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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good close to a strong YA series not quite rich enough for adults
The Margrave is the fourth and final book of Catherine Fisher's Relic Master. The series as a whole is a bit thin on worldbuilding, emotional depth, and secondary characterization, but save for a minor drop-off in book two, it is a smoothly exciting read and The Margrave brings it to a satisfyingly strong conclusion.

As in the previous books, the story is...
Published on August 16, 2011 by B. Capossere

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More like an outline for a good story rather than a good story
This review is more for the entire Relic Master series rather than the single book, The Margrave...although Book 4 is not nearly the best book of the series.

This series was frustrating to me. When I saw that it had a unique mix of metaphysical "higher consciousness" elements mixed with earthen, pagan magic along with medieval components, I was thrilled. I...
Published on August 26, 2011 by SpirituallySpeaking


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good close to a strong YA series not quite rich enough for adults, August 16, 2011
This review is from: The Margrave #4 (Relic Master) (Hardcover)
The Margrave is the fourth and final book of Catherine Fisher's Relic Master. The series as a whole is a bit thin on worldbuilding, emotional depth, and secondary characterization, but save for a minor drop-off in book two, it is a smoothly exciting read and The Margrave brings it to a satisfyingly strong conclusion.

As in the previous books, the story is split between Raffi's experiences and Carys. It begins with a bang as Carys is captured by the Watch at the very beginning. She is quickly brought to the attention of two higher-ups--the castellan Maris Scala and her lover Quist. The two of them decide to escort Carys to the Pits of Maar--the darkest center of the Watch where the Margrave is rumored to live and command the brutal group. Galen, Raffi, the Sekoi soon follow after to try and rescue her, joined eventually by Alberic the thief war-lord from earlier books. Along the way Raffi learns the Margrave is actively seeking him and by the end of the novel, it should come as no surprise that the two come together. Between Carys' capture and that meeting, there are battles to be fought, castles to be stormed, alliances to be made and broken, faiths and loyalties to be tested and truths--some painful--to be learned about the planet Anara's past and the history of its Makers. And nearly all the characters are forced to make difficult ethical/moral decisions.

The pacing is quite strong throughout; the action is quick and exciting, the slower parts interesting due to revelations of character or resolutions of past mysteries, and Fisher moves between the two smoothly, knowing just when to cut short a battle scene or move us out of the quieter, slower moments.

As has been the case throughout the entire series, The Margrave shines when the focus is on Carys. It's true that Fisher could be accused of playing the "whose side is she really on" card a bit too often in the series, but it works so it's hard to complain about it. Having appeared in the first book already strong and independent, her development has been choosing a side. Here, that aspect of her character mostly taken care of, we get to see her develop in other ways, watching her growing relationship (at a distance) with the characters she has fallen in with. Galen, who started to break out of his one-note characterization in book three, The Coronet, continues to develop as a more complicated, more self-aware character, as does the Sekoi who along with Carys is my favorite character in the series. The return of Alberic was a welcome choice; I missed his acerbic nature and dialog when he went missing from the books and he adds a funny and sharp edge here. Quist and Scala are a bit sketchy, but they do a nice job of representing two possible paths for the Watch. Raffi, though he does much, much more in this novel, remains the frightened passive character he has been throughout, almost always reacting rather than acting. His growth by the end is welcome, if a bit abrupt, though as I mentioned in my review of The Coronet, I do kind of like being shown a frightened young boy who, very realistically, stays mostly a frightened young boy from a small village rather than bravely shoulder his responsibilities (and magical sword) to head off and save the world after the requisite single scene where he protests he isn't all that brave. I've complained about his role before, but now that I've finished, I think I'll actually give Fisher credit, whether my reading was her intent or not.

The title character, however, is a much more richly complex character. I can't say much about him without spoiling the ending, but he gives the series a darker, more mature tone and storyline, making a good book even stronger in its last few chapters.

As mentioned in previous reviews, the worldbuilding, such as it is, is thin; I wouldn't have minded a bit more detail in the settings, especially as the glimpses we're given are so evocative. But for a YA novel, it's certainly sufficient. Some of the plot points are settled a bit too easily, some of the darker questions or acts of the past--nicely handled throughout the book--are glossed a bit too easily at the very end. And we do learn a lot about the Makers via stretches of monologue, but it's hard to see how that could have been avoided.

All these are relatively minor complaints, however, and several of them can be explained away by the fact that it is a YA series, and one that isn't demanding a multi-month commitment to get through. Younger YA readers--ages 10-13 will probably happily speed right through the series. Older readers may note the lack of rich detail and have some issues with thin plotting or characterization or wish for a bit more interpersonal intensity, but still find it to be a captivating ride that ends in The Margrave with a richer, more sophisticated emotional complexity that had been lacking somewhat in the prior books. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book for those looking for adventure or escape, August 31, 2011
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This review is from: The Margrave #4 (Relic Master) (Hardcover)
Raffi is preparing for the Deep Journey: his initiation from scholar to keeper. Worried that he will disappoint Galen, his harsh master, Raffi knows that failing the Deep Journey could mean madness or even death. But Galen is insistent that the attempt be made as soon as possible. The Watch is building a wall to try to keep out the chaos and disorder of the Unfinished Lands. Villages are raided to keep their project supplied with workers. Their companion Carys --- a former Watch spy --- disappears during such a raid, and the group isn't sure if she will be able to stand up to Watch torture methods, or if she is loyal to their cause. But Raffi fears that they are being hunted by something worse than the Watch. When he dreams, he sees the twisted visage of the Margrave, one of the Maker's failed experiments --- a creation of pure evil. And this time, Raffi is certain that the Margrave is coming for him.

THE MARGRAVE is the startling conclusion to Catherine Fisher's Relic Master series. When Raffi disappears after an attempt at the Deep Journey, Galen must confront the outcome of his own fanatical faith. Carys has to decide once and for all where her loyalties lie. Ultimately, the travelers journey to the Pits of Maar, where they must confront not only the Margrave, but also knowledge about the origins of their world and the truth about themselves.

Four volumes in the making, Fisher has a difficult task in bringing the Relic Master series to its conclusion. Hints about the mysterious origins of Anara and the events that underpin the world's current conflicts have studded the narrative through the previous three books, leading readers to speculate about how the story will end. Will the Makers return, purifying the world and setting everything right again? Will the inhabitants of Anara leave the planet or find the technology to put things right? Will the solution to Anara's problems be technological or magical? To what extent is there a difference? How will the Order overcome evil when their philosophy of pacifism seems powerless against the brute force of the Watch? Is there anything they can do to save their broken world? What sacrifices will be made in the attempt?

I cannot answer these questions without spoiling the book for you. What I will say is this: No matter what you guess about the conclusion, you will be both wrong and right. Fisher carefully balances her narrative between different facets of conflict. The solution to Anara's problems requires the strength and compassion of all its inhabitants, mirroring many of the troubles we face in our world, and recognizing that even with our differences, any solution will require everyone to contribute and participate. As such, the conclusion to the series --- and the answer Raffi eventually encounters in his Deep Journey --- is a powerful and hopeful message that has potential to resonate far outside the pages of the book.

What I have always liked about Catherine Fisher's work is her willingness to engage readers in their own Deep Journey. Her books aren't afraid to ask difficult questions, or tackle the problems or outcomes of rigid beliefs. One of the most moving moments in THE MARGRAVE is when Galen, who has been rigorous in his beliefs despite the persecution of his Order, begins to question his faith:

"I don't know... why the Makers haven't kept their promise. Where are they? Why don't they come?... Haven't I done enough?... For years we've struggled, living like animals, hunted, burned out, always running, always trying to keep the relics, to keep the people close to what should be true. Have we become relics now? Where is Flain, and Soren, and Tamar? Are they dead, have they forgotten us, don't they care about our agony? Why don't they come...?"

The time will come --- even for those who are not particularly religious --- when our most cherished beliefs will fail us. Whether we are faithful like Galen, uncertain like Raffi, or doubting like Carys, the day will come when who we believed ourselves to be is no longer true, when knowledge or experience will require us to change our minds, or grow. When that happens, we should be so lucky to know that others have passed this way before.

Throughout the series, the characters refer to bits of their own mythology to help guide them on their way. They take courage from stories about The Makers; from the Litany held close to their hearts; or from the Rules imposed by the Watch to help bring clarity and order. There is wisdom in our world, too, to help guide the way. For some it is a religion, a code of ethics, a respected document, or holy writ. But there's no reason why books like Fisher's can't provide some comfort or illumination. Not only is THE MARGRAVE an excellent read for those merely looking for adventure or escape, it's not afraid to confront the kinds of questions we, too, will face in our lives.

"If faith dies, what's left?" Galen asks only a quarter of the way into the book. Quite a bit, it seems. And it takes the strengths and weaknesses of each of these characters --- in addition to the others they encounter, many whose roles seem unlikely or contradictory --- to find a solution to save their world. "The world is not dead," reads their Litany. "The world is alive, and breathes... her journey is forever."

--- Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting conclusion, December 22, 2011
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I read the entire series over the summer when they became available. I purchased The Margrave as an ebook because it was difficult to find in a store. It is a nice wrap up, and gives you the happy ending that everyone wanted. A lot of unexpected things that I would never have predicted were revealed. All of the usual characters are brought back, and Rafi has a fairly important role to play in the scheme of things. The whole thing with where the makers came from was kind of irritating, as it did not explicitly explain everything. It is hinted that they came from Earth and built the planet, but the relationship between the technology and magic still has me confused. But overall, it was a good and thrilling read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fun read!, March 24, 2014
Squeaky clean, exciting, easy to follow, without being predictable. Wish there was a book 5 to answer a few more questions, though!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A series to own, April 11, 2013
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This is a series that I can't wait to share with my children. Great read for all ages. The is a series to own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for middle school reading, May 10, 2014
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Bonnie Holmes (TRAVELERS REST, SC, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Margrave #4 (Relic Master) (Hardcover)
My son absolutely loved it. He had read the first three and had been waiting for this book. He read it in two days.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Relic Master, February 11, 2014
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This review is from: The Margrave #4 (Relic Master) (Hardcover)
I haven't read book 4 yet. I am on book 2. This series is fantastic. It is hard to put the book down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic series, February 8, 2014
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This review is from: The Margrave #4 (Relic Master) (Hardcover)
I greatly enjoyed this whole series. It was so interesting, and I was so sad when it was done. I read the first 3 books in about a day each, but the final one I read slowly, over 3-4 days, because I wanted to make it last. I wish/wished that she would continue the series--I would buy them all--they're that good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, sinuous and compelling, January 29, 2015
I read this and enjoyed the complexity of characters, the realized world and the driving force of the narrative with both the fantasy and sci-fi elements blending to create a believable whole.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, September 8, 2014
This review is from: The Margrave #4 (Relic Master) (Hardcover)
Romantical.
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The Margrave #4 (Relic Master)
The Margrave #4 (Relic Master) by Catherine Fisher (Hardcover - August 9, 2011)
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