Blog Tour - DARK SEA'S END by Richard Nell

Out of This World SFF is extremely delighted to be the final stop on fantasy author Richard Nell's DARK SEA'S END Blog Tour!  There are quite a few fantastic blogs that also participated in this tour, and I will list all of them at the end of this post so that you can check out their contributions.  DARK SEA'S END is the start of a brand new series, Beyond Ash and Sand, which is set in the same world as Nell's highly acclaimed Ash and Sand trilogy.  The book was officially released on June 1st and can be purchased on Amazon.  Next up will be a synopsis of this story, followed by my official review and some additional information on how to connect with Richard and his books.  So without further delay, here is a brief description of Richard Nell's latest adventure fantasy novel, DARK SEA'S END!

Book Blurb
Feared pirate and scoundrel "Lucky" Chang has a dirty secret: he loves his crew, and would die to protect them.  As he's dragged from prison to face the dark sea and a dangerous new world, he just might have to.

Zaya, warrior and skald from the land of ash, knows she has a destiny.  Having left her homeland with only a knife and a dream of adventure, she finds herself captured by pirates.  To discover her fate, and become a hero from the book of legends, she must first survive the sea.  

With a monstrous pilot as a guide, and an ex-assassin as captain, Chang, Zaya, and the crew of the mighty Prince sail into uncharted waters.  There they may find new lands and wealth, as well as glory beyond their dreams, or nothing but their doom.

Set in the same epic world as the award winning Kings of Paradise...this new series from author Richard Nell can be read on its own, or as a continuation of the Ash and Sand trilogy.  

Richard Nell is an author who I was introduced to through Mark Lawrence's Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off competition a few years ago.  I picked up his book Kings of Paradise and then subsequently devoured the entire Ash and Sand trilogy, loving every minute of it.  When I heard that Nell was penning a new series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  I wasn't disappointed as this was one of the more thrilling and entertaining reads I've had in quite a while.

DARK SEA'S END picks up almost immediately following the events that concluded Kings of Heaven, the final book in the previous series.  This is an entirely separate series however, and you need no prior knowledge of Ash and Sand to appreciate this book, even though a couple of familiar faces do make an appearance.  The first thing that I picked up on while reading this was the fact that it is not nearly as dark as Nell's first three full-length novels.  I would say that it is more of a nautical fantasy adventure story than Nell's trademark grimdark epics.  Are there moments of violence and action?  Absolutely.  But this book focuses more on the journey of the main characters, and how they cope with being strangers in a strange new land.   A land occupied by a warrior tribe who frequently engage in human sacrifice and sinister magic to appease their gods.

I liked that this was a fast-paced read that drops you pretty much immediately into the action.  It didn't take long before I was aboard the Prince as the main players embarked on their perilous quest across the dark sea.  The beginning of the story in particular gave me a warm and fuzzy Robin Hobb Liveship Traders mixed with RJ Barker The Tide Child trilogy vibe.  And no sooner do we experience the action aboard the ship, than we encounter the next part of the story that deals with the crew stumbling upon a new civilization, with laws and customs that are much different from their own.  Will they be welcomed peacefully as friends by these strange inhabitants?  Or will the crew of Prince come to regret leaving their home shores in search of fame and fortune?  The real fun with this story is finding out.

I'd like to touch on the main POV characters briefly because ultimately, their stories and unique personalities truly make this fantasy book come alive in the most vivid of ways.  First there's Chang, or "Lucky" as he's better known as.  Lucky is a pirate who has found himself in a tough situation aboard a strange ship traveling to an undetermined destination.  All Chang cares about is finding as much gold as he can and maintaining the respect and loyalty of his hodgepodge group of scallywags.  Chang's motivations aren't always pure, but his dedication and toughness can never be questioned.  Next is Zaya, who is rescued during Prince's voyage and gradually becomes part of this diverse group of seafaring scoundrels.  But Zaya knows her way around a knife and sword and can handle her own business, as she often does on this hazardous and unpredictable trek.  Lastly, there's Yucat, prince of the mysterious barbaric tribe and next in line to become king.  Yucat has always followed the laws put in place by the fanatical religious leaders who guide the tribe's leadership.  However, when he's ordered to do something unthinkable in the name of the "gods", he begins to somewhat question what he's been indoctrinated to believe since birth.  The destinies of these three may be crucially intertwined when all is said and done.

Richard Nell is incapable of writing an uninteresting story as far as i'm concerned.  Every book he puts out just sucks me in and has me totally engrossed in the central conflict.  There are quite a few conflicts going on in this book and all of them had me riveted from start to finish.  It's not often that you come across a book with such rip-roaring action that also has incredible character development, but Nell has managed to do that beautifully with DARK SEA'S END.  

I would be negligent if I also didn't mention that the world-building here is just extraordinary.  Nell has expanded on the amazing world that he brought us in the first series and taken it even further with a really rich history and geography.  It's such a nice compliment to what came before, yet it branches off into more wondrous directions.  

DARK SEA'S END turned out to be just the book that I needed right now.  No long expositions, no info-dumps, no long-winded dialogue, just full on action and treacherous situations that kept me glued to each page.  If you enjoy adventure stories that involve magic, dark demons, evil gods, and a fantastical world, then this should be your next read.  Richard Nell is an author who continues to work his own kind of magic with every tale that he spins and I'm happy to say that we are all the beneficiaries.  This is a captivating book no doubt and I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment in the Beyond Ash and Sand series.

Overall Rating:

About the Author
Richard Nell is a Canadian author of fantasy, living in one of the flattest, coldest places on Earth with his begrudging wife, who makes sure he eats.  He's been a dishwasher, brick-layer, bin-sweeper, floor-waxer, factory-worker, government employee, and managed a few teams in the bloody insurance business.  He went to school for none of those things.  He has one eye, a few useless English degrees, enjoys history and video games and learning of all kinds, because what he really loves are ideas.

Richard concerned family and friends by quitting his real job in 2014 to "write full-time", with no third-party indication this would be a good plan since approximately Grade 7.  Without knowledge of the market, or self-publishing, he decided it was now or never, and tried to write the kind of fantasy story he wanted to read.  So far the journey has been absolutely incredible.  You are most welcome to come along.

His debut novel, Kings of Paradise, is the first of a dark, epic fantasy trilogy.  It's officially a Canadian Amazon bestseller, and available on Amazon as an ebook, paperback, or audiobook.  The Ash and Sand series is now complete - the second (Kings of Ash) and third and final book (Kings of Heaven) now also available on Amazon.

You can connect with author Richard Nell and his books online via his Website, Twitter, and Goodreads.

And that concludes my stop on the DARK SEA'S END Blog Tour!  There are a number of other magnificent blogs taking part, so make sure to click the following links and check out their posts as well.  They are: Day 1: Grimmedian, Day 2: Fantasy Book Critic, Day 3: Bradley Horner's Book Reviews, and Day 4: The Bookwyrm Speaks.

Thanks so much for visiting the blog and for your continued support.  It is much appreciated.  Happy Reading!