ARC Review: The Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember

The Navigator's Touch (The Seafarer's Kiss, #2)The Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release date: September 13, 2018

After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family, and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.

She petitions the Jarl in Skjordal for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?

Inspired by Norse mythology and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, this companion novel to The Seafarer’s Kiss is a tale of vengeance, valor, honor, and redemption.

Warnings (as provided on publisher’s site, and in the book): murder of a child, beating with a belt, discussion of torture, animal death, graphic depiction of battle injuries, depiction of a human-eating monster, graphic execution, imprisonment of children, violence, depiction of kidnapping

Companion to The Seafarer’s Kiss, this book continues the story from Ragna’s perspective as she seeks to get revenge on those who harmed her village, as well as hoping to find her lost cousin. Since being a captain on her own ship (well, which she won), she has to decide how to effectively lead her crew into what promises to be a battle. Additionally, she also has to gain allies to defeat the people who invaded her village. Her one currency in this whole thing is her god-given power to have maps to what she seeks, and with Loki seeking to use this power, it is a battle of wills and deals.

The world-building in this book is naturally quite different to that in the previous, and has Ragna growing into a leader from a warrior. She is hard, and bitter, and constantly paranoid of her crew, which doesn’t make for a good voyage. Additionally, her superstitious crew is afraid of Ersel’s presence, which is at times an asset to Ragna, but also drives a wedge in their relationship as Ersel is tired of being used for herself. Their romance is significantly better developed this time around, which is funny because this is the book that is NOT focusing on their romance. Anyway, between Ersel’s fear of Loki, Loki seeking out Ragna, and Ragna seeking a Jarl’s alliance, it makes for an interesting multi-layered plot.

There are many new characters introduced in this book, prominently Aslaug and Honor, the latter being the Jarl Ragna seeks favor from, and the former being Honor’s right-hand warrior. The book shows further inclusion by having Honor being a black woman Jarl, and Aslaug as a non-binary character, who is in love with Honor. Through Honor, Ragna learns how to be a better captain for her crew, and manages to free her village’s kids from captivity. The ending again leaves on an open note, but Ragna’s story is still resolved well enough.

Shortly, a good companion novel with an interesting plot.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Interlude Press, via Netgalley.

Previous books in series

The Seafarer's Kiss (The Seafarer's Kiss #1)

View all my reviews

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