I started reading A Secret Atlas, by Michael A. Stackpole last week. It has an Asiatic feel to it, and I'm not just talking about the martial arts aspect of it, although that definitely helped decide me on its Asian flavor.
There are certain warriors (for want of a better word) who live a very long time, and don't strike out at the least provocation. As the story opens, one of these warriors sends a female bandit (with decent sword mastery, according to that warrior) to a school to become an even better master of the sword - minus the banditry, of course.
Naturally, the warrior and the bandit aren't just talking by the side of the road when they come upon each other, but I don't want to give out everything.
The basic premise of this story is that there was wild magic two thousand or so years before which physically iced over the world (among other things). No one dared travel anywhere during the time the ice covered continents, for fear of never returning - and/or being a victim of that wild magic.
After the ice began to melt, one man made it his mission to draft maps that would guide the seafarers/traders of the world - for a price. He figured it would make him and his family rich - which it has.
But there are still unchartered regions of the world where the ice has not melted, and tendrils of that wild magic still exist. That dude who drafted the maps is still alive and still wielding his oomph around the world, to the point where he still sends out family to go out and map more of the world.
I'm up to Chapter 8 of this 600-page book, and it's held my interest so far. There is a lot of intrigue, and I've just gotten to a place in the story where beings that aren't human have arrived at the map dude's house (he's invited them). This is taking place during a festival (kind of reminds of "Festival! Festival!" and Landrew of the original Star Trek series). Anyway, I'll have to see if anyone goes mad in this story; not that I would be disappointed if no one did. That there's court intrigue is something different for me, and I'm enjoying some of the pettiness and shrewdness that's gone on already.
Believe it or not, this particular book is dedicated to - Senator John McCain, of all people (it was published in 2006), and I'd forgotten that when I picked it up last week. Funny, in light of election year, eh?
Another interesting aside is that four years ago I couldn't stand either candidate the two major parties put front and center, so I went the write in route.
Aw, could you guess it? Yup, McCain.
This time around, I couldn't vote for him because of his running mate (and I have my own reasons as for why), so I voted for Obama. I think four years ago was McCain's time, not now, but it is nice to see him offering help to the President-Elect.
And we all should hope for the best for the President-Elect, no matter what our party affiliation (I'm an independent, BTW).
Love and kisses,
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