The Oracle Betrayed by Catherine Fisher

Oracle BetrayedGoodreads: The Oracle Betrayed
Series: The Oracle Prophecies #1

Summary: The Speaker-of-the-God interprets the Oracle and relays divine messages to the people.  Mirany, who also serves in the Temple, knows that the Speaker no longer hears the god and has plans to appoint her own king to rule.  Joined by a drunken musician and an ambitious scribe, Mirany must find the god’s chosen successor to the throne before time runs out.

Review: The Oracle Betrayed provides a fast-paced adventure filled with mystery and just a little bit of magic.  It perhaps has pretensions to being a bigger story than it is, particularly with its emphasis on the diverse cast of characters caught up in royal intrigue, but it remains an engaging story despite its failure fully to flesh out many of the personalities it introduces.  Fans of Fisher and of fantasy alike will enjoy this introduction to what promises to be an exciting new world.

Though the book constantly switches perspectives, the story largely focuses on Mirany, a servant of the god newly promoted to Bearer-of-the-God.  Her job largely consists of carrying the scorpions that may or may not be the physical presence of the deity her land worships.  Despite this distinction, Mirany remains a shy, awkward girl who often feels homesick and cannot justify the special treatment she receives from the rest of the populace.  Timid or quiet readers will immediately relate to her and appreciate the quiet strength she does not even know she possesses.

Mirany’s growth as a character truly grounds the story.  While Fisher hints at unexpected depth in the rest of the characters, even the revelations about their personalities seems stereotyped.  Thus, the washed-out musician has more skill to him than meets the eye; the ambitious and cold-hearted youth really cares about his family; and the stuck-up rich girl has enough pride to give her morals.  Anyone who reads fantasy on a regular basis will expect these developments.  As a result, the draw of the story does not lie in the characters, but in the plot.

Fighting, treachery, intrigue, and theft abound in The Oracle Betrayed.  Although technically Mirany and her allies have the power of the god on their side, the god does not guarantee positive outcomes (he does, after all, choose to manifest himself as a stinging deadly scorpion).  Thus, enough suspense exists to keep the narrative fresh.  I was particularly pleased to note that Fisher did not unnecessarily draw out the action, either.  Her Relic Master series could have condensed the contents of four books into two or three; The Oracle Betrayed stops while it is still ahead.

Since I did receive some closure from this installment, I do not know that I will hasten out to the library for book two anytime soon.  Still, The Oracle Betrayed proves a solid, if somewhat familiar, fantasy read.

Published: 2003

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