Mara is called up when an ancient and potentially history-changing map is stolen from an archeological dig site in China. She takes a trip to China and meets up with Ben, the site manager of the dig to determine what she's gotten herself into. She learns that Ben has found a map of Chinese origin that indicates the Chinese were the first sail around the world, rather than the Portuguese. She sets off with Ben and chases the map around the world.
Meanwhile, we also learn of the mapmaker's fate back in the 1400's. How he was separated from his love to serve his admiral, sailed around the world, and then came home but not as the hero he expected to be. We also learn about a Portuguese navigator who learns of his country's lies of discovering the world first and how he deals with it.
This book gives you insight into map making and navigation in the early 1400 and 1500's. While the idea behind the book is quite interesting, I found the characters pretty weak. Mara seemed distant and weak to me, and Ben seemed like too much of a pushover without much spirit. Furthermore, the first 50 pages or so continuously mentioned a "Chrysalis" case. I haven't read Terrell's previous book though, so I had no idea what happened in that case. All the references to the case without explaining what happened only confused me. I'm not sure if I would read another book with Mara as the main character, but I would consider reading another Terrell book.
First Line: "The Mongolian steppes thunder as three hundred thousand horses charge across the plains."