Personally I think those that ranked this low just didn't 'get it'. Yes, he used a ton of source material, but he wove it together into such an original, rich tapestry of an entirely new world. I mean, the Arthur legend side-by-side with Captain Nemo? Who would have thought it?
The surprise ending is just the icing on the cake to his easy to read, well-written novel that flows across the imagination like the sea that surrounds the Archipelago of Dreams.
I have also read the sequel, which did NOT disappoint this classic fantasy and fairy tale enthusiast, and I anxiously await the third this fall.