To Chart the Clouds
A Legend of the Five Rings Novel
by Evan Dicken
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Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 17 Dec 2021
Aconyte Books, Aconyte
When diligent yet unappreciated clerk, Miya Isami, develops a new triangulation technique for map- making, her traditionalist superiors at the Imperial Cartographic Bureau heap scorn upon her. But when her novel approach exposes a swathe of missing land on the border between Scorpion and Lion Clan territories, Isami stumbles onto something far more significant than a mere mapping error. Her discovery offers the prospect of resolution to the seemingly endless territorial squabbling between the proud, warlike Lion and the secretive Scorpion. In a bid to contain the conflict, an Imperial Treasurer dispatches Isami with her fresh insights to the Spine of the World. Yet she is far from welcome in the mountains. She must negotiate between the clans, uncover the truth, and discover the location of a hidden valley before the fragile peace is shattered by war.
A Note From the Publisher
“Imaginative, deftly written, and action-packed.”
– Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviewer, on The Red Hours
“Dicken’s writing is clear and imaginative, and there are lots to enjoy with interesting characters, a vivid setting, and an entertaining plot.”
– Track of Words, on The Path to Glory
– Legend of the Five Rings is the million-plus selling game series of warring clans, magic, demons and samurai.
– The land of Rokugan is a fantasy reworking of medieval Japanese society, fitting well into the growing trend for award-winning epic fantasy inspired by non-Western history.
– Legend of the Five Rings has a loyal fanbase across the card game, the roleplaying game, board games and beyond.
• Season announcement Sept 21
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 14 members
Very enjoyable read. Well written and interesting, curious to see what happens next. Liked that the main characters were human and overcame failures. Female cartographer as a the lead was nice, instead of the usual tired tropes. Pseudo Japanese culture not usually my thing but wasn’t heavy handed and flowed well in the story.
ARC Copy...for someone who only has a slight knowledge of the Rive Rings world (but enough to know Lion is the proud-warrior clan and Scorpion are the "untrustworthy" + spy clan), I didn't feel lost in the narrative's world and following non-aligned map-maker (not a warrior) surveying the whole area and ensuing conflict seems like an appropriate approach to exploring the world.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s set in the world of Legend of the Five Rings which is a gaming universe that I had never heard of. That didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment of the book. The main character is Miya Isami, a minor noble who desperately wants to be a cartographer. Her evaluation goes disastrously wrong and she is then betrayed by a fellow student who steals her work. Her desperation leads her to accept a mission from a high ranking noble. The mission might also prove her theories about a missing valley so she accepts it despite being advised not to by her mentor.
The story that follows is one of exploration both of the physical world but also of Miya’s character as she works out who she can trust and who is working against her. I loved the world building and the characters, all of whom were totally believable. The story is set in a fantasy Japanese based culture and I really enjoyed the political intrigue in the story as the clans each fight for their own interests. There is plenty of action but the story is quite gently paced which gives plenty of room for character development which I loved. Miya is a really likeable protagonist and I hope that we see more of her in future books.
Many thanks to Net Galley and Aconyte books for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars.
Great thanks to NetGalley and Mr. Evan Dicken and his publishing team for the opportunity to read and review this book!
Adventure. A grueling journey. New found friends along the way.We follow Miya Isami through her journey to chart unknown lands.
I enjoyed this! The story had a few twists that threw me off. I loved the watching the dynamic shift between Isami and her new friends. I read this with no previous knowledge of the Legend of the Five Rings and at times had some difficulty keeping up with the lore. Over all this was a really solid read!
First of all, I would like to say thank you to NetGalley, the Author, and the Publisher for allowing me to read the ARC copy of the book.
Finally, here is my written review. Apologies for the delay.
I would like to start by saying I really enjoyed the experience of reading this book. As you can probably see by my read list, I am big fan of anything to do with Japan, especially historical Japan and the Sengoku period so this was always going to get off to a good start with me - simply due to the setting.
So, the main character is a minor, somewhat overlooked, noble who aspires to become an Imperial Cartographer. This aspiration and desperation leads her on a mission, given to her by a higher-up, to discover a hidden valley in a region which is currently in the middle of a territorial conflict between two warring clans - the Lions and the Scorpions.
The best thing about this story, in my opinion, is the treachery and politics between both of the clans and also, as we discover, between those closer to Miya - unknowingly. The interestingly developed political feud was helped extremely by how good Evan's world building is. They made it feel as if you were in the centre of this feud which is something that is not easily done. The treacherous culmination is something which I did not see coming whatsoever, although it is not completely random and out of place - fitting in line with the story and ultimately, Japanese history, values and tradition (if that makes sense - it does to me). I felt when reading this that it seemed to be more of a historical, although completely fictional, fiction novel as opposed to the prescribed fantasy epic which is highlighted by the blurb and within other reviews I have since read. I would not say this diminishes the story in any way, though.
I finished this book with one or two criticisms. Firstly, for some reason (I know this is silly), I did not like the name of some landmarks that were described in the book, such as the Enchanted Wall. I just feel as if there could be a more interesting name to be made here in order to promote the mystique of the object, although this was not a major issue because it does not really play a huge part in the story. Secondly, I found the conflict and constant bickering between Keisuke (Scorpion) and Shinzō (Lion) become slightly unvarying and monotonous. I am aware both of their clans owe deep hatred for each other but I found the persistent arguing between them both to become slightly tedious.
Overall, I found this book a highly enjoyable experience. The story is an intriguing one, especially due to the setting and how that has been portrayed by Evan, and it turned out to be a real page turner. The ending certainly leaves an opening for a sequel and I would say on record now that I would read that, too.
Once again, thank you to NetGalley, the Author, and Aconyte books for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this ARC. I hope my honest review is not too jumbled, as this is my first written review on Goodreads.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Aconyte Books for an advanced copy of this new fantasy and gaming book.
Writing a novelization about a game system can be difficult. How do you write a story that can speak to both those familiar with in the game, in this case Legend of the Far Rings gaming system, and those unfamiliar with the same game but want to know more or win a few ARC like I did. Evan Dicken in his book To Chart the Clouds: A Legend of the Five Rings Novel has a very simple solution to this problem. Write a great story, with interesting characters and a plot that never bogs down. And so he has.
The book's setting is familiar and yet different, a cliche I know, but it works. A medieval Japan, but controlled more by clans who combat each other on the battlefield, among the shadows and in the imperial court, scheming, warring and plotting to gain power wherever and whenever they can. There is no info dumping of life in this new land, it unfolds as the story is told, and a reader is never lost, or confused.
The characters are well developed and make the reader want to know more about them, the clans they are a part of and the world they inhabit. For this reason I hope there are more books planned for this series. Especially featuring the main character Miya Isami, a woman whose attempt to become a member of the Imperial Cartographic Bureau is blocked first by her offending those in power, and by a supposed friend whose theft of her work, leads to his promotion, and accidental death. Miya finds herself a piece in a game to stop two rival clans from fighting over a piece of valuable territory, by a benefactor who might have secrets of his own. High jinks ensue. I don't want to ruin anything for the reader.
The story is fast paced, and very smart, with Miya using her brain far more than brawn which is refreshing. There is plenty of action, but also lots of discussions of archives and the key to the story is cartography which can be pretty suspenseful when done right, and Mr Dicken does so. I enjoyed this book, and want to read more in this series, and maybe even play a game or two. And also track down more works by Mr. Dicken, as I can't wait to read more by him.
Having no knowledge of the game or prior books, and not reading much Fantasy, this was a risky title for me. But I liked it overall, and I'm confident it will find an audience of fans. Dicken is an experience author and writes well.
Thanks very much for the free review copy!!
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