Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Midnight Charter

by David Whitley
Roaring Book Press, 2009. 319pgs. Juvenile Fiction

Mark and Lily meet in Count Stelli's Tower where Lily has lived since she was sold out of an orphanage and Mark has been sold by his father to pay for a plague cure. The Count is an astrologer, the greatest in all the land of Agora, a self-contained city based entirely on the barter system. Contracts are drawn up for every action and anyone who cannot sell himself and his talents to a willing master becomes a debtor and debt means death. Count Stelli takes Mark as an apprentice, setting him on a path to economic power in the city; Lily leaves the tower with Dr. Theophilus, the Count's disowned grandson and joins with him to found a clinic and an almshouse, though giving help for free causes an uproar in the strict economy of Agora. But Mark and Lily's paths will converge again because of the Midnight Charter an ages old compact that may set them against each other to the destruction of the city or the salvation of their society. The Midnight Charter is a thought-provoking look at individual worth and societal norms. Filled with heroes, villains, madness and much sense, it should appeal to thoughtful readers, twelve and up. (Although not part of an announced series, it could certainly continue if the author chose, which I hope he will.)

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