Tristan is destined to inherit the Sea Court throne...as long as the mighty depths of the savage blue don't claim him first
In the quest for the Sea Court throne, Tristan has already watched one good friend die. Now he must lead the rest on a dangerous voyage in search of the trident that will make him king. But while Tristan chases his destiny, the dark forces raging against him are getting stronger, and the sea witch of his nightmares is getting closer. Battling pirates, sea dragons, and mutant creatures of the deep, Tristan needs his friends' support. But they each have their secrets, and a betrayal will force Tristan to choose between loyalty and ambition, friendship and love. In the race for a throne, all's fair in the savage blue.
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For a merman, I've done very little deep-sea exploration.
I grew up in chlorine pools, racing from one end to the other until I became the fastest kid in all of Brooklyn. Those were fishbowls compared to the endlessness of the Atlantic Ocean.
I kick my legs harder and harder alongside the belly of the ship until I grab hold of the ladder.
I consider shifting into my tail, but then I remember these are my last pair of cargo shorts, and I've not yet mastered the half-shift combination of legs and scales to cover my goods. Instead, I let my gills develop, only freaking out a little that I, in fact, have gills. Then I give myself a pat on the back for being able to control them. Cold water trickles in and out, and I wonder if that's something I'll ever get used to.
With one hand, I secure my footing on the ladder and let the ship do the heavy lifting. With the other, I lean out to the ocean, combing my fingers through water. I want to shout out the thrill of the moment, of the powerful ship cleaving the ocean like a knife through the smooth skin of the sea. But I stop myself, realizing that shouting would give away my position to my opponent.
War games aren't supposed to be fun, not the way my guardian describes them. War games teach you skills-fighting, hunting, hiding. All meant to achieve one thing: survival.
I'm four days shy of turning seventeen, and though I was technically born with a blue fishtail, I've only been a merman for two whole weeks, ever since the Sea Court returned to Coney Island to hold a championship for the next king. That would be the Sea King (my grandfather) and me (one of four remaining champions). Yeah, me a king. I'm not in Coney anymore, Toto.
The clucking wail of a dolphin echoes from below. He swims up alongside me, and for a moment, I forget about Kurt lurking nearby. I reach out a hand and touch the dolphin's slick skin. I can't understand the sounds he's making, but I can sense the urgency. He dives downward and disappears into the blue shadows.
Then I see him.
Kurt's glowing violet eyes lock on me. He undulates like a serpent rising from smoke. His dark hair billows with every kick.
Kurt takes the dolphin's place beside me, like we're two cars racing on an empty road. He swerves to his left as if to knock me off my ladder, but I kick out and he swerves to the right. In our last skirmish, we managed to disarm each other. But I didn't account for the small knife strapped to his bicep.
Kurt holds the knife by the hilt. He raises it over his head, flicks his wrist back and forth. He wouldn't. As my guardian, he's in charge of making sure I don't meet an untimely death. He wouldn't.
But he does.
I dive to the left. My back hits the ship hard, and I let the current pull me away. His deep chuckle lingers in the rustle of water. He takes hold of my ladder and hoists himself back up onto the ship, which is getting farther away.
My muscles burn with every breaststroke, every kick. Then the dolphin returns, and I realize that being the grandson of the Sea King comes with some perks. His big black eye gleams at me, and I wonder why dolphins always look like they're smiling. I grab hold of his dorsal fin.
In seconds, we're caught up with the ship. I pat him on his back and grab hold of the ladder. Halfway up, I see Kurt's knife an inch deep into the wood. When I pull it out, there isn't much resistance. I break the surface and my gills shut against the wind. My body feels a hundred pounds lighter. The blisters on my soles pop and bleed with every step until I'm over the rail and planted on the deck. I strip off my T-shirt and toss it to the side.
I brush my wet hair from my eyes and spot Layla and Gwen leaning on the railing of the quarterdeck. All they need is a tub of popcorn, and it'd be just like being at the circus. Layla's biting her nails down to stubs. She runs her hands through the mess of her thick brown hair, which is growing bigger and bigger with the rising heat. Her hazel eyes flick between Kurt and me. He's holding his knees and breathing hard. He quickly adjusts the sheath at his hip. Great, he's got his sword back.
"Tristan," Layla says, "you guys are still just play-dueling, right?"
The Sunday morning sun is so hot that my chest is already dry. I pick up my sword off the deck.
"Best out of five," I remind her.
"You've lost twice," Gwen says, twirling a lock of white-blond hair around her finger until it coils on its own.
"He's also won twice," Layla counters.
"I don't know if that last one counts," Gwen says. "They went overboard, and the arena is supposed to be the ship. I say that last one didn't count."
I can't believe what I'm hearing. "It totally counts!"
"Tristan?" Gwen points a finger behind me.
I hear the wet smack of Kurt's feet racing. Without a word, it's still game on. Kurt drags the tip of his sword along the floor. With his middle finger, he lightly taps the center of his forehead, something he does every time we fight. I never ask and he never explains what it means. It reminds me of going to church with Layla and her Catholic father. They do something similar-the father, the son, and the something spirit. I have no secret messages to tap like Morse code on my face like they do. I'm not exactly sure what I believe in anymore, now that I know monsters are real and good people die in the blink of an eye.
I raise my sword just in time to meet his and growl, "I wasn't ready."
"I'm a hungry merrow. I don't care if you're ready." He spins and strikes the opposite way.
I block, block, block, moving two steps backward with every blow. Sure, merrows don't care if you're ready or not. They come out of the shadows and attack, the way they attacked us in the football field of my school and at Ryan's house Friday night...
Too late, the thought of Ryan, my friend, dead on the ground, makes me miss a beat, and Kurt's sword comes a hair away from my face. I wipe sweat and seawater from my cheek, and a long stripe of red comes away with it.
"You cut me!"
"It's a duel, Tristan." Kurt rolls his eyes, a habit he's picked up from Layla. All of his movements, from the eye roll to the way he turns his dagger like the right angles of a clock, are uptight. "Of course I cut you."
But he doesn't let up. His face is ferocious, shoulders hunched like a predator. "When Adaro was your age, he slew white-bellied sharks for supper. Collected their teeth and dipped them in gold to decorate his armor."
The sun is in my eye and the rail of the ship digs into my lower back.
"Yeah, well," I say, "Adaro doesn't have the quartz scepter, does he?"
"There are still two pieces out there." Kurt turns, elbows me in the chest, and spins back around. "You only have the one."
Our swords are a mess of clinks and screeches. I'm running on pure adrenaline. It's a rush no swim meet has ever given me.
"One is better than nothing." I push him back with the ball of my palm, but that only makes him smile. It's got to be a record. When he was on land, he never smiled this much.
"Brendan might be young, but he can cut a man into ribbons with nothing but a spearhead."
I can't let him get to me. It's like when Coach Bellini swims alongside us during practice, shouting, "You call that swimming? I met a turtle in Vietnam that was faster than you!"
Sure, Adaro, champion of the Southern Seas, and Brendan, champion of the Western Seas, have been fighting longer than me. But my grandfather chose me. That's got to count for something.
"Dylan's so fast on his feet that you'd swear he was born sparring."
Right, Dylan, the golden boy, champion of the Northern Seas.
And then there's Kurt, King of the Show-Offs, who does some ballerina shit across the deck. I push hard, metal banging on metal. I hit his solar plexus and he braces, trying to regain his breath. He switches arms. Every five strikes, he switches arms to not tire one over the other. That creates the gap I need to strike.
I make my blow count, aiming where I know it will hurt Kurt the most. The swipe is painfully accurate, and a lock of his precious hair falls to the deck. His brow trembles, giving way to the first drip of sweat from his too-tight pores.
I'm about to say, "Don't worry, it'll grow back," but he raises his blade with a deep grunt and charges at me until I find myself stuck between Kurt and the edge of the ship once again.
Note: Don't mess with a merman's full head of hair.
It's the reaction I want-careless, reckless, thoughtless. Until we're stuck in a mirror image with my sword at his throat and his at mine.
"Draw?" Kurt suggests.
"I don't think so, bro." I shake my head, pressing the cold metal of his own knife to his abdomen. My heart is pounding, partly because I can't believe I did it. Partly because Kurt digs the edge of his sword into my throat some more.
"Easy," I say. Neither of us stands down. "If I show up to the oracle without a head, she's going to think I'm rude."
With a loud harrumph, he steps back, lowers his weapon, admits defeat by bowing. It takes all of me, and I mean years of discipline, to not shout, "Yeah, in your face!"
But this is not me beating my buddy Angelo at Mortal Kombat. This is how grown-up mermen fight. I bow back to him, accepting his defeat but keeping my eyes on him at all times. The clapping above us breaks our warrior trance. Kurt blinks into the blinding sun beating through the sails. I flip the small knife in the air, catch it on its blade, and hand it back to him. He grunts a short "Thanks."
"Well done, Master Tristan," says a baritone voice. Arion, the captain of our ship, hovers over us. He's a merman just like Kurt and me, but he's royally bound to the vessel. Enchanted black vines twine around his wrists and his tail. The black and silver fins lick at the empty air beneath him. The binding stretches all over the ship, allowing him to go as far as the topmast, but never into the sea. A punishment carried over from father to son.
I reach up and shake his hand. "Thanks, man."
"You're a fast learner," Kurt says, nodding. I can tell he doesn't say this easily. "A natural, really, if you adjusted your focus."
"You should have more faith in me," I say.
Kurt takes one step closer. Whatever he's going to say is interrupted by blue and purple blurs.
It's the urchin brothers, pulling sails and tying ropes to create a little bit of shade. When they stop running around, you can see their true shapes. Their almond-shaped eyes are big and black, like their gums, which freaked me out when Blue woke me up this morning. True to their name, the urchin brothers have spiky heads that are surprisingly soft to the touch.
Note: Don't mess with an urchin's head of hair, either.
The food they've spread out on silver platters, tarnished from being stored below deck, is decadent. Dried salmon skin, pink stuff that jiggles without touching it, and whole calamari jerky that looks like Buddha hands coming to get you. There's caviar in the brightest colors on top of crunchy dried seaweed. Steamed seaweed. Seaweed noodles. Seaweed chips. There's a great big seaweed party in my mouth.
Blue is studying my face. He's been trying so hard to make something that I'll like. "Special, for Lord Sea Tristan."
My smile is strained. I don't know if I'll ever get used to a mer diet. But he's trying so hard and I don't want to hurt his feelings. "Uh-thanks, little dude."
I make to sit down, but Kurt stands in my way. He flips his hair back, splashing me on the way. I knew he was a sore loser, but damn, let me live.
"What?" I ask irritably.
"Don't you think it's time, Tristan?"
"Time for what?"
"You said you'd tell us." He turns back to Layla, then to me. "About the other night. With the oracle."
Friday night. The night I claimed one of the three trident pieces from the oracle in Central Park. I've been putting off the details, but I've run out of reasons.
"It might help us with the next oracle," Layla urges.
"Perhaps later-" Gwen starts.
"Not later," Layla presses, sitting up on her knees. "I mean, you just left. Then you return with your giant metal toothpick and Princess Snowflake here, and you won't tell us what happened."
"Tristan doesn't have to tell you everything," Gwen says.
Layla ignores her and looks up right at me. "What did she do to you?"
I'm not sure if she means the oracle or if she means Gwenivere.
I hold my hands up in defense. "You guys. It's just-"
It's just what? They're my team. They're here for me. I hadn't considered that they might've thought I was dead. I didn't consider them at all. I sit down at our makeshift floor table and cross my legs meditation style. "Come. Let me start from the beginning."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I adored The Vicious Deep by author Zoraida Cordova. It was such a fun read and at the time I had been reading a ton of mermaid-focused novels, out of them all The Vicious Deep was one of the most memorable. Mainly because the main character Tristan had been laugh out loud hilarious and the scene when he first discovers his merman tail has been stuck on my mind for quite some time (it’s one of my favorite comedic scenes ever guys). Getting to read The Savage Blue was awesome for so many reasons, I’ll just say that like the novel before it The Savage Blue ends on a cliff-hanger. The Savage Blue takes place right where The Vicious Deep ended. Main character Tristan Hart has just found out that he is a descendant of mermaid royalty and, thanks to his grandfather, is now part of a quest to become ruler of the sea and get the Sea Throne. Tristan and co. go on a journey to find the remaining pieces of the trident so that Tristan may become king. Tristan searches for the oracle that will have the next piece of the trident. During all of this Tristan battles against monsters in the sea (like sea dragons and water demons). However when Tristan does find the oracle a secret is revealed and Tristan is betrayed by one of the people closest to him. Nieve is getting stronger and somebody in Tristan’s group of friends is working with her. In the end, Tristan is left with a choice between the Sea Throne and Layla who he has fallen madly in love with. The first thing I noticed while reading The Savage Blue was that the novel throws you into a ton of action. That’s what got me hooked. Right from the opening scene where Tristan and Kurt are fighting each other to when Kurt and Tristan are going at it with a sea demon that should have the upper hand and be able to kill them both (it doesn’t). The Savage Blue had a lot more the amount of action that The Vicious Deep had which caused the storyline to become more addictive because, seriously, who wants to stop reading in the middle of an awesome fight scene? The Savage Blue opens readers up to more of the supernatural beings that exist in the world that The Vicious Deep is set in. I found that in The Vicious Deep we only really got to look at mermaids/mermen and then either saw a few brief scenes with other supernatural creatures or saw mentions of those supernatural creatures in dialogue. The Savage Blue gives you nearly everything. Faeries, centaurs, demon-type-things, the whole she-bang. Definitely refreshing considering that I assumed the novel would only really have mermaids (and it made a pleasant surprise). Tristan’s relationship with Layla does get a bit more serious and the romance left me wanting the two of them to end up together (and to kiss without getting interrupted). Personally, I thought that Tristan kissed or was almost-kissed by too many other girls that weren’t Layla and it made me question his feelings for her. Besides that, my only other issue with the novel would just be a bit of the pacing about half-way through the novel when things start to get pitchy. Other than that it was actually really fantastic. The last hundred or so pages honestly left me with my jaw smacking the ground. There is a major plot twist and the ending seriously broke my heart. I don’t know what to assume will happen in the next novel, all I know is that I am very, very excited to find out what happens next to Tristan and his friends. Will he win the Sea Throne and defeat Nieve? I need to know!!! I’d recommend The Vicious Deep novels to readers that are big fans of mythology, mermaid lore and readers that are looking for a novel with supernatural elements and a comedic main character.
3.5 Stars 'The Savage Blue' is the second book in a young adult fantasy series that continues to follow main character Tristan - a teenage merman - as he searches for the Sea Throne and the trident that will make him king. On top of this mission, he must lead his people in a deadly war against those that will stop at nothing to make sure he doesn't reach the throne. Then there's Layla - Tristan's best friend since childhood and the only girl he's ever truly loved. But a deep betrayal will cause Tristan to choose between Layla and his place on the Sea Throne. Will they reach the trident before it's too late? Will Tristan be forced to lose another dear friend in the fierce battle that's raging beneath the ocean's waves? This was a great second installment in a fast paced and exciting fantasy adventure series. We see Tristan's character grow and mature more in this book, as he deals with the loss of a good friend and must lead his people on a dangerous quest to find the trident. Tristan is a great main character, with his sense of humor and sarcasm, along with his deep loyalty to his family, his friends, and his people - all of these qualities make him a realistic and enjoyable lead. Not many books, especially in this genre, have a guy as the main character, so that gives the series an edge over other books out there right now. I like Tristan's insight and his outlook on things refreshing. The plot was interesting and I loved learning more about the Sea Throne, the trident, and the history of the merfolk. The author really did a good job with the descriptions and backstory behind the plot, which I feel made it more complex and layered. The writing was well done with a great pace and effortless flow to the book. There were a great mix of genres in the novel, including action, fantasy, adventure, and romance. The romantic part of the book is a great addition, but it doesn't overshadow the main plot line of the book. I thought it does a good job at making the plot more believable and realistic - especially with the problems that Tristan encounters. It shows that even though he's a merman and trying to find the trident, he still has to deal with normal teenage problems. I found Tristan's inner dialogue and the conversations between characters to be witty and fun, and it felt natural - not forced or awkward, which made the story all the more believable for me. Overall, this was a great second book in a fun and interesting YA fantasy series. I definitely recommend it for fans of the genre or those looking for a fun series about mermaid mythology. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
MY THOUGHTS I enjoyed the first book, so I decided to pick this one up! Let me say this: there is no middle book syndrome here! This book ends where book one left off, with Tristan and his friends searching for the trident, in order to gain the crown. I mentioned in my last review for book one that it was more of an introduction to the world and that's mainly because I already read this book when I wrote that review. All of the things happen in this book! This book is very fast-paced and much more dangerous! Not only does Tristan have to try and win against others in the quest, but he has to evade the sea witch and her savage creatures! I had issues with Tristan in book one and, while I still having problems with him, he's becoming much more admirable. I must say, though, that his voice is incredibly realistic and I love his sarcasm. He does come off as a jerk at some points, but less so than book one! Last thing: There is a very shocking discovery in this book! It was something that I was kind of questioning through this book if it were possible, but it was still very shocking! IN CONCLUSION This was a really great sequel and I even liked it more than the first book! It is very fast paced and I actually loved seeing Tristan on his quest! I do definitely plan on reading the next book!
I haven't received it on my computer yet.
The author has done an amazing job with the continuation of the trilogy... this time, she dives right into the plot of Tristan's journey without skipping any details and continuing with the fast-paced storyline with non-stop action... In the first book, Tristan has a lot to go through in this part of his journey - he learns all about his mermaid heritage, what being a champion is all about, history lessons galore and has made new friends, meets new family members, has made more allies and, of course, has made a handful of enemies too! It was so interesting to see more unique characters and to get to know them and learn their histories - first we learn that everyone that lives in the sea has stories and hardly ever tells the whole truth, every answer is lyrical or vague, which makes it difficult for Tristan to trust and get the answers he needs to find the other two pieces to the trident. We meet four oracles, sisters who each have their own gifts and will only help if you help them first. We learn more about the crazy princesses and their magic, the landlocked (those that have been banished by the courts) and other mythical creatures - if mermaids exist, why can't vampires, werewolves and other unworldly creatures too? Tristan is hardly ever surprised anymore. Tristan continues to entertain us with his sarcastic attitude, quick wit and determination. He did not ask for any of this to happen to him, or to anyone involved. But he knows that its something that he must do, and finish, whether he likes to or not. Even when those close to him betray him and he is left alone to his own devices. He steps up and does the best that he can, keeps true to himself and remains loyal to those who continue to support him. The relationships in this trilogy are strong and are major key points to the story. Without support, Tristan would have died many deaths a long time ago. And Tristan knows this, and will do whatever it takes to continue to do what is right for them and is never selfish nor does he ever back down to continue his, and their, fight. Now, I have a confession - I am loving Nieve! Nieve, the silver mermaid, is beyond wicked and will go to great lengths to become the Queen of the Sea. She is ruthless and mean and knows exactly how to play with Tristan's mind and heart. However, in the beginning of the book, we get a glimpse to a much younger Nieve and my heart went out to her. The cruelty that was brought down on her did help in creating the crazed mermaid that we see now. There was no stopping what she would become and what she would do. However, I do hope that she doesn't succeed. There's definitely a twist that I did not see coming! And a cliffhanger that left me on the edge of my seat... I need to get to book 3 asap!
I am so happy that i stumbled across this series. It sucks you in and the next breath you cant believe you read the whole book.
Man was this book great I loved it so much. I think Gwen doesnt really want to do that to tristan because I think she does truely like him. The twist with Kurt was really unexpected, and poor Layla.
Yes! That's was amazing. By page 87i thought the story was wrapping up...but then I was like its only page 87out of 300 this is so much that can happen!!!!! Oh kurt! Oh layla! Omg when dose the next come out!!!!
Say it ain't so. Dear Kurt, that was NOT COOL. Dear Gwen, I feel for you. Dear Tristan, you got this bro. Keep your head up.