Review: The Serpent Sea, Martha Wells

The Serpent SeaTitle: The Serpent Sea (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Martha Wells (website)

Rating: ★★★★★

Moon, once a solitary wanderer, has become consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. Together, they travel with their people on a pair of flying ships in hopes of finding a new home for their colony. Moon finally feels like he’s found a tribe where he belongs. But when the travelers reach the ancestral home of Indigo Cloud, shrouded within the trunk of a mountain-sized tree, they discover a blight infecting its core.

Nearby they find the remains of the invaders who may be responsible, as well as evidence of a devastating theft. This discovery sends Moon and the hunters of Indigo Cloud on a quest for the heartstone of the tree — a quest that will lead them far away, across the Serpent Sea.


Series: Books of the Raksura #2 of 3
Genre: High fantasy
Published: Night Shade Books, January 2012
Pages: 331
My copy: Library

Paper copies: • • Book Depository
E-copies:  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)


Please note: This review is for the second in this series, and so contains spoilers for the first book. You may wish you read my review of The Cloud Roads instead!

Moon and the survivors from Indigo Cloud court have fled their old home after the Fell devastated it. The windships bring them across the lands to their ancestral home – a great mountain tree, but when they arrive they discover that the tree’s seed is missing – the magical artefact that keeps the enormous tree alive and allows the Arbora mentors to control its growth. It is clear that the seed was stolen by groundlings within the past year, but where have they taken it and for what purpose? The quest to recover the seed takes Moon, Jade, Stone and a group of other Raksura to another established court nearby, then across the great sea to a city built on the back of a great leviathan.

The locations and landscapes in this series continue to blow me away – Indigo Cloud’s mountain tree, the Emerald Twilight court and the city on the Leviathan were intricately described and the range of different creatures and beings in this world had me thinking about it long after I had put the book down.

I think the real draw for me with this story is the way the characters interact – Moon, Jade, Stone, Chime and the other Raksura have such a teasing but affectionate way with each other that is a delight to read. Moon and Jade are together in this book, but there’s no annoying love triangle or anything, simply a happy romance.

Moon spent most of The Cloud Roads trying to work out what was going on in the court culture, but even though he has more of an idea in The Serpent Sea, he still spends a lot of the time hoping he’s not getting everything terribly wrong. I can see how this self-doubt and his general grumpiness might annoy some people but to me it was completely endearing, especially as Moon learns more about the position Consorts hold in more established courts and as he gradually decides to be himself rather than conform to what may be expected of him.

The pace is not particularly break-neck, but the adventure continuously moves forward so it never becomes tedious. The story keep developing in odd ways that I wasn’t expecting, and that kept me turning the pages.

I’d highly recommend The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea to anyone who would enjoy a fantasy adventure, set in an alien but beautifully described world. I’ll definitely be looking out for the third book in this series, The Siren Depths – I don’t want to stop reading about these characters!

Warnings: Graphic violence, sexual situations (not graphic)

Books of the Raksura

The Cloud Roads The Serpent Sea The Siren Depths


What did others think of The Serpent Sea?

  • “This is well-written fantasy and has an incredibly creative, visual story-telling style.” – Janicu’s Book Blog
  • “(The Serpent Sea) presents one of the most beautifully rendered Fantasy worlds I have ever encountered.” – The Book Smugglers
  • The Serpent Sea is a wonderful continuation of the Books of the Raksura. It is brimming with creativity, adventure, and characters both relatable and endearing.” – Fantasy Cafe

Review: The Cloud Roads, Martha Wells

cloudroadsTitle: The Cloud Roads (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Martha Wells (website)

Rating: ★★★★★

Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success.

Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself… someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community.

What this stranger doesn’t tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power… that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony’s survival, and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself and his newfound kin.


Series: Books of the Raksura #1 of 3
Genre: High fantasy
Published: Night Shade Books, March 2011
Pages: 278
My copy: Library

Paper copies: • • Book Depository
E-copies:  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)


Moon has spent his life hiding his true nature from those around him. A shifter with two forms, the only other creatures he has encountered like him were the evil Fell, and he knows he’s not one of them. When he is betrayed by one of the groundlings he has been living among, he is rescued by another just like him. Soon he is among the Raksura – his own kind, although he has no idea how to behave around them. He discovers that there are several types of Raksura, and that he is a Consort, a fertile warrior able to provide Queens with a clutch of babies. The Indigo Cloud court is in danger from the Fell, and they must relocate to a safer location. Moon finds himself helping them with their mission and must decide if he fits in enough to join the court, or fly away to solitude once more.

The Cloud Roads is a shifter story, but without all the bothersome were-creature antics. There aren’t even any humans in the Three Worlds – the different races of groundlings are humanoids but differ by their blue, green or other coloured skin and various combinations of spines or claws. The Raksura are interesting creatures as well, with their Matriarchal society ruled by the physically dominant Queens – more like bees than humans.

There are quite a lot of characters both among the Raksura (who all have short, confusable names) and among the other races, some more developed than others. The Raksura warriors and Queens had very enjoyable banter and relationships, although I felt that Pearl and Jade’s differences were solved a little too easily towards the end of the story. Moon himself was quite grumpy – I couldn’t really understand why he was so desperate to get away from the Indigo Cloud court after being on his own for such a long time, but I did feel for him.

All the interesting creatures presented in this world make this story a fascinating read. Places and people are described quite well and I found myself transported to a world of high mountains, floating islands and wooden airships. On the whole this is quite a light read – just the sort of story that transports you to another place and leaves you hoping that the good guys will win. In some ways, I found myself thinking that the story had the potential to be expanded to a much more epic tale if the motivations of the Fell were explored more, and if more than just a couple of nights was spent in each location. The story didn’t feel rushed, I just might have liked to hear a bit more about the floating islands and rotating city – fascinating and imaginative elements that were slightly glossed over.

There is just enough information given through dialogue about the society of the Raksura to get the gist of the way things work and move the story forward at pace. The ending tied ends up nicely, but I still went and requested the next one at my library right away! I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Three Worlds to see what the future holds for Moon and the Indigo Cloud court.

If you’re after a fresh, unique fantasy with plenty of action, put The Cloud Roads on your reading list!

Warnings: Graphic violence, sexual situations (not graphic)

Books of the Raksura

  1. The Cloud Roads
  2. The Serpent Sea
  3. The Siren Depths


What did others think of The Cloud Roads?

  • “A hive-like society, an orphan in search of his people, and a world populated by strange races, none of them human. The Cloud Roads is recognizable fantasy, but with a fresh spin.” – Janicu’s Book Blog
  • “The Cloud Roads is a terrific fantasy novel that stands out due to imaginative world-building, accomplished writing and engaging storytelling.” – Fantasy Book Critic
  • “Once in a while it’s refreshing to read a book with a clear good side and a well-meaning main character to root for, and The Cloud Roads is one example of a book that both does this concept very well and adds some originality with the world-building.” – Fantasy Cafe

Tour: Flight, Alyssa Rose Ivy – Excerpt

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s stop on the Flight Blog Tour! Today I’m pleased to share with you an excerpt from Flight, the first book in the Crescent Chronicles series. 


Closing my eyes, I tried to block it all out. Convinced I was about to die, I was only partly aware of his arms around me.

“You said you wanted an adventure,” he said quietly, teasingly, as he tightened his hold.

My stomach dropped out as an intense and complete feeling of weightlessness engulfed me.

The wind stung my face as memories flooded my mind. I thought of my parents, of all the things I wanted to tell them but never did, my friends from home, and the experiences I longed for. Quickly my thoughts changed to more recent memories, to Levi.

“Open your eyes,” he whispered, somehow knowing my eyes were clenched shut.

Against my better judgment, I listened. The scream died in my throat as we hurtled toward the water that had seemed so beautiful from the roof above.


Title: Flight (Goodreads)
Author:  Alyssa Rose Ivy (@alyssaroseivy)

Series: The Crescent Chronicles #1
August 16, 2012
Genre: Young adult Paranormal Romance

Paper copies: •
E-copies: • Barnes & Noble

Sometimes you just have to take flight.

A summer in New Orleans is exactly what Allie needs before starting college. Accepting her dad’s invitation to work at his hotel offers an escape from her ex-boyfriend and the chance to spend the summer with her best friend. Meeting a guy is the last thing on her mind—until she sees Levi.

Unable to resist the infuriating yet alluring Levi, Allie finds herself at the center of a supernatural society and forced to decide between following the path she has always trusted or saving a city that might just save her.

The Tour

To enter to win a copy of Flight, and for more excerpts, reviews and guest posts, check out the other stops on the blog tour!



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