The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon's acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.
As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.
As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…
"A delightful epic fantasy that will attract a readership both older and younger than the target audience." Booklist (starred review) on The Floating Island
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|Series:||Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme Series , #4|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)|
|Lexile:||820L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||10 - 14 Years|
About the Author
ELIZABETH HAYDON is the author of the bestselling Symphony of Ages fantasy series, which began with Rhapsody. The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, set in the same enchanted world, is her first series for young readers. She lives on the East Coast with her husband and children.
Read an Excerpt
To Go, or Not to Go
The human boys had an expression back in the faraway city of Vaarn where I was born. It went like this:
Curiosity killed the cat
Satisfaction brought him back
I am a curious person. I was just as curious back in my early days in Vaarn as I am now, perhaps even more so, because my curiosity had not yet been given a chance to be satisfied.
The first time I heard this expression, I was very excited. I thought it meant that my curiosity could make me feel like I was dying, but it would let up if I discovered the answer to whatever was making me curious.
I told my mother about the rhyme. She was not impressed. In fact, she looked at me as if I had just set my own hair on fire on purpose. She patted my chin, which was woefully free of any sign of the beard that should have been growing there.
“That’s very nice,” she said, returning to her chores. “But just in case nobody told you, you are not a cat, Ven. Unlike you, cats have whiskers.”
My pride stung for days afterward.
But it didn’t stop my curiosity from growing as fast as my beard should have been.
My name is Charles Magnus Ven Polypheme, Ven for short. Unlike the human boys in Vaarn, I am of the race of the Nain. Nain are somewhat shorter than humans, and grumpier. They live almost four times as long as humans, and tend to be much less curious, and much less adventurous. They hate to travel, don’t swim, and generally do not like other people. Especially those who are not Nain.
I clearly am not a good example of my race.
First, I am very tall for a Nain, sixty-eight Knuckles high when I was last measured on the morning of my fiftieth birthday. I’ve already mentioned my uncontrollable curiosity, which brings along with it a desire for adventure. I have been blessed, or cursed, with quite a lot of that recently.
But as for the curiosity, while I’ve had a lot of satisfaction for the questions it has asked me, it doesn’t seem to matter. As soon as one burning question is answered, another one springs to mind immediately. As a result, I am frequently in trouble.
So now I am about to lay my head on a chopping block, on purpose, and a man with a very sharp knife is standing over me, ready to make slashes in my neck.
I’m wondering if in fact instead of being a live Nain, I am about to end up as a dead, formerly curious cat.
Because now I have three whiskers of my own.
Ven Polypheme had two sets of eyes staring at him.
One set was black as coal. The other was green as the sea.
Neither of them looked happy.
The green eyes were floating, along with a nose, forehead, and hair on which a red cap embroidered with pearls sat, just above the surface of the water beneath the old abandoned dock. The brows above the eyes were drawn together. They looked annoyed.
The black ones were in the middle of the face of his best friend, Char, who stood beside him on the dock. They looked anxious.
In the distance a bell began to toll. Ven looked to his left at the docks of the fishing village to the south of them, where work had begun hours ago. Then he looked behind him. The sleepy town of Kingston in the distance was just beginning to wake up.
Ven looked back down into the water.
“Come on, Amariel,” he said to the floating eyes. “I can’t really go off into the sea without him.”
A glorious tail of colorful scales emerged from below the surface, splashing both boys with cold salt water.
“Why not?” a girl’s voice demanded from the waves. “He’s a pest. And he isn’t nice to me.”
Char’s black eyes widened.
“I—I’m sorry ’bout that,” he stammered. “When I first met you, Ven didn’t tell me you were a mermaid—” He shivered as another splash drenched him again. “Er, I mean merrow. I’m sorry if I made you mad.”
“Please let him come,” Ven said. “Captain Snodgrass gave him orders to keep an eye on me. So if I’m going to explore the sea with you, he kinda has to come along.”
Char nodded. “Cap’n’s orders.”
“He’s not my captain,” said the merrow. “I don’t take orders from humans. You know better, Ven. My mother will fillet me if she finds out I’m traveling with a human male. Especially if we are going to go exploring. There are very clear rules about not showing humans around the wonders of the Deep. And besides, it’s dangerous. You have no idea how many sea creatures think humans are tasty. I don’t want to get chomped on by mistake.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Ven watched Char’s face go white.
“We’ll be careful,” he promised. “Char will be on his best behavior.”
“I’ve seen his best behavior. I’m not impressed.”
“Look,” Char said. “If you get sick of me, you can always cover me with fish guts and toss me out as shark bait.”
The merrow stared coldly at him.
“Oh, all right,” she said finally. “But remember, there’s a reason they call bait for sharks chum. ‘Chum’ is another word for ‘friend.’” Her eyes stayed locked on Char. “And if you make a bunch of sharks angry, Chum—”
“I’ll be chum,” Char said. “Got it.”
“So if you’re coming, we have to find a fisherman named Asa with a red-bottomed boat.” Amariel pointed south to one of the far docks. “He’ll cut your gills, and we can get going.”
Both boys grabbed their necks.
The merrow rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on. Do you want to be able to breathe underwater or not? Gills are the only way I know of to do that. I’m tired of waiting. Decide whether you’re coming or whether I’m leaving.”
“We’re coming,” Ven said as he let go of his neck. “Sorry—it’s just instinct. Let’s go.”
Char nodded, but did not remove his hands.
The merrow disappeared below the surface of the water.
The two boys hurried south over the packed sand along the shore.
“Ya know, it’s not too late to change your mind, Ven,” Char muttered. “We could get a boat or somethin’, and follow her out to sea, like we did when we were chasing the Floatin’ Island, and then dive down to see whatever she wants to show us—”
“You can stay on shore if you want to, Char,” Ven said, trying to see the merrow in between the waves. “But I promised her a long time ago that I would explore her world with her. It’s now or never.”
“Have it your way,” Char said gloomily. “You always do anyway.”
They followed the pebbly path in the sand south until the fishing village came into sight. Several long piers led out into the harbor, with docks along each of them. Small boats lined the docks. At each boat fishermen were hauling nets filled with flapping fish and cages with crabs and lobsters onto the piers. Seagulls flew in great wide circles above, screeching and crying, then diving for food.
“So how did she happen to find this Asa, and how does she know he won’t just cut our throats?” Char asked as they picked their way among barrels and pieces of rope on the slats of the pier.
Ven shrugged. “No idea. But sailors and merrows have a pretty good connection.” He pointed about halfway down the pier, where a small green fishing boat with a red bottom bobbed lazily in the morning tide. A wrinkled man in a wrinkled hat sat on a barrel at the edge of the dock, cleaning his morning catch of fish. “Could that be him?”
Char squinted. “I guess so.”
“Come on. We may as well ask. If it’s not Asa, he probably knows where to find him. Fishermen all know each other.”
The two boys walked along the pier, stepping out of the way of men dragging lobster traps and heavy netting, until they got to the red-bottomed boat. They stopped behind the elderly fisherman, who did not seem to notice they were there.
Ven coughed politely.
“Excuse me, sir—are you Asa?”
The fisherman looked up from his work, his sky-blue eyes twinkling in the sun.
“Er, my name is Ven, sir. I was told I might find a fisherman at this dock who could, uh, cut gills.”
The wrinkly man nodded. “Well, Ven, you’ve found ’im. But I can’t say as I’ve heard of any recent wrecks.”
Ven blinked. “Pardon?”
“Shipwrecks,” said the fisherman. “That’s the only reason I know of for a man to risk a slice in his neck—to salvage the treasure from the bones of a shipwreck.”
“Oh.” Ven and Char exchanged a glance, then looked off the edge of the dock.
In the water behind the boat, the beautiful tail of multicolored scales was waving at them from beneath the surface.
“Uh, we weren’t really planning to dive for treasure,” Ven continued, trying to block the sight of the merrow’s tail. “We just want to do some exploring.”
The fisherman’s eyebrows arched.
“The sea’s no place to explore without a good reason, lads,” he said seriously. “Lots of bad stuff down there—believe you me. The only reason a man takes his life into his hands on a daily basis by going out there is to make a living for his family. Otherwise, we’d farm the land.” The blue eyes twinkled. “If we knew how.”
“Well, we’d really like to have gills, nonetheless,” Ven said. “We’ve been told you know how to, er, cut them without too much pain—and safely. Is that true?”
Asa exhaled, then nodded.
“I suppose that depends on how much is too much where pain is concerned,” he said. “That’s really up to you. It’s not my business what you’re doing. We mind our own business on the sea. If you want gills, and you’re willing to take the risk, I can cut ’em for you right quick.” He held up a thin silver filleting knife. “Then I have to get back to cleaning my catch. So, what’ll it be? Make haste, now.”
Char and Ven looked at each other once more, then nodded at the same time.
“We’re in,” said Char.
“All right then,” said Asa. He reached into the boat and took hold of the top of a small sea chest that held his tackle. He slammed it closed and put it on the dock in front of them. “Kneel down and put your heads on this chest, your left ears down.”
The boys obeyed.
“Well, ’s been good to know you,” Char whispered as they positioned their heads on the chest.
“Shhh,” Ven whispered back. “We’re not being executed, for pity’s sake.”
“You hope we’re not. You never know.”
Asa wiped the filleting knife on his trousers, then came and stood over Ven.
“Hold very still, now.”
Char winced and put his hand over his eyes.
Ven started to close his eyes as well.
Suddenly, from the end of the dock near town, a bright flash of rainbow-colored light blinded him.
And the world seemed to stop around him.
Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Haydon
Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Brandon Dorman
Table of Contents
1. To Go, or Not to Go,
2. The Fortune Teller's Return,
4. Eyes in the Sky,
5. Thrum, Drift, and Sunshadow,
6. Kingston Harbor,
7. On the Skelligs,
9. The Herring Ball,
10. The Coral Reef,
11. A Deadly Song,
13. The Drowning Cave,
14. The Airwheel,
15. An Uneasy Truce,
16. Back to the Drift,
17. Into the Deep,
18. The Underwater Forest,
20. The Desert Beneath the Sea,
21. A Cage of Bones,
22. The Octopus's Garden,
23. In Coral Cathedrals,
24. Feeding Frenzy,
25. The Summer Festival,
26. The Wild Hippocampus Roundup,
27. The Second-to-the-Last Race,
28. A Coming Storm,
29. The Waterspout,
30. At the Edge of Twilight,
32. A Risky Negotiation,
33. A Bargain Struck and Fulfilled,
34. The Diving Bell,
35. Descent into Darkness,
36. The Abyss,
37. All the Way Down,
38. At the Bottom of the World,
39. Letting Go of the Last Lifeline,
40. The Real Queen of the Sea,
41. The Fulfillment of Most of Two Prophecies,
42. Another Riddle Answered,
43. A Familiar Friend,
44. A Mysterious Reunion,
45. A Rescue, Long Time in Coming,
46. The Return,
47. The Surprise,
Excerpt from ITL[The Floating Island]ITL,
Also by Elizabeth Haydon,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Finally, we get the story that Haydon has been leading up to since the first book! Ven goes underwater with his merrow friend, and Char comes along. I was very excited to read this and I’m sad that there aren’t any more Ven books that have been published–it seemed like the end of it was leading up to something else (maybe another book), but oh well. At the very least, this book concludes rather satisfactorily while leaving a bit open, so I guess we have to use our imaginations for now to fill in the rest. As usual in these books, Ven is out of his element, but it’s heightened to a great degree in this one, since he and Char have procured a way to breathe underwater, so they join Amariel in her home–under the sea! Char annoyed me more than usual in this book because he was so grumpy about joining in the adventure, but insisted on not being left behind. But, other than that, I really enjoyed the characters, both returning and new. I especially liked how things work in the ocean. You don’t talk (because water doesn’t carry sound very well), but there is a thrum to the ocean that can carry your thoughts to other people, so you have to be very careful about what you think and what you’re allowing to be carried by the water. I really liked this idea and it helped transform the ocean to almost be otherworld with how differently everything worked, like sleeping, moving about, talking, etc. It’s hard to say much else without giving spoilers, but it’s a fun, adventurous fantasy. I’ve really liked all the previous books; weirdly, I don’t think you need to necessarily read this one in the order of the others, since it’s quite different and only has Char continuing the adventure from previous books, so you don’t need the foundation to understand what’s going on. It’s wonderful to read about random events happening and then have them woven together beautifully at the end; the main climax really is quite wonderful. I’m hopeful that maybe (eventually) future books will be published, but until then, I’m happy with this series overall.
At the beginning of the book, it felt somewhat like reading the beginning of Harry Potter - I dislike that series. It felt a little too surreal for me. However, I am pleased I continued to read, because Elizabeth Haydon succeeded in captivating my interest. The last half of the book was the best! The illustrations Brandon Dorman created were a perfect fit, depicting a few of the outlandish characters described. He is to be commended for his talent in drawing and doing it so intuitively. Amariel, the merrow, urged Ven to accept her invitation to see the special things she wanted him to see in the ocean. In the past, she had come ashore to discover human sights and experiences. She felt it was his turn to reciprocate. To Ven's devoted friend, Char's, dismay, they were in the process of solving the problem of how to breathe under water, when the gypsy appeared to Ven and provided a better way and further insight. The communicative thought process was understand by man and beast alike. Dangers awaited Ven and Char at every turn but the two persevered and followed through on their commitment. This book take the reader on the very unusual trip taken by the three deep under the ocean's surface. There was continuous fascinating experiences and adventures in a place the two youth clearly did not belong. The ideas and places were very creatively and clearly described by the author. The story concluded well, yet left the reader eager to read the next book of the series. The main point of the tale was "brought together" in a powerful way. My review of this book offers a Four Stars rating.
The preface hooked me. When the author named a place” Ketchup-upon-Hamburg, South Germany” and talked about “attending a yak milking seminar in the high peaks of Katmandont” I was hooked. I interrupted my husband to reread the lines to him. I knew then I would enjoy this book because of the word play. The author wrote the story in first person through Ven’s journals and then third person throughout the rest. Ven tells us he is from the race of people known as Nain. They live with humans in Vaarn. Here is how he describes them. “…Nain are somewhat shorter than humans, and grumpier. They live almost four times as long as humans, and tend to be much less curious, and much less adventurous. They hate to travel, don’t swim, and generally do not like other people. Especially those who are not Nain. I clearly am not a good example of my race.” The minute I read that last line I was sucked into this wonderful world. He described himself as tall for a Nain. He used sixty-eight Knuckles high as the measurement. I knew I had found an author with such a creative and imaginative mind that it left no doubt I would love this book. The adventure begins with Ven and his best friend trying to find a fisherman to cut gill slits in their neck. Before the slits can be cut, Madam Sharra shows up and gives him another dragon scale. He must evade the Thief Queen, who is the ruler of the Gated City. Ven must travel with his friend Char and merrow friend Aariel to the bottom of the sea to find the Tree of Water. Finally, he mustreturn the dragon scale to its proper owner, the dragon it came from. He must also avoid getting them all killed by the predators of the sea. I loved the Reader’s guide in the back of the book. It is aligned to the Common Core Standards. There are discussion Questions as well as Writing and Research Activities. This is the fourth book in this series. It read as a stand alone book. However, I feel I missed some great adventures by not reading the first three books; The Floating Island, The Thief Queen’s Daughter and The Dragon’s lair. I will be purchasing them for my shelves and reading them. Great fantasy lover. This is one I am not going to be able to keep on my shelves and one I may need to purchase as a giveaway prize for my students.
This story is based on the lost journals of Ven Polypheme, a royal reporter that is to travel the world and find magic. Ven is trying to escape the Thief Queen. His merrow friend Amariel suggests exploring underwater and search for The Tree of Water. But this is not his only task. Just before they leave, Madame Sharra gives them a sea dragon scale and tells them to find the dragon too. This is the fourth book in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, which I was concerned with since I have never heard of this series. Don’t let that stop you from reading it. There is no down time trying to figure out what is going on. You jump straight into the action. There are numerous dangers to encounter from sharks to jelly fish to sea elves and a dragon. It seems Ven’s group is always in one form of danger or another. I really liked this story. There was great action and a good plot. It reminds me of the Hobbit for middle grade kids. But if you like middle grade stories, you will like The Tree of Water also. I’m excited to see how this series began and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
REVIEW This is the fourth installment of Dr. Haydon's fantasy series for not only young readers but everyone. With this wonderful adventure you come across dragons, merfolk and and sea life. All in modern, mythical and prehistoric as Magic seeker Ven travels into the deep with his friend, fish tailed Amariel. The story goes along with a young man, Charles Magnus Ven Polypheme, known short for Ven. Royal missions is his duty. The action in this book is tremendous. The author put a little zip in the dialogue which made it more realistic. Not only is this a fast paced adventure it carries humor and a little bit of heart. The author writes with such detail in the scenery, the characters and the actions. This book will be of interest, not only for the young but for the not so young. We all love fantasy. I don't want to give away any more. The book is just well written and will attract all readers. The author wrote for the young reader but it turns out it's for anyone. Each of of the sagas in the author's series features a different quest in the magical land of Serendair. Fantastic Fantasy. I would suggest reading the other books first. I was given a complimentary copy of THE TREE OF WATER from the author, Elizabeth Haydon and Tor Teen for my view of this book. No other compensation took place.