Scarlet Tides by David Hair is a great fantasy read, a sequel that is even better than the first book in the Moontide Quartet series, Mage’s Blood. It is a complex novel with several interweaving plot lines, but it is a richly rewarding epic read full of intrigue and unraveling alliances. While Scarlet Tides can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, checking out Mage’s Blood first will likely make reading the sequel an even more rewarding experience.
Like all of the best fantasy novels, Scarlet Tides has its villains and heroes. The Rondian legions, acting in the name of the Emperor Constant, make their way through the East part of the kingdom of Urte much like General Sherman on his journey to Atlanta, leaving a path of devastation in their wake. The East has fairly recently been re-opened due to Leviathan Bridge having been uncovered by the sea. This has allowed the Emperor Constant to continue his Third Crusade.
A major problem that arises for Emperor Constant is that a magical artifact, the source of all magical power in Urte, the Scytale of Corineus, has gone missing. The Emperor desperately wants to recover it, and he sends his ruthless Inquisitors forth to locate it and reclaim the powerful weapon. They will search throughout two continents and will stop at nothing in their search for the Scytale. The Emperor Constant, who is actually a puppet ruler under the control of his mother, Mater-Imperia Lucia, realizes that if the Scytale is found by whoever might try to oppose him, who also can harness the magical artifact’s powers, the invasion by his forces could be stopped.
That brings the topic of this review of Scarlet Tides to the rather unlikely trio of heroes who attempt to foil the Emperor Constant’s plans at world domination. The trio consists of Ramita, who was once a market-girl of low birth, the gypsy Cymbellea, otherwise known as Cym, and Alaron Mercer, a mage from the west of Urte who has a lot of magical potential, but has demonstrated limited magical skills up to this point in the Moontide Quartet series.
It is in the hands of Cym, who stole it and left Norostein near the end of Mage’s Blood. Cym plans to take the magical artifact to the powerful Bridge-Builder Antonin Meiros. Her friends follow her using a windship, but, before very long, the Inquisitors are on their trail. Alaron survives, but only with the help of short-lived human magical serpentine constructs called the lamiae.
Ramita has been given powers she does not yet fully understand when she was made pregnant by the now-deceased Bridge-Builder. Though she is held captive, she escapes with the aid of her dead husband’s cold daughter, Justina.
That just begins to touch on the complexities of plot of the great fantasy novel, Scarlet Tides. The author has mentioned in interviews that he keeps very detailed records of all of his characters and the lands he writes about, much as J.K. Rowling has said is true in her case, as well. Scarlet Tides and The Moontide Quartet series might put readers in mind of George R.R. Martin’s Ice and Fire novels or the Wheel of Time novels of Robert Jordan. Scarlet Tides is highly recommended to fans of fantasy novels, but reading Mage’s Blood first will make reading the sequel an even more rewarding experience. Unholy War will be the name of the third novel in the series.
Written By Douglas Cobb