12. The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon
Publication: Starscape; 1st edition (April 1, 2008) (originally published 2006), Paperback, 368pp / ISBN 0765347725
Genre: MG/YA, Fantasy
Read: January 18-19, 2010
Summary from Amazon:
Charles Magnus Ven Polypheme—known as Ven—is the youngest son of a long line of famous shipwrights. He dreams not of building ships, but of sailing them to far-off lands where magic thrives. Ven gets his chance when he is chosen to direct the Inspection of his family’s latest ship—and sets sail on the journey of a lifetime.
Attacked by fire pirates, lost at sea and near death, Ven is rescued by a passing ship on its way to the Island of Serendair. Thankful to be alive, little does Ven know that the pirate attack—and his subsequent rescue—may not have been an accident. Shadowy figures are hunting for the famed Floating Island, the only source of the mystical Water of Life. They think Ven can lead them to this treasure and will stop at nothing to get it—even murder….
This was a surprisingly good book! I say “surprising” because based on that cover I figured it would be a ham-fisted epic fantasy thing with elves and wizards and what have you. My prejudice against it got so bad that I was wondering why the heck I had even bought it, because it’d probably be horrible. Well. It’s not horrible. In fact, it’s very, very good.
Probably what I like best about The Floating Island is how the world, and the narrative, feel like these massive exciting landscapes that need desperately to be explored. And they need to be explored by the wonderful protagonist, Ven, who’s not human and doesn’t want to be. I can’t even remember the last book I read with a protagonist who wasn’t human (or a cat). I thought that detail was really refreshing and interesting.
Ms Haydon’s writing is really good, too. It’s a great fantasy she’s written, with fantastically exciting plotlines and a world that’s somehow been built from very little description– it’s like she’s sort of sketched out a map with lots of bits missing (we only see two small islands in this book) but with the potential for great places to be added in. I really want to know more about the world she’s created, what the people are like and how they live and what they do for fun. And, most of all, what sort of adventures they go on!
Luckily Ven is going to chronicle those things for me (and you!), and I can’t wait to read the next book. Don’t be fooled like the cover like I was. This book is definitely worth picking up!
Okay, wait. I just realized that the cover has a dragon on it…but there’s no dragon in the book! I don’t think a dragon was even mentioned! Wth? Not only does the cover has to be ugly, it has to be unimaginative as well? Ugh.
The inside illustrations are done by Brett Helquist, by the way. They should have just gotten him to do the cover, honestly.