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The Midnight Charter by David Whitley

The Midnight Charter

by David Whitley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Agora Trilogy (1)

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1211699,547 (3.25)7



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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
A fascinating look at the choices two children make in a world ruled by commerce. Great world building and a good read. Read my full review:

http://www.wandsandworlds.com/blog1/2009/08/book-review-midnight-charter.html ( )
  SheilaRuth | Aug 23, 2013 |
I finished this book, but I didn't much like it. I didn't like the characters, especially Mark. I didn't find the world particularly well-built, and I thought the ending was more than a little cheesy. I found the emotion addicts intriguing, and the storefront paved with little bits of colored glass is a lovely image that sticks with me. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Everything about THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER - the plot, the characters, and the setting - is engineered to deliver the author's anti-greed philosophy. It's simplistic, obvious, and exaggerated. As a result, the novel is no fun at all.

Marketing materials compare THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER to Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy. The comparison is pure wishful thinking. Pullman created a rich, varied world, and he drew on a very complex theology (with frequent excursions to the deep literary well of John Milton's PARADISE LOST). Whitley's book is thin gruel in comparison. There's no spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down - no whizzing spoon masquerading as an airplane heading for the hanger - just Whitley's dogged determination to tell us over and over again how brutal trade is, how antithetical to generosity and compassion, how inhumane.

I wasn't politically opposed to the message. I'd love to read a book that made the same point with more grace and subtlety. However, THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER has neither.

For anyone looking for something along these lines - a great book with a mildly industrial setting, maybe featuring an orphan - I suggest the MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO series by D.M. Cornish, starting with FOUNDLING. ( )
  MlleEhreen | Apr 3, 2013 |
Doubleday Canada, 05/10/2010 - Fiction - 336 pages
Agora is an insular city-state where anything can be bought and sold. Everything is a commodity; goods, services, people, thoughts, concepts and even emotions are bartered on the open market. It's an economy without money, where trade is the only way of life and debt is death. The successful elite rule, plague festers in the pitiless slums, and children are possessions until their twelfth birthdays. In the ancient tower of Count Stelli, the city's greatest astrologer, two children meet, both of whom have been sold into servitude. Mark is an emotional, imaginative boy who is sold by his father to the Count's grandson in return for medical treatment. The other child, Lily, is reserved and thoughtful; an orphan now owned by the Count. At first, threatened with being thrown out to die on the disease-ridden streets if they displease their masters, Mark and Lily's only goal is to work and survive. However, as they begin to understand that they can shape their own destinies, they each find their own path Mark within the system, angling for power and the security it brings; and Lily beyond it, determined to change the city forever. Unbeknownst to them both, however, Mark and Lily are watched by the mysterious ruler of Agora, the Director of Receipts, whose interest in the apparently insignificant pair is more than a passing one. .
  nicsreads | Feb 6, 2012 |
"Charity is nothing to do with buying the feeling of virtue; compassion is not something you can measure. It's there when we don't check that we're always getting the best deal, when we stop seeing others as traders or merchandise, and see them as people, as those who deserve to live. Charity knows that humanity is worth more than the market price."

The City of Agora is divided into districts, each named for a sign of the zodiac. Each district has it's distinct quality and nature, each one different from the one next to it. The people and the city are governed by one central government and director located within the city's glorious Directory of Receipts. Mark and Lily are two orphaned children growing up in this world where emotions are bottled and sold as drugs, where skills are traded, bartered, and exchanged as commodities, where the value of a human life is based solely on what they personally have to offer. Mark and Lily discover that being orphans is not the only thing they have in common and that the government is more connected to them than they had ever imagined. Together, they will uncover a secret that may threaten the very existence of the City of Agora, it's people, and the only place they've ever called home.

Reading this book felt like I was dropped off in the middle of nowhere and told to find my way to nowhere. It felt like reading the middle of a book, in the middle of a series, with no knowledge of the beginning and no clue of the ending. Halfway through the book I was so disoriented that I had to double check to ensure that I hadn't actually been reading the first book in the series. The most frustrating part of it all was that I really, really enjoyed the story since the concept was incredibly creative and intriguing, the characters interesting and fascinating, but I was left feeling very confused from the first to the last page. In the end, I really don't know what to make of the entire experience except that now I realized that I can like a book that seems to be missing context, I can get lost and still arrive, I can give a 2.5 star rating and still want to read the next book in the series. ( )
  jolerie | Sep 10, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Whitleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tomic, TomislavIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday. Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free. But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together? Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?
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"In the tower of Count Stelli in the ancient city-state of Agora, two children meet, apparently by chance. Mark has escaped the plague ravaging the city's slums. Lily is the servant who cares for him. At first, their only goal is survival: In Agora, everything can be bought and sold, debt is death, and Mark and Lily must barter their labor for their lives. Then comes an opportunity for them to exchange destinies: for Lily to escape the tower for the city outside, and for Mark to find refuge inside by taking a serving position with the Count. The exchange will set them on divergent paths: Mark's toward fame and fortune as an astrologer, Lily's as the founder of an almshouse for the city's poor and destitute. Yet their lives remain strangely intertwined, and it is Lily who will discover the role that each of them is destined to play in fulfilling the prophecy and challenge of the secret Midnight Charter devised by Agora's founders..."--dust cover flap.… (more)

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