Every now and again, I read a book that reminds me why I love reading. The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend by Ronlyn Domingue is one such novel. Domingue weaves a tale of love, ambition, loneliness and belonging that will resonate within all of us.
Aoife (pronounced ee-fah) is the mapmaker in this story. Born a girl in a far away land in a time long ago, her path in life was set: grow up, marry, and produce children. Instead, at a young age she falls in love with charts and maps. A childhood friend, who also happens to be the crown prince, learns of her desire. Pretty soon, she is apprenticed to the kingdom’s mapmaker. Aoife enjoys the freedom and privilege not common to girls her age.
In her travels to map the kingdom’s land, she discovers another land. Word spreads of the Guardians’ gold paths and various riches, and soon Aoife’s kingdom is ready for war. She attempts to advocate for the Guardians’ peaceful, almost Utopian world, but to no avail. Aoifee is eventually exiled and adopted into the Guardians’ community. While her new community is understanding and embraces her, Aoife struggles with her past, her betrayal, and her inner demons.
Wow, did that sound like I gave away the entire story? Don’t worry, there are no spoilers. The book jacket reveals even more details. The beauty in this story is Aoife’s evolution, transformation even. The novel is told in second person narrative, which threw me off at first, but I quickly adjusted. As Aoife retells her life story, I think this perspective gives the reader an outsider’s view, uncolored by rash emotion (as our narrator calls it).
Aoife grew up in a land that had strict expectations and roles based on your gender and class. She did not grow up surrounded by love. When she finally finds a family, albeit non-biologicial, she does not know how to accept their love. In a world where we’re all surrounded by negativity, Domingue’s novel is a gentle reminder that there is love in the world–we just have to accept it.
The novel’s pacing might be slower than many of us are used to in other books, but Domingue allows her readers time to digest each nuance of Aoife’s journey. I imagine if I re-read The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend, I will discover different and more nuances hidden within its pages.
I’m so in love with The Mapmaker’s War, I’ve already borrow a copy of her debut novel The Mercy of Thin Air from my library.
I just noticed on the book jacket that a sequel The Chronicle of Secret Riven will be released in 2014. It’s totally on my to be read list.
Have you a read a book that makes you appreciate reading?
I received a copy of the novel for review. All opinions are my own.
I also learned that the author lives in Louisiana, where I grew up! Totally random, but it’s a fun connection. If you want a chance to win a copy of The Mapmaker’s War and 15 other books, 16 authors are hosting a huge giveaway!