Here's a recipe for a novel I simply loved:
1. Start with a unique and powerful idea: instead of making maps to follow the changes in the way the world is, the cartographers in this sensitive novel reverse the process. They change the world by making new maps of the way it will be.
2. Add a title character who is beautiful, intelligent, and caring—but young and inexperienced, without any real understanding of the cartographic powers born into her.
3. Mix thoroughly with her ambitious young fisherman boyfriend, against the status-striving wishes of her wealthy but cowardly uncle-guardian.
4. Add an explosive combination of arrogant bastard prince and humble outcast alchemist.
5. Place all these ingredients in the richly drawn crucible of Lagos, Portugal, in the Year of our Lord 1432.
6. Season with a dangerous voyage of exploration, and illiterate angry crowd of peasants, a crusade, a plague, and power that redraws the map of the world and remakes the world to fit the map.
7. Finally serve up with lush but accurate prose, to make an unforgettable literary meal, so delicious I couldn't leave the table until I had savored every bite.
In short, I believe you will cherish and remember this scrumptious book.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)