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This Forsaken Earth: The Sea Beggars, Book Two review

Pirates, but not of the Caribbean.

340 PAGES · £11.99

Author: Paul Kearney

Publisher: Bantam

ISBN: 0-593-04777-X

Rating: 3_5/5

Yo Ho Ho! It’s time to weigh anchor and break out the rum as Kearney’s seagoing saga sets sail once more. Captain Rol Cortishane of the pirate ship Revenant may be content with his looting life, but a civil war and the ghosts of his past construe to change his life violently and irrevocably. Rol is from a bloodline that stretches far back into myth, and when the shifty King of Thieves, Canker, turns up with new information about his family history, Rol is compelled to join a war which could see his sister end up on the throne.

If you didn’t jump aboard with book one of the Sea Beggars series, then what you can expect is a nautical variation on David Gemmell-style heroic fantasy. However, while Kearney’s exuberant prose and spirited characters are as much in evidence as ever in this second volume, the book is a less satisfying read than its energetic predecessor. This is mainly the fault of its rather skimpy plotting – the first half of the book feels like an extended setup during which nothing much of consequence happens. And while the book is never predictable, neither does it surprise. Another problem is that much of the story takes place on land, which removes the seafaring element for a significant page count and makes the book feel like a myriad of other fantasies. Kearney also makes frustratingly little use of Rol’s supernatural abilities, when you would expect some further exploration of his mysterious inheritance.

Luckily, the books comes to life in its last third, with a surprisingly downbeat but thoroughly gripping climax that makes up for what, to a large extent, seems to be an exercise in treading water.

Dave Golder

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