Book three in Martha Wells’ BOOKS OF THE RAKSURA is The Siren Depths (2012). (By the way, the novels’ titles are only vaguely related to the plot, I’ve noticed.) If you’ve loved this series so far, I feel certain that you will love The Siren Depths. In my opinion, it’s better than both of the previous books (The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea).
Moon, a Raksura (shape-shifting human/dragon) who used to be a lost orphan, is finally starting to feel comfortable in his new home with the Indigo Cloud Raksura court. He’s the consort to Jade, one of the sister-queens of his tribe. He didn’t grow up with the Raksura, and he hasn’t been steeped in their protocol, so he’s still working out how to behave. He isn’t used to being submissive and decorative and, because of his experience in the outside world, he’s often called on (and happy) to venture outside the colony while other consorts have to stay safe at home.
In The Siren Depths, Moon must travel to another foreign Raksura court, but this time it’s the court where he was born! The queen he met in the previous book recognized his similarity to a court that lives far away. When she contacted them and told them about Moon, his home court decided they wanted Moon back, ordered him to present himself, and declared that Jade, who should have known (and maybe did know) that Moon belonged to some other court, had stolen him.
So off Moon goes, and he’s in quite an emotional state. He has no idea what to expect from his birth court. What happened all those years ago? How did he become lost? Why did nobody look for him? And he’s also worried about his relationship with Jade. Does she still want him? Will she come after him?
While he’s visiting his home court, Moon discovers that they are having the same struggles with the Fell as the Indigo Cloud court has had. Since they’ve got experience dealing with the Fell, Moon and his friends offer to help, and this adventure takes them to a nearby Groundling settlement that has some breath-taking scenery. It’s beautiful, but very dangerous.
During this particular fight with the Fell, the Raksura, who thought the Fell were more animal-like than human (though they share common ancestry with the Raksura), learn that the Fell have actually been working toward a sinister goal for generations. It is frightening to discover that these “animals” have been plotting and advancing their long-range plans all this time. It’s a total paradigm shift for the Raksura.
The plot of The Siren Depths is more exciting than the previous novels (there are explosions!) and meeting Moon’s birth court is surprising and thrilling, as is learning about the tragedy that left Moon homeless when he was a child. A lot of questions are answered for Moon and the reader.
Nature vs. Nurture is explored a bit in The Siren Depths, not just with Moon’s situation, but with a new character who plays a prominent role in the plot (and will reappear in the next novel, too). It will be interesting to see what Wells does with this, though I expect she will take the less complicated path (e.g., it’s all Nurture).
Moon has some major trust issues. A recurring theme is Moon’s (and others’) desire to fit in, to belong to a family or clan. Because of what he’s been through, Moon is entitled to a bit of self-loathing and esteem issues, but I hope that we’ll see less brooding in the next novel, The Edge of Worlds.
One last thing: it’s refreshing to read a fantasy novel where the female characters are stronger and more dominant than the males (yet the males are strong, too).
The audiobooks produced by Audible Studios and narrated by Christopher Kipiniak continue to be excellent. The Siren Depth is almost 16 hours long in that format.