The Siren Depths by Martha Wells. ★★★★
The Siren Depths is the third of Martha Well’s Raksura novels, which start with The Cloud Roads. This series takes place in a completely different fantasy world, one where there are no humans or other recognizable species. The main characters are all Raksura, a race of shapeshifters.
Moon, the protagonist, spent the majority of his life as a lone wanderer with no idea of even what species he was. Since then he has been reunited with his own species and has become the consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. But now Moon’s original court has surfaced, and they are laying claim to him, just when he’d found a place where he finally thought he belonged.
The Siren Depths is my favorite of the Raksura novels so far due to how much it digs into Moon’s emotional and psychological issues. He’s basically spent his life being rejected, as one groundling settlement after another would realize he was something different (possibly mistaking him for one of the evil Fell) and casting him out, sometimes violently. When he’s being taken away from Indigo Cloud, he believes that it’s happening again, despite Jade’s promise that she will follow to get him back. His fears are exacerbated by the fact a new consort was sent to replace him and that he and Jade haven’t had a clutch yet. Did anyone at Indigo Cloud care for him or were they only accepting him because they desperately needed a consort?
Additionally, he has to confront what he finds in the court of his birth. This includes the introduction new characters, some whom I dearly love (Shade!). There’s also his old court’s history with the Fell and an impending invasion by those evil counterparts who’ve been experimenting with crossbreeding with the Raksura… for reasons that are revealed in The Siren Depths.
In my reviews of the prior two novels, I complained about having trouble keeping track of the secondary characters. For whatever reason, everything clicked into place for me with this book in regard to characters.
As always, the world of the Raksura is incredibly imaginative. There’s flying ships and cities carved into cliff sides and built beneath the sea. After all, this is a series about “matriarchal bisexual shapeshifting flying lizard people.” Imagination is to be expected. What’s remarkable is how wonderfully Well’s pulls it off. Her world is beautiful and wholly believable, as strange and alien as it is.
The Raksura books are a series that really puts the “fantastic” in fantasy. It’s so very different from everything else out there, and so very good. I highly recommend them.