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Relic Master Part 1 by Catherine Fisher
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Sometimes, it’s all about an escape from reality. A good book, like a good movie, does not need to have a deeper purpose or meaning. It does not need to bring up questions about life and existence and our purpose here.

Sometimes it can just be a fun ride through the tunnels of imagination.

And that is what I think of when I reflect on Relic Master, Part 1, which is actually two books combined into one volume: The Dark City and The Lost Heiress. Now, if you take a look at titles like The Dark City and The Lost Heiress, and you think you’re going to be diving into something with the depth of Schindler’s List, well … I don’t know what to tell you.

As for me, I did not expect much. And I got a fun ride out of it. Relic Master is the first in at least a 2-volume series about Galen Harn, a relic master, or keeper of ancient artifacts that hold extraordinary powers, and his 16-year-old pupil and apprentice, Raffi. In their world, Galen and Raffi used to be part of The Order, a type of government that has been destroyed and replaced by The Watch, evil warlords and soldiers who definitely form your prototypical military society. Galen and Raffi, always on the run from The Watch, whose main purpose seems to be destroying any remnants of the old Order, are searching for a way to restore Galen’s powers to him – powers he lost in an accident before the book’s opening – and, along the way, assimilate a crew of unusual sidekicks: first, the Sekoi, a cat-like creature with a penchant for gold and immersive storytelling, and second, Carys Arrin, a Watch soldier in training who was sent by her superiors to capture Galen.

Adventures abound as this unusual cotillion of heroes works their way towards the ancient city of Tasceron, where their world was founded and many relics belonging to their deities are rumored to lie hidden. And among the usual arrows, swords, and ambushes, the heroes have to fight against their own personal issues with trust, loyalty, and faith along the way.

As I said, a fun ride. I was especially impressed with Fisher’s imagination and her use of mystery. It is pretty obvious from the get-go that these relics Galen and Raffi are charged with protecting are old pieces of technology – at one point she describes a “device” that is surely a digital wrist watch – so while the premise of the story sounds like fantasy, there is a question: is this science fiction? Is Anara, the world in which Galen, Raffi, the Sekoi, and Carys inhabit, an off-shoot of Earth? And if so, what happened here? The characters refer to their gods as The Makers, and they believe the Makers created Anara and then left, taking the knowledge of creation with them. Hence the question of faith the characters all face in their own way: what do you believe about the reality of your world? Galen and Raffi believe the Makers are gods; Carys believes it’s all hogwash. And there are just enough crumbs dropped in this first volume to let you, as the reader know, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

If, as I suspect is the case, Anara is a colony established by humans in the years of super-advanced technology (in a time when chips and machines can be implanted in your brain that enhance your abilities and give you “powers”), then Fisher has done a superb job setting that up as the big reveal. And I think it is highly creative as well. Not a world that coincides alongside our own, as in the Harry Potter novels, but a world that exists long after our own and in such a way as to form its own mythology and reality around itself.

I love it! ( )
  parhamj | Nov 16, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142426873, Paperback)

It is a devastated world where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics possess 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 lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his 16-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be hunted, spied on, and 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.

 “A gritty and enjoyable tale of adventure, poised on the dividing line between science fiction and fantasy . . . Should easily please Fisher's fans, as well as those hungry for dystopian reading material.”—Publishers Weekly, on The Dark City

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:14 -0400)

The dark city. "Sixteen-year-old Raffi, Master Galen, and a mysterious traveler, Carys, enter the ruined city of Tasceron seeking a relic that may save the world, while evading the Watch, a brutal organization opposed to the Order to which Raffi and Galen belong"--Title page verso.The lost heiress. "Even though the city of Tasceron and its Emperor have fallen, when Master Galen and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi, hear a rumor that the heiress to the throne still lives, they must try to find her and keep her safe"--Title page verso.… (more)

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