Spider Robinson
2008 Robert A. Heinlein Award Recipient (Lifetime Excellence in Literature) on
See all of Spider’s reviews

I have known Seymour Hamilton for over thirty years, and am only surprised that it took this long for Astreya to reach the marketplace. I guess he’s been busy with other things. It is a work of great power, insight, and ferocious imagination, and like its creator it is almost impossible to dislike. I had the honour and pleasure of reading it in manuscript, and am overjoyed that it has finally taken up residence in my Kindle. I recommend it unreservedly. Mr. Hamilton understands people, and has an intuitive grasp of story I envy.

Commander David Newing, LVO, Royal Navy (retired) on

“…a trilogy that will fascinate all those who have the sea in their blood and yearn for those days of sail. This is a sailor’s yarn brilliantly told…
I could not put this book down.”

David Hayes, at Historic Naval Fiction

The Astreya Trilogy will appeal to fans of both nautical fiction and fantasy. The first book, Astreya: The Voyage South, follows the story of a young man who sets out to discover his heritage. He is the son of a mysterious shipwrecked sailor who died before he was born and about whom his mother, and the people of the village where he lived, knew little. We follow his journey, partly by sea and partly by land, as he starts to get some clues as to his ancestry and inheritance, a bracelet with a green stone which glows when he puts it on and seems to have some power.

In the second book, Astreya: The Men of the Sea, he finds himself aboard the three masted ships of his father’s people, the Men of the Sea, who have been wandering the oceans for years and are feared by those on land.

The author makes full use of a fictional timeline and whilst the mysterious green stones form an element of fantasy the stories will have a familiar feel to readers of nautical fiction set in the Age of Sail. The books feature a pirate (though not the much caricatured Caribbean kind), knife fights and much more as factions within the ruling family of the Men of the Sea struggle for supremacy.

Mr Hamilton has produced a set of well rounded characters who you can empathise with and they are pacey novels which are hard to put down. I look forward to reading book 3, Astreya: The Wanderer’s Curse.

Robert Bott, Journalist, on

This is not one of my usual genres, but the seafaring stuff in the early chapters sucked me in and I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the alternate landscape and history Hamilton has created. In this first volume, he has wisely introduced only one “magical” element, a bracelet with strange properties (and perhaps powers), and for the most part the landscape and seascape are comfortably medieval. The plot moves along nicely, and the prose is well crafted. The most important test is that I finished with a great hunger for the next volume.

J. Knauss, Author, on

When I first started reading Astreya, it drew me into its world in a way no other book ever has. Astreya is a fantasy, but its world is much closer to us in the US and Canada than the typical fantasy fare of European-folklore-inspired vampires or werewolves, or princesses and fairies. Author Seymour Hamilton has achieved a tale that is simultaneously magical and convincingly real.

The only evidence Astreya has of his father are a puzzling notebook and an upper-arm bracelet that begins to glow only when he puts it on. He leaves his isolated fishing village in hopes of finding out more about his father, and finds evidence of horror, people who betray and enslave him, and, finally, the best friends he’s ever had. The chapters Astreya spends learning how to paint with Gar and Lindey are especially delicious for readers who feast on the feeling that they know the fictional characters they’re reading about even better than their own friends. The book ends on a masterful cliffhanger. Warning: If you read this book, you will not be able to avoid Book II: The Men of the Sea.

What I most loved about the story was that it didn’t follow a preconceived plot outline we’ve all read hundreds of times, but flowed naturally from the motives of down-to-earth, psychologically complex characters even as universal themes like the journey and the apprenticeship develop. Astreya’s adventures are only as far-fetched as real life. Real life with magical glowing stones, that is.

Lindey is the best female heroine I’ve read over this past decade. She’s tough, capable, and beautiful, but also full of secrets. She has a refreshing pragmatism and logic rules almost everything she does. These are two valuable traits for a heroine that we still don’t see very often. She takes girl power to a highly attractive place for both male and female readers.

Additionally, Astreya has plenty of characters you’ll love to hate: spoiled bully Yan, slavedriver Jeb, and stab-happy academic thug Carl. With sea voyages, artistic leanings, fist and knife fights, fence building, adolescent confusion, wisdom, danger, and love, Astreya I: The Voyage South is going on my list of the best books of the year.

Astreya, Book II: The Men of the Sea (The Astreya Trilogy)

Spider Robinson on
It keeps getting better, December 28, 2011 on

Everything I said about Volume I of this splendid trilogy applies with equal force (or more!) to Mr. Hamilton’s splendid second volume. Like THE GODFATHER PART II, it is one of those rare sequels that are even better than part 1. He has the enviable knack of making what he does–making you truly care about entirely imaginary people, using only ink-stains on paper or pixels on a blank screen–seem easy. Please believe me when I tell you it is the hardest thing in the world to do.

But you don’t even need to know that. It’s just the part that fascinates me, because I’ve been struggling for 35 years to attain the ease that Mr. Hamilton had first crack out of the box, and is never going to lose. All YOU probably need to know is that he will make you feel better about being alive, more able to deal with your own cares and worries the way Astreya does.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I want to go back to trying to reverse-engineer Mr. Hamilton’s accomplishments….

J. Knauss, Author
See all of J. Knauss’ reviews

If you’re skeptical of sequels, I should point out that Astreya, Book II: The Men of the Sea is in reality a continuation of the story and Book I is not complete without Books II and III. The story picks up minutes after where The Voyage South leaves off, when Astreya is faced with a decision to resist his kidnappers, who turn out to be his only blood relatives, or to willingly learn about them, their astounding technology and skills, and the legacy of the Wanderer’s Curse. Astreya’s burgeoning romance with Lindey seems to hang in the balance, as he is never sure whether she can forgive him, no matter what decision he makes. Or whether he will ever see her again.

In The Men of the Sea, we meet an entire cast of new characters even while we keep pace with our old friends from Book I. The new characters are nearly all pirates, but not the type gleaned from certain theme park rides. These pirates have real motivations and fears. The leader is an intriguing psychological study in frustration, while the likes of Adramin, Mirak, and Mufrid you’ll love to hate. The story moves through water and time at a swift pace, bringing unpredictable adventures at every turn. No matter what you look for in a good story, you can’t help being thrilled at the battle at sea. That would seem to be the climax — but no! Even more secrets are revealed and quests undertaken! You’ll dread the end of this book, but you can still take comfort in the knowledge that Book III, The Wanderer’s Curse, is coming soon.

The Men of the Sea is perfect for readers who already have their sea legs and love the Age of Sail, but the lubbers out there will love this book at least as much as Astreya I, possibly more.

By Alex Morton on
Format:Kindle Edition

Rarely have I read something that combines a love of sailing and the sea with such a great story. The instant I finished Book 1 I had to have a copy of Book 2 and after that, Book three. Even if I didn’t share the author’s interest in the sea, I would have been enthralled by the story. The books are beautifully written, exciting and fun. I’m desperately hoping for a Book 4.I’m a reader and go through two or three books a week and when I find something like this, it’s like striking gold.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Great character, fantastic story, August 10, 2013
By Ms Janet Cameron

I loved spending time in the world of Astreya. Before this, I hadn’t read a fantasy novel in years, and I was surprised at the level of realism and the way Seymour Hamilton trusts his characters to carry the story without a lot of magic swords and mythological bombast. There is an air of mystery in the background – is this the past or some post-apocalyptic future? And what’s the meaning of the coded messages Astreya’s been left by his father? But these questions remain intriguingly in the background and don’t overwhelm the story. Instead we see our hero grow up, deal with bullies, fall in love and decide he’d like to be an artist, as well as the other adventures and action you’d expect from good fantasy. I look forward to the rest of the series.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Absorbing and compelling fantasy March 18, 2013
By Tinney S. Heath

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, for its rich worldbuilding, deft characterization, and originality. I found it pleasantly unpredictable. It’s one sign of a good book when the characters stay with the reader, still vivid long after the last page is read, and this is such a book. On to the next one…

Format:Kindle Edition

Astrea, Book III is the third volume of a single story and the three should be read in sequence. An adventure-packed coming-of-age odyssey set in the Middle Ages, the story grips the reader and holds her/him through a web of evil and admirable characters, and a considerable depth of emotional complexity.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Superb Trilogy March 4, 2012
By Robert Bott
Format:Kindle Edition

This is a superb trilogy, and I urge readers to start at the beginning. What I said in my review on Vol. I applies to all three. Enjoyed every minute, though it’s not my usual genre.

5.0 out of 5 stars

A Great Ending to a Series You Never Wanted to End March 2, 2012
By J. Knauss

Yes, the final book in the trilogy is here!All three books are the perfect mix of unpredictable adventure, edge-of-your-seat suspense, lovable characters, sea lore, and just a touch of magic.

The final book in any series bears the heavy weight of expectations, but Hamilton brings it all to an end that makes sense both logically and emotionally and is better than anyone else could have dreamed up. In this book, we get a glimpse of Matris and learn that a town ruled by women may not be the paradise described. Astreya must race back to the place of his birth in order to prevent the summary slaughter of the Village’s inhabitants. Lindey and Astreya learn to deal with the past and plan for the future, and Astreya finally claims his rightful inheritance.

Start with Book I: The Voyage South and follow all the adventures. The landscapes, sailing prowess, and characters will stay with you long after you close the book.

5.0 out of 5 stars

A Satisfying End To An Exciting Journey August 23, 2013
By Spider Robinson

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably already read my two previous reviews for this book’s two predecessors. The only thing I have to add to them is that this book brings the trilogy to a very pleasing close, with just enough of the mysteries explained and all of the problems fairly solved. It is a trilogy to read aloud at bedtime to your companion, if you have that custom; they’ll be grateful.

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Tales of Rebels and of the Sea. Also, stories about Dragons.