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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms: Discover Mythical Lands, Lost Cities and Vanished Islands

Atlantis? You betcha. King Arthur’s elusive pad, the castle of Camelot? Yep! El Dorado, the South American city of gold? Sure thing! The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but of which no remains have ever been found? It’s here.

But beyond the popular and well-known, An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms has swooped up a bountiful swag of legends from all corners of the globe to pique your child’s curiosity. How about a historical city half-buried in the sands of the Kalahari desert? Or Scholomance, a school of black magic which lay deep in the underground caverns of Transylvannia? Ife Ife, the Nigerian city which, according to the Yoruba people of West Africa, is the place where all human life began? The Isle of Demons off the coast of Canada, allegedly haunted by the ghosts of drowned sailors and where a French noblewoman was left to die by her uncle, who feared her affair with a crewmember would stain the family name?

There are places that are real (the city of Troy; Carthage, the once-great rival of Rome), places that are pure fiction (starving peasants in mediaeval Europe sustained themselves with fantasies of Cockaigne, where houses were built from cakes, lollies grew on trees and fountains overflowed with chocolate), and places somewhere in between (such as Hawaiki, the original homeland of the Māori’s seafaring ancestors and, according to Māori mythology, the home of the gods and the site where humans were created, and where souls travel to when they die).

You’d be surprised: turns out Atlantis is just one of several legends worldwide featuring a sunken city. In the east of China lies the closest thing the world has to a bonafide sunken city: Shi Cheng (Lion City), whose stone walls date back to the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century. The city had been flooded in 1959 for the creation of a hydroelectric dam; now it is a spectacular scuba attraction.

Lavish illustrations that will spark your child’s imagination cover this quality hard cover book from tip to toe; even the end papers are super stylish. A beautiful gift book to be pored over and passed down the whānau.

Reviewer: Stacey Anyan

Allen & Unwin


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