Sapphique || by: C. Fisher

Title: Sapphique
Author: Catherine Fisher
Pages: 462
Dessert: Ferrero Rocher- This book is bittersweet and irresistible, hard on the outside, and soft within.
Website: http://www.catherine-fisher.com/pages/books/sapphique/synopsis.asp

Official Summary: After his escape from the sentient prison, Incarceron, Finn finds that the Realm is not at all what he expected, and he does not know whether he is to be its king, how to free his imprisoned friends, or how to stop Incarceron's quest to be free of its own nature.

So what happened?:  Since a combined 910 pages from both books packs a lot of punch, I'll give you the gist of what's happening in non fantasy terms: Incarceron is a prison that is "alive" in a sense. It thinks, plots, and desires just like like any human, and watches the prisoners within itself through glowing red eyes. Inside the prison, is a teenage boy named Finn who believes that he was not created by the prison. Throughout the book Incarceron, he and several of his friends, Keiro, Attia, and Gildas strive to work their way through Incarceron's ever-changing chambers. Meanwhile, in a world outside the prison, exists a princess-to-be named Claudia. She is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and arranged to be married to a despicable and unmannerly prince. In order to slip out of a loveless marriage, she and her sickly tutor, Jared, devote themselves to unlocking Incarceron's secrets. Through two magic keys, both Finn and Claudia come in contact with each other. Little do they know, their worlds are closer than they seem. Eventually, Claudia discovers a way to enter the prison, but exiting is an entirely new dilemma. Once she arrives, her stay is short-lived, and even with both keys, she is only able to transport Finn and herself back to the outside world leaving Keiro and Attia behind to fend for themselves. Finn is now outside. He can see the stars and feel the warmth of the sun. But all is not well. Claudia has latched onto the idea that he is the lost prince, Giles, to whom she was first betrothed to at the young age of seven. Sapphique begins several months after Finn's arrival to the outside world. Attia is first seen performing a magic act with a crazed magician named Rix, who claims to own the enchanted glove used by Sapphique (a legendary man rumored to have escaped Incareron). Together, Keiro and Attia team up to steal the glove. But there's just one problem, Incarceron wants the glove too. Meanwhile, Finn is not much happier in the outside world than within the prison. He is overwhelmed with guilt for leaving his friends behind, and living up to the expectations of a prince are not easy. He has no recollection of his childhood, and the Queen of the kingdom wants him dead. During his coronation, an elaborate and princely figure halts the ceremony, claiming to be the real Prince Giles. He's the image of a perfect prince, and Finn and Claudia do everything in their power to convince the court that Finn is the true heir to the throne. As the story progresses numerous political plots take place, leaving the realm on the brink of civil war. Keiro and Attia fill up a few chapters with action-packed scenes and close encounters, but eventually wind up in the hands of Rix, who wants revenge. Threats are uttered, swords are raised, but in all this turmoil, Keiro's fluid speech unveils his destiny as Rix, the enchanter/illusionist/magician's apprentice. Back in the outside world, Claudia and Finn flee from the Queen's plans to execute them. Upon arriving home, both she and Finn work profusely to bring her father back from his self-imprisonment inside Incarceron. Accidentally, Claudia and Keiro switch places in both worlds, just as Incarceron is destroying itself. Finn is hopelessly lost, but with the help of Keiro, they are able to negotiate before war completely destroys them all. Inside Incarceron, the Warden, Claudia, Rix, and Attia are plotting against the prison itself. Incarceron's power grows imminent and unpredictable, thus sending waves of uncertainty and destruction to the outside world. However, Fisher has so cleverly incorporated the thread of a third story, Jared's. Claudia's loyal tutor has seen visions of Sapphique, and is convinced that with Sapphique's blessing and bestowed power, he will be able to put Incarceron back in place. All the while, Fisher expresses the theme "size is relative." It is discovered that the entire prison and it's vastness are smaller than the size of a sugar cube in the outside world. Everybody within Incarceron has been collapsed to the millionth of a nanometer. In the end, Jared realizes this, and enters Incarceron. The prisoner's believe that he is their fabled Sapphique who has come to free them. He later creates a door for Claudia and Attia to exit, but the Warden chooses to stay behind in the prison to help restore order.

My Review: Sapphique is the sequel to Catherine Fisher's Incarceron, however it's nearly impossible to understand this complex action-packed fantasy without first reading its predecessor. Fisher is nothing shy of a great fantasy writer, but if you're not patient enough to sit through a 462 page book and reread every other passage to understand the multiple twists, turns, and made-up fantasy words, Sapphique isn't going to be a breeze. Although I do like fantasy, it's quit difficult for me to understand at times, because the author has created a whole new world with unfamiliar terms and imaginative scenarios that are sometimes impossible to picture. This was the case with both Incarceron and Sapphique. I do, however, commend Fisher for her clever relations to science and mythology. I loved the incorporated physics and fairytales, even if they were only a loose rendition. Although this book isn't classified as Dystopian, I found that I was attracted to its dark and futuristic feel. Finn and Claudia's worlds are controlled by a series of rules known as "Protocol" which do not allow common folk access to technology, and they must live their lives according to the determined "Era," which in this case, is a cross between Medieval and Victorian times.This morning while finishing the book up, I wanted desperately to put it down in hopes of finishing some overdue chores. To my excitement, however, every chapter ended with an unexpected twist that manifested itself so cleverly, and I was compelled to move forward, chapter by chapter. Incarceron and Sapphique turned out to be much more brilliant on a scientific scale than I expected, and Fisher's descriptive writing style created a magical atmosphere. However, the ending felt somewhat lacking in a sense that I couldn't decide whether I was happy or sad for the characters. There was surprisingly no romance in the story, but the author portrayed fear, lust, and terror quite perfectly.


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