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The Map Thief

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  227 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Beijing, China, 1421: It is a momentous time for the Ming Dynasty. Honoring the completion of the Forbidden City, a fleet of unprecedented size sets sail under Admiral Zheng He. Zheng’s mission is to chart the globe, trading for riches and bringing glory to China’s emperor. Among the crew is the talented cartographer and navigator Ma Zhi, whose work will lead to the first ...more
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Published July 29th 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 541)
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Tiago Filipe
Retomar os hábitos de leitura roubados pelos exames nacionais com este livro foi uma boa opção. Apesar de não ser brilhante, de não ter um daqueles enredos ou tipo de escrita que nunca mais saem da tua cabeça, foi uma leitura agradável e que apreciei. Um bom livro, fácil de ler, ideal para relaxar.
Apr 15, 2009 Lara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mystery in the "hunt for the map" kept me reading it, but in the end just ok. Couldn't get into the characters and the "adventure" side of it was anti-climatic. Interesting idea behind the book though--that the Chinese discovered the world before the Europeans.
I really enjoyed this book. I like Heather's writing and she really appears to do a lot of research for her books. I always enjoy a story that is loosely based on historical fact. It makes it so much more interesting to me. I also enjoyed her first book, The Chrysalis, and was looking forward to her second. I was not disappointed. She also gets extra points for living in Pittsburgh!

I only had one tiny complaint while reading. I was really wanting there to be something more between Mara and Ben.
Noor Jahangir
This is an interesting novel, blending historical settings with a modern day thriller. This is a well researched novel, but often it seems the author is trying too hard to show-off the research, providing details that don't directly or indirectly impact the plot or character development. Its a very short novel and could have perhaps done with more twists and drama. Perhaps the author is overly protective of her main character because there never really comes a point where I felt anxious for her, ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"Beijing, China, 1421: It is a momentous time for the Ming Dynasty. Honoring the completion of the Forbidden City, a fleet of unprecedented size sets sail under Admiral Zheng He. Zheng’s mission is to chart the globe, trading for riches and bringing glory to China’s emperor. Among the crew is the talented cartographer and navigator Ma Zhi, whose work will lead to the first true map of the world–but whose accomplishment will vanish when the fleet returns to a very different China than the
Molly Mahony
Dec 19, 2015 Molly Mahony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Literally found this book browsing - online - searching for another book by same name (Map Thief by Michael Blanding) and saw this one. The Terrell book is fiction, the other non-fiction). I wanted to finish Blanding's book as I had listened to on tape and we arrived home before finishing. I also think that reading Blanding's book would have been better than listening.

NOW, for this book. I thought it was really well done. It is a 'fast read' in the sense that the chapters are short and every oth
Sep 01, 2010 Debby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning was a little confusing, but once I got to the middle pages (119 on), I could not put it down. A little too easy to figure out but interesting. The side stories needed some more development. They just didn't seem rounded enough, especially the one about De Gama. Zhi was well developed. Though, I felt like I needed to read another book before this one...? It was okay. I wouldn't read it again, but intriguing premise.
Sep 27, 2012 Wonderbunny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick and enjoyable mystery. I liked the characters even though they didn't really have any growth or development. But then, this story was more about the search for the map then it was about great character development.
Nov 09, 2008 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book has three story threads concerning a magnificent map of the known world drawn in 1421, used in 1496 and excavated in 2008. The problem is, that once unearthed in present time, it is stolen because of what the map emcompasses. It becomes almost impossible to recover as historians don't believe such a complex map exists and if it does, it will turn history as we know it upside down if it is made public.
While intriguing from a historians point of view, from a readers point, it is a littl
Aug 25, 2008 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is written in three parts: Beijing, China 1421, Lisbon, Portugal 1496 and present day. Beijing is under the Ming dynasty. The forbidden city has just been completed and to celebrate the completion Admiral Zheng He is told to amass a fleet to map the world and bring back riches and glory for the emperor. Ma Zhi is a eunuch cartographer who wishes to join the armada and help his family's finances. He must go through rigorous testing but is finally chosen to accompany the Admiral. He cre ...more
Plot, discoveries, and idea were interesting, but there was too much description which didn't interest me - of lecture-style history, and just in general. Also I found it annoying that the past was all narrated in present tense, but the present was in past tense. Should've been consistent, or vice versa. Otherwise, I thought it was an interesting idea and it did make me really curious about the history described.
Jul 25, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would label this as a poor man's Da Vinci Code. There were certainly many similarities, but the modern-day "thriller" parts of this book were incredibly weak when compared to the historical sections. Ms. Terrell has a talent for fleshing out historical events, imagining dialogue and emotions in a way that make the characters believable and sympathetic. It was Mara Coyne, her present-day protagonist, that I couldn't relate to at all. Overall, it's a thoroughly-researched & interesting (who ...more
Mary Schoettinger
May 20, 2015 Mary Schoettinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is satisfying to read such a well researched book that gives the reader a glimpse into the ancient world of discoveries as it might have been. I appreciate that the main characters are not so much over the top super hero sleuths, but quick thinking sort of everyday heroes. And, the author leaves the reader questioning a global cultural conundrum. Who really owns art and antiquities?
Ken Parkinson
Mar 03, 2015 Ken Parkinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The tale of a rare map dealer driven to theft. With a name like E. Forbes Smiley, he had to be some sort of antiquarian merchant, right? The Book Moves deftly from history, to cartography, to a modern crime story with the ease of a novel. A tragic story that left me feeling sorry for the criminal, his victims and the loss that inevitably follows acting on expediency.
Laurinda Paz
Foi o primeiro livro que li desta escritora.
Um livro interessante, cheio de aventuras. Fique agradada e surpreendida com o destaque dado a Lisboa, e a Tomar, apesar de algumas incorrecções, pouco grosseiras, diga-se de passagem, e alguma leviandade em determinados aspectos históricos.
É um livro juvenil, de fácil leitura, interessante e divertido.
Oct 24, 2008 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was different. I really enjoyed it, though it didn't take long to read. It was a nice story. The premise was that the Chinese made the first map of the world before it was closed to the world, somewhere in the mid-fifteenth century. The map was supposed to have been destroyed. However... Everyone else thinks that Portugal is the country that made the first map it in the latter-fifteenth century. BUT they had a secret treasure on board: a map that already shows the way.
That said, the s
Feb 25, 2015 mbattist rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-china
A missing map of dubious provenance, which if authentic and if found, will rock the western world. Enjoyed that I understood the cartography and maritime exploration, presented in shifting times and places of China 1420, Portugal 1496 and present day.

Tracy Best
Great idea...could be better with a little more character development. Deeply dramatic events were over in a paragraph, but sitting in a conference room took 2 pages. Overall, a good read, though; very interesting idea.
Barb Hunt
I had already read 1421 about the Chinese discovery of the world. this book added tremendous depth to the topic for me. the book was well written, and the author painted wonderful pictures with her words.
Jun 11, 2014 Harvee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antiques finder Mara Coyne has been asked to help find an early 15th century map stolen from an archaeological dig in China.

(I've written a separate review at

The map shows the world as known and "discovered" on trips by ships led by China's Admiral Zheng He. How a copy of the map reaches Vasco da Gama in late 15th century Portugal, and what it has to do with present day Portugal is the crux of the mystery in this historical novel. The suspense novel poses
Historical mystery in the Dan Brown vein, but with less depth. Read The Chrysalis years ago and liked it better. Nonetheless, will read more books by her.
Jun 01, 2014 Jeanyne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable read. It's not a big book. It covered material that I didn't know much about so I felt I learned a lot. It is historical FICTION, but full of good information.
Larry Cunningham
I enjoy historical mysteries, and this was a decent one. The device of interweaving three different stories, each in its own place and time, worked well overall. And it's obvious that the author had done her homework regarding the subject. On the other hand, if the author intended to build suspense, her tendency to bring in a "deus ex machina" type savior just when the tension began to build all too often spoiled the fun. Overall, I would recommend the book if only for the interesting history it ...more
Jan 22, 2011 bookczuk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not quite sure why I stuck it out with this book, though I did skim til the end towards the end. There were two back-stories (China 1421 and Portugal 1496) which were what kept me reading. The modern day arc didn't capture me, especially since I didn't read the first book about the main character, and am now not going to read it on principle. I understand back references to help fill in the plot or give background, but these were more annoying than informative. Oh well. The book did help me reca ...more
Mary Andrews
Oct 08, 2014 Mary Andrews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was similar to the Da Vinci Code, with secrets of history that - if revealed - would change everyone's understanding of the past, and people who would stop at nothing to keep the secrets hidden. The contemporary treasure hunt was entertaining and the historic parts were interesting - I didn't know much about Chinese mapmaking in the 1400s - so it was a good summer read, but not much more than that.
As I continue my Heather Terrell reading festival, I have concluded with the middle of her three novels. Containing the same protagonist as her initial novel, Chrysalis, I felt this was the stronger of those two books but not as strong as Brigid of Kildare or her newest, Eva. With three parallel stories going on, I often had to check dates and mentally re-position myself before starting each chapter.
Jun 24, 2009 Jasmine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun one that I just randomly picked off the shelf. It's in the art history mystery genre which I always enjoy, and it takes you through two periods in history in Portugal and in China as backdrop to a present day storyline. Of course, my current interest in maps helped my enjoyment of the book too.
Nov 22, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
From China in 1401, to Portugal in the late 1400's, to today, this book is about an ancient map of the world, stolen from an archeological dig. There are three main characters, all involved with the map in different times, and the author weaves their stories in a gripping romp around the world.
Jan 03, 2010 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I've read by this author. I love the history and the settings. What was really fun for me with this particular title was that I had just read an article in the Smithsonian about a long lost map from which America had been named. Nice juxtaposition.

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Heather Terrell is a lawyer with more than ten years' experience as a litigator at two of the country's premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in History and Art History, and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.
Heather is the author of The Chrysalis and The Ma
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