Bibliophile's Retreat

Bookish Musings, Banter & More

Seabird by Sherry Thompson – My Review

Originally Posted at Bibliophile’s Retreat by Melissa Meeks

This month’s CFRB tour is a highly anticipated fantasy read. Based on recommendations from other reader/blogger/reviewers I respect I looked forward to receiving my preview copy in the mail.

Once I got my hands on this I found it started out rather slow but I’ve come to realize that is true in most fantasy novels due to the world building necessary to orient the reader in a foreign environment. While all that detail can be off putting or even relegate a book to the abandoned pile very quickly, I am very much into the small stuff and appreciate the effort good fantasy authors put into not only creating and enmeshing the reader in their worlds but the research and time required to make those worlds feasible even when they are far removed from anything we might consider real.

Now enough of my lollygagging about on minor stuff and on to the meat of the book. The story premise this author uses may sound old, tired and overused as you’d think in reading the synopses it is simply another Chronicles of Narnia type plot. I’ve got news for you here readers, yes Cara is thrust into an unfamiliar new world that runs on its own clock and expected to save it because she showed up at the right (wrong) time depending on your perspective on the matter but there is so much more to this good versus evil battle for the very existence of Narenta and to Cara’s story as well.

We start out with Cara and her family enjoying a seaside holiday together with the typical accompaniments of sunburn and token souvenirs. Cara has discovered and acquired one such souvenir in the form of a necklace which resembles our shoreline avian residents here on earth yet if depicting a true species is not of our world. After donning her new treasure, Cara finds herself in not only an unfamiliar woodsy setting but surrounded by flora, fauna and colors that she cannot understand as anything but a dream though even that seems a far stretch for her mind. Very shortly she is informed that it is her duty to save these people and their world from a vague threat that has been building for some time and only an “outworlder” is able to do so. Cara is not only reluctant to take on this mission but apprehensive of her success and wants nothing more than to run the other way. Not only does Seabird tell us the back story of Narenta and its current predicament as well as Cara’s outward journey to discover what must be done to redeem herself and this foreign world from destruction but she also faces a much deeper and far reaching internal journey of discovering faith in Alphesis (the God figure in Narenta) and faith in herself as well as her unique qualification for the mission she is presented.

Being one who, like Cara, avoids change and especially any change involving risk or danger to my own comfort and security I can easily relate to her choice to make a break for “home” instead of following the instructions for the next step in her alleged mission. Little does she know at the time that completing this mission is her only hope of returning to her own world once more and attempting to circumvent the responsibility thrust upon her will only delay this homecoming as well as place her in even more danger.

Will Cara realize her value not only to the Narentans but also that value intrinsic to who she is created to be? Can she discover a deeper faith in the ultimate power and knowledge of Alphesis (God) that also recognizes her own worth and place in His creation as a unique entity that nothing else can emulate? Cara’s journeys are those we all face at times perhaps to a lesser degree in some cases but always evolving to push us outside the boxes we create both for ourselves and for God that can never contain even a fraction of who He truly is or what He can do in our lives if we embrace the possibilities for growth He desires to cultivate in us.

Codicil:
Visit Sherry online at her website and blog. Purchase a copy of Seabird and find more info by clicking on the bookcover or Title link above. And don’t forget to visit the other CFRB members posting this week using the buttons above.

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5 comments on “Seabird by Sherry Thompson – My Review

  1. David
    January 8, 2009

    There’s a little thing that I noticed and it seems some of the other reviewers either missed or left out. It’s not when she puts on the necklace that she is whisked off to Narenta, but after donning it over top of a blue caftan, because it didn’t look right with her other clothes. This is small, but significant, as the caftan PLUS the seabird necklace is the basic dress of the Elder Ones.One thing I failed to mention and others have, on the other hand, is the bursts of colors in this new world. It’s almost as if everything is the opposite color they’re supposed to be, except for people. That’s not exactly it however. It’s more like seeing more than we see. I’ve often wondered what our world would look like if we could see the whole spectrum, because ultraviolet and infrared are invisible to the human eye. They are visible to other animals, although they don’t get the spectrum we get. So what would green grass look like if you added in the ultraviolet and infrared to what we look at? I don’t rightly know, but it gives me a feeling of awe and completeness that would make our world seem like a shadow of the real thing. I’m not sure where Sherry was going with this. Maybe she just wanted to make things different. Well she succeeded in a big way.David Brollier

  2. xanthorpe
    January 9, 2009

    What a great review; you’ve hit on (what I believe) is one of the strong subtexts in Seabird: obedience coupled with value.As a parent of teenagers, I am very familiar with the dichotomy that seems to revolve around these two ‘issues’. Our teens seem to think that for them to have value, they must be allowed to follow their own path. However, as we come under the influence of God – call it obedience if you will – we find that our ‘value’ increases exponetially. I pray daily for the patience we need to let this realization come to our boys.Sherry captured this very well in Cara’s journey to her own realization.

  3. David
    January 10, 2009

    In reference to the blue caftan, it’s been a while since I read Seabird, but I seem to recall water and the color blue being significant: the narthrous, the “streams.” Perhaps there’s something about the combination of the necklace and the color blue. David

  4. tree-lady
    January 11, 2009

    Melissa, I am sorry that I hadn’t commented here yet. I sure thought that I had by now, but the reviews and commentary have been coming in at such a rate that I missed responding to what some people have written. I’m very embarrassed! You all put so much thought and effort into all of those. I don’t want anyone — least of all you — to think that I didn’t notice or that a post wasn’t worth responding to.Now on to the commentary!It sounds — from the beginning of your review — like Seabird was a hard sell. This is not the first time that I’ve gotten that impression. The story begins slowly, despite everything I could think of to change that. My mistake maybe was using the setting of quiet Melwood and the gentle Young Ones at the outset.However, I doubt that Alphesis would have plunked Cara down in the middle of unwelcoming people or on the edge of a precipice.I agree also that it’s difficult to get past the usual fantasy tropes. Especially that of Lewis’s Narnia and the travel between worlds. I appreciate your perseverance in continuing to read. I hope that fantasy readers who are not directly involved in the tour manage to keep going as well.To answer a couple of your points. Yes, Cara needs to learn that she is a unique creation with abilities and a personality that set her apart from everyone else but that like all of his children, Alphesis has a plan for her. We’re each given those same gifts, plus that scary one of free will. Cara uses that one in an effort to misuse the other ones. Don’t we all? Okay, let me reword that! I know that -I- do. Part of that stems from worrying that God may not be there for us if we take risks and venture outside of our “comfort zone”. But of course, God is lots bigger than our comfort zones. LOTS bigger. Melissa, I agree with you about change. I rarely welcome it. It took a veritable charge of dynamite under me to convince me to leave the university for instance.As far as the necklace and blue robes are concerned, David, you have it exactly right. Trying to clarify that via Cara’s conversations with Abdis was important — and probably also one of the scenes than contributed to how slowly the book starts. Some days, ya just can’t win. Wink.David, you are without doubt the first person to figured out the colors! No one knows what the world would look like to us if our eyes could process other parts of the spectrum. I’ve seen pictures of what scientists think insects “see” when looking at flowers. If I remember correctly bees process part of the ultraviolet spectrum and as a result see a virtual welcome mat leading to the center of the flower, for many species. Cats and dogs tend to see more of the yellows and blues while humans who are partially color-blind tend to retain a bit of the reds and greens. So, just the opposite. I began with a couple of premises. First I posited an inert gas in Narenta’s atmosphere that would add a touch of red to the sky. This shifted the color toward a periwinkle blue and away from our blue (at the other end of the blues”. Our sky gets its unique tint thanks to water molecules. If you could survive standing somewhere in Jupiter’s mass, you definitely wouldn’t see blue above you. No water molecules.Lewis decided on a pale gold color to Venus’ sky in Perelandra, probably based on the astrophysics available to him when he was writing the book.But back to Narentan flora. I’ve taken some heat for choosing the colors that I did. However, the leaf colors are all quite possible for plants that process with chlorophyll — mint green obviously, violet is not -that- far removed from the dark red of a Schwidler (sp?) red maple. Orange is a lot trickier for a chlorophyll-laden leaf but at that point, I couldn’t resist. If you look at a standard color wheel, our primaries are red, yellow and blue. Shift over one from each of those and you have orange, green and purple. I just shrugged at that point and said, “Hey, we don’t know what colors would look like if we could see infra-red, so I’m going with it!”UtMSherryT

  5. tree-lady
    January 11, 2009

    Oh, Melissa, I was amused by an early observation in your review. You wrote, “I found it started out rather slow but I’ve come to realize that is true in most fantasy novels due to the world building necessary to orient the reader in a foreign environment.”Back in 2003, maybe, I submitted the Prologue of Seabird to a workshop to be held at a conference. Now please keep in mind that this was a conference the focus of which was speculative fiction. I believe that the workshop admission parameters stated that we must submit our first chapter — or prologue — for evaluation by the pros who had agreed to run the workshop.I don’t remember what the other members of the workshop said but the reaction of a literary agent still amuses and annoys me. She kept pressing me to add information on where, exactly, the action was taking place. I reminded her that the passage described a passageway in the mountains but that wasn’t good enough. She asked essentially yes, but a passageway between where and where?I remember looking at her and kind of biting my tongue to keep from saying “between England and France. It’s the Chunnel (commuter tunnel under the English Channel).” Instead, I explained that it was the passageway between Tethra and Thalassa but that that didn’t really matter at the moment. If I mentioned the names of the two countries, wouldn’t I have to explain stuff about the countries next?She was adamant but eventually I gave up — or else the moderator said that time was up. Oddly enough, I saw her later at the conference and she asked me to send her a query. I just kind of gaped at her. Was she thinking about someone else from the workshop?Actually, I never sent her the query. UtM,SherryT

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This entry was posted on January 8, 2009 by in Review and tagged .
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