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The Oracle Betrayed: Book One of The Oracle Prophecies Hardcover – March 16, 2004

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

After wowing kids and critics alike in the UK, this smart and suprisingly gritty historical fantasy from award-winning Welsh author and poet Catherine Fisher finally arrives in the US. Fisher grabs readers quickly with a convincingly imagined Greco-Egyptian setting and characters that defy quick classification. Our heroine, Mirany, begins the story as a timid teen serving the High Priestess, the masked Speaker who discerns the wishes of a god through a mysterious island oracle. When the current Archon (the sequestered God-on-Earth) passes a secret note to Mirany just before he's sacrificed, the story throws intrigue onto intrigue with a murder plot, a drunken musician, a conflicted scribe, a slick tomb robber, an offended Rain Goddess, and no shortage of mystic burial rituals and dusty tombs.

Fisher's biggest accomplishment is that for all the page-turning action, she still manages to raise some pretty heady ideas about death, ambition, and the nature of faith. Expect both kids and grownups to be reaching for Fisher's follow-up. (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9--There's trouble in the Two Lands, a desert country imagined as an amalgam of ancient Egypt and Greece. Parched by drought, its poor and starving people look to their god to find the Rain Queen who will bring them water. Embodied in generations of mortal men called Archons, the god is served by nine young women. Foremost among them is the Speaker, who is corrupt, in love with a power-hungry general, and plots to betray the Oracle by installing a puppet Archon. Before the old Archon dies, he enlists the help of the meekest, newest member of the Nine, mousy Mirany, to foil the Speaker's plans. As the plot twists and turns, suspense is ratcheted up by the use of one-sentence paragraphs and cliff-hanger endings. Mirany grows quickly (and rather improbably) into a tough, wily conspirator, aided by a group of companions, each of whom has a personal agenda. The scribe Seth wants to help his sick sister. Oblek, the musician to the old Archon, wants to meet his beloved master reincarnated in a new body. Both Mirany and Oblek hear the god speak through Alexos, a 10-year-old destined to be the true Archon. Can they defeat the powerful forces against them? Will the Rain Queen ever visit the Two Lands? The answers lie deep in the unknown tunnels and tombs of the City of the Dead. Action trumps character development in this page-turning fantasy, while an open ending paves the way for subsequent volumes.--Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Oracle Prophecies (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060571578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060571573
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherine Fisher is the New York Times best-selling author of Sapphique and Incarceron. She is "one of today's best fantasy writers," according to the London Independent. An acclaimed novelist and poet, she has written many fantasy books for young people, including The Oracle Prophecy series.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Listen... I Will Trust You. There Is No One Else, And I WIll Be Dead Soon. The Speaker is Corrupt. The Oracle is Being Betrayed. Two Things You Must Do, Mirany. Find the New Archon, Stop Argelin. Second. In My Palace Is A Musician. Oblek. Talk To Him, He Knows. Do Not Be Afraid Of The God For He Has Chosen You. Burn This. Stay Alive.

The Oracle Betrayed is by far the best book I have ever read. Catherine Fisher creates a vivid landscape, close to something like Egypt or Greece, and writes of all sorts of characters, each with a unique, complex, but believable personality. The back ground point is Mirany is chosen to be the Bearer-of-the-God, the second highest ranking position in amongst nine priestessess. The first is the Speaker to the God, Hermia, who is corrupt and turns the god's word around to suit her's and Argelin's own purposes. But the God speaks to Mirany, tells her about it. And gives her a mission. Find Oblek before he is put to death with the other slaves of the old Archon (god-in-human-form (who dies at the start of the book)) The rest you have probably already read about in other reviews so i won't waste space telling you.

What I disliked about this book: Well, the starting is a bit confusing, but it's all explained later on. And you repeatedly read about the Jackal's long eyes staring at someone, or his fair hair, or about the characters licking dry lips. Well, it's better than just plain " Seth liked his lips." And that's all.

What I liked about this book: All the characters are so complex and even the main ones are still mortal and will give in if it means something for them will come out of it. No two are alike- like real people.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Katie Sparks p-6 on May 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mirany is a girl who had a simple life in the arid desert tundra, until she got chosen that is. She was chosen to be the bearer of the God, their idol who decides when to bring the priceless rain and normally comes to them in the form of snakes, scorpions, and other scuttling creatures. This is a huge honor for someone as young and inexperienced as Mirany, although soon it is apparent that she is much more powerful than she thinks. Nine other girls serve the god. Just after receiving her new post, her life is constantly in danger.
The Archon is dead, the speaker is false, and the oracle is being betrayed. The speaker of the god Hermia tells the people what the god says through the oracle and delivers it to the people to appease the god so the rains come. The people don't know however that they are being deceived. Hermia is in league with general Argelin who has intense power over the land and its inhabitants. They are planning to betray the oracle by giving false information to the people and intend to dictate the choosing of the new ruler, who is supposed to have the presence of the god within him and is known as the Archon. This plot between the two most powerful people in the land has unearthed a disturbance and the god is not happy: there is no rain.
Mirany goes through an epic adventure trying desperately to bring the rightful candidate of the new Archon (named Alexos) to the temple to bring the life sustaining rains, and ensure the happiness of the people.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Handley on August 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've started reading this series after having gone through the Edgewater series. "The Oracle Betrayed" already promises that this series will be much better and more satisfying. The characters are well rounded, the dialogue is believable, and while there is a lot of action, it all flows together as part of an overarching plot, rather than as individual episodes. This book will appeal to both girls and boys.

Catherine Fisher does a great job of making the world of this story come to life. The brutality of life in the ancient world is made evident. As she describes the crowded city streets, details such as rotting garbage and the odor of dead animals make it extremely vivid and realistic. And then this is contrasted with the sumptuous City of the Dead, where the high ranking inhabitants lack for nothing, even precious water while the poor are reeling from the effects of the long-lasting drought.

The two main characters, Mireny and Seth, are flawed which makes them more believable than they would have been if they had been gung-ho, able-to-do-everything types. Mireny is priestess but she doesn't believe the in the existence of her god, and by nature she is shy and uncomfortable around people. Over the course of the book her faith changes and she gains confidence. Seth begins as an arrogant scribe who gets drawn into the plot initially as a means of achieving his ambitions, but he too grows and his motives change.

A previous reviewer complained that the meaning of everything is not spelled out at the beginning. That's actually what makes for sophisticated storytelling, and makes this a book that will appeal to various ages. As you read on the various layers of the the mystery are revealed and the various threads of the plot come together.
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