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The Mapmaker's War: A Legend    by Ronlyn Domingue order for
Mapmaker's War
by Ronlyn Domingue
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Mapmaker's War: A Legend (by Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mercy of Thin Air) is narrated in the detached voice of an old woman sifting through, and musing over, her fading memories of past events.

Aoife grew up in a noble family, her father the king's most trusted advisor. Early in her life, uninterested in dolls and petty quarrels, she rejected the future her mother planned for her. Instead, with the aid of the kingdom's heir, young Prince Wyl, she followed her passion and trained with an old mapmaker. Then she worked for the King, charting his kingdom. Wyl adored her and she found him 'A man of good intention, nature, and cheer.'

On the northern border, the king sought information on the people across a wide river, about whom little was known. Aoife visited their utopian settlement and they gave her an amulet, for protection on her travels. Some of these folk spun subtle magics connecting 'the known and hidden worlds'. Though Aoife tried to keep the Guardian community a secret, word got out through men who had accompanied her - of riches and a dragon.

As a result of younger prince Raef's plotting, Wyl was assigned the quest to bring back proof of the dragon. Aoife gave him her help and her amulet, and he returned with a dragon's scale. They wed and Aoife bore twins, but dreamed of the happy settlement. Raef stirred up trouble again, pushing for an invasion. Aoife returned to warn the peaceful folk she so admired and was branded a traitor, imprisoned and eventually exiled for her efforts.

She found her way to a different Guardian settlement, where she learned the high cost to these good people of the unprovoked war her actions had unwittingly unleashed on them. She met and loved Leit, whose 'sense of honor held him at his center', and who was deeply scarred by the war. Aoife bore his child, Wei, a daughter with huge talent, a new Voice for the Guardians. Wei helped both parents come to terms with their pasts.

The Mapmaker's War is a well executed literary fantasy with a strong dose of feminism. It depicts a collision of cultures, a utopia coming up against the usual combination of greed and hunger for power. A sequel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, is underway.

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