I couldn’t imagine what crew decided to do at this point. Noa’s decision made me admire him and how he pulled his plans was great. What he discovered on arriving at the destination was interesting and surprising, and all the events after that were well written. End was perfect but with a minor cliff hanger just indicating there will be another book in future.
Overall, Sea of Kings was entreating, adventurous and enjoyable middle grade fantasy with captivating world, quirky characters, and intricate plot. I highly recommend this book to middle grade readers who love adventure and books set on seas.
Jolly Fish Press Website:
- 30% off all pre-orders using code SPRING21
- Free shipping when you spend over $30
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Release day event & Signed Copies:
A free launch event hosted by Tombolo books will be held virtually on April 27, 2021 at 6:30 EST featuring Melissa Hope and Megan Freeman. Signed copies of Sea of Kings can also be pre-ordered through their site.
Event registration: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfbCr-ZcINGa04odbpuZEbGKnv0oPguutexDmBctC_ONU_oLw/viewform?usp=sf_link
Signed copies from Tombolo Books: https://tombolobooks.com/?searchtype=keyword&qs=Sea+of+kings&qs_file=&q=h.tviewer&using_sb=status&qsb=keyword
Author Bio :
Melissa Hope earned her degree in English and is passionate about sharing her knowledge to help writers improve their craft and connect with the writing community. She escaped the frostbite normalcy of Canadian winters to live in Florida with her family, bipolar cat, and growing collection of scuba gear. Visit her website www.authormelissahope.com to watch free writing tutorials.
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Fun and quirky are really important in a book for tweenagers.Brilliant review, Yesha!
Thanks, Toni! It was great for middle grade readers.