The Celestial Globe


Marie Rutkoski


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

February 2, 2021

bout ten years ago, I read The Cabinet of Wonders and thought it was a well told story. But I had never read the next book in the trilogy, so I checked out The Celestial Globe, expecting an enjoyable read. What a disappointment. Despite it's length, just 290 pages in hardbound edition, I really struggled to finish the The Celestial Globe. I found the character of Petra so unlikeable that I didn't want to spend any time reading the story of her adventures. Once I was disillusioned with the characters, the rest of the story telling just seemed to collapse into a heap of unlikely coincidences and unexplained behavior by the characters.

In North Africa, Tomik and Neel are discussing their secrets in the middle of an open air market. Tomik says "...if you are so concerned about privacy, should we really talk around him?" Tomik nodded at a shabbily cloaked goatherd who walked close by. Neel snorted. "The chances that fellow speaks Czech are slimmer than a starved snake. We're in Sallay. He's a goatherd. Your country is the size of a bug on the map of Europe. Think a little." But of course, the goatherd speaks Czech. And the goatherd knows a pirate captain who is currently in port. And of course the pirate captain believes a goatherd's tale and sets sail after the Romany ship, in pursuit of Neel and Tomik. And of course the pirate captain sends letters to the evil Prince Rodolfo, informing him of his pursuit of the Celestial Globes, because naturally the ruler of a land-locked nation knows pirate captains! Ugh, that's bad plotting.

Petra is so stubborn that she would make a mule appear congenial. Petra won't listen to anyone's advice; when John Dee summons the demon Ariel, he warns Petra to remain silent, lest Ariel attack. But of course Petra doesn't heed this advice, and keeps talking and giggling. By this point in the novel, I was so sick of Petra's obstinacy that I would not have minded if Ariel had given her a swift kick in the posterior. But instead Ariel tells Petra she is a chimera, which means she is a doubly powerful magician. Well, of course she is!

It is never explained: why is John Dee training Petra? At the end of the book, there is some lame suggestion that Dee wanted to teach Petra to be an assassin, but that makes no sense. John Dee is a powerful sorcerer. His daughters can transport him any where he wants to go, including to zipping from London to a random forest clearing in Eastern Europe, where he can arrive in the nick of time to singlehandedly slay all four Gristleki that are about to destroy Petra. With power like that, why would Dee put up with the petulant Petra?

Dee and Petra visit an ancient ship that is buried in a mound. Despite the fact that all of the Viking ships used as tombs are just open boats, Dee and Petra have to descend through an opened hatchway. There they examine a huge mound of treasure. Petra happens to pick up one coin out of thousands, and finds it is stamped with the image of bird, and was minted in her home country! Finding this major clue (which ultimately doesn't lead to anything) they leave the treasure ship and all the other gold coins behind.

Despite the title, the magical celestial globes play almost no part in the story. At the end of the novel, no one even bothers to return to the scene to conduct a massive search of the property. Not even guards are there. It is just an after thought that Petra goes in to retrieve the missing globe. (Robert Cotton, the owner of the globe, printed a his own special front page of book with the clue N6 indicating where he had hidden the globe - because isn't that what everyone does when they are hiding a magical treasure?)

This book was such a let-down that I have no intention of reading the next book in the series. I am sure Petra's chimera powers will allow her to vanquish a zillion opponents, and that impossible coincidences will play a gigantic role in the plot, and that is not the type of story I would enjoy reading.