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Catacombs: A Tale of the Barque Cats Hardcover – December 7, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McCaffrey and Scarborough follow January 2010's Catalyst with another light space adventure featuring super-smart cats. The barque cats, mistaken for a public health hazard, flee Earth for the feline-dominated planet, Mau, with the help of Pshaw-Ra, a mysterious cat with his own spaceship. Oddly, no one--including the humans--is bothered that he plans to take over the universe on behalf of felinekind. Chester and his 10-year-old human friend Jubal are likable young heroes who make a good foil to the charismatic, shadowy Pshaw-Ra. Readers of all ages will be entertained as the barque cats explore strange new worlds and save the day. (Jan.) (c)
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From Booklist

Cats in space! In their sixteenth collaborative novel, the authors return to the universe of Catalyst. Saved by the arrogant space cat Pshaw-Ra from mistaken euthanasia at the end of the last book, the dashing tom Chester, his telekinetic boy partner Jubal, and a shipload of other cats and their people land on their mysterious savior’s desert planet. Promises of fishy treats, naps, and other luxuries soon give way to the cruel rule of a petty cat queen and the lurking pursuit of the unkillable snake Apep. Given the meandering plot and fluffy style, the only purrs this book will elicit will come from young readers, feline fanatics, Egyptian-mythology buffs, and those who enjoy light space opera combined with extreme cuteness. Even those readers may find that the huge cast of characters and confusing descriptions of events go down like a hairball. Long, honorable careers have garnered McCaffrey and Scarborough a legion of fans, so expect demand; but readers might do better with rereading one of their classics. High-Demand Backstory: Fifteen previous collaborations between these two popular authors have shown that together their books are as popular as their individual ones have proven to be, and their latest partnership will follow suit. --Neil Hollands
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Product Details

  • Series: Barque Cats
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (December 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345513789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345513786
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,313,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Barque Cats: and their human Cat Persons bond in an almost mystical way. Each and their human seem to instinctively know what the other wants as if reading minds. Mysterious feline Pshaw-Ra somehow changes the dynamic that leads to a telepathic link between Chester the Barque Cat and his Cat Person; other cats soon follow.

A plague leads to the government order to destroy those considered the carriers, which brings unwanted focus on the Barque Cats. Pshaw-Ra opens up a mousehole to carry the Barque cats and their Cat Persons on the starship Ranzo to Mau where he plans to breed the newcomers with his felines; the offspring will rule the universe. However, he finds problems at home with daughter Nefure claiming the throne while his other daughter Renpet fleeing into the catacombs beneath the Mauan desert. Pshaw-Ra is a target of scorn while something dormant for almost as old as the universe has awakened with a thirst for the light starting with cats for breakfast.

This is a fun feline frolic as the Barque Cats and their Cat Persons try to save the universe from the Mau residents. Faster than the speed of light, readers will enjoy the escapades on Mau although wonder why everyone especially the off-worlders seem emotionally detached from Pshaw-Ro's scheme. Still this is an entertaining human-feline outer space thriller (see Catalyst).

Harriet Klausner
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I must agree with some of the other reviewers that this book did not seem to be as captivating as the first one. I didn't really have all that much trouble finishing it as I really did get a kick out the writer's insights into cats. These were brought in by casual touches that would be familiar to cat lovers everywhere.

One that immediately comes to mind is where the Grand Vizier, Pshaw-Ra is teaching the kittens to control gravity so as to make themselves heavier or lighter. This shows great insight and experience with the joys of living with one or more cats. I'm sure we can all recall instances when cats could move as light as a feather and others when they could seem as heavy as lead. The latter being the case when one may be lying down and your beloved cat decides to walk across you and each step weighs down upon your body as if the cat weighed 80 pounds.

This is definitely one of those books you'll have problems with if you can't accept the premises established by the authors. If you're willing to cut them some slack and just go with the flow I believe cat lovers will find enough reminders of their experiences with well loved cats to make the book worthwhile reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The alternating narratives were a little off-putting at first, but once you got into the cadence of the story, it went right along swimmingly. It was nice that Chester saw through Pshaw-Ra so quickly. Even without the filter of his link with his boy, it was just plain fun to see how things could only be salvaged by cats.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The book relies heavily on one specific fact: that Cats Are Cute. If you have never willingly lived with a cat you may have difficulty processing that fact. If you don't think its cute to see a cat batting at a ray of sunlight, or pawing the air to get your attention, or…a million other things that cats do - if you don't see it as cute then you are not a Cat Person (CP). Don't worry, there's no shame in that. But it means you can't win the CP of the year award and that you may have some difficulty reading this book.

The cuteness is offset by some minor plot and characterization flaws that are easy enogh to overlook, assuming you had a reason to do so. For example: there are only three or four places in the book where one is forcibly reminded that the MHC (main human character) is a ten year old boy and not a 19 year old hardened space veteran. And every time it comes up is a jarring and sudden reminder that startles the reader out of the narrative flow. The reason for thi is because the character of Jubal (the MHC) isn't well developed or made distinct in any significant way. But you can get back into the story easily enough by picturing how cute the kittens are at whatever it is they're doing next. After all, the focus of the book is on the kittens most of the time so they are, in a way, the reason for the minimal character developement.

I read this book without having first seen the previous book in the series (Catalyst - I think). But it seems to be complete enough to read on its own as there are enough "reminders" in the text to play catch-up with. I suppose that also varies according to what kind of reader you are but attentive readers willing to do a litte analysis shouldn't have any difficulty.
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Format: Hardcover
For cat lovers, this book is a gem! Both authors are first-rate, and I, for one, am eagerly waiting for a sequel. Cats that can think and operate in space! Highly recommended! An excellent SF yarn!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This series is really fun. I recommend it for age group 10 - 14. Very sweet story with the talking felines and star-future-fantasy theme. Happy, happy little series. Not so great to read as an adult, but I'm glad I read it to review. I'm thinking girls might enjoy the series more than boys. Just my opinion.
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