Unreliable Histories: A Tale of Cartography, Magic and Other Perils by Rob Gregson


Unreliable Histories: A Tale of Cartography, Magic and Other Perils by Rob Gregson
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (324 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

If you enjoy tales of epic battles, fearsome dragons and dark, brooding evil, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy the works of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who, in addition to being very good at that sort of thing, had possibly the most splendid name in the history of the fantasy genre.

On the other hand, if you have a penchant for lovelorn vampires, feisty warriors and unnecessarily cryptic ancient prophesies, then you should have absolutely no difficulty in finding something suitable – albeit not in this particular novel.

But on the other hand (and this being a work of fantasy, having three hands is not entirely out of the question) if your keenest wish is for a strange and digressive saga about cartography, magic and perhaps just the small matter of changing history itself, then you’ve hit upon a niche in which this book is largely without peer.

What would you do if you discovered that you have a history, one in which you were a participant, but which you now have absolutely no knowledge of? This is what Myrah discovers, and she has an understandably hard time believing it.

Of course, two total strangers informing you that you’ve participated in some great quest carries very little weight in comparison to the certain knowledge that you’ve never done any such thing. However, there was also the fact of her occasional sense-scape departures and the two strange but especially telling encounters with herself—during which even she appeared to be saying much the same thing.”

The Western Reaches is a wild new world where it appears that history can, and in fact is, being re-written. Myrah and her friends get caught up in a dangerous adventure without fully understanding what their mission truly is. Myrah’s uncle sums things up admirably when he said:

“As I understand it, you plan to pursue some enormously ambitious but poorly conceived scheme that will almost certainly entail a long and dangerous expedition across uncharted territories, with little or no idea of what awaits you therein.”

Unreliable Histories is a fantastic adventure, filled with excitement, a healthy dose of humor, and a rich use of words to create a reality. Or is it real? Myrah is a wonderful character, complex, thoughtful, bumbling along at times, but still firmly convinced of her path even when she can’t figure that path out. Her companions, Alaethar, big, friendly, and harmless, but with a surprising ability to protect her, and Nevigorn the Enlightened, a wizard who knows things, sort of, are well-defined and very interesting characters as well. Alaethar has a hard time believing in a past which he can’t remember, in spite of the evidence that he really did have a different past. Nevigorn has no trouble with that, but he focuses on “Here,” saying that “there’s only what’s Here. If you’re not Here, then you’ve gone.” Myrah has to navigate her mission with the aid of her companions, something which isn’t always easy, but which is always exciting and frequently humorous.

Unreliable Histories is the first book of The Written World, a world which I found to be totally captivating. I am eager to return to this world in the second book, The Endless Land, and follow Myrah, Alaethar, and Nevigorn on their further adventures. Unreliable Histories comes to a satisfying end, after a lot of magic and excitement, and it works fine as a stand-alone. However, having entered into Myrah’s adventures, I’m very eager to continue with her.

Lovers of fantasy, especially those who enjoy the study of words and philosophical musings on reality, will love exploring the Western Reaches with Myrah and her friends.

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