I was on one of the campuses I often substitute teach on, and I had a class in the library when I looked over and the librarian had a nice stack of just-out-of-the-box books. In beautiful purple and gold, there was The Speaker, Book Two of Sea of Ink and Gold. I could have died. When I told her I had read and loved The Reader and couldn’t wait to read The Speaker, she let me borrow it! I am so very grateful to her! I read The Reader almost exactly one year ago, and I’m posting this review a year later on the dot, which is pretty cool timing. Here’s my Review.
Young Adult / Fantasy
Having barely escaped the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.
With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. As Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard so long ago, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdom against kingdom, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance. (Goodreads)
Oh. My. Gosh.
Okay, I loved The Reader. But I REALLY loved this next installment, The Speaker. And I’m very glad I read the last half of it at home, because crying like I was in front of a bunch of freshmen would probably have been awkward for everyone.
I thought I’d have trouble remembering what had happened in the first book, but Chee did a wonderful job of reminding me just enough that it wasn’t an issue. And it certainly was no difficulty falling back into the fascinating world of Kelanna and its inhabitants. In this book we discover there is a lot of things Sefia and Archer hadn’t learned yet, and we get a lot more information about the Guard: its members, its goal, its politics. There are also shocking discoveries about the characters we’ve been following, and man, was I blindsided by some of them! I think I even had a few audible reactions.
There were also several times when my auto-Western reading had me go back and re-read the introduction to a character because they were played by a different gender than the “norm.” I absolutely love this!
Edit: I forgot to add somethings I love. I loved the exploration of the question of fate. Is it already written? Is there something that can be done to change it? Also, there’s the question of good and evil, and the way those two things can be hard to extinguish–sometimes something that has a good intention is executed in a poor way, and the result is some morally gray area that, even when poked and prodded and explored, can still be unclear. I also like how the characters fall into this category. This was another thing that had me making audible reactions.
While the main viewpoints still belong to Sefia and Archer, I really enjoyed the larger group and the heartbreak that came along with it.
Chee has weaved together the threads of this story in a very detailed and intricate way, and I love how we get to see the different forces at play in this world. It’s one of those books where you just have to keep reading so you can see what happens, but you want to cover your eyes because you’re afraid it’s going to be terrible for the characters when all you want is their happiness.
One more thing I really like is the extra bits of formatting and clues/messages that are in the books.
The Speaker feels like a reminder not only that words have power, but also that not everything is a s straightforward as it seems.
I absolutely love this series and can’t wait to read the next one.
Have you read either The Reader or The Speaker? What did you think?
P.S. Another thing I forgot: