Summary Review: A lovely, imaginative fairy tale about a merman who fell in love with a mortal, and how they made their love last forever.
For years, Aeolus has fought the Sirens, trying to rescue hapless sailors from their clutches, to no avail. When he encounters Nileas, the first man to heed his warnings in time to be saved, Aeolus at last has a chance to indulge his fascination with the world of men. As they begin the long journey back to Nileas’s home at the other side of the Mediterranean, sharing stories of their respective lives, it becomes apparent Nileas is just as fascinated with the world of the sea—and with the merman who saved him.
Despite the attraction growing between them, neither can see a way past the limitations of their races. Aeolus cannot live long on land, nor Nileas survive in the sea, but their love proves stronger than Aeolus’s determination to let Nileas go. Can they find a compromise that will let them share their lives, or will they need to challenge the gods for the right to be together forever?
Aeolus spent years trying to save sailors from the Sirens who lured them to their deaths onto the rocks by singing their hypnotic songs. The men were unable to resist the music which was designed to cast a spell, and it grieved Aeolus that so many of them had died needlessly and horribly. Although he felt helpless he still tried time and time again to save the men, but to no avail. Until Nileas.
Nileas who was from Phocaea, had been sold as a slave when his wealthy parents were killed by the Spartans. He spent his childhood and young adult years serving his various masters until he was banished by his last master who was afraid of Nileas’s influence on his son. For 5 years Nileas sailed the seas as a slave and rose to the position of helmsman. Then one fateful day while he was at his post he saw a merman in the sea who warned him to turn the ship back or face certain death on the rocks. The captain was willing to do so but he was killed by some of his men as chaos ruled when they heard the songs and were hypnotized by the Sirens. Nileas barely escaped with his life by jumping into the sea. Since he was unable to swim to shore Aeolus towed him to the closest patch of land, en route to Phocaea because he decided he wanted to return home.
As they continued their long journey in the sea on the way to Nileas’ home they began to know details of each other’s lives by exchanging histories and much more. Aeolus was fascinated by his companion’s body which was quite different to his own because of the musculature of his arms, while his muscle mass was in his tail. Nileas discovered how different Aeolus was from the tales he had heard about cruel mermen – he was kind and gentle, saving Nileas at the risk of his own life.
Aeolus realized that he was very attracted to Nileas but he knew that any relationship between them was doomed from the start. He could not live on land and Nileas would die in his grotto in the sea because he was unable to breathe underwater, but the feelings he was developing were getting stronger and he knew that Nileas felt the same. He also knew that they could not consummate their love because that would be a death sentence for Nileas.
I thought that this fairy tale was beautifully written, especially the care with which Ariel Tachna built the two worlds. The sea she created was such a wondrous place with unbelievable colours and creatures, from the grotto where Aeolus lived that was lit by phosphorescence, to his coral table and plates made of seashells as well as debris from ships that decorated his home. Mythical figures such as the Sirens, Odysseus, Oceanus and Poseidon were integrated into the story as they all had a role to play, and the tension and danger seemed very real. Nileas’s world in Phocaea, while not as beautiful, was also built with a great deal of attention to detail. Most of all, the two protagonists were well drawn as they explored their differences and sexuality and focused on a basic need to survive in a world which was hostile and alien as well as home, depending on whether they were on land or in the sea. Aeolus took care of Nileus while they were in the sea, and Nileas ensured that the man he had come to love would not be harmed on land. How does one make love to a merman? You will have to read the book to find out. 🙂
This is a beautiful fantasy, and for those of you who love fairy tales you will lose yourself in Why Nileas Loved the Sea, a wonderful and extraordinary love story. I was amazed at the imaginative way the fairy tale ended.
I really love the cover too! 🙂