A series of elaborately concealed clues send student Explorers Kit, Vander and M.K. to a historically deadly area of the Caribbean on the second leg of their map-based quest.
Enrolled in the Academy for the Exploratory Sciences, Kit bases his Final Exam Expedition proposal on a map left by his father in a hidden room in a nearby cave. To his dismay, the proposal is co-opted by sociopathic government official Leo Nackley and transformed into a search for what may be one of this future world’s last oil deposits. But there is more than oil waiting to be discovered below “King Triton’s Lair”—as Kit and allies discover amid shipwreck, pirate attacks, clandestine meetings with the mysterious Explorer with the Clockwork Hand and close encounters with exotic creatures ranging from amphibious killer eels to telepathic mechanical sea turtles. Kit comes away with yet another map that points the way forward; those readers willing to tolerate a tale overendowed with coincidence and supporting cast will find this middle volume a quickly paced and entertainingly twisty adventure. Considering the importance of maps to the story as well as much talk of impending war with the Indorustan Empire in the Simerian Territories, a large-scale map would have been a plus.
The quest’s ultimate goal remains enigmatic, but it continues to move along smartly enough. (maps) (Fantasy. 10-14)