AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING
Oceanlight, Book 1
by N.R. Bates
AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING. The interwoven fantastical tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds. In Oceanlight, Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, searches for her lover over immense seas only to find catastrophe and realization that her world is in turmoil.
Meanwhile in the safe suburban normality of North Wales, Einion Morgan Alban, a restless youth afflicted by a disease of the blood, is nearly murdered by a man in a white suit. Yalara and Einion must discover the causes of their near-deaths and their as yet unrevealed connections as they both face upheaval to their lives and their worlds.
This is a fantasy/science fiction novel which weaves between three very different worlds and does an amazing job delving the reader into each single one.
The story mainly centers around three characters: a sea sprite, who we meet as she searches for her lover but finds a destroyed village instead, a forest sprite who can travel to the human world and is on a secret mission, and a human from 1977 North Wales who discovers the forest Sprite's entrance (the thinness) and travels through time. This weave of time travel and fantasy was one of my more favorite parts.
This isn't a story built on action but world building. It isn't hard to guess that the author is an oceanographer as he goes in beautiful details, bringing things to life which might normally be looked over. Although I found the descriptions amazing, I'll admit that, for me, it was a bit much (I tend to like stories with more plot and action.) But still, there is definitely an art to this which shouldn't be overlooked.
The characters are interesting and easy to like. There were moments, I wished I would have had a better grip on their thoughts and intentions, but in general, they are well-rounded and engaging.
This wasn't an easy read. Especially the terminology made the beginning a little difficult to get into. Luckily, there is a glossary at the end to help out, and as one gets deeper into the book and accustom to the worlds, the entire story flows better. Since this centers more on world building than plot, it took awhile before it became clear where all the characters and worlds were heading. Even by the end of the book, nothing is really solved and tons of questions remain unanswered. But being the first in a series, I'll just say that this is definitely not a stand alone. Rather, it's a beautiful introduction to several worlds, which will (hopefully) deliver an amazing tale in the rest of the series.
And here he is. . .
NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors.
He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK.
His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences. He has also recently published a small book of short-stories set in Paris, entitled “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, The Fall of Icarus, and The Girl)”.