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The Oracle Betrayed: The Oracle Prophecies #1    by Catherine Fisher order for
Oracle Betrayed
by Catherine Fisher
Order:  USA  Can
Greenwillow, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

One of the most important aspects of any fantasy novel is the world that the author creates. This is the place we escape into, and if it is not enjoyable, the reader may not want to go back. Some authors spend so much time setting up their fantasy world that by the time the story starts taking shape, half of the book is over. Catherine Fisher avoids this trap - she gets right into the action by creating a world that is familiar yet new.

The Oracle Betrayed is the first book in the Oracle Prophesies trilogy. Its setting is reminiscent of ancient Egypt and Greece. A god communicates through an oracle to the nine priestesses who serve him, and dead rulers are mummified and placed in expansive underground tombs. This is a land in turmoil, since it is in the midst of a drought. Conspiracies run rampant. The entire book takes place over the nine days of a ceremony that begins when the current Archon (God-on-the-Earth) is called to take his life in exchange for rain, and the new Archon is named. The tale's heroine is Mirany, lowest of the nine priestesses.

On the day that the Archon is to die, Mirany is called to be the second highest priestess, the 'Bearer-of-the-God', and assigned the role of collecting the god in scorpion form. This divine scorpion will fatally sting the god in human form, the Archon. It is a daunting task, but timid Mirany carries it out, thinking of the pride it will bring to her family. But before the Archon dies, he slips a note to Mirany warning of treachery between the highest priestess, the 'Speaker-of-the-God', and the captain of the military. The note asks Mirany to enlist the help of a musician known to the Archon. Mirany begins to break out of her meek shell, dragging an unwilling scribe into her plot to break the musician out of jail and find the next Archon.

Catherine Fisher delivers a fresh new fantasy in The Oracle Betrayed. Though it should especially delight those interested in Ancient Egypt and Greece, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy adventure.

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