Fantasy meets dystopia in this first volume of the new Relic Master series by Catherine Fisher. She has has been getting the attention of upper-elementary and middle school aged kids with her writings for some time. And this story is not going to disappoint them.
Galen Harn is one of the few Relic Masters still around. The masters are an order that has specialized in hunting down the ancient technologies that used to help society rung before some major event forced culture back to a medieval state. On the other side is the Watch, which has the goal of destroying all of the relics and the Relic Masters as well. Besides trying to preserve the powers of the past, the masters seem to have magical/psychic powers that the Watch explains as just being illusions.
Galen has taken on an apprentice in the form of Raffi, a teenager troubled by the state of the order and the world. They are captured by a local warlord who sends them on a journey to recover one of the old relics. Along the way, Galen, who has lost his powers, and Raffi start to hear rumors about the Crow. The Crow has taken on mythical proportions in people's beliefs. He was one of the founding fathers of the post-apocalyptic culture.
The two masters also have no idea that they have someone accompanying them on their trek. Carys, a Watch agent, is one of the mysterious Sekoi, a race of cat-like beings. She starts off following Galen, who she recognizes as a Relic Master, with the hopes of capturing him and his apprentice only to find that things are not as simple as she was raised to believe.
This is an interesting dystopian tale that stands out as unique in a time where dystopian novels are flush and popular. Some of this is because of the fantasy elements. In a way, it brings about a feeling of the old Mad Max novels, Conan, or even some of the scenes on Mars in Total Recall. I really liked the plotline itself, and the characters are definitely intriguing.
With that said, I found the book to be overly long. I really do think that this is one of those cases where the whole series could have been told in one volume. I did want to keep reading to see where the story was going to go, but I felt that it seemed to go nowhere fast. I have not decided whether I will try and trudge my way through the next book, The Lost Heiress. I would like to see how things are going to play out, but a part of me would prefer a Cliffs Notes version.