Monday, 16 September 2013

Lines Upon the Skin

Lines Upon the Skin by Julie Haydon (Feather in Cap Publishing)
ebook RRP $4.99
ISBN 9780987544902
Reviewed by Beverley Boorer

If you read the title of this book and thought it was about old age, think again. This fantasy world is described in great detail by the main character of the story, a young cartographer who has recently finished her apprenticeship and with a few friends sets out on an exciting journey of both self discovery and to map various regions and cities. You will be surprised at how a world with absolutely no gender inequalities operates; where soldiers, lords, fishermen, priests and kings are just as likely to be female as male.

You won’t find any maidens waiting for a romantic hero to save them in this novel; instead, the strong maidens save themselves and each other when they get into trouble or danger. Some readers may find that there is too much detail in the story, but what can you expect when it is told from the point of view of a map-maker who loves to create her maps with the utmost detail and precision?

In any case, the details certainly make this ancient setting very real and sets the atmosphere of the cities, be it brooding and evil, or lighthearted and generous. In this all-girl group of intrepid map makers each one has different skills and a specific role to play in the process of getting cartography work and inscribing the skins upon which the maps are drawn. They are five in number, although some do not join from the outset, but are picked up along the way.

As with all good fantasy fiction there are plenty of baddies, but the most dangerous ones are found in the last city as warring factions of a religious sect try to take over and gain power from those that hold it. Although the girls had all decided to stay out of the battle, they become involved when one of them is kidnapped. 

Her rescue is planned and executed by the other four and leads them to the brink of death, but again they show themselves strong enough to fight back without any help – or rather, with only a little help right at the end. The story leaves me wanting for my own one of those amazing mla that only the Lakiya possess. And if you want to know what that is, you will have to read Lines Upon the Skin to find out. 

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