About the Book
Everybody knows Captain Drake Morass is only out for himself.
As the fires of a dying city burn on a distant shore, Drake sees an opportunity to unite the other pirate Captains under his flag and claim a crown for himself. If he is to succeed, he will need allies and the Oracle named Keelin Stillwater, the best swordsman in the isles, as his right hand.
With enemy ships sailing his waters and setting fire to his cities, and the sinister Tanner Black threatening to steal the throne before Drake even has a chance to sit upon it, Drake Morass must somehow convince the other Captains that his best interests are also theirs.
Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in the Best Laid Plans duology and is set in the same world as The Ties That Bind trilogy, continuing Captain Drake Morass’ story where the trilogy left off.
This book is an SPFBO finalist.
Folks, I’m going to let you in on a secret. I freaking hate books that take place on boats, or on large bodies of water. I mean, I know most people see the word “pirate” and come running, but in my case, I generally run away. I really, really dislike this setting. I don’t even know why. This and zombies are my own personal “hell no” as far as tropes go.
So, going into Where Loyalties Lie, I had to sort of pep talk myself. “Sarah, yes, this book is basically grimdark on the ocean, but YOU CAN DO IT.” I also knew that this book would have to be seriously good to get me to overlook my instant and intense loathing of the open water/boat setting.
I’m saying this to put my review in context. Instantly, from the second I saw the cover of this book, I knew this sucker would have one hell of an uphill battle on my site.
Now, on a character level, this book absolutely rocks. It’s full of characters that have the very real potential to steal the show. Each one is just as interesting as the last, and they work well to round out the story. They also show how each person is really out for their own reasons. In this way, they are totally representative of the pirate life. Some of them fall on the better side of that gray moral swath that defines so much grimdark. Others fall a bit on the darker side. There are men and women, people who come from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life. The sea connects them, but they are very much out there for their own reasons.
The characters really make the story come to life. A few of them stuck out to me more than others. Drake, for example, has a bloodthirsty streak which really worked for me. Keelin also jumped off the page, but for very different reasons. He is driven by his past, and I really loved how Hayes rolled out his story slowly, in ways that didn’t feel like they stood apart from the story but like his story was an integral part of the story that held all these different moving parts together. Keelin is, in some ways, misunderstood. He’s a character that had a lot of depth, and I found myself surprised by him.
This is one of those books that has so much going on inside of it, you wonder how the author managed to fit it all in there. There are a ton of epic battles, lots of action. There’s some romance as well, and a ton of unexpected twists and turns. Yes, this book takes place on the sea, in boats, with pirates – all those things I hate so intensely – but I really got sucked into it because of the characters, and the individual stories they were telling.
Yes, friends, I actually like a book that contains boats. Wonders never cease.
Now, I will say that I felt like the start was slow. It took me some time before I felt really invested in what the book was about. Once things take off, they really get going at a relentless pace. While I do love the characters, I feel like some of them took a while for me to really get to know, or care about. That being said, once that time was invested in them, I became addicted to them, and how Hayes crafted these people.
So basically, this book might take some time for you to feel like it gets rolling. However, it’s time well spent, because once that time is invested, you won’t be able to put this book down.
As a summary, whether or not you have weird boat/pirate issues like I do, this is a grimdark book that will make grimdark fans incredibly happy. And, hold on to your hats, people, but I actually want to read more.