I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legend of the Five Rings book To Chart the Clouds by Evan Dicken, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.
So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.
I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.
So let’s crack on with a review then!
What is Legend of the Five Rings
L5R as it’s often known is a fantasy setting for a series of card games and RPGs originally published by AEG, but now taken care of by Fantasy Flight.
It’s set in the empire of Rokugan which is heavily feudal Japan influenced, with a bit of other East Asian influences, like China and Korea thrown in as well.
It’s a fantasy setting with the usual fantasy tropes of goblins and rat men, but also oni and kitsune too.
Miya Isami is a clerk in the Cartography Ministry in the capital city of Rokugan who has been developing techniques of triangulation to make more accurate maps, maps based on actual measurements, rather than the artistry of the current maps.
But this isn’t welcomed by her traditionalist superiors who deny her the right to become an Imperial Cartographer.
Following this setback she throws herself into her work and comes across some ancient maps of the border of the Lion and Scorpion Clan lands, and sees the glimmer of something not yet discovered. But when another clerk steals her work, she is crestfallen.
Alas her rival meets a sticky end and when an Imperial Treasurer needs someone to contain a brewing conflict in that same region, he turns to her, sending her on a mission to barter peace between the traditional rivals.
So off she sets with a bodyguard in tow, to try and hammer out a compromise between the two clans, and potential get a chance to prove her theories about an undiscovered valley.
I literally consumed this book in three hours, which is normally very difficult for me with my brain damage, I simply could not put this book down.
The concept sounds dull, but its packed full of action, intrigue and mystery, its a fantastically written story and the way Evan has written his characters gives them real meat and deep personalities.
There is also a trans character in the book and the way he is written about is perfect, an acknowledgement that hey this guy is trans, its rare, but perfectly normal, then the next time it comes up is when he is changing clothes and Miya notices his bindings.
That’s exactly what I want to see in these novels, real representation of LGBTQ characters that is genuinely not their entire personality, but instead a normal accepted part of society, its uplifting to read.
The last act does have a bit of deus ex machina about it, but it still works.
But the best part, its left open for a sequel, which is fantastic!
5 out of 5 stars from me!
To Chart the Clouds is available now as an eBook and Audio Book, and the paperback is out on the 28th April.
- Mood:- Nervous
- Caffeinated Beverages Consumed:- 6
- In My Ears:- All My Shootings Be Drivebys – MC Hawking
- Tabletop Game Last Played:- The Horus Heresy
- Video Game Last Played:- Halo Infinite
- Book Last Read:- To Chart the Clouds – Evan Dickens
- Movie/TV Show Last Viewed:- Parks & Rec
- Current State of Projects:- Skitarii Rangers about 50% finished, Suppressors primary armour colour on