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Monday, 6 June 2011

Review: Immortal War

Author: Justin Somper

Release date: 9th June 2011
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Target audience: 10+
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Summary from Amazon:
A bloody war is raging across the oceans, with the Pirate Federation and Nocturnals in alliance against the renegade Vampirates, led by Sidorio and Lola. Lola might be heavily pregnant with twins, but it doesn't stop her from remaining an active in battle! Connor and Grace Tempest each have important roles to play - he as a pirate warrior at the heart of the fight; she as a powerful healer working with the war-wounded. As the twins face their greatest challenges to date, old allies and foes return to play their part in the ultimate battle of Pirate versus Vampirate.
Review:
Immortal War is the final book in the Vampirates series. I must admit I felt strange picking up this book having not read any of the other books in the series but it was neither as challenging or as mindboggling an experience as I expected. In fact, reading the last book in this series has opened my eyes as to why it is so popular – it is full of action, entertaining characterisation, deep moral questions and has a writing style which is as comfy as my favourite woolly jumper. I will go on to review this book as a story in itself so Vampirates beware, I may cast you a spoiler without intention.
There is one obvious problem starting a book in which other readers have lived with the characters through an epic journey. How do we relate to them when they have already experienced a huge back story? Does the author have to retell everything to help new readers follow? No, of course not. The author must just simply make you feel a connection with the heroes and repulsion for the villains. Somper did this with expert skill. In the first few chapters I wasn’t entirely sure who the main character was but I knew I was late joining the nocturnal party so I just went with him. I felt like a mighty warrior in doing so as the viewpoint switched frequently. But it was smooth sailing, I had an overriding sense that I was in safe hands. That is Somper’s particular skill, I was confident that everything would make sense in the fullness of time even when I was being introduced to perhaps the eleventh, twelfth or thirteenth character.
There are two main characters in this novel as well as a galleon full of supporting characters. There is Grace and there is Connor. They are twins and they are the children of a great prophecy. (I really hope that’s not an epic spoiler for the earlier books). Immortal War is a story of two sides in a great and bloody war. The Vampirates and the Pirate/ Nocturnal Alliance. As a new reader, it didn’t take me long to realise that we are meant to be on the side of the Alliance. They are trying to prevent the Vampirates drinking the mortals’ dry of their blood and they are ready to strike the very heart of the enemy’s empire. I also think it is fair to say that neither side is innocent in this war. In my own mind war is never the answer and it can never be justified. I really liked that the author raised the moral question about murder in the name of war. We do want the Alliance to win but we also recognise that war is not a perfect solution.
Luckily this is fantasy at its best and we can accept that there is the personification of pure evil. For me this was the role of Lola Lockwood. She is the wife of the legendary, ruthless, self-styled King of the Vampirates - Sidorio. Lola was every part Lady Macbeth. Sidorio was a blood-thirsty villain too but there are moments in the book where we see his humanity through his relationship with his children, so he never quite reached the level of evil that Lola did for me. I wonder if he was an even darker character in the earlier books and that this was part of his character arc. I’d be interested to know.
Overall, I found Immortal War to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. Being thrown into the middle of a war got me off to a cracking start and when you added that to the quirky characterisation and very comfy author voice, I couldn’t put it down. I’m sure fans of the series will find the conclusion immensely satisfying. For those considering giving the series a go, I think if you like The Spooks series by Joseph Delaney or Time Riders by Alex Scarrow, then you’ll love Vampirates.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending the book to review.
Read for the British Books Challenge 2011.

4 comments:

Cliona said...

I must read this series, it sounds really exciting!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

What an exciting and unique series! I haven't read any book in the series, but I can say you did a great job an reviewing it, despite your not having read the other novels beforehand.

Sarah said...

Don't worry Becky, having read the whole series I can confirm your review was spoiler free :o)

To answer your question about Sidorio he has gone through quite a transformation in the last couple of the books, at the beginning of the series we only saw his evil side but we have seen a softer side to him in the later books. I think Lola turned out to be much more evil than he was although I wouldn't say he was exactly a nice character LOL.

I hope you enjoy the earlier books if you decide to go back and start the journey from the beginning

Gareth said...

You have re-kindled my curiousity about this series - the YAs on my infrequent author talks often mention it and I am intrigued by your description of the somper's voice and how you felt you were in "safe hands".

I'm always keen to learn some new tricks - I'm putting Vampirates on my Amazon wishlist... but being a bit sad I'll probably have to start at the... uhh start.

Thanks for the review.