Welcome back to The Barnacle Bookshelf! Today we're (finally) reviewing Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen! I've read this book several times now, but I've never posted my review here, so as the release of Book 3, Gilded Serpent, looms, I figured now was a good a time as any to post it!
In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.
A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON
Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET
Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.
A DANGEROUS QUEST
When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.
"There are as many paths as there are travelers."
I absolutely ADORE this book. It's intriguing, engaging, and takes you for a ride and doesn't let go!
Upon first picking up the book, I admit I was expecting a little more seafaring, but while this book is set on the high seas, this is a political intrigue and court politics book through and through. And I loved it.
The story follows Teriana, a Maarin seafarer who desperately wants to save her friend from an arranged marriage to a terrible man. In doing so, Teriana is deadset on breaking the rules of her people: East must never meet West. The Maarin are the only people who can successfully navigate the deadly waters between East and West.
The East, conquered in its entirety by the Celendor Empire, is loosely based on Roman style cities. However, unlike the Romans, in Celendor, "paganism" is punishable by death. Teriana, and the other Maarins, believe in the Seven. They hide this belief as they travel through Celendor.
In her quest to save her friend, Teriana gets captured and is forced to sail with Marcus, the commander of the Thirty-Seventh legion. Both of them have something far more valuable to them being held over their heads, so they move into an uneasy alliance.
This book is fast paced, adventurous, and will hold your attention from the first page to the last! The plot is unique, while still drawing on "common" conceptions from Roman era cities and ideals. This is not a romance book, though it does see the beginnings of a little slow burn, enemies to lovers action happening. This is an adventure book, and it takes you on one for sure!
The characters are well-developed, diverse, and perfectly imperfect. They're relatable in their values, their motivations, and what they're willing to do to protect their families. From the main characters, Teriana and Marcus, to the side characters of Teriana's crew and the Thirty-Seventh boys, everyone has something unique to bring to the table and brings it well!
Oh, and Marcus is hot. So there's that too.
Overall, love this book from Danielle and I highly recommend it to all! High seas adventure, court intrigue, tenuous alliances, and so many questions!
Have you read Dark Shores? Let me know your thoughts!