Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Makiia Lucier to The Paperback Pilgrim for a discussion of cartography and how she chose to feature the subject in her upcoming novel Isle of Blood and Stone, set for publication April 10, 2018.
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Isle of Blood and Stone (Isle of Blood and Stone #1) by Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 10, 2018)
Print Length: 400 pages
Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side-whether he wants her there or not-Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.
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In Isle of Blood and Stone, a young explorer-in-training is asked, “If you could go anywhere, where would you go?” Reyna doesn’t have to think about the question for very long. She studies the map spread out before her and answers, “I would go everywhere.”
She’s not the first person, fictional or otherwise, to feel that way. Growing up on the island of Guam, I remember looking at a map and realizing how small my island was in comparison to the wider world. Just a speck in the Pacific. How on earth did anyone discover us in the first place? And, like Reyna, I wanted to see what lay beyond the borders of my childhood home. I wanted to go everywhere.
Isle of Blood and Stone grew from that restlessness, that feeling of wanderlust.
Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, “The author must know his countryside, whether real or imagined, like his hand; the distances, the points of a compass, the place of the sun’s rising, the behavior or the moon, should all be beyond cavil.” If I was going to do justice to Elias’ story, it meant I had to understand his world. Who were the cartographers of the medieval period? How did they live? Where did they live? And how exactly was a map from that time period made anyway? Vellum, cartouche, rhumb lines, portolans; these were all terms I came to know intimately.
I wore out my library card. I filled out endless slips of interlibrary loan requests. But the things I discovered! In the 12th century, a North African scholar named al-Idrisi opened a school for geographers at the behest of Roger II of Sicily. Gabriel Vallseca was a master cartographer and instrument-maker who lived in Palma, Majorca in the 15th century. And though historians have since called his school into question, Prince Henry the Navigator was once thought to have established an academy for explorers at his home in Sagres, Portugal. Kings, mapmakers, schools, islands, all of it snippets of history that added flavor and spice to my own story.
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Can’t get enough of Isle of Blood and Stone? For my ARC review click here.