I believe I have written before about my habit of rereading a series from my childhood each July. Two years ago, I did all the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce. Last year, I did Percy Jackson. Each time I reread a series, I find new insights into the characters that I missed as a kid, foreshadowing that I didn’t notice because I didn’t know the end, and allusions and illusions that I didn’t have context for. I also get a jolt of pure joy, as rereading brings all the love I had for these books when I was a kid to the surface.
I’ve extolled on the value of rereading a lot, so I won’t go over my arguments again.
This July, I’m rereading one of my absolute favorite series from junior high: The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, by James A. Owen. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but this seven-book adventure it worth it. It’s got all my favorite things, from ships with sails to literary allusions, from Greek mythology to time travel. While it may be a little dated in terms of diversity, this series got me through high school by being complex, creative, and optimistic. That’s not to say bad things don’t happen–there are betrayals and dramatic deaths, mistakes and unexpected danger. But there’s a comfort to these books, a sense that everything will turn out all right in the end that makes them perfect to curl up with in a hammock on a hot summer day. You get swept into the adventure, but with every assurance that you’ll come home at the end.
The first book, Here, There Be Dragons, introduces us to the world of the Archipelago of Dreams, and our heroes–John, Jack, and Charles–who must protect it from the Shadow King. Fans of Lord of the Rings and Narnia will recognize some familiar faces in John and Jack–Tolkien and Lewis–and their Inkling friend Charles. These scholars are appointed protectors of a magical atlas (the titular Geographica) that holds the secrets of all the imaginary lands ever dreamed up by every author in literary canon. They visit Avalon and Neverland, Atlantis and Xanadu over the course of their adventures in the next six books. Eagle-eyed readers will spot characters from A Tale of Two Cities, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, A Thousand Nights, and more classics alongside the authors of these works and more. Said authors make up the society of atlas protectors who are up against a shadowy organization of other authors and characters who are trying to expose secrets that need to stay buried…
Adventure leads the way through time travel and alternate dimensions, the stakes growing ever higher as the Archipelago becomes unmoored from time and John, Jack, and Charles must confront their own mistakes to save the imagination of the world.
The series is full of magic and myth, the power of stories and those who tell them. It’s a complicated interweaving of truth and fiction, braided with the intricacies of time and reality. It’s engaging and fun, and hunting down all the allusions fills my English-major heart with joy. But even if you don’t know anything about the Green Knight or Excalibur or HG Wells’ time machine, there is still so much to love about these books, from sweeping battles to dragon riddles, from airships to pirate boardings, from shadow magic to sphinxes. It’s a wonderful mishmash of all kinds of fantasy and mythology rolled into one epic adventure.
It’s one of my favorite series of all time, and James is one of my favorite humans on this earth–a kinder soul you’ve never met–and the seventh book is perhaps the most satisfying end to a long series that I’ve ever encountered. It’s hard not to love these books, and I sincerely hope you’ll give them a try!
You can purchase Here, There Be Dragons, book one of the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica online, or call the store between 10 and 2pm to order a copy!