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Emerald Sea

Author: John Ringo
Genre: Fantasy
Reviewed by Tom Feller

11110401I think that we would all consider paradise a world in which there is no war, work is optional, a worldwide computer system manages energy consumption and the weather, people teleport around the globe just for fun, and the average life expectancy is approaching 500 years in good health. Even the human form is optional. This sequel to There will be Dragons features characters that have had themselves changed into mermen, mermaids, orcas, and dolphins. Most of the nearly one billion human beings living on Earth around 4,000 AD feel they had a great life, except for a small minority who feel humanity has become decadent. They start a civil war and bring an end to that paradise. This book takes place about two years after the Fall with the world divided into two armed camps. One group, the Freedom Coalition, dominates North America while the other, New Destiny, controls Europe and Asia.

Edmund Talbot is one of the leaders of the Freedom Coalition, aka United Free States. In his previous life, he had been one of the world’s leading medieval re-enactors and was an expert swordsman. In this book, he undertakes a diplomatic mission to the Caribbean to persuade the mer-people to join the Freedom Coalition. The mer- people have so far maintained a strict neutrality, but New Destiny is preparing an invasion fleet to cross the Atlantic to North America. Talbot is accompanied by his wife Daneh, daughter Rachel, and aide Herzer Herrick. Herrick is a lieutenant in the Blood Lords, a combination of the Roman legionnaire and U.S. Marine. They travel via a dragon carrier, a clipper ship modified to carry dragons that fly off of and land on the deck. (Steamships are out of the question as no one has found any coal or oil, let alone built an engine.) Likewise, the dragons, a life form originally created by the Disney people and normally having the intelligence of a horse, are flown by people who did this for fun before the war. There is one exception, however. Joanna is an intelligent, articulate dragon created centuries before during a period known as the AI wars. She also has an attitude and does not suffer fools lightly.

Before the war, the mer-people had been engaged in the restoration of the coral reefs. After the war, getting enough to eat was their biggest challenge. To maintain their body temperatures, they require a high protein diet and a layer of fat. They also find having children outside a medical facility was their next biggest challenge. New Destiny also sends a diplomatic mission comprised of Orcas to persuade the mer-people to join their side.

Ringo also introduces a new character named Joel Travante, who had been one of the world’s few policemen before the Fall. However, Ringo really doesn’t do a whole lot with him. His presence does introduce us to his daughter Megan who is the main character of “In a Time of Darkness”, a novella that is included in this volume. She has the misfortune to be captured and thrown into the harem of one of the leaders of New Destiny.

This sequel is unusual in that it is better written than the original. There are no boring talking head passages, and the characters don’t have time to stand around and pontificate. I do recommend reading them in order, however, if only to get a glimpse of life before the fall. The bottom line is that I do recommend them, because of the fascinating premise and Ringo’s excellent execution.


November 28, 2004 in Fantasy | Permalink


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