The Silk Map – Gaunt and Bone #2 – Chris Willrich
Release date: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: Pyr Books
Age Group: Adult
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
At the end of The Scroll of Years, the poet Persimmon Gaunt and her husband, the thief Imago Bone, had saved their child from evil forces at the price of trapping him within a pocket dimension. Now they will attempt what seems impossible; they will seek a way to recover their son. Allied with Snow Pine, a scrappy bandit who’s also lost her child to the Scroll of Years, Gaunt and Bone awaken the Great Sage, a monkeylike demigod of the East, currently trapped by vaster powers beneath a mountain. The Sage knows of a way to reach the Scroll — but there is a price. The three must seek the world’s greatest treasure and bring it back to him. They must find the worms of the alien Iron Moths, whose cocoons produce the wondrous material ironsilk.
And so the rogues join a grand contest waged along three thousand miles of dangerous and alluring trade routes between East and West. For many parties have simultaneously uncovered fragments of the Silk Map, a document pointing the way toward a nest of the Iron Moths. Our heroes tangle with Western treasure hunters, a blind mystic warrior and his homicidal magic carpet, a nomad princess determined to rebuild her father’s empire, and a secret society obsessed with guarding the lost paradise where the Moths are found — even if paradise must be protected by murder.
‘The Silk Map’ is just as fun and entertaining as the previous book, ‘The Scroll of Years’. Grand scenarios, witty banter, magical creatures, curious objects everywhere and an exciting storyline make it hard to put this book down. Chris Willrich succeeds in continuing the unique tale he started in the first book, but introduces a whole new part of his world with its own colourful characters and cultures, keeping everything new and interesting.
The loss of their child in ‘The Scroll of Years’, the first novel after the Gaunt and Bone short fiction, weighs on Gaunt and Bone’s marriage and their careless banter more and more threatens to become a squabble. They are united in one goal though: finding and saving their son. Together with Snow Pine, whose daughter is also trapped in the scroll, they set out to find the powerful Great Sage, trapped in a mountain. If there’s someone who can point them to the Scroll, it’ll be her. But this demi-god doesn’t give away her secrets so easily. As a counter gesture, they have to bring her a couple of Silk worms that can make the powerful Silk Steel.
The only problem is that no one has ever found the place the last Silk Worms are hidden. There is a legend that talks about a map on a Silk gown that was worn by this mysterious girl. When she fled the land however, her gown was torn, and so was the map. To find the Silk worms, they have to find the pieces of the map and follow it to Xembala.
The Gaunt and Bone novels shine in the depth of their characterization. Every character is another great contribution to the story and all have this penchant to get under your skin, positively or negatively. Especially Gaunt and Bone are a joy to read, their interaction is one of the best thing about these books. I’m glad we get to see both the ups and the downs in their relationship, making it even more relatable and realistic.
There are a lot of new characters introduced in this sequel to ‘The Scroll of Years’, as the story has shifted to the desert lands. New cultures and new beliefs give this book a fresh touch and take you further into the fascinating world Willrich has created.
I marveled at the rich descriptions and the wonderful worldbuilding. Willrich truly takes you deep into new territory and you can’t help but get lost in it. In ‘The Silk Map’ Gaunt and Bone go on an epic quest with the ultimate goal to save their son. Action, adventure and intrigue is interspersed with tales and poems to give some background for the environment and the mythology.
I definitely have a soft spot for the Gaunt and Bone novels now and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book, ‘The Chart of Tomorrows’. There is something unique about these books, an atmosphere I have rarely encountered in other books. They are fun and colourful, but also have a lot of depth. The storylines seem spectacular and wild at a glance, but when you take a closer look there is a lot more woven through them. If you’re looking for something different to spice up your reading, take a look at these books, you won’t be disappointed.