Saturday, May 14, 2011

Early Review: The Dark City (Relic Master #1) by Catherine Fisher (ARC)

Book: The Dark City (Relic Master #1) by Catherine Fisher
Release Date: 17 May 2011
Publisher: Dial
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Summary: Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it.
Note: Please note that I received this book for free from the publisher via librarything's early reviewers program for the purpose of an honest review. I did not receive monetary compensation for my review and receiving this book in no way affected my opinion or how it was expressed in my review.

Review: The Watch still hunts the Order, a group trained to protect and use relics filled with ancient powers. Galen, desperate and angry, and his young apprentice, Raffi, are making their way towards certain danger. There's been a rumor of a relic in a small village that's frightening the people and they need to secure it before the Watch does. Both keeper and apprentice are concerned it's a trap, however, but the possibility of a relic in the wrong hands is enough to drive them forward. And such begins Galen and Raffi's journey away from what little safety they've maintained. Soon they'll find themselves journeying towards The Wounded City in hopes of returning an even more precious treasure to the Order before the Watch gets their hands on it.
Fisher is an amazing storyteller. Once I got into The Dark City, I literally didn't put the book down once. The story was unique and action packed. The characters' troubles and hardships become your own, I really enjoyed this since it's rare to find such a connection with a middle grade book. World building is what Fisher is truly a master at though. I was in awe of the places she created, each one more unique and stunning than the last. The book isn't packed with detail, which might bore a young reader, but each city, village and swamp is painted so clearly that you're there with the characters.
I enjoyed the way The Dark City was told, from a third POV with our heroes as well as Carys Arrin's first POV journal. I thought it was very clever considering Carys is a young agent of the Watch. I became so immersed in both stories and quickly found good and evil becoming unclear.
It was impossible for me not to compare The Dark City to beloved classics like The Lord of the Rings, the Prydain Chronicles and the Dark is Rising series. All of them contain an old world fantasy and charm as well as that fateful journey for the greater good. I found myself relating it to a young version The Lord of the Rings the most. Galen was very Gandolf-y to me, the overall fantasy world similarities and the relics reminded me of the rings, dangerous but necessary. The Dark City isn't the same caliber as those favorites but it isn't any less entertaining.
The ending was phenomenal. I'm always hesitant when starting series that don't have the following books out for purchase because endings are often abrupt or riddled with cliff-hangers to encourage one to buy the next book. Not only was was the end of The Dark City ridiculously amazing, but it also completed the storyline arc. I will continue reading the series, can't wait for book two!, but I'm very happy with where the plot is currently at.

Quotes & Thoughts as I Read:
  • Galen laughed sourly. A sudden spark lit his face, twisted with pain. “I used to know when people lied to me, Raffi. If only they knew!” He glanced across. “We both go. Someone has to deal with this relic.” Uneasy, Raffi shook his head. “There may be no relic.” Galen spat into the fire. “What do I care,” he said softly. Sounds like this conversation will come back to haunt Raffi. Not really caring for Galen's character right now.
  • “Oh no,” he said softy, watching the Relic Master. “Oh no, my pet, he's a deeper one than that. Very deep. I think he knew what he was coming into all along. I think he knew very well...” Alberic reminds me of someone and I can't for the life think of who. It's driving me crazy. I want to say Filch from HP but I don't think so, someone like that though.
  • All his life Raffi had heard about the burning city, the city of the Makers, far to the west. It was vast, a web of a million streets, alleys, bridges, ruins. No one knew half of Tasceron; no one was sure who had built it or when, or what most of the structures were for, the immense marble halls, the squares with their dry fountains. Under the city were said to be tunnels, buried rooms, untold secrets. It was where the palace of the Emperor had been, and the temple of the great relics, and most of all, the House of Trees. I'm intrigued. Fisher needs to come up with a new naming scheme though... Tasceron seems oddly similar to Incarceron.
  • And according to what I've heard, Alberic's tower is a nest of cutthroats, poachers, thieves, renegades. People come and go there all the time, with no real rules except Alerbic's orders. Maybe no one will notice one more vagabond. Especially if she is a girl. Totally didn't expect that. How often do books, middle grade, YA or adult, have a female villain? Not often. I bet she switches sides just to ruin my 'yay for naughty women' moment.
  • Galen scowled. He wrapped the ball back in the waxed cloth and, picking the letter up, read it again. Then he crushed it in his strong grip. Fragments of desiccated parchment gusted in the river breeze. “Dead,” he said softly. “Like all of them.” What a little ray of sunshine. He's growing on me though.
  • “Why don't you come up,” Galen said grimly, “and see us from a little closer.” A dim shape was down there just beneath them, crouching on the dark turf. Wow, they just can't catch a break, can they? This scene has been my favorite thus far, really enjoyed the fantasy elements.
  • All right. The real reason I'm writing is that I can't sleep. Why did she have to say that, about those children? Did I come from a village like this? Was my mother distracted with grief? I always thought before, that Watch-children were orphans... I never thought... Blah, I didn't want to become attached to her. I'm finding it hard not to though.
  • Galen's yell made her drop. With a whistle of stinking breath the thing swooped over her, its call eerie and wild. Rolling, she jabbed a bolt into the bow. The thing flew back, its claws raked her face; she kicked aside and fired. The creature shrieked, a blot of darkness against the gloom. Oh! I love unknown/mysterious creatures. I really like how they're being used so far.
  • “Not dizzy?” He shook his head. “Though I would be if I could see the ground.” “Ah.” The creature leaned out and looked down. “So even Darkness has its uses. Worthy of your litany, that idea.” It glanced back at Galen. “I wonder if that's true of all darkness.” I really hope the Sekoi sticks around for the rest of the book, I adore him. He reminds me of a sphinx with all the riddles and half truths.
*all quotes are taken from an ARC copy of the novel and may not reflect the finished version

Rating: 4½ Bites
Series Trailer


  1. I love Catherine Fishers writing and can't wait to read this series! So happy to see only good reviews so far :)

  2. @Candace
    I haven't read her Incarceron series yet. I'm really excited to though because I loved this book. I'm so glad that the whole Relic Master series is coming out this summer.

  3. i ahve not read this one but i love t he cover and then the information
    on t he book

    desi the blonde at msn dot com


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