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BOOK
The Archon

Author: Catherine Fisher
Hodder
RRP 5.99
ISBN 0 340 84377 2
Available now


Alexos, the new Archon, will lead a pilgrimage to the Well of Songs. Great riches are said to lie there, and the Archon seeks peace with the Rain Queen. But the desert is a place of strange menace for the Archon and his companions, and behind them there is always the general, Argelin, seeking riches and power for himself. Alone, amid treachery, Mirany has to face the terrors of war...

With only Oblek, Seth and two tomb-thieves known as the Jackal and the Fox for company, the Archon's journey is treacherous. They must face the Great Desolation and the monstrous animals outlined on the desert floor, animals with mythical powers, and must survive without Mirany, bearer-of-the-god and true friend of the Archon, who has had to remain behind to face a threat much closer to home.

When I opened up the first page of The Archon I almost sighed with dismay. Here is yet another book that insists on including a map to to the fictional world it is set in. Why this is necessary I will never know. While I understand why a map to shop the path to the Well of the Songs has been included, it still niggles me that publishers insist on printing one - as though the reader won't understand what is going on unless a map can be used as a point of reference.

However, once I'd started to read this book, I soon forgot about such personal bugbears and instead slowly started to fall into the fictional world that Catherine Fisher has created. It is clear that she has a great passion for ancient Egypt, archaeology and I'd love to know whether she is a cat lover - I'm betting she is.

There is a great chapter that opens with hundreds and thousands of birds to which my first question was: "Oh yeah! And what exactly are these thousands of birds supposed to do for food and drink?" But it was a thought I'd hardly had time to contemplate before Fisher jumped in and aired my query. It was this ability to be able to silence inquisitive minds that won me over.

An intelligent children's book that never patronises its readers. Hodder have a winner here.

Amber Leigh

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