Volke and his friends are now all apprentices under Master Zelfree. Traveling with the Frith Guild, the apprentices are gaining more ground with magic. But when visiting an island known for its griffin bonding ceremonies, the group learns about a pirate crew that intentionally inflicted the arcane plague on a grown griffin. With the name of their ship Third Abyss floating about, Volke learns that the dread pirate Calisto has inflicted direct harm on his adopted sister, Illia. For the pain caused to Illia, and to the griffins of Landin, Volke and the others hope that the Frith Guild will bring the pirates of the Third Abyss to justice. It appears, though, that Calisto has his sights set on something far more dangerous….
What is Dread Pirate Arcanist about?
The second book in the Frith Chronicles, this book focuses on a conflict between Zelfree’s group of apprentices and the Dread Pirate Calisto, captain of the Third Abyss. Calisto has a history with Illia, and thus with Volke and the rest of the apprentices. He also attacks the griffins on an island that the Frith guild are visiting. Much of the book is concerned with Calisto’s motivations and what exactly he’s seeking, as well as the danger of he and his ship full of maneating eldrin.
Genre: YA Fantasy
To be honest, this series doesn’t always read as YA. The first one absolutely started out with the tropes and hallmarks of a YA fantasy novel, but this one has far fewer of those. Volke, for example, has developed into a much more nuanced character than I’m accustomed to in this type of series. There are also mentions of more adult topics on occasion that while sometimes present in a YA series felt a bit surprising in this one, where the characters are almost all fifteen years old.
Tropes: An eye for an eye…
Yeah I couldn’t resist the pun considering that a portion of the plot is dedicated to a revenge storyline with Illia.
Plot: Stop messing with pirates you dumb kids!
Look. I get it. In this series’ world the age of adulthood is fifteen and there are some serious issues at hand and they just want to help out and do good. Fine. But every time Zelfree told them “don’t be reckless and rush into this” and they WERE RECKLESS AND RUSHED INTO THINGS I got just as frustrated with them as he did. Their reasoning was always sound but also christ.
Okay, I’ll admit it: this series is surprisingly good. I was hesitant getting into the first book but man am I glad I did read it! Volke is miles beyond the typical fifteen-year-old boy protagonist. He was a little angsty in book one, but now he’s just so sweet and genuine. It’s no wonder everybody seems to like him outside of his weird little island home. He’s courageous, loyal, and determined. I also like how oblivious he is to the girls that have crushes on him, that’s adorable. I think the series is doing a good job of mounting the power and the stakes that the arcanists are facing, showing how the increase in the apprentices’ abilities also comes with drawbacks and cockiness. All in all, a well written and well rounded book!
I’m not sure how I feel about the way romance is developing in the story. Partly because Volke repeatedly makes his wishes clear to Illia, but she still harbors a major crush on him clearly. At least two of the characters regularly play the other apprentices for jealousy points, but it’s never quite clear what the point of such a competition is. The drama seems unnecessary and poorly thought out in my opinion.
I don’t have a hard criticism for this book. I’m weak, this series gives me fantasy and characters I already love, I’m more than happy.
Stovall does it again. This book drew me in from the very beginning, and not just because I have a soft spot in my heart for Volke and the gang thanks to the first book. I like the fact that the stakes of this novel are higher in a more personal way, rather than strictly from a “powerful opponent” perspective. I enjoy seeing the ways the apprentices have been slowly developing, both personality wise and with magic. The world building continues with new concepts regarding eldrins’ true forms being introduced, and more magic is discussed and explained in such a natural integration! Also: how creepy is the concept of a pirate crew full of maneating beasts? I love it!