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A Secret Atlas

(The Age of Discovery #1)

by
3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,316 ratings  ·  74 reviews
In Nalenyr, the family of the Royal Cartographer stands in a unique position. They not only draw the maps, but also explore uncharted territories, expanding and updating the existing knowledge of the world. Their talent has yielded them enormous power and wealth–and it can also cost them their lives.

Now the Royal Cartographer’s two grandsons, Keles and Jorim, have been sen
...more
Paperback, 460 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Spectra Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  1,316 ratings  ·  74 reviews


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Jake
Aug 05, 2008 added it
Shelves: fantasy, series
Many, many years ago, I attended a lecture by Michael Stackpole, in which he advanced a theory that any book in a series should form an essentially self-contained novel, so that one could pick it up, read it, and enjoy it without necessarily having to read the whole thing. (His particular example involved being stuck in an airport with nothing but the second book of various trilogies available to him).

The example stuck with me for a long time, but oddly, I never read any of the man's work itself
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Justin Kemppainen
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Sometimes, you want red wine, sometimes you want white, and sometimes you just want beer, or a nice glass of brandy. Or maybe you want water, coffee, etc.

Sometimes you want hamburger, sometimes steak, and naturally all manner of options are available for styles and such to fit all appetites.

I don't have a particular culinary comparison for this book, but what I found was that it happened to be exactly what I was looking for. It's a little more relaxed in pace, which some could argue as slow. It'
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Nicky
Feb 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
Bleh, no. Didn't finish. The descriptions are slapped on with a trowel, rather than painted on with a fine brush; in the first two chapters there are two very similar beautiful evil women, blahblahblah. It didn't really seem to bring anything new to the the genre, and with that start I don't trust him with female characters. Even Keles' sister seems spiteful and vindictive, despite supposedly being a positive character.
Johnny
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
My very favorite works by Michael A. Stackpole (outside of his seminal work on the old EA role-playing game, Wasteland, not only based on his Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes tabletop role-playing game but also served as the spiritual ancestor to the Fallout series of computer games) are trilogies. I loved the Warrior: En Garde series in the Battletech universe and I loved the Fiddleback trilogy in the Dark Conspiracy universe. Other people love his Shadowrun stories and his Star Wars novels ...more
Aleks
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty easy read. The dialogue is kind of weak but it doesn't make the book unreadable. The characters don't really come to life and I found all of them unremarkable. The action scenes are nicely written.

As far as high fantasy novels go it's a pretty easy read. Kind of like an airport novel. There are enough twists and cliff hangers that make me want to read the next book.
Megan
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Two and a half stars. While Stackpole has created a detailed world full of political tensions, strange creatures, magic systems, and diverse characters, he neglects to actually make the reader care about said characters. Of the lot, only Moraven got an introduction that actually made me want to root for him, while the introductions for the Andrustrai clan made me actively dislike them, despite them apparently being the main characters. The case is not helped by the massive cast of viewpoint char ...more
Virginia
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013books
I kind of want to rate this higher, because there is a ton of interesting worldbuilding going on in here, but this book did take me two whole years to finish - after every single chapter I would fall asleep, reading before bed. It just did not have any sort of momentum, and for all that it was a big fantasy work, it was very very dry. It definitely suffered from this problem:


Also, I felt like there was a lot of interesting stuff going on in the first 3/4 of the book, and then at the end, the
...more
Marla
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-library
I picked up this book and the third one at a used bookstore(that way if I liked it I'd have at least two of three). The cover caught my eye(and my sister's too but I'm more prone to buy random books), it looked 'map-y'.
I like the idea of the "Age of Discovery", people going out and mapping the world via sailing ships and overland. And whilst I'm a fantasy fan, in this case, there was a bit too much fantasy in it for me. I'd rather have had a good old fashioned adventure to explore the world wher
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Deborah Wright
Mar 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I had high hopes for this book and I gave it my best shot, I really did. But after nearly three weeks of forcing myself to read almost 300 pages and waiting for the story to actually get moving, I give up. I know I'm close to the end, but frankly nothing I've read so far makes me care enough to finish this book, let alone read the next two in the trilogy.

Life is too short and there are too many good books out there waiting to be read to spend any more time on this one.
Charlie
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I like Michael Stackpole. I think that he has great thoughts on writing and the craft.

This, I do not like. I have tried. I have read and continued but I do not like nor do I care for a single character in this story. 192 pages in, and 2 action scenes. One in the first chapter, which hooked me in, and a minor one later. Everything else is talking, politics, and anything not magic.

This is supposed to be a book about some sort of new magic known as Cartomancy, but there is no mention or sign of it
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Chris
Jul 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Normally I love Stackpole; however, this book had way too many cumbersome names (people, places, titles, etc) to pronounce. Once I find myself substituting names with easier to pronounce versions I start to loose interest. I didn't even get out of chapter three before I started doing that. For example Ummummorar? Jaecaiserr? I get the need to create a unique world, but adapting common words, or using easier to pronounce words. (Mamoria, Jascar)
Michael Brown
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: series-reading
Twists and turns of politics, mystery, magic and human relations in this clever fantasy tale similar to so many from this period. Efforts by the author to weave his own interpretation of the genre are successful for the most part. But so many such tales all seem to blend together and follow a like pattern. And as with so many, the story is stretched to make a trilogy. Some work and some do not. At least Stackpole has the skill and history of multiple interrelated books so we shall see.
Christian Ladebu
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thrilling political fantasy. If you're looking for a book loaded with action, then this isn't for you. It does have action, but it's threaded into various political schemes and rumors of wars. I loved getting to know the factions and understanding their dynamics.
Engel Dreizehn
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was interesting read and since the premise + themes revolved around trading, the actual trade routes and the goods gained, there was great emphasizes on the description and imagery around such items and concepts which was a rich in detail experience to enjoy.
Caroline
Jan 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
fantasy trash. the first of a trilogy, I was completely done when they (view spoiler) ...more
Peter
Aug 22, 2020 rated it liked it
The story is quite great, but nevertheless I DNF - don't ask me why. Maybe I should try again, it's been sitting on my bookshelf for most of thies century.

Interesting characters, nice story, good pacing.
Radu Marin
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Writing style is a bit weird.. but once you get used to it you can enjoy the story.
melydia
Sep 30, 2009 rated it liked it
The Anturasi family have been mapmakers for generations. This puts them in a unique position of power, since without maps trade and travel suffer. It has been almost 800 years since The Cataclysm, a magical holocaust which both literally and figuratively changed the face of the world, and everyone is still getting things sorted out. This is (more or less) the story of three of the Anturasi children: studious Keles, adventurous Jorim, and soul-searching Nirati. Keles is sent west to survey the la ...more
Jen
May 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pogue
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I gave this book three stars when I wanted to give it just a little bit more than that. I did “really” like the book at least two-thirds of it. Then I would get to the part where the Princes were and my brain would glaze over. Each chapter of the book it about a different character and that makes reading the book very easy.

The book follows the story of a family of cartographers and as in any fantasy book the start of their adventures. Keles, Nirati, and Jorim Anturasi all set out on different a
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Marko
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's been a long while since I've read high fantasy that I actually liked. The usual fare in that genre is populated by magic swords and powerful wizards with rare examples of original thought. And this is very much the reason I usually avoid the genre altogether. Luckily, Stackpole's A Secret Atlas is an example of some of the originality that the genre deserves.

The story centres around a family of cartographers and especially the three siblings that hold the keys to the future of the family: K
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Derrick White
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book had great world building, but poor pacing, weak characters, and feels like it was rushed to print. I cannot yet judge the quality of the plot, because this is very much part one of three and it ends with a series of minor victories, defeats, and reveals that very much don't resolve anything except maybe the last 50 pages.

The world building was new, interesting and intriguing. The magic system is interesting, the world feels large, and the history well thought out. If you can read a boo
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S. Lynham
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Apparently Stackpole has written a swack of fantasy books, yet this is the first one I have ever read. I enjoyed reading this book immensely and I look forward to reading the other books in this story. My one wish would be that the author either remove a lot of the dark shading in his map or get someone else to draw it. I had real trouble following the route of one of the brothers which was through the area the map showed and I was disappointed that there was no map of the voyage of the other br ...more
Rebecca Hill
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
What starts with a family and their unique talents, quickly twists and turns and dumps you into an alternate world filled with danger, mystique and challenges. The Anturasi family has a unique talent which keeps them close to the crown in their princedom. The history of this world, how the 9 princedoms came to be and where some of the main players would like to see it go, is very enjoyable. The cultures are part European, part Asian and a little American all mixed together. The different castes ...more
Rebecca
"In Nalenyr, the family of the Royal Cartographer not only draw the maps, they also explore uncharted territories, expanding the existing knowledge of the world. [...] Keles and Jorim have been sent on a mission to explore the darkest corners of the unknown. As one charts the seas, looking for new lands, the other braves a region torn apart by ancient magics."

There are a lot of interesting ideas, but they're sometimes overshadowed by a disjointed story that seems to skip large chunks of potentia
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Mick
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Though I liked the story because of all the "custom made" words (made up) it is difficult to always know what is going on. The story centers around a family of cartographers that are mapping thew world after a magic cataclysm. They are the most talented in the world (because of an innate magic that builds up as one practices any skill) and their maps are the most accurate. This allows the kingdom (or realm) that controls the family to control a lot of the economics of the world.

Just over half th
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Anne
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-this, fantasy
A Secret Atlas is a complex book, weaving many subplots together. It's slow to begin -- I had to push myself to keep going for the first 100 pages or so. But once all the plots and characters are introduced, the pace picks up. At the end of this book, the plot twists in surprising ways, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

I'm sure I didn't catch many of the layered nuances in the political intrigue, especially given the amount of cold medication I've been taking. It's not quit
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Catherine  Mustread
Feb 17, 2009 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Catherine by: Cartophilia: Maps and Map Memorabilia by Cartophiliac
From Cartophilia 021709: "Being a member of the of the Royal Cartographer's family can be a dangerous job. Not only do you draw the maps, but you must do the exploration as well. In Michael A. Stackpole's latest fantasy series, starting with the A Secret Atlas, the author tells the story of this family, and the wealth and power that their secret knowledge brings. Unfortunately, their explorations uncover new discoveries that can bring chaos to their King's realm...

These fantasy novels appear to
...more
Alex
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually more like 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding up. I think the best way to sum this up briefly (though I hope to write a longer review later) is that it's a mixed bag, but it does more right than it does wrong. The writing isn't spectacular, but nor is it bad; it gets the story where it needs to go. While some of the characters are cliched and/or dull (Moraven, Pyrust, etc), others are quite well-drawn (particularly the three siblings Jorim, Keles, and Nirati). While the plot suffers from pacing ...more
Roxanne
May 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I really struggled with this one. There were echoes of other books, everything had a name - to the point where I got really confused - and the storyline was a bit disjointed. However, when the setting was left alone for a while, and the story came into its own, it was really intriguing with some great writing.

The number one issue for me, was that it didn't introduce the characters before introducing the fantasy world. I felt like the focus was very much on the setting, the history, the geography
...more
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Other books in the series

The Age of Discovery (3 books)
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