Nuho Kadza should, in theory, be happy. The war is over, the enemy is imprisoned, and now Nuho is Housemaster, a title he has long desired. But the war killed thousands, the enemy was once a friend, and Nuho was forced to disown his sister, the one person who understood him better than all others. And then there are the politics; rebuilding trust and alliances is no easy task and it’s not one that Nuho particularly enjoys. The one positive is a renewed acquaintance with scholar, teacher, and childhood friend, Hoje Viommalento Efukhur.
For Hoje, the betrayal never ends. His best friend ended up being a murderer and, while Hoje condemned his actions, he can’t let go of the man like he should. Without Nuho and his companionship, Hoje would be lost.
But an enemy awaits in the shadows, threatening to rip apart the fragile peace and plunge the various Houses back into war. Nuho and Hoje must unravel a dark mystery and do so in time to stop a monster from coming to power. It will mean confronting their painful past and risking everything to defend the ones they love. And in the end, their every sacrifice might not be enough.
So that overview doesn’t even come close to describing Complete with Shipwreck. It’s a complex, many layered work of fiction that deals with everything from politics, family relationships, and cultural expectations. Aside from a rather weak title, Complete with Shipwreck is by turns engaging, exciting, and exasperating. It’s a part of the Direnayu universe, but listed as a standalone and I get the impression these can be read in any order.
Nuho and Hoje are the primary characters, but they’re a part of a gnarled tangle of political houses, alliances, and familial bonds that can be hard to keep track of. But Nuho and Hoje are complex men who are struggling to find their measure in a new world after the end of the previous political dynasty. Childhood friends, they’ve grown to manhood during a wildly turbulent and violent upheaval that is only starting to settle. They find in one another a dependable and steadfast friend and their romance is the definition of a slow burn. They are well matched and I enjoyed seeing the evolution of their friendship as they provided a balance for one another.
The plot to Complete with Shipwreck is overly developed. I love the world building on display, but there is so much of it that it became bogged down in its own details. Aside from this ocean of information, the story tends to take its own sweet time getting to the point; there were more than a few scenes that read as extraneous or overlong. A bit of trimming down would have helped round out Complete with Shipwreck’s rougher edges.
I liked Complete with Shipwreck quite a bit. It took effort as a reader to deal with the knot of politics, characters, and plot points, but that effort paid off in the end. This fantasy is for readers who enjoy the journey as much as the destination and I highly recommend it.