Synopsis: Aaron never wanted to pursue kingship, but his care for the lives of his people forced him toward it. When his father, the King of Upitar, sends him on a quest to find the girl who was prophesied long ago to destroy their world, Aaron finds himself fighting the option of running away forever or fulfilling his destiny as the Heir of Upitar.
By water traveling, a gift his people have that allows them to go back and forth between their world and Earth through water, Aaron starts this adventure with thousands of thoughts and questions racing around his head.
While on his journey, he inadvertently meets the very girl he’s sent to kill, Madalyne Harper. Without knowing it’s her, an unlikely romance between the sarcastic and daring Madalyne Harper begins to flourish with the rebellious and curious, Prince Aaron Archien. As they grow closer, Aaron begins to learn of secrets within the Harper family regarding water travelers. Wanting to learn more, and wanting an excuse to hang out with Madi, Aaron continues to delay his original mission. As family problems and outside forces press down on them, Aaron and Madi soon find themselves running away together.
Everything between them is great until Aaron learns the girl he has connected so well with is the same girl he’s going to have to kill…
“Sometimes you have to be a little daring and adventurous”
It’s funny, but the above quote sums up my feelings exactly as I began this book. It was a little bumpy for me at first, but the worldbuilding mesmerized me, and I found the whole concept of water traveling completely unique.
I’m going to get the negatives out of the way first. There is a major case of insta-love between Aaron and Madi, and if you’ve read any of my previous reviews you know that’s a bit of a pet peeve with me. I’m a romantic at heart, but it’s rare that I find relationships that begin like this realistic.
My other issues were with the poor grammar and awkward phrasing. Both were prevalent throughout the book and at times distracted me from the story itself. There were also too many adjectives used which bogged down the action somewhat. I read somewhere that Daniel was a high school senior when he wrote this self-published novel, which explains these problems a lot. I kept thinking that if he had a good editor, The Water Travelers would be a near perfect fantasy.
No doubt about it, the strength of this book lies in it’s worldbuilding. I’ve read so much fantasy, but I’ve never seen anything like the concept of water traveling between worlds. The way Daniel describes it is brilliantly done. I was especially intrigued by the notion of “miss traveling” which is what happens when a traveler isn’t completely submerged. What happens to these unlucky people adds another incredible layer to an already fantastic story.
Despite the dreaded case of insta-love, I found the relationship between Aaron and Madi ultimately sweet and touching. They’re both perfect foils for one another. Madi has this great snarky sense of humor that doesn’t desert her even during difficult circumstances. She starts out a little too naive and gullible, but her positive attitude and sense of adventure quickly grew on me. Serious and responsible Aaron needs someone like this in his life. He’s spent his entire life trying to please everyone without any thought to his own wishes. Add to this an enormous burden of guilt over an incident that happened when he was a child, and well, it’s no surprise that he comes off as one of those old “knight in shining armor” personas. The romance is lightly written with some kissing and physical contact, but nothing heavy.
Among the many interesting secondary characters there is one that stands out, Yerrowsli. He’s a mentor-like figure whose sage advice is tempered with some funny observations. He provides some much needed comic relief. Physical appearance aside, he reminded me a little Yoda.
Now that I’ve finished The Water Travelers I’m reminded of another young writer, Christopher Paolini. If that name doesn’t sound familiar he’s another author who self-published his first book Eragon when he was a teenager. It eventually grew to be a highly successful series. I’m definitely planning on reading Daniel’s next book, The Curse of Serapin. I have a feeling this is just the beginning for this new author.