A while back I ran out of stuff to read – and even more surprisingly – mood to pick up any book It’s one of those things that rarely happens in our little geek lair, really! More often than not you’ll find us with our noses stuck on some pages like some kind of literary eating zombie even when the world is falling apart around us!
At that time Meki lent me a couple of her books that, at first (and also due to heavy work schedules at the time), didn’t catch my attention and sat there for some months untill I finally decided to give them a chance. For starters both the synopsis and the cover lead me to think that this was a somewhat mainstream and easy story (of course that there’s nothing wrong with those, there are plenty out there that I still like but it’s not always easy to go and pick one up) but, ladies and gents, I was wrong. The time old and proven “don’t judge a book by its cover” was right once again! But we’ll get to that in a while. First an introduction.
This fiction/dystopian story by Catherine Fisher, that first came out back in 2007, is divided in two volumes – Incarceron and Saphique – and quickly reached a best seller status – which is not something to brag about considering that nowadays it’s not that hard of a feature XP (Although I haven’t done it yet XPP).
As they say (whoever they are), let’s start from the beginning, that is, with a little review of Incarceron. Beware that the following text may contain spoilers!! You have been warned!
Synopsis: “Imagine a living prison so vast that it contains corridors and forests, cities and seas. Imagine a prisoner with no memory, who is sure he came from Outside, even though the prison has been sealed for centuries and only one man, half real, half legend, has ever escaped.
Imagine a girl in a manor house in a society where time has been forbidden, where everyone is held in a seventeenth century world run by computers, doomed to an arranged marriage that appalls her, tangled in an assassination plot she both dreads and desires.
One inside, one outside. But both imprisoned. Imagine a war that has hollowed the moon, seven skullrings that contain souls, a flying ship and a wall at the world’s end. Imagine the unimaginable.
And here’s its own little trailer
Originally, the creation of Incarceron was supposed to be both a way to take the bandits and social deviants from society and an experiment on how to create the perfect world, some kind of paradise on Earth. It was a vast machine-world, full of resources, with a mind of its own that was to be guided by enlighten men, with all their knowledge, to influence the weaker minds and accomplish Eden but something went wrong quickly and now, hundreds of years later, the prison is nothing more than a merciless world where the people inside must fight with their all everyday just to barely survive the cruel fate the omnipresent being that is Incarceron casts upon them. But some hope still remains among this chaos because, as legend goes, there was once one man, a profet/wise man named Saphique, that found a way to escape this hellish nightmare and since then, countless have tried to follow his footsteps – to no avail.
The story starts with Finn (no, not the stormtrooper XD), a young man who woke up in one the Incarceron cells without any memory from its past, even though he was already in his teens, with a weirdly shaped tattoo on his wrist and the conviction that he didn’t belong there. In order to survive he joined the “Comitatus” – a group of bandit raiders – getting hardened by their way of life and where he gets bound to his oath brother Keiro – even though he’s a flamboyant and arrogant guy that mainly seeks riches, power and that most wouldn’t trust, not only took care of Finn but also saves his life more than once.
At the same time, in the outside world, we follow the story of Claudia, the daughter of Incarceron’s Warden ( John Arlex) who set her up to marry the prince of the realm – something she despises, not only because the prince is a spoiled brat and the monarchy is corrupted and full of deadly and fake political games (well, no surprise there little miss XP) but also because the realm they live in has been encapsulated in a certain time period (like an 18th century european society) by a previous ruler to avoid any new war with super advanced and destructive technology – which also means stagnation and repetition without end. Soon after Claudia’s informed of the anticipation of her wedding date with the prince, a secret society named the Steel Wolves approach her trying to gain her support in a grim assassination plot – a meeting that also leads her, and her tutor Jared, to try not only to uncover a dark secret from the past involving the late prince, who was supposedly dead, Incarceron and change their static existence. Not a small feat!
And there comes a time in wich, after some struggles on their respective ends, both Finn and Claudia find ,by chance, a small crystal key that not only allows communication between them but also represents a tiny light of hope for their future.
Hopefully I didn’t gave much of the story away! If I did, I do apologise. Well, as for a final verdict, I think that Fisher does a pretty good job at world building, not dumping to huge amounts of details and background info but at the same time weaving a very good picture of what those worlds would look and feel like. Although the concept of utopia turned dystopia isn’t new – and to tell you the truth, there isn’t much of a break through in this books – it’s well achieved because she manages to keep a good pace in the plot with many twists and revelations that keep the story going fluently. The greater downside may be with the characters, that although well-built and with some evolution throughout, no doubt there, tend to fall in some classic stereotypes that are sometimes annoying.. but well, we must admit that running from some classic molds isn’t the easiest of things and that it worked fine nonetheless. If you have the time, Incarceron may stand as a fine choise.
I was going to do the second volume, “Saphique”, too but let’s leave the post as it is for now and I’ll do another one later!