VOYA - Walter Hogan
Fisher, author of the best-selling Incarceron (Dial, 2010/VOYA February 2010) and its sequel, Sapphique (Dial, 2011/VOYA December, 2010), published The Book of the Crow quartet in the U.K. between 1998 and 2001. The series is just now becoming available in the U.S, retitled Relic Master. All four volumes are being issued during the summer of 2011. The reverse of each volume's dust wrapper features a large, colorful map of one-quarter of the Relic Master terrain, to encourage readers to collect all four books. Fisher excels in the creation of rich secondary worlds. Here, her swords-and-sorcery setting is Anara, a world which has fallen into darkness and fear following the overthrow of an enlightened emperor. A brutal regime now employs the dreaded Watch to maintain absolute control while attempting to root out all traces of the Makers, ancient builders of the great civilization now lying in ruins. In The Lost Heiress, Book 2, Galen and Raffi begin a new quest, this time to locate the Interrex, rumored to be the surviving granddaughter of the late, deposed emperor. In The Dark City, Book 1, the pair achieved some success against the regime's secret police, the Watch; however, they remain fugitives, and they will have to use all their wits and magic to find the Interrex, rescue her from the Watch, and bring her to the last Keeper refuge on the hidden isle of Sarres. Colorful secondary characters, including the greedy dwarf Alberic, the catlike Sekoi, and the conflicted Watchspy Carys continue to enliven the adventure. Like Incarceron and Sapphique, the Relic Master series is set in a grim, dark, medieval world, connected by a portal to a more advanced civilization. Other similarities include a deep, Tolkien-esque back history, and third person narration from multiple viewpoints. The main difference between these two fantasy epics is that Relic Master is more approachable for young readers, without the philosophical complexities generated by Fisher's sentient prison-world, Incarceron. The Relic Master quartet will please fantasy lovers of both sexes, from middle school up. (Relic Master) Reviewer: Walter Hogan
Children's Literature - Lisette Baez
An exciting mythical tale is revealed in book two of the "Relic Master" series. Tasceron and its emperor have fallen but it is believed that the heiress of the royal throne is still alive. If this promising rumor rings true her life is still in grave danger because she is the only one with the ability to end the Watch's tyrannical rule over Tasceron. Raffi and Galen once again must embark upon a dangerous journey in hopes of finding and protecting the heiress. Time is not on their side, for they must find the heiress before the Watch does. Accompanied by Carys, a former Watchspy, Raffi and Galen face the major dilemma of whether or not to trust her to help them find the heiress. Will Carys turn on them and share her findings with the Watch? Readers will be enthralled by the suspense and exciting elements of fantasy. The novel is divided into several parts to reflect the plot of the story. Each section begins with a brief statement to foreshadow what is to come. The unique book jacket further lends itself to the intrigue of the series. The reader can collect each jacket to create the map of Anara which continues to bring the story to life for the reader. Reviewer: Lisette Baez
Character development trumps story advancement in this second entry of a fantasy tetralogy.
Surly Relicmaster Galen and his naive apprentice Raffi have escaped from the Watch with the message that the "Makers" (ancient space settlers, worshipped by the Order as gods) have promised to return. Rumors of an heir to the murdered Emperor lead the pair, along with their alien Sekoi companion, to follow mystical clues through the dreary Unfinished Lands, with old friends and foes alike in pursuit. This quest merely forms the plot framework; the heart of the tale lies in the struggles of Carys Arrin, the clever, cynical, maybe-friendly Watchspy. Along with Galen and Raffi's searches, her explorations of the ancient palace co-opted by the Watch allow Fisher to indulge her flair for fantastical worldbuilding, hinting at a rich imaginary history and the dark secrets behind its corruption. Meanwhile, Carys' inner conflicts between curiosity, duty and loyalty provide a parallel journey into the price of personal integrity. These separate plot threads intertwine in a satisfying climax, posing puzzles to keep readers ensnared while providing pleasing narrative momentum to the overall series.
A sturdy, above-average adventure tale with flashes of brilliance. (Fantasy. 11-16)