The Sea Change by Patricia Bray is the second book in the Josan Chronicles. The first book is called The First Betrayal and the third book (scheduled for release in the summer of 2008), will be called The Final Sacrifice. I came upon this series purely by accident last year, and I must say, I am very pleased to discover these books. This series will be enjoyed by most fantasy fans, particularly fans that enjoy political intrigue and character development.
Much like the first book, if you are looking for a fantasy book with a variety of monsters, large scale battles, wizards hurling fireballs and gallant knight on a quest, you may want to look for a different novel. This book, and series, are very much fantasy novels. However, this book focuses more on character development, internal struggles, and a large scale plot. Sure, there are battles and deaths, but at no time are those battles the prime focus of the book.
The plot of this book picks up after the events of the first book. Josan is a `guest' of the emperor, though just what being a guest means is different from what most guests would expect. Events quickly occur that throw not only Josan's life into disarray, but the lives of everyone in the empire as well. There are actually two large plots that are covered in this book and a slew of sub-plots. The two plots involve Josan and how the events impact his life, as well as the plot of Lady Ysobel as part of the Federation and decisions she is forced to make based on the events from the first book. The sub-plots of this book mostly involve political in-fighting and people looking out for their own interests. Overall, the plot(s) of this book is well written and well thought out. This novel also does a very good job of following up on the events of the first book and adding more to the story.
Several of the characters in this book are also present in the first novel. This familiarity allows the reader to immediately jump into the story without having to establish new characters. Of course, there are several new characters as well as quite a few characters that were introduced in the first novel, but are much more fleshed out in this book. Josan, as expected, continues to be the focus of the story and his character development is very well written. His interactions with Lucius are well done and convey the appropriate internal struggles. Ysobel's development is also well done. It is fairly evident that she will be a major player in the next novel. The secondary characters are also just as well written, and are developed just as much as the main characters. Ms. Bray has a gift of writing believable, interesting, and engaging characters. They are no where near the clichéd characters present in many fantasy novels being released in today's market.
As a whole I enjoyed this novel very much. It was exactly what I expected it to be. A solid, entertaining read. Ms. Bray's prose has a flow to it that allows the reader to breeze through several pages with no account of the time. There are a few scenes that were rather disturbing, these involve Josan and Nizam. Be prepared for a couple graphic torture scenes is all I will say. The pacing of this novel is also spot on, there is a constant pace with little to no slow down.
Overall, as with the first novel, I will continue to recommend this book to fantasy fans. Again, I am very happy to have stumbled across this series and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment. Definitely a very solid addition to the fantasy genre.