Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher


Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside.

Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment?

And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don't even know who you are?

Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world?

Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique.

*

This is the sequal to Incarceron, which I loved - but then, I love most things Catherine Fisher writes, so that's no big surprise. This is a true 'can't put down' put, with a plot so engrossing and intricate I still felt surprised the second time I read it. The world she's created is detailed and beautifully described. Nothing is quite what it seems, and that includes the characters. As always with Catherine Fisher, even the good guys are deeply flawed and approaching ambiguous. But that's why I love them.

Finn was my favourite, with his mix of morality and deceptiveness. He cared deeply for Keiro, and possibly Claudia, but didn't let that stand in his way from trying to manipulate the two of them. Claudia was ambitious and cunning, plotting and scheming, but redeemed by the love she had for her tutor, and by the fact that her plots served others as much as herself. Keiro spent most of the book believing he'd been betrayed, but even so, I never felt sure how much of his hurt came from the betrayal of a friend, and how much came from jealousy of someone who'd 'escaped' while he remained trapped.

I couldn't honestly see how she would be able to end this happily, and while the ending probably couldn't be described as happy, it wrapped up the plot in a way that felt believable and hopeful (and in a way that satisfied my socialist tendencies).

This is serious fantasy, exciting and original, and unafraid to shine a light on the darker side of human nature. Catherine Fisher is possibly my favourite ya fantasy author, and Incarceron and Sapphique just cements that position.

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