Fantasy books generally tend to be about kings, queens, chosen ones, dark Lords, wizards etc, etc. Occasionally one comes across which has none of those and is instead all about pirates (yay!).
Fable and its sequel Namesake by Adrienne Young, to add to the fun, are a duology so one is not expected to trawl through a story which is stretched across volumes with no end in sight. The story follows the eponymous Fable who at the start of the novel is dumped by her father, Saint, a famous pirate/trader, after her mother’s death in a shipwreck. He leaves her on a barren island populated by the most unsavoury cutthroat characters. The people on the island survive by diving for gemstones found on undersea reef loads and trading for them with visiting ships. Fable is good at this as, unknown to herself, she is a gem sage; a person capable of hearing the sounds made by different stones and thereby identifying them. Fable manages to make her way off the island on the ship Marigold by making a bargain with it’s captain, West and goes in search of her father in order to get some answers and her inheritance. Along the way she makes a place for herself on the Marigold, makes allies and begins to feel at home. There is murder, adventure, shipwrecks, lost treasure and storms on the sea. Through it all we have Fable a survivor, trying to understand the circumstances of her life and the behaviour of her father.
The second book explores Fables powers as a gem sage. She and the crew of the Marigold have to deal with the biggest gem trader, Holland, who is essentially a mafia boss. Holland, is intent on getting hold of Fable and also has conspired to destroy Saint. Fable’s relationship with her father dominates both books. There is the mystery of why she was abandoned and his general attitude towards her even though there is romance and friendship also but the main relationship around which the story turns is that of Fable and Saint. There is repeated mention of how much Saint loved Isolde, Fable’s mother which makes his behaviour towards his daughter even more inexplicable. Fable’s feelings of betrayal are keenly felt by the reader and a constant sticking point through the two books. It is only gradually through the two books that the author provides the real reasons for Saint’s behaviour. There is more politics rather than swashbuckling in the second book but fun nonetheless. The idea of life aboard a ship is very appealing and though we read this duology sometime back, the atmosphere created by it still hasn’t lost its magic. In fact, other than Fable’s ability to hear gems there is no other magic in the world building but the story is compelling and the protagonist is gutsy.