Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Edge Of The World Terra Incognita Book 1: The Edge Of The World
by Kevin Anderson

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Lee Pletzers
Jacqui Smith

This is a big book. Roughly 140,000 words, and it is the first book in Kevin J. Anderson's Terra Incognita series. As with all Epic Fantasies there are a host of characters (thankfully all names are pronounceable -- unlike a lot of fantasy books I have read); so many that there is an eight page glossary in the back.

With so many characters it could be easy to get lost, correct? Nope. All up there are only a few main characters: Criston Vora and Adrea Vora (his wife), Prester Hannes, Aldo (chartsman), Princess Anjine Korastine and her childhood friend, Mateo Bornan.

The story revolves around the aforementioned characters with a lot of extras that add weight to the plot and help head the book in the direction it is intended. In The Edge of the World, there are two nations trying to live in peace, but an unfortunate death of an officials son and a fire that burns down a main city, sparks a war that both sides fear they cannot win.

For 13 years the two nations take pot-shots at one another, attacking small villages and ports. The two nations: Uraba and Tierra follow the same god: Ondun. The Aidenists (Terraians) are blamed for the fire in Ishalem (though it wasn't them) and when the Aidenists return to Ishalem they are murdered by Urecari (Urabaians). There is no turning back. Each side starts preparation for the war to come, they build ships, they build armies, the Urecari kidnap children for a special project, that in the end pushes the war forward.

What's special about this book are the characters. You will come to be addicted while reading about them and the lives they lead during the 13 year build up for war, and the changes they all go through, some are major, some are minor but they all work to form strong characters with a distinct voice.

Although I did not like the style of writing at first (the "show don't tell" ratio doesn't match), it slowly grew on me and once several of the characters had been formed, I was flying through this book.

-- Lee Pletzers

I should know better than to judge a book by its title by now… I was rather looking forward to a Dawn Treader style fantasy voyage to the edge of the known world, with visits to strange and bizarre islands on the way. Well, we get one suitably weird island, but then there’s a total shipwreck… and that’s by page 250, out of 650 pages. So they do build another ship. And that doesn’t even get to sail… It’s unfair.

But then war is unfair, and that’s mostly what this fantasy is really about… a bunch of characters caught up in a bitter conflict between two cultures – the northern Tierrans and the southern Urabans. Exploration seems almost a secondary theme to this – though you have to admire the Saedrans and their on-going attempts to complete their Mappa Mundi. Yes, Anderson steals lots of stuff from real life history, including a devastating accidental fire that reminded me of the Great Fire of London.

That said it’s a very readable book. The characters are diverse and interesting enough to hold my attention – if not always my sympathies. The plot is decidedly twisted, wandering off in all directions. It finally ends with plans to build a third vessel, and to resume the great search for lost Terravitae, across the serpent-infested Oceansea. Oh well, I suppose I shall have to go and find book two…

-- Jacqui Smith

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