The Isles of the Gods

Knopf. (The Isles of the Gods: Bk. 1). May 2023. 464p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593479285.
Gr 9 Up–Kaufman is a master worldbuilder and has created a new series where the sea plays almost as important a role as her characters do. This thrilling fantasy includes adventure, magic, violence, friendship, and a small dose of romance. Selly is happiest sailing on one of her father’s merchant ships, but longs to do more than the grunt work her captain keeps giving her. On the night she decides to stow away on a ship traveling north where her father is spending the winter, she is kept aboard the Lizabetta in order to help with a clandestine journey. The crew has been tasked with getting Leander, the Prince of Alinor, to the Isle of the Gods so that he can perform a sacrifice to keep Alinor’s god happy and prevent a world war. Laskia, of Mellacea, is tired of being taken advantage of by her sister and decides to hunt down Leander and kill him so that the countries can go to war, a war that would hopefully raise Laskia’s status. Luckily for Leander, Selly and the Scholar are willing to risk their lives to help him reach the Isle. The story is told from the points of view of several characters, and the action takes place on the water and in several ports along the coast of the Crescent Sea. In this society women have many leadership roles in politics, religion, and business, and all skin colors have equal status.
VERDICT Readers who love a good fantasy with lots of action, especially the the “Grishaverse” books by Leigh Bardugo, will be happy to devour this new series and will anxiously await the next volume.

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