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Sapphique cover.jpg
First edition paperback cover
Author Catherine Fisher

United Kingdom

United States
Language English
Genre Young adult, dystopian future, Science fiction

Hodder (UK)

Dial Books (US)
Publication date

18 September 2008 (UK)

28 December 2010 (US)
Media type Paperback, Hardcover
Pages 480
ISBN 978-0-340-89361-6
Preceded by Incarceron

Sapphique is a young-adult fantasy and science fiction novel written by Catherine Fisher, first published in 2008 in the UK.[1] It is the sequel to Incarceron and concludes the story of Finn's quest for freedom. Sapphique was released in the US in December, 2010.

Sapphique is also the name of the legendary prisoner who journeyed to escape.

Plot summary[edit]

The setting is divided between two locations: "the Realm", a place of artificial harmony, and “Incarceron”, a microscopic prison that contains a vast world, all controlled and monitored by the prison itself, which is an artificial intelligence. There is no technology in the realm because of protocol and Finn who escaped the prison believes the realm is just as bad as Incarceron. The story starts off with Attia who helped Finn escape but wasn’t able to escape herself. She goes to a magic show pretending to be an average bystander because she is the magician’s helper. His name is Rix and he is known as the Dark Enchanter. She tags along with him for a while and they go to a few places then she turns on him, leaving him to die but he comes back with a vengeance later on. She steals his glove which actually belonged to Sapphique, the legendary Sapient who escaped from Incarceron. She catches a ride with Keiro, Finn’s oath brother, and they fight a twelve-headed monster together. They are then summoned by Incarceron to go to a certain location, that has its humanoid body, and along the way they go to a nursery that gets them in contact with Finn. The prison wants to escape itself to see the stars, if it does this, it will leave millions of prisoners left to die. Meanwhile, Finn is told by Claudia that he is the long lost prince Giles but he has a hard time remembering. He has visions that depict this but he has a hard time putting it all together. To make matters worse, somebody else claims that they are Giles. There are some trials and testimonies between the two and we learn later that somebody else has taught this fake Giles, all of Finn’s old unrecoverable memory. The council decides that the pretender is actually Giles so they decide that Finn is going to be executed for lying (though he didn’t lie). He has a little battle with the pretender nearly killing him but he aims for his arm. Finn and Claudia run away to the wardnery, the portal to the prison and they do all in their power to hold off the Queen’s huge advancing army. Jared is Claudia’s mentor and he meets them there nearly getting killed by a plot from the Queen. Jared knows more about the portal than them, thus he starts working on it. Meanwhile, Keiro reaches the humanoid statue after becoming Rix’s apprentice. Keiro said the magic line that Rix wanted to hear that tells Rix who his apprentice is. If it wasn’t for Keiro, Attia would be dead because Rix's revenge would’ve killed her. Keiro decides to not give the prison the glove and puts it on himself. He trades places with Claudia. He is put in the place where Claudia was in the realm and she was put in his place in Incarceron. Incarceron recognizes her because Claudia was a baby when the Warden took her from the prison and wanted her to become queen. Now outside, Keiro gets the nice clothes he always wanted as well as the food but he realizes he is in the middle of a battle. They capture the Queen’s son and she holds fire. Some of the Queen’s soldiers get in by following a Steel Wolf (the warden’s protectors) and there is a little standoff but Finn’s team manages to pull through. The realm is fake, as previously mentioned, and all of its power is lost revealing its ugliness. It was all an illusion. Jared puts on the glove and we realize that he was Sapphique. He decides to keep the portal open so there is a constant connection between the Realm and Incarceron. Attia steps out of the prison for the first time and she is awed by the stars. Finn and Sapphique (Jared) pledge to reform both the Realm and Incarceron.

Inspiration and Origins[edit]

Fisher said that as she was completing Incarceron, she knew that another book would be necessary to complete the story.

As I neared the end of Incarceron I realised there would be a sequel, but I didn’t think it would make a trilogy. A pair of books was something I hadn’t done before, so I was happy with that. Sapphique picks up a few months after the earlier book ends, and I can’t say too much about the plot without giving things away. But maybe escape is not the same thing as freedom, and inside the prison a crazy king claims to own Sapphique’s Glove, an object of great power that everyone, including the Prison itself, desperately wants. "Catherine Fisher". 


As with the previous novel, the book is set over two areas: Incarceron and The Realm.


Incarceron is a futuristic prison - a living building that tortures the inhabitants inside. Its futuristic technology oversees all the inmates inside through glowing, red eyes, and tortures them with the hope of escape, an unattainable goal only a legendary figure has attained. Initially, the intent of Incarceron’s creators, the Sapienti, was to incarcerate all the criminals in the world and repair their morals to form a perfect society, controlled with the help of the Prison entity ‘Incarceron’. The prisoners and Sapienti inside were sealed off from the world in order to control all variables in this experiment, with the exception of the prison Warden to oversee the project. However, after years of isolation and the failure of the perfect society, those inside have no way to seek help or escape when the Warden abandons the experiment’s aims.

The Realm[edit]

The Sapienti created Incarceron during a time of advanced technology and discovery. However, since then, King Endor released a royal decree that Time would be "stopped" in order for humanity to survive, and now the Realm is trapped in the 18th century. The King justified that they were making a world “free from the anxiety of change.” The Protocol prevents the development of science and evolution, and has since hindered Sapienti, and provided problems against freeing those in Incarceron.


  • Finn (Keiro's oathbrother)(Giles)
  • Claudia Arlexa
  • John Arlex (Warden of Incarceron)
  • Keiro (Finn's oathbrother)
  • Attia
  • Rix (Dark Enchanter)
  • Jared (Sapient)
  • Queen Sia (Queen of the Realm)
  • Incarceron (The living prison)
  • Caspar (Sia's Son) (Earl of the Realm)

The Sapienti[edit]

The Sapienti are the learned people in the Realm and in Incarceron. Incarceron was created by the Sapienti. Several of the creators entered Incarceron with the intent of passing knowledge to the inhabitants and ensuring the success of the experiment. Outside of Incarceron, the Sapienti are greatly respected for their knowledge and often are allowed to breach protocol. They have a mother tongue, which only Sapients can speak. It is also the mother-tongue of the prison. They wear special robes to distinguish themselves from others. Within Incarceron, there are very few Sapienti remaining. Jared is a Sapienti.


The hardback cover shows an ornate golden keyhole. Through the keyhole, stars can be seen. This is a reference to Finn's escape from the prison to the outside world where he could see the stars. The paperback shows two golden swans attached by chains around their necks and decorated with diamonds.

Critical reception[edit]

Reception so far has been mostly positive, although many reviews say that this sequel is not as good as its predecessor.[2] One review said:

Fisher concludes her high-intensity, mind-bending duology in this sequel to Incarceron. She further explores themes of reality, illusion, and freedom without losing her intensely original world-building and authentic characters. The bittersweet conclusion fits perfectly...


See also[edit]