Sea of Thieves - Every Fan Needs To Read This
After nearly three years of waiting, we finally have another Sea of Thieves novel, and it came out today. I'm sure some of you are already reading it; some have finished it; and some are still on the fence. If you're slightly interested in seeing a thief's law or even like reading, you should absolutely pick up this book.
In full disclosure. I have had the book for around three weeks and Titan Books, the publisher, were kind enough to send me a copy, so after two complete read-throughs. Heart of Fire is the best supplementary piece of content Sea of Thieves has ever had and even has a slight edge over Athena's Fortune.
This is Chris Allcock's second outing, and he has also worked on other supplementary story bits for the game. He's also worked on Cameo and Rare Replay. Of Fire tells a more cohesive and interconnected story, which we'll get to shortly. There will be some minor spoilers here, but don't expect any big reveals.
We'll save that for the breakdown later this week. The Heart of Fire is marketed as an origin story of Captain Flame's heart, but whether that is the case is up for debate. The premise is simple: there are rumors that there is a weapon that can bring Captain Flame's master reign of terror to an end after the prologue.
The story takes place around eight years before the c-bound soul, so we get some sense of scale as to how long ago this was. At this point, Flameheart has built up a legion of followers, both alive and undead, but the pirate lord hears word of a special weapon left behind by the Ancients to destroy him once and for all.
It paints a very different picture than what we see now, even with the second war for the Sea of Thieves starting at the same time as this review. It's a sublime time period to set the novel in and feels a whole lot more focused than Athena's Fortune, and Chris weaves a vibrant picture of this different sea of thieves.
The atmosphere is so different and in the many interactions between the locals, it conveys a general uneasiness. With Flame Heart's rule, Chris has also brought back the two-crew structure, and it works much better than Athena's or Fortune's. As much as I loved that book. I was always more interested in Ramsay's story as it contained more relevant lore, and this time around, the Morning Star crew also felt that way, but I was never upset to hear more about the prideful Dawn crew.
This time around we have the Morning Star crew, which you will know from the fate of the Morning Star and the Morning Star tour. And Eli's slate makes an appearance in Athena's Fortune. The crew is made up of Eli Dinger, Fontaine, and Jill, so these will all be familiar faces, but you don't need to have played these to understand the book.
The other crew is on the opposite end of the spectrum. We get the crew of the prideful Dawn. These are all new characters that are jaded by the way the Sea of Thieves is now. They each have their reasons for being ostracized, some more sympathetic than others. The captain, Harry Hartley, is the most faithful of the bunch.
He invites the others to join his cause to seek out Captain Flameheart. He's described as being tall and a thickly built man with a streak of red hair and a pertinent scowl. His crewmates include Karen, a tall female pirate with brown eyes; an opulently dressed female pirate with fair hair and scraps; and a cook with a mess of black hair that he tugs under a yellow bandana.
The plot bounces off both of these crews as they race to claim the weapon for themselves, one at the behest of the pirate lord and the other spurred on by Captain Flameheart. The pace can be all over the place, hopping between the two, which is what I found with the previous book, but both perspectives occur at the same time rather than 20 years or so apart.
You could be reading about an intense scene with one crew while the others are doing something rather mundane. It can take you out of the action, but it's not as bad as the theme's fortune. Some other familiar characters appear as well. These include a few of the trading company representatives.
So we have NPCs from the outposts and some other minor characters as well. How are the characters written? Some are better than others, but that's more to do with my expectations as a reader. I will spoil this one thing. Captain Flamer is not in the book a whole lot, but it kind of plays to his strengths.
Thankfully. Ramsay's is barely in, as the promotion material did make it seem like he was going to steal the novel instead of two other characters doing that, and I'm only going to discuss one in depth. Eli's slaying is such a marvel in this book. It really adds some emotional weight to the fate of the morning star and has brought him up in my estimation.
He's probably now my favorite member of Athena's Fortune. While Eli is just how you expect, he's a born Captain, he's professional, and he's likable through all of this, while Jill is the protagonist, it's more from her perspective. She hyped the guy up really well at the start of the book, and he lives up to this.
Chris was right to choose him as the foil to Flame Heart. Ramsay, as it stands, is still very jovial and complacent, traits that are confirmed in the book as well. He takes his retirement quite literally and has others do his dirty work for him. Eli takes note that he runs a tight ship and has the chops to back it up, but also that he's not so hard-headed that he allows his experience to compromise their voyage.
I promise you there'll be a bunch of Eli slate fans after people read this book. Fontaine and Dinger get their much needed depth too. Fontaine is the snobby philosopher that gets taken down a peg or two by Dinger. Is it Dinger? He's a numbskull and a likable oaf. Don't expect massive debt from these two, but they have their moments indeed.
As for the prideful Dawn, I was a little bit disappointed with how their story arc turned out. Again, these are my personal expectations. But the arc is very open and close. Harry, Harkley, is probably the best one of the four with genuine motives, albeit having a cliched backstory that is sort of the same as another character.
You'll see what I mean when you read the book. I thought Harry didn't have all that much depth. I found him not very likable due to his really having no redeeming qualities. He doesn't respect his crew, other pirates, or even really understand the gravity of his own voyage, maybe. That's how he's written, though.
The other three are okay, but I can't really go into detail because that would spoil the book. I want to know what the flame heart is whenever When he appears in the book, he just steals every page, and that can be for any reason. He'll have a moment of typical dialogue, for example, and it will sort of lean into a bit of cheese but give you Vader vibes in his presentation.