Title: The Stone Key
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Series: The Obernewtyn Chronicles #5
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian author, Dystopia, High fantasy, Science fiction
Publisher: Penguin Books
5th sentence, 74th page: He knew as well as I did that the delicious, sweet, brown powder was both scarce and violently expensive now that Sadorian ships no longer put in at Sutrium.
There was a great crash and wood splintered… I had a brief glimpse of a group of Herder priests, bald and robed, peering at me, and then the sundered remnants of the locker door were torn aside and a rough hand reached in to haul me out by the hair. A Hedra captain stared into my face with eyes that burned with a fanatical fire above a thin nose and a lipless slash of a mouth…
‘You will die in great pain and very slowly, mutant,’ said the Hedra master.
When Farseeker Guildmistress Elspeth Gordie sets out from Obernewtyn to travel to Sutrium at the end of Wintertime, she quickly learns that not everyone welcomes the changes brought about by the rebellion. Captured by an old and vicious enemy, she is drawn deep into the heart of the Herder Faction, where she learns of a terrible plot to destroy the west coast.
To stop it, Elspeth must risk everything, knowing that if she dies, she will never complete her quest to find the weaponmachines that destroyed the Beforetime.
But is she succeeds, her journey will lead her to the last of the signs left for her by the seer Kasanda…
This is my least favourite of the Obernewtyn Chronicles – it is the slowest of the stories and very, very detail oriented. Not that this is a bad thing, but I like to be swept along with the story so that I forget that I’ve spent three hours reading instead of doing some responsible adult act. Having said that, this detail-oriented approach is so important to make sure that the rest of the story is understandable. When playing with fate and prophecies, it is incredibly important to set up the storyline – every single detail has a great significance that can only rear its head books after it has been set up.
There are two aspects of this story that I love though, the idea of tearing down a religious dogma and that of our potential for future medical treatment. The technology that Carmody describes when treating one of the sick characters is so plausible, that I’m kind of surprised we don’t have it already. It is so easy to imagine having that kind of technology within the next 10 years and using it in much the same way to cure infectious diseases. And then there’s destroying a harmful religious dogma. I’ve often believed that people take religions to twist the mass population to their own needs. And, bringing down such a group is possibly my favourite part of the whole story – tearing down this source of evil is fantastic.
Ariel returns to the forefront of the story in The Stone Key. The combination of his manipulative powers and inability to empathise with others creates a truly spine tingling antagonist. For me, he is the very embodiment of what it means to be malicious and evil. A lot of villains are the ‘bad guys’ because of some misguided urge, or inability to control their urges. But it is often possible to see how their past has shaped who they are, but Ariel? There is nothing in his past that highlights his need to intentionally harm others. Although, Carmody implies throughout her writing that he is actually defective and this is the cause of his wrongness.
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