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Morgan and Thomas are hired by Guardians, Inc., supposedly for one to work as an accountant and the other to work as a librarian. Turns out Guardians, Inc is a global organization engaged in a multitude of activities, some of which are magical, or at least fantastic. Morgan and Thomas have special skills the organization needs, and once they are aboard a world of adventure and excitement awaits for them, and for us, the readers.
That's fine. It's an honorable hook for a middle grade fantasy, and the author fairly observes the conventions and meets or exceeds our expectations.

BUT ALSO, the unusual and especially rewarding angle here is that while Thomas is a fifteen year old, Morgan is his seventy-two year old grandfather/guardian. Thomas sounds like, acts like, and is written to represent an actual fifteen year old. He's smart, resourceful. talented and decent, but also naive and inexperienced. Morgan is written to be a real seventy-two year old. There is no cute angle, or special twist, or zany approach. Morgan is not presented for light humor or comic effect. He is a competent, smart, grown-up with a gentle sense of humor and maybe a bit more of a reckless streak than his grandson.

These two characters are not presented as some sort of odd couple. Circumstances, (Thomas's mom and dad disappeared while on vacation), have led these two to share a household and they live together like real people, with affection, respect and the ocasional passing disagreement or mild conflict. I just think that that character choice by the author was inspired. (Especially because of Thomas's age. There are a lot of stories featuring little kids and their grandparents, but mid-teens and g'parents hardly ever appear in the same book, much less as equal featured characters.)

All of that said, I should emphasize that the character choice doesn't matter if the plot is lame or the writing is uninspired. I am happy to report that this book's story rollicks along, the secondary characters are well-imagined and engaging, and the overall feel of the adventure is light but satisfying. Thomas has a bit of a sneaker for a girl who also works for Guardians and that is handled with understated charm. The library Thomas works in is Borges-lite and sharply imagined. The quality of the writing is quite high, and there are a number of little bits of business and throwaway lines that reflect a subtle and observant author at work.

All in all I was delighted by this book as both a fantasy adventure and an interesting character study for middle graders, and am pleased to recommend it.

Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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on 15 June 2013
A chance reading of a newspaper ad will send 16 year old Thomas Byrne into the world within our world.

Following the ad he will find Guardians Incorporated. A seven thousand year old organization charged with protecting the balance between Magic and technology.

Through their guidance technology has kept Magic at bay since the Renaissance, but the balance is shifting and soon all those creatures we've driven into myth and legend will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future and to unlock the future they need a cypher.I really enjoyed this book, I do wish it had been longer, that's just a personal thought, when I enjoy a book I want it to last.
Thomas is in trouble at school, the book opens with him sitting outside Killjoy, the Vice Principal's office waiting for his grandfather, who is inside discussing Thomas with her. Thomas had been bullied by three other boys and used his Karate skills to get even. He is suspended for a week, but ends up better off than the other boys who get various punishments, also he is told it will not appear on his records. You feel there must be some connection here, Thomas hears his grandfather laughing with the Vice Principal behind closed doors.
The links with his school and Killjoy, is an area that it would have been good to have more back story, I felt part of that was never really explained, how did he end up at that school, we are told the back history of his parents off on a two month cruise and disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle, but it is almost as if Killjoy knew that Thomas was special before the advert for the job appeared in the newspaper and they met at the library.
By the end of the day Thomas and his father had both seen and read an encrypted message, not realising it is encrypted straight away, and is offered jobs with Guardians Inc.
It turns out both Thomas and his granddad are cyphers, and they are needed to track down a book that has chapters added by the Oracle every 500 years, and helps keep the peace between the magical world, humans and other beings.

A story that is YA fantasy about good v evil and about magic and amazing creatures, statutes that come to life and even a robot. I have seen suggestions of its likeness to Rick Riordan, but I think this book has its own tale to tell and does it fairly well.
What can I say about Guardians Inc. headquarters, except I want to live there, a large library that houses every lost book and book known and unknown to man, where you can walk through a door and be in another country, and where ever you are you go two and half blocks left and you are at the building.
Thomas is an assistant librarian and his granddad Morgan is employed in the financial department, Thomas meets killjoy again here when she comes to borrow some books, and you get a sense of the magic that is involved when Thomas reads the instructions from the computer screen and the books arrive and disappear instantly.

Things soon turn more interesting with Thomas's house being burnt and demolished, his granddad disappearing, and finding out the girl he has a strong crush on is thousands of years old and elven.
Thomas being a cypher can read any code and any language, it soon becomes clear in the hunt for the book and new chapters that Thomas cannot share that information with anyone, the things he cyphers that are connected to the book stay inside his head, he knows what it means the clues, but he cannot share at this point. No one is sure how many clues there will be before the book is found, and towards the end of this book we find out that he is competing with his granddad who is working for the other side, and he seems to always be one step behind him.

Thomas has a good support of characters, and it will be interesting to see how they all develop over the course of the next book in the trilogy.
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on 13 February 2013
i found it quite entertaining but thought it was for younger people .
but the characters were good and solid an enjoyable read
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on 27 January 2013
After his parents go missing Thomas has to move in with his Granddad, Morgan. A new home and a new school is not easy for a 16 year old and even though he tries to stay under the radar Thomas soon finds himself hauled in front of the vice principal (nicknamed `Killjoy', for good reason) for fighting with three of the popular boys. Thomas and Morgan have an easy relationship and once Morgan decides to look for a job to keep himself occupied Thomas is eager to help, but what seems to be a simple librarian position soon turns out to be something more sinister and complicated.

I am not totally sure of the target age for this book, personally I would say it is more for older children than young adult, the writing style would possibly suit that age group best, as would the storyline. For me I found it a little slow to kick off, the opening pages were enough to grab me but it seemed to take a while to move on and I felt myself getting a little impatient. This may be an issue for the target group who need constant action to hold their attention. It does pick up pace as we get more into the story and as we learn about Thomas' and Morgans ability.

The whole concept of the librarians being the guardians of every thing, good and evil from the beginning of time, is quite interesting and the fact that Thomas and Morgan are Cyphers who have the ability to read all text whatever the language was a novel skill that I wish I had!

Overall I found `Guardian inc: The Cypher' to be a read that would be exciting for children up to around 14 years old who enjoy adventure fantasy stories.

Copy supplied for review
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on 20 November 2013
Easy to read and well written to capture the imagination of the audience, I enjoyed this introduction to a series of books about Guardians Inc (a secret society who have the task of trying to keep the balance of developing technology and elemental magic under control throughout the world by keeping track of the Book of Concord which is written by the Oracle). The guardians need a Cypher to translate the signs which lead to the Book of Concord every five hundred years and Thomas Byrne and his grandad, Morgan, are both discovered to be Cyphers and employed by the Guardians to translate the signs.
Unfortunately Morgan is captured by the Warmaster who wishes to eliminate technology and take over control of the world with magic thereby plunging the world into another dark age. Thomas is suddenly sucked into a series of adventures fraught with danger in search of the Book of Concord as well as trying to rescue his grandad from the Warmaster. Will the Guardians succeed in locating the Book first? What can Thomas do to save his grandad? I can't wait to read more of this thrilling saga!
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on 6 February 2015
Great, fast paced story with an interesting premise (the balance between magic and technology in the world) and some brilliantly written supporting characters. Could be described as YA due to the age of the main character but if you have a strong sense of fun then this will appeal no matter what age you are.
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on 7 February 2013
Most books I read are either magic OR technology but this one has a nice blend of both. Also it is a fast paced storyline with many intriguing characters.
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on 25 October 2013
I loved the book.It was totally fabulous, the climax, the anti climax,everything was simply marvellous.I enjoyed the book thoroughly and look forward to part 2
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on 18 May 2015
Got this as a free download to try and enjoyed it. Already bought the next one which will hopefully live up to the promise of the first.
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on 9 March 2013
i was amazed at how enjoyable this book was for a free one. it is an easy to read thrilling book for 10-15year olds
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