July 30, 2016

Robert Schell: "The Mariner King"

Title: The Mariner King [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Temporal Affairs (2nd of 3 books)
Author: Robert Schell [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Fantasy
Year: 2016
Age: 12+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Well written, with a few fresh ideas. Fantasy and science blend nicely.
Cons: Everything happens so fast...Like I said, a few fresh ideas, but their potential often remains unfulfilled.
Will appeal to: Those who like time travel aimed at the past. Those who are in for a mix of historical and fantasy.

Blurb: Caroline’s junior year at Diaz High School was hard enough. Her best friend Tony was behaving oddly, and she was suffering from a mystery illness that had claimed the life of her older sister, Elizabeth, years ago. If that weren’t enough, Caroline gets kidnapped by a time-traveling would-be god.
For N’Nae, daughter of the Adjunct King of Atuaxan, eking out a living in a small city-state at the tail-end of an Ice Age was challenging enough. But she was also expected to comport herself in a manner befitting her station, which entailed sacrificing her life for the good of the kingdom. And then the Shadows from another Universe appeared.
Now Caroline, N’Nae, and Tony are drawn together into a conflict in which the combatants must warp reality itself to do battle: the stakes are no less than the survival of life on Earth itself. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. This didn't influence my rating in any way.


For the record, I read and reviewed the first installment last year (link at the end of this review), and I have to say that the sci-fi aspect is less prominent in this one. Yes, of course time travel is the core of this series, but in Book 2 the fantasy/magic angle definitely steals the scene. What I mean is, while time travel is the reason why Tony and Caroline have their adventures, those are firmly rooted in alternate historical fantasy. I'm still putting this one in my Sci-Fi Room because 1) it has a sci-fi premise and 2) I don't even have a Fantasy Room, since I don't usually read fantasy. Sorry for any inconvenience.


There are a few interesting ideas in this book. My favourite? Well, without giving too much away, not everyone is necessarily linked to a particular time frame. You can always land back to your native time stream, but what if you don't have one?...How can it be, you ask? Well, suffice to say, it can. The book explains the logic behind it, and the consequences (because OF COURSE there would be consequences) that ensue from such a state. This is actually a pivotal point in TMK, and it links back to something that was mentioned back in Book 1 and left hanging. [...]


A few of the characters we've met in Book 1 return - one of them in an unexpected guise, so to speak - and of course, some new ones are introduced. Now, it pains me to say so, but I ended up feeling confused. People would appear out of nowhere, and without a prior reread of the first installment, it was sometimes hard to recall their role, since TMK doesn't waste time helping you get your bearings. Also, most of the time, the new characters have very little backstory, which add to the reader's disorientation state. But watch out for those of them who come straight from the past of a certain main character...


Now, as far as style goes, this book is well written (I was only able to find a couple of typos, but they were genuine ones, not actual mistakes) and has a strong vocabulary. But - and again, it pains me to point this out - everything happens SO fast, you might blink and lose a plot twist or even a character's death. Caroline has a certain issue. Bam! Caroline reconnects with certain people from her old life. Bam! Said people are out of the picture. Bam! Tony discovers he has feelings for Caroline. Bam! There's a dangerous enemy. Bam! They train for the battle. Bam! They fight. And so on. Now, TMK is merely 120 pages long. There was definitely room for fleshing out the story a bit more. And, what with the fresh plot ideas and the different setting (sci-fi coupled with fantasy is a rare thing, or so it seems to me), not to mention the likeable leads, this book could have been epic. As it is, I'm rating it 3 stars mainly for the idea, and for its being different. And, of course, for the writing style. If the author would ever consider fleshing out the story a little more, I'm sure it could only improve in my eyes :). Nevertheless, I look forward to reading the TBA final installment, The Return of the Sky Fathers, which I'm sure will bring more surprises on the table!

For my "The Foster Children of Time" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For more Sci-Fi books click here.


  1. I don't typically like time travel stories (sorry! Don't hate me Roberta lol) but I wonder if I would enjoy this one because it's more of a novella.

    I tend to be able to read less favorite genres if it's in small doses.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. Well, this series is not your typical sci-fi, so I guess it might be more your thing.
      As for hating you...feel free to hate me back because I don't like romance LOL.


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