Cartomancy: Fun middle book ends in a cliffhanger

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review: Cartomancy, The Age of Discovery, Michael StackpoleCartomancy by Michael A. Stackpole

It’s not uncommon for the second book in a fantasy trilogy to suffer the middle-book syndrome — a transition novel that doesn’t live up to the quality of the preceding volume but is essential in appreciating the third. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with Cartomancy, the sequel to A Secret Atlas.

In fact, Cartomancy is more exciting because Michael Stackpole planted the seeds in the first novel and what you get here is all the action and excitement. Moreover, Stackpole has not only mastered the art of integrating various characters and plots, but knows when to end his chapters, whetting the readers’ appetites and leaving them wanting more.

Another element going for Stackpole is that while this is undeniably traditional epic fantasy, he infuses it with new elements as well as presenting us with complicated and three-dimensional characters. It doesn’t hurt that Stackpole’s writing is easy to get and his chapters strike that fine balance between long enough to give enough details but brief enough that your attention doesn’t waver.

Cartomancy was very much an enjoyable read but readers be warned, this is a trilogy and you will be left hanging at a crucial moment. Stackpole does for traditional fantasy what great comic writers do for comics: he gives us enough action all throughout, but he ends the beat at a juncture where you can’t wait for the next issue to come out.

FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.


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CHARLES TAN, one of our guest reviewers, is the owner of the blogs Bibliophile Stalker and Comic Quest. He also edits Philippine Speculative Fiction. You can read his fiction in that publication and in The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. Charles has conducted interviews for The Nebula Awards and The Shirley Jackson Awards, as well as for online magazines such as SF Crowsnest and SFScope. He is a regular contributor to sites like SFF Audio and Comics Village.

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