Yet another book from that time I had an amazon giftcard is The Tree of Water, the fourth volume in the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme by Elizabeth Haydon. I really did want it in paperback, but considering the book was published three years ago and still has no paperback release in sight…I surrendered to my impatience to find out what happens when Ven chooses to go explore Amariel’s home in the ocean.
Like the rest of the Lost Journals, this is a book for younger readers. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s still a stark contrast when I reflect on the differences between the Lost Journals and the Symphony of Ages. I mean, the former involves elements like…fish out of water, parent issues, all sorts of things that stop shy of even kissing. Symphony of Ages, on the other hand, has a former prostitute for a main character and rape rears its ugly head more than once.
I suppose another way to look at it is the fact that Ven’s story takes place in the Second Age, and whenever we reflect on the past, where and whenever it may have been, we consider it to have been a better world, a simpler time, superior to today’s world. In contrast, the Symphony of Ages takes place mostly in the Fourth Age and shows us a darker, grittier world. Of course, most of the characters in those books are adults as opposed to the teenagers Ven knows, but still.
Also I am trying not to think too hard on the science of having to go to the highest mountain in the deepest trench because there is so very much pressure down there. But, that’s where Frothta, the Tree of Water, has set its roots. This is one of the five World Trees, the middle in age which range from Sagia, the oldest, to the “youngest” of the Great White Tree. The Trees grow in the birthplaces of the elements, and their existence keeps magic in the world. (Technically there is a sixth Tree, but we don’t talk about that one. Just like we don’t talk about the Sleeping Child or the Vault. And none of this is in Ven’s journals.)
From the pseudo-prologue at the start of the book, it’s clear that The Tree of Water was meant to be the first in another set of three Lost Journals. That’s clear enough by publication dates; this one was released six years after The Dragon’s Lair. I suppose there’s no real cause for concern at this time though, because it’s not the first time Haydon’s had a long break between books. It was seven years after The Assassin King came out that The Merchant Emperor was released, though afterwards the other two followed in quick succession. I don’t know what’s up in her personal life, so I won’t bother to hazard a guess. All I know is that she intended to write more, so I’ll just have to be patient and keep an eye open.
As for the content and story of this book…it really does follow the same pattern as Ven’s previous adventures. One or more people asks him to go somewhere, he ends up going for several reasons, picks up one or more friends, solves some problems almost by happenstance, has some terrifying moments wherein he or a companion nearly dies, and then makes it safely back to tell the King about his travels. I’m not saying this is a bad formula, merely that this is a kid’s book and patterns tend to be more obvious in books for younger readers.
I enjoyed it. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time. I do kind of wish these were adult books, but I’ll take what I can get from a good author in a deep and detailed world.