Sapphique by Catherine Fisher


“’I spent whole lifetimes searching. I forgot my family, my home; I gave blood, tears, a finger. I made myself wings and I flew so high, the sky struck me down. I fell so far into the dark that there seemed no ending to the abyss. And yet in the end, there it was, a tiny plain door in the Prison’s heart. The emergency exit. Right there all the time.’”

Sapphique is the sequel to Incarceron. What I can’t wrap my head around is that the book feels like it was written by a completely different author. Nearly everything is better than the previous one: Plot, tension, characters, twists, writing.

Sapphiqe takes place about a month after Incarceron leaves off. In that short span of time, somehow the characters changed and actually grew likeable. The book starts off with Attia running through some derelict hovel in the Prison, searching for something or somebody. She manages to stumble across a magician, the Dark Enchanter, and ends up in his act. Then we flip forward a chapter, past the moodiness of Finn and the controlling “daddy-issues” of Claudia, to find that the whole thing, all the illusions, were a set-up. Thus begins the rollercoaster of pacing.

Tension is knocked up to eleven. As the reader, you are constantly left wondering what will happen next. It wasn’t like in Incarceron where I could figure out some major plot twists early on; No, usually at the end of each part (there’s five parts) Fisher would throw some crazy twist at me that would push my curiosity and the plot forward.

Writing improved some. Barely any adverbs were mentioned. There were a few repeated words, done over many times to become annoying in the span of a single chapter. And if I ever see “He smiled, wan,” again, I might poke my eyes out. Nothing major, though.

Plot wise, this wasn’t about Finn’s escape and Claudia not wanting to marry the horrible Caspar. Instead, the story was about Keiro and Attia trying to escape and Claudia wishing to put Finn on the throne so she could marry him. What’s funny is that I didn’t notice the similarities until after I finished the book. Stuff’s different.

Unlike the first escape where they were meandering along following the trail of some half-god which might not exist, Keiro and Attia take their escape by the horns. And instead of Claudia whining about Caspar and his wretched lifestyle, Finn would actually do stuff, stuff Claudia told him to do that worked.

Characters played off of each other. It showed great writing. This biggest compliment I can give Fisher is her improvement upon the character Finn. In Incarceron, I grew flustered because Finn was made out as a liar who used that skill to survive. Only once did he ever lie in the first book. In Sapphique, it’s as if he took Fisher’s advice. Major plot twists pivoted around his lies. I loved it.

While I hated Gildas, the Sapient helping Finn in the first book, Jared was great to be with. He was a dying scholar just trying to help his lifelong friend, Claudia. My favorite scene had to be when Jared stops at the pond from sheer exhaustion, racing back to save the Realm. There at the pond, Sapphique (or a hallucination) talks to him. Words can’t describe the sheer philosophy in that conversation.

Sapphique raises the question that’s been boggoling me for the past two books.

“’Tell me, Master, did you know Incarceron was tiny?’

‘Is it? . . . To you, perhaps. Not to its Prisoners. Every prison is a universe for its inmates. And think, Jared Sapiens. Might not the Realm also be tiny, swinging from the watch chain of some being in a world even vaster? Escape is not enough; it does not answer the questions. It is not Freedom.'”

Rating: 8/10

One thought on “Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

  1. Freedom is a matter of perspective, a matter of looking to the sky and asking, how high does the ceiling extend? Autonomy for autonomy’s sake is not freedom, after all we are still answerable to our actions.

    As our probings into the universe continue, I am reminded of the quote at the very end of the Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle – “Do we wish to remain a big people in a tiny world or to become a little people in a vaster world?”

    Philosophical ramblings aside, I’m intrigued by these books. I’d heard of Incarceron before and made a mental note to add it to my books. Perhaps I shall have to make that note physical. 😛

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