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Book Review

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Map's Edge


Author: David Hair
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
406 pages
RRP: £16.99
ISBN: 978 1 52940 193 6
Publication Date: 15 October 2020

When his country is invaded and the rebellion lost, the noble born sorcerer, Raythe, flees with his daughter, Zar, to the furthest part of the continent. In the guise of a healer he hides in plain sight until one day a Bolgravian expedition appears in the town. One of the injured has a diary and within the pages of the diary is the possible answer, not only for Raythe, but for the whole of the town to throw off the shackles of poverty and potentially gain real power. Within the pages of the diary is the possible location of a motherlode of istaroil, a substance which is not only the most precious thing in the world, but is also the source of great magics…

Maps Edge (406 pages, plus 15 pages of an extract from vol. 2) is a fantasy novel by David Hair and the first in the new 'Tethered Citadel' trilogy.

The first book is, essentially, a road novel. Even with the map, Raythe has no chance of mining the lode all on his own. Thankfully for him, Teshveld is not only the back of beyond, but it is also filled with families which have fled Bolgravian invasions, so have no love for the Empire. In all he is able to recruit fifty families, which is a substantial part of the town, creating an event which will not go unnoticed by the local law, but also large enough to gain the attention of the distant Empire.

If you ignore the magic in the world, this society is not very technologically advanced. Men fight with flintlock and sword and transport is by ox or sailboat. The magic system is not overly complicated. Raythe has a familiar, invisible to anyone else, who provides the power he requires to focus and create magic. There are two forms of magic in the world, Praxis and Mizra. Praxis magic concerns itself with healing and defence, whereas Mizra is altogether more wild and dangerous and so has been outlawed.

This is a long book for what is essentially a tale of a wagon train going from A to B. Thankfully, Hair fills the journey with enough internal and external treats that the pace never feels slow. He also adds an antagonist of sorts, in the form of imperial agent Toran Zorne who is close on the heels of the fleeing company. This sets up a nice tension in the plot as it’s ambiguous as to how much the company are forging towards their fortunes and how much they are fleeing the Empire.

With so many pages of travelling, Hair has not just produced a story which lurches from one conflict to another. Time is taken to examine the various main characters and their relationship to each other, leading to old loves being discovered and new ones kindled.
Hair has a nice, clean style of writing which leads to an overall entertaining read.


Charles Packer

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