Book Review: The Mapmaker's War, by Roni Domingue

This review originally ran in the Friday, March 8th issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. If you don't already subscribe, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

"This will be the map of your heart, old woman." So begins The Mapmaker's War--part legend, part romance, part fairy tale and part (fictional) memoir. Aoife, the narrator, tells the story of her life to herself--and thus to us as well--from the beginning, recalling a wild childhood spent adventuring in the forest and her unlikely apprenticeship to a skilled mapmaker. She recounts her first encounter with the Guardians, a peaceful people on whom she inadvertently brings a war, her discovery of a dragon--and a hoard of treasure with it--and her eventual exile from her own land. She also remembers her attempts to rebuild her life, reconstructing a person from the broken pieces left behind in her homeland.

The Mapmaker's War, Ronlyn Domingue's second novel (after The Mercy of Thin Air), is a testament to storytelling in its own right, placing epic fantasy at the heart of the everyday in a way that makes the magical seem as real as the mundane. Aoife's story is riddled with pain as she loses her family, her husband, her children and her sense of self, but it's also filled with resilience. The second-person narration may take some getting used to, but it ultimately succeeds in bringing readers deep into Aoife's story. The Mapmaker's War is, as Aoife writes in the beginning, the map of her heart as she tries to find her place in a world, persevering against all obstacles to understand who--and why--she is.


The Mapmaker's War | Roni Domingue | Atria | Hardcover | March 2013 | 240 pages | Buy from an independent near you

1 comment

  1. Just out of curiosity, did you read The Mercy of Thin Air? Did you like it less or more than this one, if so? I loved The Mercy of Thin Air and got frustrated with Mapmaker's War -- I wondered if it might not just be the second novel syndrome. (Is that a thing people talk about? It should be!)


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