This is the second in The Captain Shelby Trilogy, the first being Pelican Bay. You can see my full review of Pelican Bay here. As a caution up front the story has much of the dialogue written in Early Modern English, which was spoken at the time the story took place and bits in Old Norse due to Captain Shelby's heritage. This may cause some to find the story less enjoyable, but personally it lent the story a more realistic feel to me and pulled me farther into the setting and timeline.
This story takes us into the life known by a much younger version of Captain Shelby, long before he donned his hat and took to the sea. The story of a boy, turned man, Nereus Shelby. A young boy who can both speak to and hear the sea, much to the chagrin of his parents as he ages, but she was his first true love. Playing the role of a mother, a provider, and at times the love of his life, the sea is almost as much of a main character as Nereus, Laura and William are in this book. Some readers dubbed Pelican Bay a love letter to the sea, when in reality this story is not only a love letter to the sea, in all her forms from peaceful and serene to cold and even possibly jealous, but a coming of age story, a story of fulfilling your dreams beyond your fears, a story of finding your true love and risking all for him/her. There is so much wrapped up in this hard to put down novel it would take hours to describe the delicately interwoven storylines that comprise Captain Shelby. If I had to describe it in a single sentence I would say it's "A truly swashbuckling tale of adventure, love, loss and risking it all to pursue your dreams and love in the places that lie beyond your doubts and fears."
Nereus leaves home at a young age, taking to the sea to sail to the Newfound Land, a place no one has seen before, or if they have thy haven't lived to tell the tale. Summoned to help a small group escape the tyranny of a King who over taxes them and a Lord who's despicable as the nicest term I can think of, he meets his soul mate, Laura who just happens to be recently engaged to the man leading the escape, William. Time and trials will test this small group and shake their beliefs to the core. Can they accept his help and accept Nereus for what he is, or will they ostracize him as an outsider, or worse .. a witch? Can a young woman love someone that she can't understand, even though she's engaged to another? It's all in Captain Shelby. The story seamlessly weaves a tale changing from past, to present to future without confusion, allowing you to learn about each of the main characters to be enthralled without becoming lost or learning too much at once.
In the previous installment of The Captain Shelby Trilogy, Pelican Bay, I felt the poetic and lyrical voice of the author, Jesse Giles Christiansen, pulled his readers away and caused them to lose focus from the story. However, in this story I feel Jesse has truly found the elegant balance between action and adventure, story telling and poetry that allows you to see the poet in his heart and the author in his soul.
A perfect blend of fact, fiction and tales of yore, I highly recommend this story. I am anxiously awaiting the third and final book of The Captain Shelby trilogy.