Last time on Against the Tide, the Protagonists were summoned to not!Polynesia by a Godlike Octopus, and were attacked by seagulls en route. Will they survive the trip? Find out after the cut.
Feathers were suddenly everywhere, surrounding him, blocking out the sky and his friends and the air he had been breathing. Gray-and-white wings beat furiously at Conor’s ears like blacksmith hammers trying to knock his brains out. An impossibly sharp beak jabbed at his face, at his vulnerable eyes, at his throat.
Oh, no. The party suddenly finds themselves on the set of a Hitchcock movie. Only instead of flocks of seagulls (or an 80s one-hit-wonder band) attacking the party en masse, it’s just a single seagull spirit animal trying to steal a McGuffin. The party manages to scare the seagull off.
Unfortunately, the party — well, mainly Meilin — angsts over how they can’t trust each other because one of them is a mole. Meilin highly suspects Abeke to be the mole because of her relationship with Shane. Abeke insists that she’s not a mole because she cares about the rest of the party. Meilin, of course, feels the same way about the party, hence all the angst. Conor just wants to make Abeke feel better after all the accusations. Rollan used Discern Lies on the entire party and found no seditious thoughts. And Tarik just thinks that the Devourer is messing with them.
So who is the mole? Meilin wants revenge on the Conquerors for invading Zhong and killing her dad, so Conor doesn’t think it’s her. It can’t be Abeke because Conor thinks she’s unerringly loyal. It can’t be Rollan because he didn’t join the Conquerors when he learned Aidana was with them, and he was emotionally disturbed when he learned about the Bile’s body-snatching powers. Tarik is the Designated Mentor Figure, so it’s not him. It could be Lenori, since she’s a seer, but Conor doesn’t think she’d betray the party.
So, basically, Conor doesn’t have any good leads.
“Are there any talismans that control the weather?” Rollan moaned from his hammock. The wind whistled outside, and furious waves thumped against the boards of the ship. The lanterns shook and swayed, flinging shadows jerkily around the room. Across the cabin, Abeke lay in her hammock with her arms over her face, silent. All of their animals were in passive state, even Essix.
The party is cooped up inside the ship while a hurricane rages outside. Thankfully, the party’s Cool Ship is whale-powered, so they’re still on course for Oceanus.
Conor has had enough of Rollan and Meilin arguing over how they’ll stop the storm, and the foul weather has actually improved, so he decides to go out on the deck for some fresh air. This turns out to be a Good Idea, because he spots their destination — the Hundred Isles. The rest of the party joins him after he relays the good news.
Unfortunately, Rollan — with his Enhanced Sight — spots a Conqueror fleet blocking the party’s path to the islands. I guess that means it’s time for a Naval Battle, a la Horatio Hornblower or Master and Commander!
Of course, to make matters worse, there’s Bile-enhanced sharks swarming in the water, attacking the whales that are towing the ship. Abeke shoots at them, but the sharks swim out of range. Meilin decides to take matters into her own hands by equipping a spear and jumping off the ship.
I hope Meilin realizes that fighting sharks underwater isn’t a Good Idea…
Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
Abeke thinks that Shane can be reasoned with if the party can get him away from the Conquerors. You’ll see how well that turns out in the next book.
Why doesn’t Jhi cast Heal on Conor after he got attacked by seagulls?
Conor considers that the mole isn’t a person … but a spirit animal that’s been following the party. Spoiler: I WOULD HAVE LIKED THAT TWIST. But, unfortunately, the mole is an actual person.
Best part of this book so far: stuff from prevoius books are actually referenced! Rollan remembers how Discern Lies didn’t really work in Samis when Pia gave the party the broken compass.
To answer Rollan’s question: the only McGuffin that remotely has powers over weather is the Bronze Eagle of Halawir, which grants the power to part the air around its wearer. I forget if anyone actually uses it in the books.
The albatross legend apparently exists on Erdas: Rollan jokes that he’ll wear an albatross around his neck in order to scare the storm off. Of course, he’s using the metaphor incorrectly, and Meilin makes sure to point that out.
Rollan’s reaction to another random battle with the Conquerors: a sarcastic “Yay!” He’s quickly becoming my favorite character, because he seems to know he’s in a stupid book series. (Or this author is actually writing him well.)
Conor now carries both an axe and a staff. I guess he couldn’t decide which one had better stats. If you’re wondering why Conor still bothers carrying a staff, wait until Book 7, when Conor briefly gets an Epic Staff with an Important Capitalized Name.
The Conquerors’ ships are wind-powered, as evidenced by the sails. I guess whale-powered ships are exclusive to the Greencloaks.
Maya’s Fireball ability actually has an official name in-series! It’s called Dragon Ember, and the highest level version of the spell only affects enemies. I’m mentioning it here because Conor laments not having Maya around to destroy the Conqueror fleet. (Thanks, Spirit Animals wiki.)
I’ve noticed that I’ve written a lot more notes for this book’s recaps than for the previous ones. And I’m barely annoyed by the characters or the plot. What happened?
Rollan makes a silly remark about the McGuffins’ powers:
“I forgot the talismans can only do normal, logical things like make a wolf the size of a house.”
“Were you wondering if someone sent this storm to us?” Conor asked Rollan. He felt as green and seasick as the other boy looked. Their ship had been tossed and shaken and beaten and pummeled for days by hurricane-force winds and driving rain. At least they didn’t have to worry about sails, which would have been destroyed immediately. The two massive rockback whales who towed the ship kept them steady and as close to their course as they could.
Next time: Meilin and BATTLE PANDA save the whales.