Beneath a Sapphire Sea (This DIK review was written by a reader)
1993, Fantasy Romance
Fanfare, $5.99, 437 pages, Amazon ASIN 0553562215 Part of a series
If you enjoy reading about the unusal, I've got a story for you. This is my favorite book of all time. Every time I start to wonder why I continue reading novels that just recycle the same plot over and over again, I read Beneath a Sapphire Sea and it tides me over until the next good one. It's true that the couple of intimate scenes are not as. . . well, hot, as I normally prefer, but I don't really mind that. And, it's hard to decide which is more important, the internal conflict (which stems from the hero and heroine being literally from two different worlds) or the external one (derived from a power-hungry enemy), because everything seems to mesh together so wonderfully.
It seems the author and I are not very interested in our heroine's past; there are a few brief flashbacks but only what is necessary to tell the story. The hero, on the other hand, is given a much more defined background, which is necessary since the story is set mostly in his world. Besides, I always find the hero much more interesting. And Galen is one of the more unusual and interesting heroes I've ever read about.
Meredith is a professor of folklore who has come to the Greek Island of Karpathos to gather stories for her book. Coincidently, she's got with her a scroll handed down by her mother, who died a few years before (who, in turn got it from her mother, who got it from, well, you get the idea). No man in the family is allowed to know of the scroll's existence. It's mostly unreadable with the exception of the beginning which was somehow translated long ago. Being an academic, Meredith copied some of the symbols to paper and brought them to the leading minds in ancient languges; to a one they all agreed the language was phony. However, Meredith remains unconvinced and determined to someday find the meaning of the rest of the scroll.
While on Karpathos, Meredith meets a mysterious man named Galen. Because he is the friend of someone Meredith trusts, she allows him to show her the island's "hidden" charms. They agree to meet the next day. Galen, however, has a hidden agenda. You see, Galen is a merman, yep you read that right, a merman. His people and their friends, the Selkies (a group of mythical beings that can turn from human into seals) have been stricken with a horrible disease; their only hope is the scroll. A vision has led him to Meredith.
Drama ensues when Galen unexpectedly sees the beginning portion of the scroll. Once Galen accepts her challange to read that portion which has already been translated, she's in a quandry. She can't show him the scroll because of the deathbed promise made to her mother, but she's desperate to know what the scroll says.
Amidst this, passion flares. . . and then Galen hears a telepathic call for help from his friend Toklat. Toklat has been attacked by renegade mermen who would use the scroll to cure the disease and cease power. Meredith refuses to let Galen go to Toklat without her, but the only safe haven for Toklat is a sacred underwater cave renoun for its healing waters. It is at this point that the real real adventure begins. Meredith learns what and who Galen is and they both begin to learn what she could be.
Meredith's love and longing for the sea touched me. It reminded me of my own childhood dreams of being a mermaid and swimming free in the sea. An added benefit is that I genuinely enjoyed these people. The heroine didn't annoy me, and the hero was just the right blend of gamma to suit me. And, they liked and respected each other before they fell in love.
While the reader will know more about Galen throughout most of the story, Meredith, in fact, is the true hero in Beneath a Sapphire Sea. I especally liked that Meredith did not sit back and whine about what was happening to her or wait patiently for the hero to save her. I wish romance authors would write more novels with brave women without going overboard
There are two prequels to this story, Dawn on a Jade Sea and Across a Wine Dark Sea. Both will take you on a good fantasy trip but neither could possibly match up to my expectations after reading Beneath a Sapphire Sea.
Ms. Bryan if you read this please, please write some more wonderful stories of the merpeople.
-- Janet Dugas
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