Sunday, July 4, 2010

classic high fantasy from kevin j anderson's the map of all things, book 2 in the terra incognita series

Kevin J Anderson returns to the world of Terra Incognita with the second book in the series, The Map of All Things. Like his book, The Edge of the World, this is classic fantasy – a created world with warring kingdoms, opposed religions, heroes and heroines, more characters than you can poke a stick at, ancient foundation myths and even sea monsters.
The empires of Tierra and Uraba are polar opposites – the were originally descended from two brothers, sons of a god-like character, but now they are at war as each nation attempts to prove that their brother is the better of the two.
In the first book you have the set-up, you are introduced to both sides equally with neither being painted good or evil, each empire has redeeming features and each has it's atrocities. Things come to a head, however, as the one central place of worship – a small strip of land that separates the two continents – is destroyed, mostly by accident, but with each side blaming the other.
So, it is war. As the violence escalates readers see, again, that neither side is all good, nor all bad, and the sheer futility of their behaviour becomes more and more apparent in The Map of All Things.
The parallelles with our own world – Israel anyone? – are so obvious that one feels as though Anderson is hitting you in the face with his massive tome. 
Even the culture and weather match up – Tierrans are white northerners (Christian Europeans), while the Urabans are swarthy southerners (Muslim Middle Easterners). 
Yes, yes, we get it. Religious wars are stupid.
Unfortunately, as in the real world, so in fantasy. Neither side appears at all interested in ending the bloodshed. Sometimes for political reason – they fear the toppling of their power – sometimes for personal reasons – the death of a beloved – and so, the war slogs on.
There is one race, however, that is removed from total involvement in the religious war. The Saedran people believe themselves to be descendants of the original god, Ondun, and so are not caught up in the war between the Tierran Aidenists – followers of Aiden – and the Uraban Urecari – followers of Urec.
The Saedrans are the map-makers, chartists, scientists and doctors of Anderson's world, and it is they who are behind the attempt to create the 'map of all things' of the book's title.
As the war drags on, the leaders of each empire decide, independently, to send out voyages of discovery in search of their original homeland, Tierravitae.
Each group has a supposed 'map' to this mythical place and the belief that if they get there first, they'll prove that their religion was the 'right' one and all others are false.
This is just a very simple outline of the plot. The Map of All Things is a finely crafted, high-detailed read; Anderson's world is beautifully imagined and his plots are intricate.
One cannot read The Map of All Things without first having read The Edge of the World, but it's well worth doing so. This is high fantasy for lovers of adventure and character-driven plots; well worth getting your teeth into.

The Map of All Things by Kevin J Anderson is published by Orbit Books and is available from good book stores and online.


Post a Comment