Book Review: The Map Maker’s War

You receive an email from Leyane at FSB Media asking if you would like to review The Map Maker’s War by Ronlyn Domingue (Atria Books; March 2013). You read the GoodReads description:

This will be the map of your heart, old woman. In an ancient time, in a faraway land, a young woman named Aoife is allowed a rare apprenticeship to become her kingdom’s mapmaker, tasked with charting the entire domain. Traveling beyond its borders, she finds a secretive people who live in peace, among great wealth. They claim to protect a mythic treasure, one connected to the creation of the world. When Aoife reports their existence to her kingdom, the community is targeted as a threat. Attempting to warn them of imminent danger, Aoife is exiled for treason and finds refuge among the very people who had been declared her enemy. With them, she begins a new life surrounded by kindness, equality, and cooperation. But within herself, Aoife has no peace. She cannot share the grief she feels for the home and children she left behind. She cannot bear the warrior scars of the man she comes to love. And when she gives birth to their gifted daughter, Aoife cannot avoid what the child forces her to confront about her past and its truth. On this most important of journeys, there is no map to guide her. In this tale—her autobiography— Aoife reveals her pain and joy, and ultimately her transformation. The Mapmaker’s War is a mesmerizing, utterly original adventure about love and loss and the redemptive power of the human spirit. Watch for its epic sequel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, in 2014.

You think it sounds intriguing. You reply yes, thank you.

You receive the book 2 weeks later | it has a beautiful cover |


You forget that Elizabeth said she wanted to read it and you start reading. You are VERY distracted by the second person narration but you figure you will soon get used to it | you don’t | A 225 page book that should take you no more than 3 days to read takes you a month to finish. It’s lack of certain punctuation also distracts you | move on to the story |

You meet Aoife when she is young and her BFF is the boy who will one day be king | he arranges for her to apprentice as a map maker because she likes to draw | You are only on page 25 and she is all grown up | her map apprenticeship is over; there are no details | You follow her as a full-blown map maker to a distant settlement | she has never felt such a sense of peace before; she cannot get the settlement out of her mind | Upon her return to her own kingdom she reports that the people of the peaceful settlement are guardians of a mysterious treasure | a dragon hoard of gold and jewels | You soon realize that the king-boy, Wyl, is in love with her | she has the hots for him too | You know that he will ask for a map to the dragon hoard kept by the Guardians | she has no map but will help him to find the treasure via magical amulet instead | You follow Aoife who is following Wyl to the hoard | after they find it they finally have sex | You understand that he is supposed marry someone else for the sake of the kingdom but because she gets pregnant they get married instead | it makes her mother extremely happy to have a daughter married to the king but Aoife stopped feeling any attraction to Wyl immediately after the sex | You witness the traumatic birth of their twins and watch Aoife struggle with living with a man she doesn’t really like or respect and with motherhood | the twins have no names; she feels no affection for them |

Eventually you see that Wyl’s brother, Raef, is evil | moustache a-twirling |  You suddenly realize that he wants to start a war with the Guardians | he convinces Wyl and the kingdom that they are war mongers but he just wants to take the dragon hoard treasure | You see that Aoife cannot bear this | because she has been there once and felt peace | You witness her trying to put a stop to the war and her inevitable exile | she is to be taken out of the kingdom and killed for saying the Guardians are not full of war but full of peace | Wyl does nothing to stop this and you hold your breath but the killing doesn’t happen | one of the guards has a pang of conscious and lets her go | You know she will go and warn the Guardians of the coming war | there is guilt because she was the one who mentioned the dragon hoard in the first place and showed Wyl where it was |

You are happy to learn all about Aoife’s new life in the Guardian settlement | they accept her without question because they are so at peace and so modern; she becomes a baker | Eventually you see that she will hook up with a Guardian warrior, Leit | he has a sad and troubled past and a pet wolf | You follow the story through a second pregnancy | the Guardians have a way different philosophy on childbirth and child rearing than the other kingdom; the men help– go figure | As you read you come to have more interest in the baby, Wei, who turns out to be a Voice | a violet eyed, blind understander and translator of all languages; a trait that is extremely valued in the Guardian settlement | You are glad to see that there is a bit more detail of Wei’s Voice training than there was for Aoife’s map making training | but she is all grown up and gone to have her own life in a matter of 25 pages or so | You witness all of Aoife’s old friends dying off, including Leit, and you realize that she will soon be joining them. You see that Aoife is too sad and bothered to die so Wei must talk her into making peace with her step brother and sister | which she does– the end |

You don’t hate this book but you don’t love it either. You appreciate what the author was trying to do but you just don’t think there is enough development of the story or character detail to make this a great read. You attribute the failure to do so mainly to the distraction and limitation of the second person narration style. You give this book a 3 star rating and realize that you will more than likely take a pass on the sequels. You wonder if Elizabeth would have liked it better | maybe she will take a stab at it too just to see |