Book Cover
Title The Sea Hag
Series ---
Author David Drake
Cover Art ---
Publisher Bean
First Printing Baen - 1988
Category Science Fiction Fantasy
Warnings None

Main Characters

Dennis, Chester

Main Elements Robots, Aliens, Wizards

FROM PALACE . . . Dennis flees the crystal walls of Emath when he learns the truth behind the city his father rules.

TO WILDERNESS . . . The jungle enfolds him, tests his sword arm with monsters and his courage with nightmares more terrible than any monster.

FROM LOVE . . . Sword and spirit can win Dennis a princess--

TO BLACKEST WIZARDRY . . . But he can overcome the final evil only at the risk of all he has become--and his soul besides.

Ok, where do I start...I downloaded this book for free from the Baen Free Library and its one of the few that still remain available on that site and on

However, to be blunt, I've read better books that were independently published without an editor. I'm hoping this book was meant to be young adult (would say middle grade except for some violence and sexual inuendo) so the writing was very simple. But my main gripe was that Dennis is 16 but I would have pegged him as 12 as far as maturity goes. He keeps needing to hold the hand, well tentacle, of his faithful robot Chester? It was cute, and sweet, but hardly something a 16 year old would do, nearly the equivalent of wandering around with one's favorite stuffed animal.

But somehow, I still got drawn into this ridiculous story. One reason is Chester the robot, a wonderfully unique character. As he tries to guide Dennis, without being allowed to tell him what to do, he keeps quoting Confuscius-like one-liners that are sometimes more riddles than answers. He'll defend his war to the death, and yet at the same time rarely acts without being asked. Leaving poor Dennis with the connundrum of asking for said help and thus putting his only friend in the world at risk.

There were also scenes that were unlike anything I'd ever read before. So the castle was protected by a wizard, who died shortly before the events of this tale. When Dennis leaves the castle and heads out into the jungle he comes across said wizard...who is still dead, but somehow, rotting and mouldy, is still up and about. However, being dead, he tends to get a little cold. So in exchange for sleeping in the wizard's cabin, Dennis is forced to rotate the wizard, on a spit, over a fire. And heaven forbid he doesn't pay attention to what he is doing, if the wizard gets burned Dennis will have to pay an even higher price! Must admit trying not to break out laughing while on my commute to work was a challenge. It was freaky, bizarre, disturbing and I couldn't help wondering what my fellow passengers would think if they knew what I was reading...I think the only stranger thing I've read on my commute was a short story about a zombie attack on an Amish farm devouring their horses, so the Amish, being practical people, put the zomies to work in the fields...

Is this book science fiction? Yes, because they keep talking about how humans came to this planet, about star-metal. There are robots and and aliens, and other sci-fi aspects. However, as far as I could tell, the wizards did used magic and not technology to weave their spells, so can be read as a fantasy as well. The monsters could go either way.

What it definitely is, is a coming of age story, albeit one that makes it extraordinarily clear that is the case. Dennis even discusses his maturing with Chester as he defeats one obstacle after another, each one almost conveniently designed to get him to the next stage of his growth.

In conclusion, while this book is hard to take seriously, it might be worth a read (it's quick and it's free) just to get inside the weird and wacky head of David Drake. The plot may be predictable, but every now and then something so totally strange pops up, you'll have to admit you've never read anything like that before.

Posted: September 2014


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