Day of the Scarab: The Oracle Prophecies by Catherine Fisher. Library copy. 2006. Sequel to The Sphere of Secrets.
The Plot: The conclusion of the Oracle Prophecies. Yes, best read in order. A world with gods, where those in control stopped believing. But it turns out the gods and the myths are real; and a handful of people, including a young priestess, a scribe, and a thief, are chosen by the god to fix things.
The road trip of the last book ends, bringing everyone back together. But the political power remains with Argelin, and Mirany, Seth, and the others must both work against Argelin yet also protect their country from invaders.
The Good: I really despise bad fantasy. Because they take all that is good with fantasy and twist it. It's like cheap chocolate, or a cupcake that tastes like sawdust. But then, when you have the real thing....ah, joy.
There is a prophetic poem. Which in bad fantasy is the kiss of death; but here, is worth repeating in whole. Because it works very well. Because this is a GREAT fantasy.
The first gate of skulls
The second gate of ashes
The third gate of the devouring hunger
The fourth gate of the crooked sword
The fifth gate of the triple faced dog
The sixth gate of the punishments
The seventh gate of the crocodile
The eighth gate of the balanced scales
The ninth gate of the reborn sun
The gates? Why the gates of the Underworld. As these books show over and over: being chosen by the gods is not an easy path, and not a blessing.
Some more quotes I like:
"Be careful among the mortals, Bright One. They will steal your innocence away."
"But they are my dream, and my adventures, lady."
It's a bit weird writing up something for a third book; on the one hand, if you've read the other 2, you are breathless and eager to read this one. On the other hand, if you haven't, what I want to say is this: Here is a brilliantly plotted fantasy, tightly told, over three volumes. It is worth your investment to go, read the first, and continue thru all three. This final book has a wonderful conclusion.; it addresses the main issues raised in the trilogy (restoration of the Oracle, threats of rebellion, the preservation of religions) yet does not answer every question.
OK, now that I've addressed those who haven't read the books, the rest of this is for those who have.
True confessions: I love, love, love Argelin and Hermia, the villains of the work. That this couple is drawn in such a nuanced fashion, that some sympathy exists, that they are shown in full tragedy, is brilliant writing. And, having watched Rome on DVD, I totally picture James Purefoy as Argelin.
While there is a firm conclusion, am I hoping too much when I say, I would love another book set in this world?
Mirany in the Underworld? Girlfriend finally gets some adventure! Go girl, especially after the boys left her behind last time. I have to say, Mirany sitting at home bothered me in the last book, even tho she had her hands full with intrigue.