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Synopsis

The Kraken Slayer takes place in a time and place similar to early 19th century America. The main characters live on the New Continent, which is divided into four political Clans. Although they are supposed to be united as one nation, the Clans harbor so must mistrust and hatred for one another that they act as nations unto themselves. Skipper, the main protagonist, lives in a tavern called The Silver Dolphin, which is located in Harbor Town. Harbor Town is the port district for the city of Nefron, which is the capital for the Clan Nefron. Nefron is the largest and most powerful of the four Clans and is ruled by its military. Despite keeping a tight grip on its lands, Nefron is experiencing difficulty with controlling piracy on the high seas. The piracy epidemic is so severe that sea commerce has come to a standstill. Nowhere is the economic impact felt harder than in Harbor Town, where sea trade, fishing, and whaling are vital industries. Although Skipper is a teenage runaway making a living as a fighter for money, he has very little interest or knowledge of the events around him until he meets up with Elsan Tanneman, an idealistic sea captain and master shipwright. Tanneman believes he has the answer to Harbor Town’s woes: a new kind of ship, not simply made of wood, but armored with iron plating to withstand all but the most severe barrages of cannon fire. Tanneman has contracted with the Navy to build a fleet of these armored ships, but he is secretly building another ship which is larger and even more heavily armored. He tells Skipper of this ship one night after watching Skipper win one of his fights. He also tells Skipper why he built it: he wants to hunt for krakens, which most people believe are myths. He wants to slay one and bring its body back as proof of its existence. He claims his late brother once saw one of these great beasts, just before it destroyed the ship he was on and killed every other soul on board, leaving him as the sole survivor. Tanneman wants Skipper to join him on his kraken hunt because he senses in the young man the ability to conquer any obstacle that confronts him; but Skipper finds Tanneman to be too eccentric and declines the offer. That night, however, would not be the last time that the two meet. Eventually Skipper’s and Tanneman’s lives become intertwined by the social, economic, and political forces surrounding them. As Harbor Town decays further, even erupting in a race riot between Whites (white-skinned humans) and Drogs (massive grey-skinned natives of the New Continent) Skipper joins forces with Tanneman and helps him complete his giant ship with the aid of others. Tanneman has many recently-released convicts working for him as cheap labor. Some are friendly, and some are not so friendly. There’s Jervis and Bob, who become good friends with Skipper, and then there’s Chet and Deech, a pair whom Skipper never liked from the first time he met them. There’s also Luther, a Drog who mostly keeps to himself, but Skipper remembers him from the night of the riot. Tanneman has a few trustworthy old salts who have been working for him for years, like his gruff first mate Roscoe, the boatswain Berry, and the brothers Vorstaf and Brostor, two gentlemen from the faraway city of Shaanheim. The brothers haven’t been back to Shaanheim in thirty years because of the rampant piracy that has prevented them from crossing the Great Ocean; but they hope that this new ship of Tanneman’s will be the impregnable fortress that finally gets them home. Tanneman has working for him Dr. Morten Fry, an ousted marine biologist from the academic Clan Welberg. Fry also believes krakens exist and has developed a number of theories about their behavior and their physiology. Exiled from Clan Welberg for preaching pseudoscience, he and Tanneman naturally came together in the joint endeavor to dispel all myths and superstitions surrounding krakens. Finally, Skipper meets Sara Tanneman, E

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