First Lines: The Map of All Things

If a book makes me uncomfortable, or if I end up really hating a particular character, usually the author is doing something really well. Kevin J. Anderson manages to do both with The Map of All Things (Terra Incognita Book II), and yet I’m not over the moon and raving about this book.

You see, I have a very low tolerance for religious ass-hattery. While I usually can handle religious people and run-of-the-mill ass-hats just fine, people who use their religious convictions to justify inane, insane, discriminating, hateful or otherwise immoral behavior rub me the wrong way. So imagine what a book where everyone is driven by blind religious fanaticism would do for me.

Not a whole freaking lot, I tell you.

As I said in my piece on the first part of the trilogy, the constant urge to praise and glorify the appropriate deity gets really, really old really fast. In that book there were some seeds of doubt planted, but it looks like those seeds have withered and died. While most characters remain neither wholly good or wholly evil, they seem to have hardened in their beliefs, and turns their actions into stereotypical ‘us vs. them’ behavior. Side A raids a sacred place and kills all the priestesses and pilgrims, so Side B responds by sending the head of the kidnapped, 10-year old prince A back, to which Queen A retaliates by beheading one thousand prisoners from Side B. And so on, and so forth. And when a character shows some remorse for killing innocent and defenseless captives, he then joins an army set out to destroy a remote enemy outpost to still his bleeding heart. For fuck’s sake.

Of course, there’s more to the book than just the religious angle, but these plotlines are usually so depended on the associated legends that it’s hard to see them separately. And those few strands of story that are free of religious constructs end violently. So, while I didn’t particularly enjoyed The Map of All Things, I must give Anderson this: he managed to irritate me a lot. That’s something.

Book read
Kevin J. Anderson — The Map of All Things
First Line
Suspended in a rope cradle abeam of the vessel, a grizzled craftsman used mallet, chisel, and rasp to fashion the ornate lettering.