An engrossing fantasy, a high-seas adventure, an alternate history epic—this is the richly imagined and gorgeously realized new book from acclaimed author Barry Wolverton, perfect for fans of The Glass Sentence and the Books of Beginning series.
It's 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map's port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere.
That's when Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive.
Twelve-year-old Bren Owen has always wanted to travel the world seeking adventure, but his father has kept him at home in Map, "the dirtiest, noisiest, smelliest city in all of Britannia." The year is 1599, and Holland is the great sea power in this first book in the Chronicles of the Black Tulip series, set in an alternate past. Holland has colonies throughout Southeast Asia, and when a ship of the Dutch Bicycle & Tulip Company stops in Map, Bren would do anything to get on board. A mysterious object Bren receives from a dying sailor gives him the chance he has been waiting for, but it also causes more adventure than he is entirely comfortable with. Wolverton's (Neversink) story speeds along suspensefully through a history intriguingly different from our own. The privations and hazards of sea travel are thoroughly depicted (as is the unpleasant reality of Bren's work in a vomitorium), and the occasional moment of magic is gracefully understated. The major beats of the plot are fairly standard and the characterizations basic, but Bren's story still entertains. Ages 8 12.