The Mapkeeper and the Rise of the Wardens is the first published work of the new author, Katie Cash, and is the first book of the Mapkeeper series. The book would be appropriate for younger audiences, but there may be some parts that are a bit too graphic. The story is essentially the classical monomyth. There’s nothing wrong with the monomyth – or Hero’s Journey – it is classic, very sound, storytelling, and it works.
In a complex double-world story, Ms. Cash has managed to tell an interesting story. Lucy Barnes is from one world, living in the small town of Algid, under an oppressive – and shady – government called the Commune. Shivers at that name. Living an ordinary, mundane life, Lucy is selected to be the Mapkeeper. Ms. Barnes, through the magical artifact (the map), can transport between her world and the fantastical world of Praxis. Praxis has many different sentient species including trolls, centaurs, and kobolds.
The world of Praxis finds itself on the brink of trouble, not that her world filled with the Commune is much better. Lucy and her brothers are transported – via the still yet to be understood map – to Praxis and greeted as honored guests. Upon arrival, the trio is introduced to the king of Praxis and all the leaders of the clans of Praxis. The looming dread of the story is the presence of the Wardens. The Wardens are responsible for having created the map but are also responsible for nearly killing all of the non-human creatures of Praxis years ago. The story has many complex characters and a small romantic subplot.
The story is sound if a bit rushed. There are some minor issues with editing, but those are pretty common in such works, therefore, forgivable. There are a few issues with spans of time in the book, namely when dealing with recovery times. Again, these issues are mainly minor and very easily overlooked. Towards the end of the story, a great deal of the story is apparently dealt with, leading the reader to feel that there may have been too much going on, this leads to the story feeling rushed.
Here’s the final verdict:
Good: Interesting world, decent sense of foreboding and dread in both Algid and Praxis. The map is an interesting artifact, and how it functions is unique. The cover art is excellent.
Bad: The story does have some places that are a bit rougher than others. There are minor issues with miscellaneous world-related items. The pacing can be jarring.
Final Statement: All-in-all, a decent first book. I am confident that Ms. Cash will continue to hone her writing skill over the subsequent books.