I love this series. The Ship Kings is fast becoming one of my favourite modern children's series, along with Michelle Lovric's The Undrowned Child, and Helen Dunmore's Ingo (sensing a sea theme, anyone?) The second installment in the Ship Kings, Voyage of the Unquiet Ice, had me enthralled from the get go. If you seriously want adventure - good, old-fashioned adventure, but at the same time modern and fresh - then Ship Kings are the books for you.
Andrew McGahan is a great writer - he knows how to enthrall, how to invoke emotion, how to write beautiful passages that portray a character's feelings, without being pretentious and flowery. Voyage of the Unquiet Ice also benefited greatly from upping the pace a bit: one of the things I thought the first book had working against it. This book, however, is pretty much a non-stop adventure - it is thrilling and dangerous and pushes the characters to their very limits, and it perfectly captures the wonder Dow feels setting out on his first real adventure at sea.
Once again the descriptions of the ocean, and the connection people have to it, are wonderful. The descriptions in general are wonderful - once we get to the 'unquiet ice', McGahan throws us into the cold, the wet, the eerieness, the stillness, the danger, the terrible beauty of the icebergs. The atmosphere leaks onto the pages. The way Dow's life on the ship is described is very informative, but never dry.
I really enjoyed the characters in Voyage of the Unquiet Ice. They are a terrible, brutal, and fascinating bunch, and Dow is a great character to navigate the waters around them. I also found the political side to the story (something which generally loses me in fantasy) easy to comprehend and extremely interesting. Having ship kings politics play out in the background while Dow embarks on his adventures gives the story urgency and weight.
Read these books. Do it. You may struggle to get into them at first because they are quite dense - but persist, because they are fabulous. I haven't enjoyed such a well-written book since I read Seraphina last year. Can't wait until the third one.