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The Mark of Ran (The Sea Beggars #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  378 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A stunning blend of visionary storytelling and majestic prose, The Mark of Ran is a new masterpiece of imaginative fiction. In this epic adventure, Paul Kearney records the voyages of a reluctant hero, a band of outcasts, and a quest into the unknown no one has ever dared before…

In a world abandoned by its Creator, an ancient race once existed–one with powers mankind canno
Paperback, 303 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by Spectra (first published 2004)
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Ship of Magic by Robin HobbRed Seas Under Red Skies by Scott LynchThe Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. LewisThe Mad Ship by Robin HobbShip of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Nautical Fantasy
15th out of 35 books — 30 voters
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Best Dark Fantasy
227th out of 256 books — 463 voters

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Community Reviews

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This is my first book from Paul Kearney that I read but I must say that I am disappointed.
That is because Kearney's writing in the first 100 pages is, at best, sub-par as the flow of the story is moving fast, and I mean really fast, without giving a lot of space for the protagonist to develop properly, or even being interesting enough (and by the way I almost dropped the book at that point but I pushed myself to continue). After that the first part of the book ends somewhat good with some ac
Jan 19, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The world is dying, seemingly forsaken by its creator. Mankind schemes, plots and wages wars across it, forgetting that another race once dwelled here. To some they where Angels, exiled for a long-forgotten crime; to others they were demons…

So starts the first book in Kearney’s new series, a tale woven with an eloquent style that is hard-edged and gritty. Set in a decaying world filled with legends and fragments of a glorious past, Kearney introduces his readers to fantasy on the high seas, the
Sep 15, 2014 Ana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fantasy Lovers
5 stars for me. I'm usually very stingy with my stars, but I definitely feel that this one deserved it. It was so good!! You know those books you read that when you finish them you wonder why they have been buried under a rock? Well those were my thoughts after I finished the incredibly good and sadly underrated The Mark of Ran.

In the land of Umer, The Creator and an ancient race of beings with untold powers once lived alongside humans. The Creator disgusted with what humans had become abandone
May 21, 2008 uroš rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The Review is originally available at Realms of Speculative Fiction

Paul Kearney might just be one of the undiscovered, rather than hidden, gems of fantasy fiction. His début “The Way to Babylon” (1992), two subsequent stand alone novels and a more traditional epic fantasy series “Monarchies of God” counting five books, all failed to bring a financial breakthrough even though these books were often praised by critics at least as competent efforts if not beyond that. His latest started (but never
Martin Belcher
Jun 25, 2012 Martin Belcher rated it it was amazing
I shamelessly picked up this book in my local Waterstones because the cover shouted out at me! I was very interested in seeing how a maritime ship based fantasy novel would go and I am really pleased I bought it!

A slow start soon speeds up gear into a real saltwater romp with plenty of action and some very interesting characters.

This is a fantastic read and the world that Paul Kearney has created is incredibly detailed with great depth and interest and I loved referring back to the map at the fr
Jun 24, 2015 Ojo rated it it was ok
Disappointing. That's the word for it. This proves that the author of a favourite series does not churn out great books all the time. This book is as bad as Monarchies of God series was good, despite both being written by the same author. While the writing is quite good, I didn't feel any connection whatsoever with the book. The characters seemed far-off, lifeless. The plot seemed directionless. It's like driving after you've had more to drink than is good for you. The treatment of women in the ...more
May 07, 2014 Zero007 rated it really liked it
Kearney's realistic description of the sea and the men who travel them make one want to leap onto a boat and sail away.
He accurately depicts a young boy's forlorn love grow into the hopeless love of a man. Kearney's writing has a pace which I really enjoyed. He did not breeze through his descriptions of landscapes, but rather you felt that you were there. However he did not linger overlong on describing a single view and this kept the story flowing on.
I enjoyed Rol's travel from denying his Bl
Sep 30, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it
Shelves: spec-fic
c2004. Recommendation from a book blogging site. Great read with all the elements that I love - the sea, magic, strong protagonist and great story told at a fast pace. After only a few chapters, I knew that this was a series I wanted to complete and promptly ordered Book 2. I was devastated to then find out that there was some sort of publishing rights issues and the 3rd book was never published and from what I have gleaned from the net - is not likely to be published. Boo Hoo. The blurb on the ...more
Scott Marlowe
Nov 30, 2010 Scott Marlowe rated it liked it
The Mark of Ran by Paul Kearney is the first in the Sea Beggars duology. As my mind wanders over the story and its characters, I'm not quite sure where the series title comes into play. The main character, Rol Cortishane, is at times without home or hearth, but never does he beg. He never needs to. Cast into the world after his guardian/grandfather is slain by an angry mob, Rol seeks out an old associate of his grandfather's in whom he finds a mentor willing to train him in the ways of his ances ...more
Shawn Spjut
Apr 27, 2013 Shawn Spjut rated it really liked it
The Mark of Ran; Paul Kearney, 2005; Bantam Books

A writer has less than five pages to grab my rather short attention span, unless they are someone like Terry Brooks who's ten or twenty page introduction is almost always worth the wait. Paul Kearney managed to do it within two, by using the theory less is more; at least in the beginning.

For the majority of "The Mark of Ran", a first in what was originally intended to be a four book series, the author invests a considerable about of time developin
Apr 11, 2012 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
•Mlle Alice, pouvez-vous nous raconter votre rencontre avec Le Sceau de Ran ?

"Une fois encore, je dois cette rencontre à Livraddict et au Livre de Poche. La couverture et le titre m'ont attiré et après un peu d'attente, il a miraculeusement atterri dans ma boîte aux lettres. "

•Dites-nous en un peu plus sur son histoire...

"Rol est un jeune garçon de 15 ans qui vit à l'écart de tous avec ceux qu'ils considèrent comme sa famille. Ils vivent de la pêche et son grand-père lui raconte des histoires
Clay Kallam
Oct 03, 2011 Clay Kallam rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Paul Kearney iembarked on an entirely new series, The Sea Beggars, and the first installment is ‘The Mark of Ran’ (Bantam Spectra, $12, 303 pages), and Kearney, like the authors of many new fantasies, is avoiding the sword-and-sorcery brand by putting primitive guns in his alien world populated (mostly) by humans.

The protagonist, Rol Cortishane, is not completely human, however, but like many of the best works of fiction, his background is part of a mysterious backstory that will be revealed alo
Charlene Roberts
Oct 17, 2012 Charlene Roberts rated it really liked it
I had picked up the 2nd novel of this series purely out of curiousity. The combination of seafaring with a fantasy element intrigued me.

Glad I went with my gut instinct! Paul Kearney's "The Sea Beggars" series has a wonderful fantasy element intertwined with life at sea and the men who live and die in it.

The hero is Rol Cortishane, a young man driven from his home to fend for himself. He eventually finds his uncle, who raises him to be an assassin, and is trained by the beautiful, but cold Rowen
Apr 19, 2009 K T rated it liked it
I almost gave up on this, but Steven Erikson's glowing jacket quote made me stick it out a little longer and I reached the beginning of the sailing section, which kept me hooked.

The writing is good, but I didn't like any of the characters, at least not for a while. There is a lot of unpleasantness in the first sections of the story and no charm. But then there is some thrilling sea action, some man against nature, some naval battles, and so on. Good action.

I also liked the way the Magical Orphan
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]I very much enjoyed it. It's the first in a series, so includes a certain amount of coming-of-age narrative: our hero, Rol, sees his family massacred, gets trained as an assassin, and becomes a successful naval warrior. The contrasting environments - especially the city where he gets his training, and a long desert interlude in the middle of the naval section - are very vividly realised. Possibly this demonstrates my own ignorance, but I felt ...more
Mar 24, 2012 Rob rated it really liked it
Not quite as 'seafaring' as I'd hoped, certainly doesn't compare to something like David Weber's "Safehold" series. Also, I was never able to pick up on why it is called "The Sea Beggars" series. Still, it was a decent read and I'll certainly try and lay my hands on the second volume,
This Forsaken Earth. I would like to see how this ends. A third and final volume was/is planned - Storm of the Dead (forthcoming in late 2012.)

I read that the series was dropped by the original publisher after the
Jul 10, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok
Not great. Drawn in like others by the cover endorsement by Steven Erikson, but giving up at the half-way point. Plot, characters, and setting all seem very thin, and the author uses some very unconventional language as well as 20th century idioms...all of which is to say that this book just didn't work for me. Promising idea, poor execution.

And FWIW, I don't believe in candy-coated reviews, especially not on a user site such as goodreads. If you want bloat and hype, there's always enough of th
Travis Littlechilds
Sep 22, 2013 Travis Littlechilds rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, military, war, pirate
I don't know what took me so long to read this. I'd seen it in goodreads recommendations, and by people on reddit, whose other reviews I trusted - but it took almost a year before I opened it.

It was awesome. The authors writing style is easy-reading, and it's character based story. I did feel like the main character lacked motivation, but I think that tends to happen more in this type of story *("Who am I, it's a mystery?")
Brennan Griffin
Apr 11, 2011 Brennan Griffin rated it liked it
Paul Kearney is regularly lauded as one of the best fantasy authors around, but for some reason, he just doesn't quite gel for me. Still, I would definitely take this above 90% of the Tolkien ripoff/mock feudal/quest fantasies permeating the shelves. With his settings in worlds that give off a palpable sense of decay, he has something in common with Tim Lebbon, and has enough original takes to keep me engaged throughout.
Nicole Hanson
Nov 12, 2012 Nicole Hanson rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I sure enjoyed this book. I have never read pirate fantasy before, and at first I was a little unhappy with the character development (main character turned into someone I wasn't sure I could respect), but as the story wears on, the world becomes richly textured, the characters deep and interesting, and I found myself having to look up words, which is unusual, but highly rewarding for me.

Loved it.
Carolyne Thrasher
Jul 23, 2013 Carolyne Thrasher rated it really liked it
Excellent world building. I haven't read much fantasy in the last 20 years. It seemed to all be basically the same story over and over. In a sense so is this novel. However, the approach was refreshing and the writing style easy but not dumbed down. I just checked book 2 out. I hope it is as good as book 1.
Jul 16, 2011 Janet rated it liked it
Shelves: wars-and-thrones
The Mark of Ran is a bleak, stormy take on the 'poor boy finds his destiny' trope. The tortured lives of the main characters felt raw and convincing. My main complaint is that the story seemed chopped off abruptly, without building to a clear climax (a la Robert Jordan).
May 26, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cross between Elric and Master and Commander I would say. A real page-turner and yet some of the sailing descriptions are really in depth and technical, but you still know what's going on.

Looking forward to reading more by this author.
Oct 27, 2009 Mohammed rated it really liked it
A stunning blend of quality storytelling,characters,action. I really like his prose too, it stands out compared to most modern fantasy authors.

If you like gritty,heroic,military fantasy then Paul Kearney is a must read.
Aug 16, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it
I read this book back when I lived at the McGreggor apartment, I plan to re-read it and then read the second installment.
Oct 04, 2008 Anonymole rated it it was amazing
This one was enthralling. The second less so but still entertaining. I look forward to the 3rd.
Dec 09, 2012 Todd rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This was a pretty enjoyable read. It took me awhile to stumble through the sailor jargon.
Aug 24, 2012 Andre rated it liked it
A classic fantasy tale but well written with an interesting naval aspect coming into it.
Aug 22, 2013 Renee rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, 2013, fantasy
This book was very interesting. I liked it. I may even check out it's sequel.
Kelly Flanagan
Jan 02, 2015 Kelly Flanagan rated it it was amazing
A great book. can't wait to read the rest of the series.
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Paul Kearney was born and grew up in Northern Ireland. He lived for some years in Copenhagen, then spent two years in America before returning to Britain in 1998.

Paul Kearney was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, in 1967. He went to a local grammar school, and then to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he read Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Middle English and was a keen member of the Mountaineering So
More about Paul Kearney...

Other Books in the Series

The Sea Beggars (2 books)
  • This Forsaken Earth (The Sea Beggars, #2)

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