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A Secret Atlas (The Age of Discovery, Book 1) Paperback – March 1, 2005

3.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Age of Discovery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Making maps can be gripping work, as shown in this sweeping novel of grand schemes, imperial machinations and brave heroes who seek new lands, the first in a new fantasy series from bestseller Stackpole (The Grand Crusade). Grandmaster Qiro Anturasi, the royal cartographer, makes the maps for the principality of Nalenyr. They're the most accurate, up-to-date maps available, and they've helped Imperial Prince Cyron of Nalenyr prosper. Cyron uses Qiro's skills to facilitate his campaign to unite the nine principalities into one empire. To this end, Cyron has made the grandmaster a prisoner in Nalenyr's capital city of Moriande. At the same time, Cyron funds expeditions for the younger generation of cartographers so that they can explore more of the unmapped world and bring back information and exotic goods. Of course, no tale of derring-do would be complete without intrigue, here supplied by fly-in-the-ointment Prince Pyrust of Deseirion, who has his own plans to be emperor of the nine. This satisfying story has it all--wild magic, the excitement of epic fantasy and the adventure of exploration in the age of sail.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Stackpole's high fantasy cum seafaring tale proves all the more effective because its setting resembles the great age of European exploration. At that time, maps were often closely guarded secrets and were sometimes thought to have mysterious, even magical properties, as is really the case in Nalenyr, where the family of the royal cartographer enjoys a quasimonopoly in exploration that inevitably makes them rich but also attracts a formidable array of enemies, who come at them with both spells and steel. And now Keles and Jorim discover that their latest voyage threatens to release hitherto unknown magic that will threaten not only their lives and prospects but also the future of their civilization. Stackpole is, as usual, discursive but also deft and detailed in his worldbuilding. Moreover, the set of premises on which both magical and material aspects of that world are based is sufficiently original to keep fanciers of historical fantasy turning the pages industriously. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Age of Discovery Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; First Edition edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553382373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553382372
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,861,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Secret Atlas (2004) is the first fantasy novel of the Age of Discovery series. Centuries past, the Turasynd had invaded the Empire. Empress Cyrsa divided the Imperial lands into nine parts and placed a son of the Emperor over each principality. Then she led the Imperial army out to fight the invaders.

The battle unleashed great amounts of magic, bringing the Cataclysm. Wild magic raged during the Time of Black Ice. Blizzards froze villages and glaciers scraped the earth down to bedrock. The effects of that time still showed -- and wild magic still flowed -- in the Wastes.

Jaedunto -- skill magic -- comes with training and practice to the best craftsmen. These Mystics are revered, but some study xinga to master jaedun, magic itself. Such vanyesh have been greatly feared since the Cataclysm.

In this novel, Imperial Prince Cyron is the ruler of Nalenyr, one of the Nine Principalities. He has brought his realm into more wealth than any of the other principalities through trade. Nalenyran ships sail widely over the seas, bringing back goods and treasures.

Qiro Anturasi is the greatest cartographer in the Nine Principalities. He resides at Moriande in Nalenyr and produces the best maps in the known world. Many believe that he has attained jaedunto in his craft.

His grandsons -- Keles and Jorim -- have inherited the family talents and have learned the skills of cartography. Keles is better at the mechanics of the craft, but Jorim is renowned for his voyages of discovery. Qiro's granddaughter Nirati seems to have no talents, although she is more capable of calming Qiro during his rages.

Prince Pyrust is the ruler of Deseirion, a cold land to the north.
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Format: Paperback
A Secret Atlas has its flaws, but overall makes for a solidly enjoyable read, especially as it generally (with some exceptions) improves as one moves through it. The story begins in Nalenyr, one of the "Nine Principalities", the divided remnants of an empire that along with much of the known world was brought to near ruin centuries earlier in the Great Cataclysm. The novel focuses most of its attention on the Anturasi family, whose patriarch Qiro has the Talent (capital T intentional) of mapmaking. His charts have for years allowed Nalenyr to amass wealth and now his two grandsons (whose father Qiro may or may not have purposely sent to his death on an exploration mission) are each sent on a long and vital mission of exploration. One takes ship to expand Nalenyr's knowledge of the world, the oceans, the best shipping routes for trade. The other goes overland, partially to map out new or rediscovered routes, partially to find a particularly talented inventor, partially to find caches of magical weapons that seemingly are being plundered from the wastes where the Wild Magic of the Cataclysm causes strange things (an understatement) to occur. Their sister stays behind and becomes involved in family dynamics and political intrigue. Meanwhile, Cyron, the prince of Nalenyr must deal with politics both internal and external, especially an overly aggressive prince seeking to reunite the Empire by the sword, as opposed to Cyron's preferred method of trade. Toss in various spies, monsters, magical chaos storms, a bureaucracy more concerned with its existence than the state's, assassins, echoes of European exploration/Chinese empires/South American civilizations and a few other items and one gets a sense of the book's complexity.

Not all of this is successful.
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Format: Paperback
A Secret Atlas is a good start to Stackpole's latest trilogy. He continues his tradition of inventing a different interpretation of magic that is both better thought out and more interesting than the stereotypical fireball/lightning/cool special effects magic that readers find in most cookie-cutter fantasy. He also molds history, politics, and human interaction into a believable description of a whole new world for readers. His ability to describe individual combat continues to be better than any other author that I have read.

Stackpole has yet to reach the ranks of authors such as Tolkien and Martin. Despite this, he is still a very enjoyable read and an excellent choice for readers looking for new material while their favorite author/authors take years to come out with their next books(Stackpole can usually keep up a pace of about a book a year). If you haven't read any of Stackpole's books yet then I would recommend starting with Talion: Revenant or The Dark Glory War.
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Format: Paperback
The first in the new 'age of discovery' series, A Secret Atlas is the next excellent book from Michael A. Stackpole. The book starts slowly, but quickly speeds up and gets very interesting. I was forced to pause in my reading for about two days roughly two-thirds of the way through, and when I went back to the book it had not lost any of its page-turning magic from the delay. Understandably, the first half or so has some extra explainations in it, making the story a bit slower, but this is not a bad thing at all-- rather, it is very smart, as without these explainations a reader would be lost in this new world so totally unlike any of Stackpole's previous. Also this allows the push of the end of the rising action to be that much more powerful when the book devotes itself to telling the story, making it go faster. The end left me eagerly wishing that Stackpole would finish the next book quickly, yet also hoping he takes his time with it, making it as good a book as possible. And I know, as this is Michael A. Stackpole that we're talking about, he will most definitely do the latter.
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