I stopped studying geography when I was 14, because I found it cripplingly boring. It doesn't matter how it's presented, I just can't raise any interest whatsoever. But I recognise that I'm in a minority, and as with all subjects, I'm glad that there are people who do find it interesting, for the benefit of mankind as a whole.
My problem with this book is that it's a geography textbook. It's "real-world". It explains tectonics and biomes and populations and other real-world concepts, and plays on creating a world which doesn't rely on magic to sustain it.
My fantasy setting contains two huge islands, with a lethally violent strait between them and jagged, dead mountains on the coasts. That's because they were formed by having one bigger island torn apart by two squabbling god-children. North is forever seperated from south, at least until the apocalypse, when the two masses will once again be thrust together, and two mirror-image cultures which have been seperated for thousands of years will meet once again.
That's fantasy. Bugger tectonics.
I will say, in this book's favour, that it is well written and engaging. The ongoing story, presented as interludes between the "learning" chapters, is nicely done and give the book a raison d'etre. And if you are building a fantasy world where consistency is important, it will be a brilliant learning aid.
Lastly, I'll pick up one point. Somewhere in chapter one, we read:
"Although magic is an important part of every world, magic shouldn?t be used to explain how a river flows over a mountain, except in very special circumstances."
Damn right! Fantasy is the special circumstance. I'm going to put a river that flows up the side of a mountain in my setting right now, because it's cool magic. So, thankyou Expeditious Retreat Press, for that alone, even if I can't love the rest of the book.
I'm also giving this book a good rating, because it is well written and informative, and it will be useful to a lot of people.
VALUE: Very Satisfied