Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Silver Sequence - Cliff McNish

Cliff McNish's Silver Sequence consists of three books: The Silver Child, Silver City and Silver World. Silver City is a Cybil nomination, but as I cannot bear to read series books out of sequence, I borrowed the first and third books from the library so that I could read the whole sequence.

The Silver Child

Six children leave the comfort of their homes as they find themselves drawn to Coldharbour - an eerie wasteland of wind, rats, seagulls and rubbish tips. The twins Emily and Freda, scuttle around, bright-eyed and insect-like on their toes and fingertips. They find Thomas, a rich kid, on a food tip. Then they are joined by the gentle giant Walter, who is 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide, and Helen, who suddenly discovers she can read minds. These five help a boy named Milo, who eats and eats and eats, until Thomas, with his "beauty", an unspecified power that can transform children, helps Milo to transform himself into a gigantic winged silver boy, so massive that he can cover the whole of the Coldharbour area with his body and outstretched wings. Why are these children being transformed in this way ? Because a powerful creature that the children name the Roar (because they first become aware of it only as a roaring noise) is coming to our world, intending to feed on all its life. It is centuries old and was once part of a team of assassins that helped to kill the Protectors who looked after the different worlds across the universe, but the Protector for our world is missing, presumed dead. After his transformation Milo calls all the children of the world to Coldharbour to help learn to defend the earth against the Roar.

Silver City

Milo, now transformed into a luminous silver child, keeps watch over the teeming city of Coldharbour, which is being filled with children from all over the world. Thomas, Helen, Walter and the twins Emily and Freda are doing their best to prepare themselves and the other children for the coming of the Roar. Thomas uses his beauty to transform Tanni, Parminder and a group of 198 other children into the terrifying Unearthers, children who develop drills instead of hands and then metallic bodies. But who is controlling the Unearthers, why are they draining Thomas of his beauty and why can Helen no longer hear Thomas' thoughts ? Milo's 5 year old sister, Jenny, turns up in Coldharbour following his great call. She wants to be with Thomas but cannot explain why... And then Emily and Freda discover that our world's Protector is not dead after all, but merely imprisoned deep beneath the sea. They visit it and work to free it from its prison. Meanwhile Helen is learning things from reading the mind of the Roar, and discovers that she has left an offspring buried deep in the Earth's core, below Coldharbour.

Silver World

In the third and final book of the Silver Sequence, the Roar finally arrives at our world. Milo is the first line of the Earth’s defence against her and sheltered by his wings, Helen probes the mind of the Roar, desperate to find a weakness that will allow the children to be victorious in their battle against her. Meanwhile the twins, Emily and Freda, together with a large group of other children touched by Thomas' beauty, are deep below the sea, struggling to free the Protector, which is half-blind and desperately weak following its last battle with the Roar and her offspring, Carnac. Whilst the Roar is approaching from space, Carnac is crawling from the depths of the Earth, intending to assist his mother in a two-pronged attack. Only the 200 children, known as the Unearthers, who are led by Tanni, stand in his way.

And all this time, little Jenny is calling the birds, insects and animals of the world to her to help the children defend Earth. The children's parents remain outside Coldharbour, kept out by an invisible barrier that no one over the age of 18 can pass.

Then Thomas discovers that Jenny can use his beauty to become a weapon against the Roar, and it becomes even more urgent that Helen find the Roar's weaknesses, if they are to overcome her.

This is an astonishing series. McNish takes some apparently ordinary children and makes them extraordinary and then gives them a Herculean task that it's never certain they will accomplish.


Unknown said...

Astonishing is a good way to describe this series, with its unique vision and compelling writing. I'm glad you liked it, too.

Michele said...

I really did ! And I shall read "The Doomspell Trilogy" with great curiosity...