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The Midnight Charter [Paperback]

David Whitley , Tomislav Tomic
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 6.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Aug 2009

In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday.

Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free.

But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together?

Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (6 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014132371X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141323718
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 570,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Charity, greed, freedom, fate and political scheming are all woven through debut author Whitley's richly conceived world. Readers will be buoyed by every small triumph that cannot be recorded in an account book." — "Publishers Weekly ""Deft world-building and crafty plotting combine for a zinger of an ending that will leave readers poised for book two. Surprisingly sophisticated upper-middle-grade fare, with enough meat to satisfy older readers as well." "— Kirkus Reviews""Exciting and gripping from the first heart-stopping line. . . . Readers will anxiously await the next installment as they reach the cliff-hanger ending." "— School Library Journal" "From the Hardcover edition."

About the Author

David Whitley was born in 1984 and at the age of twenty he won the Cheshire Prize for Literature. He later graduated from the University of Oxford with a double first in English Literature. TV quiz fans will have spotted David on BBC2's University Challenge, when he was a member of Oxford's Corpus Christi team who became Series Champions in 2005.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 30 Aug 2009
By Jemma
In the walled-in city of Agora there is no money, you live by what you can trade. If you can find a buyer, you can trade anything, even children are the property of their parents. And if you have nothing, if you are a Debtor, then you cannot survive.
This is the set up, but in David Whitley's new conspiracy thriller this idea grows and develops into a marvellously complete imagined world.
And so, in this hard-hearted society we find Mark and Lily, two children who have been sold as servants to the powerful Count Stelli. But in Agora, as soon as you reach your 12th birthday, this is your `Title Day' and you own yourself. Mark and Lily turn 12 with a few week of each other and must face a choice... because you can sell more than just your labour. In Agora you can trade anything even thoughts, memories and emotions - which are bottled up and sold like drugs. Mark discovers he can sell astrological predictions to merchants who are fearful of what the future might hold, and his own star rises safely within society. Meanwhile Lily, an orphan who has learned to hate the injustices of the system, tries to undermine it by helping the poor by opening an almshouse. An unheard of concept and a very risky course of action that brings her to the attention of the ruler of Agora, the mysterious Director.
Yet despite their differences, Mark and Lily stay in touch, somehow their paths keep crossing as if fate is determined to keep them together.
While there are certainly questions being asked, here, about society and its values, this book never feels heavy as the gripping plot races along twisting and turning, always in the shadow of the mysterious Midnight Charter - a secret document which seems to be influencing everything that Mark and Lily do.
Thought provoking and assured - a really impressive debut from this new young writer.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 5 Aug 2009
By Ruth Ludlam VINE VOICE
This book is an excellent read for both older children and adults. It's set in a city where there is no money, everything has to be traded for. Even feelings can be traded, as there is a machine which can extract your emotions. (What I liked about that, was that this device points out that even negative emotions have value, and are an important part of yourself -even if you hate them and want to get rid of them, they actually make you richer).

Life in Agora can be very tough, because if you have nothing to trade, you will starve. The two main characters are children who have to struggle to get by, by making the most of whatever opportunities they have. And although they both end up seeing a very different side of the city and leading totally opposite lives, they remain connected. Partly because they keep writing each other letters, but also partly because they end up being connected through people they know and because their lives in the city create ripples that affect each other.

Although the book discusses the downsides of this ultra-capitalist system, it is not too high-brow or ideological to be fun to read. It's enjoyable, has a good sense of humour, and has great plot twists that will keep you guessing. The plot also keeps moving at a good speed, so you don't get bored or impatient with it. The other characters also bring a lot of lighter moments in, and illustrate the good in human nature despite the fact it goes against the customs of Agora. There are very strong moral points made in the book as well, without it becoming preachy.

I got hooked and couldn't stop reading it, and would recommend it very highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story! 21 Aug 2009
David Whitley's wonderful debut novel is a classic fantasy adventure in all the best senses. He has created an 18th century ideal - the insular city of Agora is a marketplace without money where only those who have something to trade can survive. But for those who have nothing, who become debtors, there is no charity, no welfare and the future is bleak.
The story begins as the city reaches the time of its `Golden Age' and the secret prophecies of the Midnight Charter are about to be revealed. But a dangerous power struggle among the ruling class soon emerges and among all the scheming, plots and deceptions we meet Mark and Lily, two 12 year olds who are alone but for each other, and must survive with nothing but their wits. And as their stories unfold and they begin to learn how they can use their talents we discover that they are being watched, that dark forces are at work and somehow they are bound up in the whole future of their nation. A future that may not be so golden after all. The plot twists and turns as Mark's and Lily's fortunes change, their paths diverge and cross again as the malign influence of The Midnight Charter seems to haunt their every move.
Suitable for all ages and particularly young adults from 11+ who like to think about things, it is complex at times and occasionally demanding, as we are asked to think about what a society should be like. But Whitley has imagined a world so complete in all its detail, so sophisticated in it's examination of morality and corruption in a closed society that we are carried along with the adventure to the thrilling ending which leaves us eagerly awaiting book two.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is Brilliant! 19 Aug 2009
The best sort of book takes you to a place you never knew existed and introduces you to characters you would never meet anywhere else. The Midnight Charte leads us to the city of Agora, where everything except kindness has a value. Imagine seeling your emotions for profit?

The two main characters share a special fate, unknown to them, but laid down in the Midnight charter. The future of Agora will be shaped by their actions, at the same time Good and evil forces work secretly to help and hinder their fate.
The story has moments of humour, sadness and genuine thrils as we come closer to learning Lily and Mark's secret destiny. I wish I could jump straight into the next part of the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding debut
I am actually transferring this review onto Amazon with the benefit of having read the entire trilogy. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Crazy Jamie
5.0 out of 5 stars Atlas Unshrugged?
This book was a great read. Targeted at the young adult market, it would nevertheless not be out of place on any good bookshelf. Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2012 by Sir Furboy
5.0 out of 5 stars The Midnight Charter by David Whitley
Set in the closed in city of Agora, where there is no money only trading and anything can be traded. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by Nikki Bywater
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Good!
This is one of books I am really glad I was offered to review. Although very different from what I usually read I found myself completely charmed by it. Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2010 by Sammee, I Want To Read That
4.0 out of 5 stars Good solid children's / YA fantasy fiction
Very good original fantasy from this talented young writer. It reminds me of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights series, but is a quite different story. Read more
Published on 22 July 2010 by S. Barnes
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Fare
Whilst released as a YA novel this tale really will appeal to all fans of fantasy. The plotline is gripping and makes this offering pretty hard to put down and then when you add... Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2010 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
A very impressive first novel. This book propels you through the plot from the very first sentence and makes you really care about the characters. Read more
Published on 30 Oct 2009 by Greenfairy
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius!
A unique book, beautifully written with an enthralling story layered over an intriguing world view - all of which makes the reader desperate to know how the Protagonist and... Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2009 by E. J. Reeves
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