Friday, April 16, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

"The experiment will be a bold one and there may well be risks we have not foreseen. But Incarceron will be a system of great complexity and intelligence. There could be no kinder or more compassionate guardian for its inmates." - Chapter 3

Incarceron is prison, but unlike any prison you have ever heard of. It is a living complex of cells, cities and wilderness that is continually shifting. Only the Warden of Incarceron knows where the prison is located. Having been permanently sealed shut for over 160 years, legend has it that only one man has ever escaped. And Finn hopes to be number two.

Seventeen-year-old Finn the Starseer is a prisoner of Incarceron but doesn't remember his childhood. Everyone says he is a "cellborn" but Finn has flashs of a birthday cake and believes he is from Outside of Incarceron. Most of Incarceron's inmates don't believe there is an Outside. It is during an ambush on the Civicry that Finn plays captive to get them to stop. As they are trying to help Finn, a woman notices the mark of an eagle on Finn's wrist and says she has seen that mark before. Finn's interst is peaked and he takes the woman hostage to find out what more she knows. She has seen the same mark on a crystal. Finn takes possession of the crystal when it is offered as part of her ransom. He soon realizes it is a key. Finn, his oathbrother Keiro, Gildas a Sapient and a slave girl escape from their winglord in attempt to locate a door that Gildas has seen before that he thinks the key will unlock.

Claudia Arlexa is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron and the bride in an arranged marriage with the heir to the throne. The Earl of Steen is a young man who thinks he is beyond control but Claudia has been raised to reel him in somewhat even though she is disgusted by him. Caspar, the Earl, became heir to the throne after the death of his half brother Giles, whom Claudia was originally engaged to. With the help of her tutor, Jared, a Sapient, Claudia is determined to learn the mysteries of Incarceron and not marry Caspar. Upon breaking into her father's study, Claudia also discovers a matching crystal key. Soon Claudia and Finn realize that they can communicate with each other through the keys and Finn implores on Claudia to help him escape into the outside world.

This novel was suspenseful and keeps you on edge trying to figure out if Claudia's suspisions are right, if Finn gets out of Incarceron, does Claudia marry Caspar and what is going what the prison itself. Incarceron lives up to a quote from The Times, London on it's cover that states "One of the best fantasy novels written for a long time."

The sequel, Sapphique, is due out December 2010.

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