You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Cartomancy is the second book in Michael A. Stackpole's The Age of Discovery series. It's a wide story of a family of cartographers, the principality they live in, the former empire of the land, and many other things. The story takes place over two continents, four principalities, a wild land scarred by magic, an imaginary land come to life, and the realm of the immortals.

Keles Anturasi is a gifted cartographer, part of the famous family of cartographers. He is kidnapped by Prince Pyrust to serve him by helping to rebuild his capital city. Keles complies but knows he has to try to escape or Pyrust will kill him when he's done. His brother Jorim is on another continent, exploring a new civilization, and coming to believe that he is a god reincarnate. Ciras is a swordmaster, traveling the wild lands of flowing magic with Borosan Gryst, a tinkerer and creator of magic-powered toys that can do useful things, even attack enemies. They are looking for the last empress, said to be sleeping and awaiting a return to her people in their time of need. Prince Cyron is fighting off an invasion of the principality to the south, western lords who are resentful and rebellious, Prince Pyrust who is invading the principality between them, and the missing head of the cartography family. And assassination attempts. An unnamed swordmaster we know as Moraven Tolo, the former occupier of his body, travels through the southern principality fighting off the strange invaders and helping warriors regroup. Nirati Anturasi finds herself living in her own imaginary land after her death, created by her grandfather, and consorting with the man who nearly destroyed the empire hundreds of years ago.

That's a lot to digest. Each chapter changes point of view. It was about the eighth chapter before a familiar character came back. It was a little much to keep in the mind at once, though the story is broad enough to require it. The pace is pretty fast, and there are definitely a lot of little details that get left out and referred to later on. This tactic can work well if done with skill, and I think the author does well here. The scenes for each character take place at distinct events, skipping the parts that can be glossed over. Still, the brief chapters left me sometimes feeling I was reading a treatment of a story instead of the story itself. There are so many characters that none of them is very deep, though there are some lively ones.

Parts must have been fun to write, like the scenes in Ixill, the land of wild magic. The great battle between the empress and her rival took place there and unleashed magic into the land, where it turns things into strange versions of themselves. The twist at the end was a lot of fun too.

It's a pretty good middle novel of a trilogy (assuming there are only three volumes), and I'll give it a B+. Some in the middle does get a little slow, and one wonders where everything is going, or if anything important is going to happen. That and the short chapters jumping around made it a slightly hard read. But it was very enjoyable and worth reading. I'll definitely be looking for the next book when it's released next year.


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