Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Review - The Map Thief by Heather Terrell

Sweetie read this book some time ago and recommended it to me.  I'm glad she did.  I love historical fiction.  This one may be a bit of a stretch, because Terrell's premise is not entirely accepted as history.  As a postulation, though, it is intriguing, possible and amazing.

Heather Terrell tells the story from three primary perspectives.  Each of them is informative, thrilling and credible.  The perspective of  Zhi, the Chinese Enuch who serves as navigator and cartographer for Admiral Zheng He (early 1400's),  is one of honor, sacrifice, discovery and courage.  The story as seen through the experience of Antonio, navigator for Vasco da Gama (late 1400's), is one of bewilderment, dismay, integrity and adventure.  And, finally, the perspective of Mara, a modern recoverer of stolen artifacts, is one of principle, intrigue, determination and romance.  Blend them together and you have a picture of cross cultural synchronicity that spans the centuries and which, despite political posturing, brings a sense of meaning and purpose to history.

I think the story could have been fattened a bit with more detail and imagination, but I loved it all the same.  The concept and possibilities it explores were more exciting and credible to me than anything Dan Brown has cooked up.  Kudos to Heather Terrell on a fine second book.  I think I'll look up her first and take it for a spin.

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