Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Of Triton by Anna Banks

The second book in this mermaid fantasy series picks up where Of Poseidon left off. Emma awakens from being drugged to find her and her mother, Nalia, on the run from Galen, Toraf and Rayna. When Emma calls Galen from a motel, he tells her that they have brought Grom to see Nalia. However, when Emma tries to tell her mother that Grom is alive Nalia refuses to believe Emma and insists that Grom died in the mine explosion. Galen, Toraf and Rayna set out after Nalia and Emma, while Rachel, Galen's assistant also sets out to find them. Eventually, they catch up to the runaways, and Nalia is reunited with Grom. However, it appears that there are complications.

Grom who believed Nalia was dead, has been mated to Paca. Their relationship has not yet been consummated and with the re-appearance of Nalia, Grom now wishes to be with her. To do this he must get his mating unsealed (mermaid divorce!!) otherwise, his brother Galen will be next in line to marry Nalia -Emma's mother!  Galen doesn't want to mate with Nalia, as he is in love with Emma.

In order to get his mating unsealed, Grom must appeal to the Archives, a group of wise, elder Syrena. To do this, Grom and Nalia, along with Toraf and Galen return to the Syrena world beneath the oceans, to present Nalia and to make their case. Rayna is left in charge of Emma, who is told to return to school to await the outcome. It's no surprise though that things don't go as planned, both on land and in the sea. While on their way to the deep, Grom and his party of Royals are intercepted by a large number of Syrena led by Yudor, Romul and Jagen. The Trackers accompanying them are armed.

While Nalia is recognized by her father, King Antonius of the Poseidon Royals, Romul and Jagen refuse to acknowledge that Nalia is the long lost Poseidon princess. Jagen insists that a tribunal be held to determine whether the "stranger" is indeed Nalia. However, it soon becomes apparent that the tribunal is more than just about Nalia's identity and is in fact, a play for power on the part of Jagen to change the Syrena way of life and how the Syrena are ruled. Nalia's appearance has now pitted the two kingdoms of Triton and Poseidon against each other.

Jagen's main argument seems to be centred around the "Gifts" of Poseidon and Triton; that since no one has seen the Gift in three generations, perhaps they are no longer needed and a new way of ruling the Syrena is required. The Royals know that his daughter, Paca's "Gift" is not real and that Jagen is attempting to unseat the Royals.

Will the Syrena recognize Nalia as the rightful Poseidon princess and will she and Grom be reunited? Will Galen be able to convince his people to allow him to be mated to a "Half Breed" Syrena, something forbidden by Syrena law? Will Emma obey Galen's request to stay on land or should she risk revealing her "Gift" to save the kingdoms?

Overall, Of Triton was a romantic, engaging read, but perhaps not as well thought out as the first novel. I felt the dispute over Nalia's identity was a significant weakness in the story line. Even though Nalia was suspected of being killed in the minefield explosion years ago, the fact that King Antonius  recognizes his daughter along with several well-respected Trackers makes the accusation seem a bit redundant. After all, since Nalia lived in the sea for eighteen years of her life, wouldn't most of the Syrena recognize her?

Another plot weakness was the capture of Jagen and a Triton Tracker, Musa, by humans. We never learn how they were captured, since this is something that hasn't happened in recent memory. Strangely, they are being held on a little known island with only a few humans. One would think that the discovery and capture of a merman and a mermaid would send shock waves around the world especially since Emma and a young Syrena, Jasa's sighting by two fisherman made world headlines only days before.

Another weak plot point which carried over from the first book, was the element of Paca's "Gift". Syrena frequently break the law by going on land to be with humans. Rayna does it. And Paca has done it. This is where Paca learn to fake her "Gift" and yet this seems to be unrecognized by the Syrena. The author gets around this weakness by indicating that Syrena haven't seen the "Gift" in three generations so they no longer know what it looks like. However, the reader would assume that the Archives has some record of previous "Gifts" and how new ones might be recognized. Surely there would be some kind of rigorous test in place to determine the legitimacy of a "Gift"?

For the most part, Anna Banks builds the novel's climax gradually by drawing her readers into the excitement of the Syrena rebellion and tribunal and what appears to be an apparent betrayal. But after the break up of the tribunal, when Emma is attacked, the rest of the novel seems somewhat anti-climatic.

Emma as a "Half-Breed" experiences some conflict over her mixed heritage of human and Syrena but most of this conflict seems mitigated by the love and affirmation she receives from Galen and the overall acceptance of her by the other Royals. The author could have really developed this theme of identity much more in these two novels but chose instead to focus on the story of the Syrena kingdoms. Developing the identity theme and the forbidden nature of Galen and Emma's love would have made the novel much more riveting. Instead, Emma seems to be quite easily accepted by everyone including old King Antonius.

Many of the characters in these two novels are quite interesting and deserve more development; specifically Toraf, Grom, Rachel and Jagen. Banks spends a bit of time demonstrating the conflict Emma experiences over her mother's return to the Syrena kingdom. While this might appear childish, I think it's entirely reasonable. Despite Emma's love for the Syrena, she doesn't seem to envision a life in the sea for herself.

Although this book seemed to finish the Syrena story, look for the third book in the Syrena Legacy series, Of Neptune, in 2014. Here's hoping the third book will reprise the quality of the first novel in the series.

Book Details:
Of Triton by Anna Banks
New York: Feiwel and Friends      2013
240 pp.

No comments: