Ven Polypheme is a wonderful main character in this epic adventure quest story (and yes, it IS all those things!) The premise of the story is that Ven's journals have been found by an archaeologist and they have been recreated to tell the story of his unusual life in this book. Ven is a Nain, which are a people that live very long lives (at 50 he is but a mere tween-ager)and who usually work underground. Ven's family, however, has taken a different path and are now known as the best shipbuilders around. It is on Ven's 50th birthday that he first has the opportunity to inspect the newest ship that has been built....and that is where the adventures begin. After being attacked by fire pirates, being saved by a mermaid and rescued by another ship the story gets even more adventurous (if you can believe that!)
The story reminds me a bit of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books in that Nains hold some similarities to hobbits, and this is an adventure/quest book. It is fabulous and I highly recommend it for both boys and girls.
A side note----I really don't get the cover. Not at all. Um....it isn't about a dragon, but whatever. Maybe the next installment in the series will shed some light upon this choice.