Review – Logan and the Cartographer’s Lackey

Logan is a farm boy who fancies his bow and arrow more than kissing the girl at the farm next door. His world is under a strange curse in which everyone is sure they’ve forgotten something, but they simply aren’t sure what it is. And then darkness fell, and the demons attacked. After coming to terms with his new world and assisting in gathering the surviving families into something of a Township, he heads out to a capital city to gain answers and encourage trade, with the caveat that he knows its time for him to make a name for himself.

Logan wastes little time in doing so.

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The world of Kyroo handles its apocalyptic threat with a weight that is more horrific and down to earth than it is power fantasy, and it works to establish just what the main character is up against. Logan himself comes off as surprisingly likable, making decisions that are practical and at his father’s advising choosing to be honest, which at times serves him well and at others allows the world to take advantage of him. It would have been easy to have this character to be over the top, or milquetoast. Instead, he’s believable, and that gives weight to the believability of the world. No small feat, because as the story progresses the nature of the curse and just what’s behind it becomes truly fantastical.

As Logan travels, he essentially finds himself leading a small group of people to the capital, and the more demons he kills the more about the world he and his compatriots recall. It’s clear that the seemingly low-fantasy gritty world the main character lives in has far more obfuscated than originally thought. It’s also interesting to see how what is essentially roughly two weeks of travel relates to an entire book’s worth of adventure. There’s a lot of wind-down with each day that allows Logan and those he finds himself with to share what they’re dealing with. There’s also a surprising amount of court drama, especially in regards to the town before the capital and how its fleeing nobility creates ample opportunities for Logan, at the cost of being used politically himself.

Logan is quite the skilled hunter, and at times he comes off as a lot more skilled than those around him. It would be easy to fall into a trope that he’s just better because he’s the main character, but care is taken to show that a lot of the struggles other groups and factions are facing are often less because they lack skill and more because of political incompetence or simply underestimating the demonic force. It doesn’t help that for the most part the creatures that haunt the night are particularly crafty, even if they aren’t always a significant threat until they band together. Those that prove themselves to be competent at handling the threat of the demons at large still have to struggle with a world that is increasingly facing starvation, citizens fleeing for what they perceive to be greener pastures, and their own greed. Logan succeeds then not just because he’s particularly skilled, but because many around him are falling to their own mistakes and ambitions.

I might complain that the story starts out rather slow, focusing on building a township that gets little attention after the second chapter, but in retrospect this also set the foundation for the main character’s morals and some of the decisions he made later. This story is also more adventure than action, which is a trait I personally enjoyed as I love travelling new worlds but could understand why others might find themselves impatiently waiting for the next action scene. The movement from Logan’s woman of interest Hariet to her conveniently located younger sister Riya warranted a quick eyebrow, but it worked so well for the story that the concern was quickly forgotten. The juxtaposition between the world’s different races and the fact that the curse of the world causes mankind to forget they exist creates some interesting scenarios, but if it weren’t for the way the main character handled them I’m not sure this would have felt as plausible.

The amount of sexual tension, and the few references to sex between characters that is fade-to-black, cements this story firmly in the higher age limit of the “Young Adult” category. The fact that the passion between characters isn’t explored more deeply might be a concern for some, but they’re likely in the minority. I’m reminded fondly of how author Zane Grey handled his sex scenes. In some ways, they might be considered simple or naive, but this actually works very favorably for the young character that is the focus of the story. The author acknowledges that the main character is a young man with desires and questions, and several of the women he comes across likewise feels the same, but the talk of such never drags the book down or steals the spotlight.

Overall, this was an exciting adventure, and I’m genuinely curious where the story continues. As of this writing, this book is the first of a Trilogy by Max Geek, the Young Adult pseudonym for acclaimed author Marcus Sloss. The audio book was narrated by Christian J. Gilliland, who is pretty well known in the narration scene and also has a few solid series of his own.

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