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Literature / The Oracle Trilogy

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The Oracle Trilogy by Catherine Fisher consists of The Oracle, The Archon and The Scarab. US titles are The Oracle Betrayed, The Sphere of Secrets, and The Day of the Scarab, respectively.

Set in an ancient Egypt-like land, the books follow Mirany, who has been selected to be a priestess of the one god that rules over the Two Lands but who secretly suspects he does not really exist - at least until he starts talking in her head. The priesthood of the Two Lands holds that the god incarnates himself on the earth in the form of a human, the Archon, and with the last Archon dead the search has begun for the child who is his next incarnation. But the situation is as much political as it is religious, and the god has chosen Mirany as his instrument against the schemings of the rest of his people.

This series provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Oblek. He kicks the habit at the end of Archon.
  • Almighty Janitor: Kreon is a slave and cleaner in the City of the Dead. He's also the Shadow of the God.
  • Ambition is Evil: Rhetia wants so badly to be the head priestess, she's ready to unleash a war over it. Seth's desire for greater power and influence almost leads to his corruption. Argelin becomes blasphemous and insane with his scheming to replace the Archon.
  • Anti-Hero: The Jackal, the Fox, Seth, and Oblek to an extent.
  • Arc Number: Nine.
  • Buried Alive: The punishment for any heretic priestess, being entombed without water or air in the Archon's grave. Mirany barely escaped this.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Chryse just can't seem to be able to pick one side and stay on it.
  • Cool Mask: The Archon and the Nine are made to wear these masks in public.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The civilization in the series seems to be a blend of Bronze Age Greece and Egypt, while the City of the Dead's architecture is reminiscent of ancient Incan temples.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: No one bats an eye about the presence of slaves or thieves being brutally maimed.
  • Enemy Without: The guardians of the Well of Songs.
  • Exact Words: Argelin's Ironic Punishment at the end of The Scarab. "The Archon must die for his people" - and when you have named yourself Archon...
  • Gentleman Thief: The Jackal.
  • Gilded Cage: The Archon spends his life in the palace, worshipped and showered with gifts, but he's not allowed to speak with anyone or to show his unmasked face.
  • God in Human Form: Alexos as the God and Kreon as the Shadow.
  • God Is Flawed: The god frequently expresses self-doubt and fear in his chapters.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Oblek remembers the former Archon lost his marbles after spending fifty years masked and unable to really talk with someone.
  • Hourglass Plot: Archon has Seth leaving on a travel with Alexos, while Mirany struggles to keep the city peaceful. Scarab swaps their roles, with Mirany going to the Underworld with Alexos and Seth staying behind in the war-torn city.
  • Human Sacrifice: "The Archon must die for his people" is a society tenet.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Argelin, so much in Scarab.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Argelin, Hermia, and Chryse.
  • Meaningful Name: Seth is ambitious to the point of corruption and quite the Jerkass at first glance, but he shows himself reliable again and again when chips are down. The Egyptian god Seth also helped his pantheon in spite of being their Token Evil Teammate.
    • Alexos contains the Greek root alex, which means defender. Also crosses with Ironic Name as he often needs to be protected.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Jackal and the Fox
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Chryse, for majority of The Oracle.
  • Only Friend: Oblek, to the former Archon.
  • Puppet King: Argelin and Hermia's plot for Oracle. A hint of nepotism, too, since their favourite candidate is Argelin's nephew.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Argelin during The Scarab.
  • Reincarnation: The Archon is the repeated reincarnation of the god in human bodies. It's unknown if the Shadow is similarly reincarnated.
  • Running Gag: Once by book, Rhetia schemes to becomes the Speaker yet someone always manages to steal her thunder. Oracle has the Rain Queen herself, Archon has Mirany and Scarab has the very male Seth instead of her.
  • Scary Scorpions: One of the symbols of the god is a scorpion. Mirany's priestess duty is to carry one for all religious events.
  • Ship Tease: Seth and Mirany have a bit of it.
  • Sour Supporter: Alexos seems to attract them. Seth and Oblek practically compete to see who can be more sour.
  • To Hell and Back: Mirany, Argelin, and Alexos travel to the Underworld in The Scarab.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Rhetia, after The Oracle.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Argelin and Hermia start as this, but their relationship frays in Archon.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The City of the Dead is home to one where Seth and Kreon work.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Rhetia.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Mirany at first. She grows out of it right quick.
  • Woman Scorned: The Rain Queen, oooh boy.