Review: The Ryogan Chronicles by Erica Cameron

Hello folks! Today is a very special day. Today is the book birthday for Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron, the second book in the Ryogan Chronicles! Thanks to the lovely folks at Entangled Teen, I got the chance to read this stunning sequel a little early, so to celebrate this occasion I will be reviewing the series so far, which began with Island of Exiles. These are both amazing books, and I’m so glad to be able to share my love for them with you today.

Island of Exiles

In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

Sea of Strangers

Know your enemy if you want to survive…

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.

Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.


This is an incredible series. Wonderfully diverse, fantastically written and with amazing worldbuilding, I was swept into Khya’s story of loss and belonging, betrayal and loyalty. I love the world that Erica Cameron has created. Each book is set in a different nation of her clearly enormous reality, and each nation is incredibly vivid. Shiara is harsh and unforgiving, but love and relationship is at the centre of the lives of its ordinary citizens. The Miriseh, the leaders of the clan, will discover that no matter how deeply you bury your lies in obedience, people will stand up to save those that they love. Ryogo, once mistaken by Khya and her people as a place of myth, is a world of dense forest, rich cities and treacherous mountain ranges. But here too, hope and loyalty succeed against a history of death and suffering. My attention was repeatedly drawn to just how huge and powerful the natural world is, especially in the Sea of Strangers – they can plan against an encroaching army of warrior mages all they like, but it’ll mean nothing if they get themselves killed on a mountain or in a storm on the way.

Khya is a great character to follow through this world. Perhaps as a side effect of her ward-magic, she really sees and engages with the landscape around her – usually because it or its inhabitants will kill her if she doesn’t. I empathised with her fear for her brother’s safety, and her determination to get him back, whatever the cost. Khya has no grand idea of herself, but she will push herself to leadership if that’s what it takes to get the job done, especially as her magic becomes more powerful. The developing romance with Tessen feels real – it doesn’t negate or lessen the magnitude of the danger they’re in, but it’s been a long time coming and they have a fantastic dynamic on the page. In fact, I love the way that relationships work generally in this series. There are important and committed friendships which are not thrown aside in favour of romance. The Itagamins practice a loyal but loose monogamy, which allows the author to confirm both Tessen and Khya as bisexual.

The representation on this book is wide-reaching. The world of Itagami has three genders – men, women and ebets (who use ey/eir/em pronouns) – and recognises asexual people and polyamorous relationships within its societal structure. It is, I believe, #ownvoices for asexuality. Everyone in the world, as far as I noticed, is a person of colour, and the second book includes a fictional people apparently based on Romani culture, though of course I cannot speak to how well this was done. There are issues of prejudice in both nations – disability in Itagami and gender in Ryogo are both discussed, and the established attitudes to both are challenged.

I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series (and regret reading the first two so fast, argh!), and I trust Erica Cameron to lead us through a truly incredible journey which, if Island of Exiles and Sea of Strangers are anything to go by, will threaten the very foundations of the world which she has so skillfully built. From the moment I realised the cleverness of the first book’s title, I was hooked.

Island of Exiles (Feb 2017) and Sea of Strangers (Dec 2017) by Erica Cameron are published by Entangled Teen. I received a free e-copy of each of these novels in exchange for an honest review.

Advertisements Share this:
Like this:Like Loading... Related