Ship Kings #1 The Coming of the Whirlpool | Andrew McGahan

One of the things you should know about me is that I can be a tad obsessive.
When I get it into my head that I haven’t read enough fantasy titles to provide a balance of genres on here I tend to jump in wholeheartedly.

So let me present fantasy title number four, Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan.

I was fortunate enough to score a signed reading proof. Allen & Unwin are still being a little coy about this book (click here to see what I mean) so I wont give away too much of the plot.

Even though this book is classified as fantasy, I would call it a coming of age story with lots of boats and marine metaphors. The fantasy is very light. We have a made up world – New Island -complete with maps (I love a good map!) and descriptive names like The Claw and The Rip. But we have no fantastical creatures (so far) or magical powers to contend with.

Dow Amber is the young man in question. Born into a wood cutters family high up in the mountains. As the eldest son he is destined to follow his father into the woods. But on his first outing Dow spies the sea from the top of a plateau…and so begins his quest.

I confess that I adored this book from start to finish (but then I’m one of the few people I know who has actually read ALL the Patrick O’Brian Master and Commander books).

McGahan has created a world and place you feel like you’ve been to before. His characters, especially Dow are well-drawn and believable. My only concern was the pace of the book. I’m happy to take my time with a book to savour the language and lose myself in the world. But I know that a lot of modern, younger readers demand more obvious action.

I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product in hardcover with more detailed maps and illustrations. Due out in Australia Nov 2011.

‘If you go to sea, you will come to the attention of the Ship Kings. And if they discover who you are, they will kill you.’ Young Dow Amber is no sailor. But driven by a strange sea-longing he ventures down to the great grim bay known as the Claw. He hopes to learn there of seafaring, but he finds only a fearful people who scarcely dare sail at all, for they have been cursed by a monstrous whirlpool that haunts the bay, stealing away their sons.

Then the rulers of all the world – the proud and cruel Ship Kings – arrive in the Claw. Dow is fascinated by their fine tall vessels, and even more so by a mysterious girl who lives aboard their flagship.

It is a perilous attraction to be sure, but could it be that his future somehow lies with the Ship Kings? Or will he be called upon to descend to his death, when the terrible whirlpool rises once more?

The Coming of the Whirlpool is the first volume in a stunning series from Miles Franklin Award winner Andrew McGahan.

3 thoughts on “Ship Kings #1 The Coming of the Whirlpool | Andrew McGahan

  1. Have been reading to my Yr 7 class with the map scanned on the interactive whiteboard so they can follow Dow's journey down to the The Claw. Bush kids but absolutely loving it…. Have read all Andrew McGahan's novels but am very impressed that he can adapt to write so well for older children.


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