Today I am delighted to be reviewing ‘Map’s Edge’ by David Hair, the first in a new series which is published today 15th October! There is also a blog blast happening on twitter today, so please check out the other blogs participating as well as other release days reviews and show this wonderful book some love.
Disclaimer – I received an e-arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Follow a renegade sorcerer off the edge of the map, in a thrilling adventure perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson and Sebastien de Castell . . .
Dashryn Cowl has run out of places to hide. The erstwhile sorcerer of the Imperial College fled the Bolgravian Empire when his high-flying family fell from grace, but the tyrannical empire is still hunting for him.
So when he gets his hands on a map showing a place outside the known lands rich in istariol, the mineral that fuels sorcery, he sees a way back to power. There’s only one problem: it means masquerading as an Imperial Cartomancer (an instant death sentence) and finding some dupes to help him mine the istariol in secret, no questions asked.
But somehow, amid the dangers of the road (floods and avalanches, beasts, barbarians and monsters), a strange thing begins to happen: Dashryn starts to care about his ragtag followers and their strange odyssey into the ruins of an ancient forgotten civilisation.
But his past won’t let him be: the implacable Imperial Bloodhound Toran Zorne has caught his scent, and Zorne has never yet failed to bring his quarry to ground.
At the edge of the map, there’s no going forward and no going back . . .
I was first drawn to this book because of the title and cover, and that lovely, tantalising ‘At the edge of the map, there’s no going back…’ I am obsessed with maps and cartography, so Map’s Edge had me hooked from that point, even before I read the blurb which confirmed that this was a book I wanted to read.
It must be said that the summary made it sound a little more ‘heist-like’ than the final product felt, although at its core is a heist. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and what it did, as well as the foundation that it is has lain for the rest of the series, and there was more than enough action throughout. Map’s Edge does, however, have that classic fantasy adventure-quest feeling from the offset, one that starts with the odds against it, because the main character had fought and lost against the Empire before, which added a nice flavour to the story.
Fittingly for a book called ‘Map’s Edge’ great care has been taken with the worldbuilding, and Hair has created a breadth and depth to this world that really brings it to life. There is a wonderful blend of variety and interconnectedness between Treshveld where our story begins, across the Bolgravian Empire and the countries that have fallen beneath them, and in Verdessa. And there is a deep sense of history, both recent and ancient, through the ancient race of the Aldar who had perished centuries ago. Even better, for all the richness that this first book has given us, there is very much the impression that we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of the world the author has created, and I look forward to discovering more of it in the future books.
Another aspect that I really enjoyed was the magic system, which was interesting and for the most part well developed and explained – there were a few places where I had questions, but as this is book one that is to be expected. There are two primary types of magic Praxis and Mirza, both of which see the Sorcerer bonding with a spirit which becomes a familiar that is invisible to anyone but the Sorcerer and other Sorcerers. Praxis Sorcerers have a natural, symbiotic relationship with their spirits while Mirza Sorcerers bonds with their spirits are self-destructive, the Mirza spirits essentially corrupting them from within. As with the worldbuilding, you get the impression that there is more to both sides of this magic system, especially when there is also the Izuvei, sorcerers working to become more attuned to the spirit world, and it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.
While a lot has been put into the worldbuilding and magic, the characters have not been left behind, and Hair has created a broad, varied cast right from the start. Every character, whether main or secondary, has there own motivations and history, and the dynamics between them especially as the group comes together, and threatens to fall apart, and endures a journey that pushes them all to the limit, are spectacular. There is banter, there is emotion and conflict and resolution. The characters and the world, bringing one another to life. Not all the characters are likeable, but you are invested in all of them, no matter where they fall on the spectrum, even if you only want to see their downfall, and that is because of the writing.
This was a fast-paced, entertaining read, set within a world that I want to explore more of. It has the breadth and depth of epic fantasy, the action and excitement of a heist, and it has left me wanting more. I would highly recommend for anyone looking for an epic adventure, and I will eagerly be waiting for the next instalment in this series. In the meantime, I will be picking up the Moontide Quartet by David Hair which has been on the TBR for far too long.
About the Author:
David Hair, an award-winning writer of fantasy, has been inspired by his travels around the globe. He was born in New Zealand, spent time in Britain, Europe and India (which inspired The Moontide and Sunsurge Quartetsand the Ravana series). After some years in Bangkok, Thailand, he and his wife returned to New Zealand, where they are now settled (for the time being). His epicfantasy sagas The Moontide Quartetand The Sunsurge Quartetand the YA saga The Return of Ravana, his retelling of the Indian epic The Ramayana, are all published by Jo Fletcher Books.
Map’s Edge (The Tethered Citadel #1) – David Hair – ***** (5/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.