Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sea Monsters: A Voyage Around the World's Most Beguiling Map


Today's post is on Sea Monsters: A Voyage Around the World's Most Beguiling Map by Joseph Nigg. It is 159 pages long including and index. The cover is a picture of the map that the book is about. The intended reader is someone who is interested in history, sea monsters, and maps. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. The story of the map is told in third person. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Smart phones and GPS give us many possible routes to navigate out daily commute, warn us of traffic problems and delays, and tell us where to find a cup of coffee. But what if there were sea serpents and giant man-eating lobsters waiting just off course if we were to lose our way? Would there be an app for that? In the sixteenth century, these and other monster were thought to swim the northern water, threatening seafarers who ventured too far from shore. Thankfully, Scandinavian mariners had Oluas Magnus, who in 1539 charted these fantastic marine animals in his influential map of the Nordic countries, the Carta Marina. In Sea Monsters, well-known exert on magical beast Joseph Niggs bring readers face-to-face with these creatures, alongside the other magnificent component of Magnus's map
Nearly two meters wide in total, the map’s nine wood-block panels comprise the largest and first realistic portrayal of Northern Europe. But in addition to these important geographic elements, Magnus’s map goes beyond cartography to scenes both domestic and mystic. Close to shore, Magnus shows humans interacting with common sea life—boats struggling to stay afloat, merchants trading, children swimming, and fisherman pulling lines. But from the offshore deeps rise some of the most magical and terrifying sea creatures imaginable at the time or thereafter—like sea swine, whales as large as islands, and the Kraken. In this book, Nigg provides a thorough tour of the map’s cartographic details, as well as a colorful look at its unusual pictorial and imaginative elements. He draws on Magnus’s own text to further describe and illuminate the inventive scenes and to flesh out the stories of the monsters.
Sea Monsters is a stunning tour of a world that still holds many secrets for us land dwellers, who will forever be fascinated by reports of giant squid and the real-life creatures of the deep that have proven to be as bizarre and otherworldly as we have imagined for centuries. It is a gorgeous guide for enthusiasts of maps, monsters, and the mythic.

Review- Very scholarly and at times that kills how much fun this book could be. Nigg knows his maps and his monsters but he really needs someone to better edit his work. This was not an easy book to read. When he was talking about the history of monsters it was okay but his writing style is just not very easy to read. I wanted to really get into this book and geek out over the beautiful map and the cool monsters but that was just not happening. That say if you have a more scholarly bend than I do you should really like this book. Nigg's research is good with notes and other references to help learn more about the map, monsters, and others maps in general. He just needed someone to help him edit his work for a more general reader.

I give this book a Three out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.