Tag Archives: a secret atlas

A Secret Atlas by Michael A. Stackpole

A Secret Atlas by Michael A. Stackpole: The Anturasi family have been mapmakers for generations. This puts them in a unique position of power, since without maps trade and travel suffer. It has been almost 800 years since The Cataclysm, a magical holocaust which both literally and figuratively changed the face of the world, and everyone is still getting things sorted out. This is (more or less) the story of three of the Anturasi children: studious Keles, adventurous Jorim, and soul-searching Nirati. Keles is sent west to survey the lands where dangerous wild magic still has a great hold. Jorim is sent east in a ship to find a new route to the west (and his voyage is similar to Columbus’s in many ways). Nirati, concerned that she still does not exhibit a Talent, gets tangled up in local politics. Of course, this is barely scratching the surface. Like many fantasy epics, the characters and subplots are numerous. It is clear that a lot of world-building went into this book, and much time is spent explaining customs, fashions, and history. This doesn’t seem distracting at first, but I did find I lost the thread of the plot on several occasions. Nirati’s tale in particular confused me; I feel like I somehow skipped a chapter or something. Keles and Jorim’s adventures, on the other hand, were great – once they finally got started. I was especially fascinated by the effects of wild magic, how it moves in storms with unpredictable results. It’s unfortunate that this is the first book of a trilogy, which meant the ending was unsatisfying and things cut off just as the plot had at last begun to move along well. It simply does not stand on its own. I would probably read the other books were I to come across them, but I’m not sure I’ll seek them out. While this was certainly not a boring read and I had no problem churning through many chapters in a sitting, it is not something I thought about when I wasn’t reading. It was simply something to pass the time. So while I really enjoyed the world it was set in, I would have appreciated a tighter story.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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