Three Oxford men receive letters to meet one Professor Siguersson- Johm, Jack, and Charles. Oh, they all have different reasons for being at the house. It is however, a great pity the Professor is already dead by the time they arrive. Jack was asked to deliver papers from the solicitor; Charles needed the Professors annotations for an article. John was the Protege, who hadn’t been studying much as he was on leave from WWII.
The three men go to a social club at 221B Baker Street (That’s right, Sherlock’s address). There they are met by a mysterious man named Bert. It seems that the three men were chose to be the new Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica, which is an atlas with the maps of all imaginary and mythological places, also known as the Archipelago of Dreams. The three were chosen for their imagination in addition to the fact that they were Oxford scholars. The Professor was murdered because the evil Winter King wants the Geographica for himself. Thus begins the greatest adventure any of the men had ever taken beginning with take the Indigo Dragon (a dragonship) across the divide between our world and the imaginary one.
The Archipelago of Dreams had been ruled by King Arthur. The Silver throne was passed to his heirs. All the races- Centaurs, Troll, Dwarves, Elves, and Mythical beasts swore allegiance to him. All these years the other races had been content to allow a human king because the dragons in the land answered to the High King. However things began to change in the world as things began to change in our world. There is a spill over effect. The problems in the Archipelago culminated in the death of Arthur’s entire line. The killer was none other than the High King of that time Archibald. As a result, a Parliment was created in order to rule, till they could decide how to replace the king.
In this chaos, the Winter King decides now is an opportune moment to seize control of the Archipelago. First he unleashes the Shadow Born, who are creatures whose Shadow/Sould has been removed. They are immortal and grow stronger the longer they exist. Next he creates Shadowlands by essentially removing the soul from the earth itself. The only thing that keeps him from ultimate power is that he lacks the Geographica.
Although the trio receive help from Bert, his daughter Aven, Capt. Nemo, and the Morgaine, they barely manage to stay one step in front of the Winter King. Things are complicated due to the fact that John was never told for what job he was being prepared. As a result, he cannot always ready everything on the map as it is in many different ancient language because he neglected his studies due to being drafted in the war. It is a particular problem as John is the Caretaker Principia. As the story progresses, Jack and John both have to overcome personal hindrance. They both succeed, but someone must pay a heavy price. In the end the three succeed in saving the Archipelage. When they return to England, Bert reveals to them that all of the past Caretakers had been writers-famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even Sir James Barrie. As the new Caretakers the three men sign the book, and the reader finally understands the destinies these three men are to fulfill. Ok I’m going to pu up a spoiler box. I’d like to do some character analysis but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read the book.
My non-spoiler opinion was that the book was masterfully written. Owens mixed fact and fiction in a seamless way. The Archipelago is both in and not in our world. If you liked the mythology references in Harry Potter, then you will love the book even more. There are mystery elements of this story, and figuring them out prior to having the answer revealed depends entirely on how well read you are. It’s a fun read. It was my train read this week. I couldn’t wait to get on the train. Oh, I’m still trying to figure out who the Cartographer is. If you have any ideas, please share them with me. The second book in this series is called The Search for the Red Dragon and is on the bookshelves now. The third book called The Indigo King comes out October 21, 2008. The author says that this book is being made into a movie by WB.
Spoiler. Go no further on Pain of Death. You have been warned
Bert is revealed to be none other than Hubert G. Wells known as H.G. Wells.
John is J.R.R. Tolkien. This should have been more than abundantly clear with the whole language thing. I mean, Tolkien created several languages and wrote the Lord of the Rings to showcase his talent.
Charles is Charles Williams. I have never read his work nor ever heard of him. I intend to rectify that. Be that as it may, Charles Williams was part of the literary brat pack known as Inklings along with John and Jack.
Jack is C.S. Lewis. I knew lewis went by Jack. It all made sense with he whole shadows and him being able to restore the people and the land. If you didn’t know, Lewis wrote a book called Shadowland. It was about the death of his wife Joyce.
In this book, Owens, provides explanations for where these men got the inspiration for their book. I’ve already bought the second book. I’ll let you know how that one is.