THE MAP OF ALL THINGS Sample Chapter 1

The second Terra Incognita novel comes out in a few weeks from Orbit Books.  I’ve added the first sample chapter, below.

Also, all preorders of the second Roswell Six/Terra Incognita rock CD have just shipped. You can still preorder your copy from   This CD tells a part of the story that isn’t in the novel.  Shawn Gordon (ProgRock Records) and I talk about the project at the Sea of Tranquillity website.

Orbit Books, June 2010

On the Map of All Things, each life is a kingdom

—Tales of the Traveler



Suspended in a rope cradle abeam of the vessel, a grizzled craftsman used mallet, chisel, and rasp to fashion the ornate lettering.  He followed charcoal lines drawn on the sanded surface, coaxing the ship’s name from the wood.

Dyscovera.  The word embodied everything that the magnificent new ship was meant to be, evoking the hopes pinned on her mission and her captain.

Criston Vora stood on the dock in Shipbuilders’ Bay, regarding the whole ship.  His ship.  Soon, she would sail across the unexplored seas to find the lost land of Terravitae.

Using hooks and a block-and-tackle, seasoned workers scurried up the shroud lines, stringing a cat’s-cradle of ropes to support the masts and spars.  From inside and outside the curved hull, caulkers hammered oakum between boards to prevent saltwater from leaking in; carpenters sanded and planed the golden wood that furnished the cabins, while painters and gilders added finishing touches to the exterior, making every detail as beautiful as possible—for Holy Joron.

Even under the bright sun, the late spring air remained crisp and cool.  Work progressed on the three-masted carrack, six years after hateful Urecari saboteurs had burned the new Arkship commissioned by King Korastine.  A few blackened hull timbers could still be seen at the bottom of Shipbuilders’ Bay, where the ruined exploration vessel had sunk.  But this new ship proved that hope was not gone, merely delayed.  This wasn’t the first time Criston Vora had resurrected hope from the ashes. . . .

The bare-chested Iborian shipwright, Kjelnar, walked up and down the deck, indifferent to the chill.  For a man who had grown up in the cold northern reach, this was a balmy day.  Waving to Criston on the dock, he yelled over the bustling noise of construction work.  “The fittings are ready, Captain!  The ice-dragon horn will have its home on the Dyscovera’s prow.”

Criston cupped his hands around his mouth and called back.  “Let’s hope your Iborian legends are as reliable as your craftsmanship.  We need all the protection we can get.”  The horn had originally been meant for Korastine’s first Arkship; fortunately, the relic had not been installed when the ship burned in the harbor.  Now, the horn would be kept under guard inside the main Aidenist kirk, until just before the Dyscovera sailed.

Feeling a tug on his sleeve, Criston looked down to see his young companion.  “Are we going aboard, sir?  I want to see what they’ve finished in your cabin since yesterday.”

Criston gave Javian an indulgent smile, feeling a bond with him.  He remembered when he was fourteen, excited to sail out on fishing boats with his father.  He would stare out to sea, imagining mysterious lands just beyond the horizon.  “You’ll have more than enough time to memorize every splinter and every knot in every deck board.  I suggest you spend your time on dry land while you can, take advantage of what Calay has to offer.”

But Javian could not take his eyes off of the ship.  “The sea has more to offer, sir.”

The young man had lost his mother in the last major gray fever epidemic that scoured the streets of Calay, and had run away from his desperate and abusive father.  Javian had told Criston how, since the age of ten, he had haunted the docks and eked out a living by doing odd jobs, begging afternoon scraps from fishmongers’ stalls.

The young man was curious, determined, and—most important of all—made himself useful.  During the Dyscovera’s construction, if one of the craftsmen grumbled about an unpleasant task, Javian bounded off to do it without being asked.  After observing him, Criston had offered to make Javian his personal cabin boy for the voyage.

So much like me, when I was his age . . .

It had been more than eighteen years since the Luminara sailed under Captain Andon Shay with similar dreams and determination.  Back then, Criston and his crewmates had gone beyond the boundaries of any known map . . . and he had lost everything.  Though he survived the shipwreck, his life was forever changed.  After many quiet years as a hermit, Criston had decided to face life again and return to the sea.  He’d been back among humanity for six years now, but he never stopped feeling alone.  His focus, his obsession, set him apart from others:  Criston was sure that the Luminara had been close, very close, to her sacred destination.  With the Dyscovera, he intended to go back and search again.

A hush drifted across the docks like an unexpected breeze.  A group of blue-uniformed royal guards escorted an old man in plush maroon robes.  King Korastine leaned on a carved walking stick, though he seemed embarrassed to be using it.  The king had closely watched the progress of the Dyscovera from the laying of the keel, to the setting of ribs and the mounting of hull planks.  Criston knew how badly Korastine wanted to sail away from Tierra.  Years ago, the king had planned to go aboard the new Arkship, along with Destrar Broeck, both of them hoping to find peace from the tragedies in their lives.  But that was not meant to be.

At Korastine’s side walked a smiling ten-year-old boy, blond-haired and thin-faced.  Equally fascinated by the ships in the harbor, Prince Tomas often joined his father in Shipbuilder’s Bay.  The boy’s pale hair and eyes reflected those of his Iborian mother, who had died when he was but four.

The king hobbled after his son, favoring his left knee.  In recent years, the gout had become so bad that he could barely walk, though he refused to be carried on a palanquin.  “What news today, Captain Vora?  Are we on schedule?”

Criston bowed formally.  “With Kjelnar as our shipwright, Majesty, of course we’re on schedule.”

Korastine ran his wistful gaze over the lines of the vessel.  With a forced smile, he patted his swollen leg.  “Much as I’d like to be part of your crew, Captain, I will stay here and await your reports.”

Prince Tomas took a step ahead of his father.  “I want to go along.”

Korastine smiled at him.  “I don’t doubt that would be more amusing than court functions, but the voyage will be too dangerous.  You have to stay here in Tierra, where it’s safe.”

Criston pulled his jacket tight as a cold breeze wove through the docks.  By sailing in early spring, the Dyscovera should have months of good weather to take them farther than any man had ever gone.  “We depart in three weeks, Sire, when the winds should be most favorable for a long westward voyage.”

Korastine caressed his beard.  “I have high hopes for you, Captain Vora.”  He squeezed Tomas’s shoulder, resting some of his weight on the boy.  “Find Holy Joron.  We need his aid in the crusade against the evil followers of Urec.”