Soontornvat’s shifting ‘The Final Mapmaker’, a pot of swashbuckling, is sort of a distinction to Barnhill’s cozy fable, however a dragon is as soon as once more the focal point. Solely on this case, the heroine finally ends up making an attempt to cover the dragon relatively than expose it. Sai, a 12-year-old cartographer’s assistant, eagerly joins his expedition to seek out the Dragon Lands to the south. In response to a proclamation from the queen, the crew that succeeds in mapping this territory will probably be awash in treasure.
Each books play elaborate video games of Discover the Dragon. However the place Barnhill’s monster replaces demagoguery, Soontornvat’s creature is a colonialist’s prize – the nearer Sai will get to finding and mapping the dragon, the extra she feels the results of claiming her dwelling for her queen.
The 2 novels mirror one another. Because the villagers of Stone-in-the-Glen should be woke up from ignorance to develop into neighbors once more, Sai realizes that being a great neighbor typically means placing a dream to sleep.
All through, Soontornvat (a Newbery winner for “A Want within the Darkish”) deftly makes use of tropes to throw us off stability. Introduce a hapless younger heroine looking for glory after a flying monster and the reader can’t assist however chase the dragon together with her.
You’d be hard-pressed to seek out somebody extra misunderstood than Sai, with an absent mom, a crooked father, and no wealth or lineage in a land known as Mangkon, the place ancestor rank dictates standing. To earn sufficient cash to remain alive, she pretends she comes from a high-born household so she will be able to sustain her apprenticeship – which she acquired by strolling previous the store of Grasp Paiyoon, the most effective cartographer in Mangkon, simply as his former assistant burst open the door in terror after spilling ink for 2 months on the job.
At first it’s clear that there’s nothing in Mangkon for Sai – any affection she may need had for her father disappears when he forces her to offer him her final financial savings – so when she is obtainable a spot on her boss’s ship to go dragon searching, she plunges headlong into hazard: “Paiyoon checked out me gravely. … ‘There’s a small probability we received’t be again.’ That’s precisely what I used to be betting on.
Sai’s aim is straightforward: discover the dragon, map its dwelling for the queen, and she’s going to reap a reward that may make her previous life a pale reminiscence. It’s a narrative we’ve heard earlier than – the timeless theater of playgrounds – and but we wish Sai to have her second of triumph with the Queen, to be acknowledged for transcending her start.