Friday, 20 November 2020

Map's Edge by David Hair

 Dash Cowley is a man in disguise. For the past few months he's been passing himself off as a healer, and living as invisibly as possible in Thesveld, a village at the end of the world, but in a previous time he was Raythe Vyre, a nobleman, soldier and sorcerer. Following a failed rebellion against the Bolgravian Empire, he was forced to flee, moving from village to village with his daughter, Zar, until they've ended up by the sea with nowhere further left to run. Till, that is, he hears by chance of a source of riches; istariol, a rare mineral used in sorcery, has been found in the frozen north. There's enough to make the fortunes of all Thesveld's villagers, so they band together and head off on an adventure beyond the limit of the known world.

It's a good mix of adventure, magic, and inventive world-building, as the villagers pack up their lives and travel north, heading for the iceheart where nothing grows and no one lives, or so they believe. Behind them come the Empire's men - soldiers, spies and sorcerers - determined to track down the defiant rebel Vyre and find out what has persuaded a whole village to up and take to the road. Even without these pursuers, the journey isn't easy. There are the expected physical setbacks to overcome, encounters with the remains and the magic of a previous civilization, plus rivalry and treachery amongst the villagers' own numbers. 

Although at the back of your mind you know all will come well in the end - that Vyre will find the source of istariol, that the majority of the villagers will complete the journey unscathed, and the bad guys will eventually be beaten - the story is a compelling, engrossing read you can disappear into for hours at a time. 

The only downside is that Map's Edge is book one of a series, and there'll be a wait before the next installment of the story. 

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