The Red Wolf Conspiracy
Book One of The Chathrand Voyage Quartet. This is the one to start with.
From the cover: Six hundred years old, the Imperial Merchant Ship Chathrand is a massive floating outpost of the Empire of Arqual. And it is on its most vital mission yet: to deliver a young woman whose marriage will seal the peace between Arqual and its mortal enemy, the Mzithrin Empire. But Thasha, the young noblewoman in question, may be bringing her sword to the altar.
For the ship’s true mission is not peace but war—a war that threatens to rekindle an ancient evil, long thought deceased. As the Chathrand navigates treacherous waters, Thasha must seek unlikely allies (including a magically cursed servant boy, a stowaway tribe of eight-inch-tall warriors, and a singularly heroic rat) and enter a treacherous web of intrigue to uncover the secret of the legendary Red Wolf.
“[Redick] casts his tale off from the historical period so well detailed in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin novels and then seemingly tosses in every fantastic idea that has ever crossed his mind. (Yes, there are zombies.) But there is never a moment when Redick's masterful storytelling wobbles; even his throwaway lines deepen and open out the world he has created, moving the ever-more involving story onward.
The novel is immediately and satisfyingly complex. Characters are introduced in passing in the middle of events. They have personal histories and relationships, many of them not at all friendly. The reader is dared to keep up with the never-ending stream of action and it is both a delight and a challenge that does not end until the final page.” Gavin Grant, Los Angeles Times
“What really sets this novel above the norm, though, is the quality of Redick's writing. Like most fantasy novels, this book contains a huge number of characters. Amazingly, nearly all of them are three-dimensional. Even characters with "bit parts" are fully-developed.... His descriptions of life on the sea and of the tall sailing ships seem dead on, and his action sequences frequently leave the reader breathless.” Kim Kovacs, Bookbrowse
“The writing is top-notch throughout. Redick writes with a Dickensian flair: stylistic, powerful, and with a fair serving of melodrama. The young tarboy—and protagonist—Pazel Pathkendle easily connects with the reader, winning over your heart as he struggles with an ever-growing mountain of adversity, spirited and plucky in the face of each new challenge. He’s a character you’ll root for, and find yourself caring about.” Paul Stotts, Blood of the Muse
“This is an amazingly fun book…. Alifros parallels Mieville’s New Corbuzon in terms of vitality and inventiveness." The Hathor Legacy