Opening: "The seven moons were all in the sky at once."
First of all--the main twist of this book? I totally called it! At one point I was suspicious and shortly after that I became convinced and then my conviction paid off. I think it's essentially a function of having read so much of a certain genre--I'm not sure I would have caught it as a younger reader. And it certainly didn't spoil the book for me, as I had to wait to nearly the end to have my suspicion confirmed.
I've read Incarceron, Sapphique, and now The Dark City. All three have this sense of a world gone wrong. With Incarceron and Sapphique, it's the Era having crystalized into something static and impossible. With The Dark City, it's the fall of the Relic Masters' Order and the city of Tasceron (I loved how the fall of the city was dealt with--somehow longing for the lost perfect place always catches me). While this kind of setting isn't unique, Fisher does it deftly and I found Galen, Raffi and Carys's world even more believable than Incarceron and the Era, which sometimes slipped perilously close to allegory.
Fisher's pace clipped right along here, making the book a fast read. In addition, there are a number of--for lack of a better term--filler pages, with each of the sections given their own title page, and with each chapter prefaced by a quote from a source in the world of the books. I liked the quotes, but did think they could have been set at the top of each chapter, rather than given their own page.
Although the plotting is brisk, I didn't necessarily feel like there was a conflict between plot and character development. Instead, characters tended to have deep thoughts while doing something. Somehow, Fisher managed to avoid the trap of the long internal monologue while all around the character everyone else is fighting. While I often prefer thoughtful over action-filled, it's nice to have a fun adventure too. I'll be reading the rest of the series, and hoping it holds up to the promise of the first book.
Book source: public library
Book information: Dial (Penguin), 2011 [US date--1998 in the UK]; YA