S.D. Howarth is a British fantasy author, living in East Yorkshire with his wife, two children and two ungrateful cats with an endless yearning for food. By day, he works as an IT Manager. By night he writes (and edits) in the attic, finally getting some use out of his degree from UCNW Bangor.
This is his debut fantasy novel, set within ‘The World of Sanctuary’ with a further two books planned in this series. A previous short story, ‘Halidom’ from ‘Crater’, can be found in The Blackest Spells Anthology published by Mystique Press.
A grim, gory, profane seafaring tale filled with a lot of heart and absolutely head-over-heels-fall-in-love-with-them protagonists. Imagine if Quentin Tarantino wrote or directed a Ray Harryhausen film, and this would come close. A stalwart naval officer with a chip on his shoulder, an assortment of rough and tumble marines and seamen, and a noblewoman with true grit face off against sorcerers, monsters, and the awesome and terrible power of the sea.
The Tryphron Odyssey is an intriguing nautical fantasy full of action and adventure.
Aboard the Tryphon we meet a rag-tag band of sailors on a routine patrol to stamp out piracy. En route to their mission, they pick up two members of the nobility stranded at sea and from that point on, things go from bad to worse...
I haven't ready much nautical fiction, but I genuinely enjoyed this story. The author does a fantastic job of bringing so many characters to life to the point that it almost feels like you're on the ship, listening to the crew curse back and forth or banter with each other. The writing is sharp with some memorable pieces of dialogue between characters. Likewise, the action and battle scenes were vivid, bloody and gruesome.
The world building fascinating me more than anything. I enjoyed getting snap shots into the background of this mysterious world and how it ties into our own mythology.
Overall, this was an entertaining read and I look forward to book 2!
Set on the high seas in a secondary world, this story follows the crew of the Tryphon. When they pick up a floundering craft, containing a woman and her injured father, things take a turn for the worse.
I enjoy dense books with lots of characters and places, but I admit I found this one hard going at first. Although set on a ship, powered in part by magic, there were lots of references to an elaborate world, which involved ancient historical peoples; the Atlanteans; and non-human races. Connecting all these places is an orange, acidic sea. Some of the worldbuilding felt a little info dumped at times and, perhaps because we never really left the sea, I struggled to fully get my head around this rich setting.
Van Reiver, second mate on the Tryphon, is our main character, but there are other POVs as well. I enjoy this kind of style as we see events from different perspectives. There are officers and regular seamen, as well as marines. The friendships and rivalries you might expect in this setting were well explored. The action sequence in which the Tryphon was attacked was incredibly long, detailed, and visceral, perhaps the best ship-based battle I’ve read. Gory details and swearing abound, as you might expect when sailors are literally fighting for their lives.
The plot is compelling; you never feel like you really know what’s going to happen next. I did find the prose heavy going. Firstly, there are a lot of nautical terms I was ignorant of, but I was impressed with the author’s mastery of these specialist terms. Secondly, there were times when I felt it could have had a cleaner edit. Not for spelling mistakes or grammar, but sentences where the meaning wasn’t clear, or word choice was too complex. I found myself re-reading sentences quite frequently.
Overall, fans of epic style fantasy and naval settings will obviously be into this. It has a unique feel to it, in storyline and world, and so readers looking for something different than the usual fare should give this one a try.