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The Cipher (Crosspointe Chronicles #1)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  723 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Distant member of the royal Rampling family, Lucy Trenton's ability to detect majick has embroiled her in a dangerous intrigue that threatens her very life. Her only hope lies in her most persistent suitor, ship captain Marten Thorpe, but Lucy isn't sure she can trust him...
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 6th 2007 by Roc (first published 2007)
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Lucy Trenton's special gift is the ability to sense magick, a useful trick in the town of Crosspointe, where enchanted sylveth can surge in with the tides, transforming and destroying every creature it touches. Lucy is a good, law-abiding citizen with one flaw: she collects true ciphers, magically cursed objects created centuries ago by a magician named Errol Cipher. Lucy must fight a sylveth tide, fight a cipher which has bonded to her arm, and deal with a blackmailer who knows her secret. And ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

A great beginning:

There were some days that deserved to be be drowned at birth and everyone sent back to bed with a hot brandy, a box of chocolates and a warm, energetic companion. Today was without question one of those days.

The Cipher is a fantasy book with a strong romance thread. It's set in a word of Georgian or Victorian resonance (before the Industrial Revolution).

It has an absolutely great world-building, and an unrelenting tension until the very end.

The world-building was well i
Blodeuedd Finland
Jul 11, 2015 Blodeuedd Finland marked it as dnf
I am a cruel cruel mistress. My poor books. This one, sure it was good I guess (not for me though.) I was bored, I could not get into it, and I could not care less
What I liked:
Story begins interestingly, custom inspection, strange magic creatures and blackmail plot especially
Premise of book has potential, world has good renascence wipe , there is interesting magic and magical artifacts.

what I didn't like:
main characters were too gullible, which was used as plot device to make story's villains plot work, but still writer insist that main character are clever, even best on their field of work, which both need people who aren't easily cheated or lied.
Lucy Trenton is a member of Crosspointe's Royal Family, but that doesn't mean she gets a free ride. They all have to work for a living. Lucy is a customs officer and a damn good one, but she has a secret; she can feel the presence of magic. Which is a bit unfortunate because Crosspointe runs on small magics made from the raw magic of the dangerous sylveth which infests the sea, contaminating and changing anything it touches into living monsters, infectious and dangerous. In the wrong place at th ...more
Welcome to Crosspointe. Where if you don’t control the majick, it may control you…

What I liked

I think the strongest elements in Francis’ writing are her terrific world-building and her characters.

The world-building is rich and complex. Francis uses a lot of her own words within the story, which may sometimes get confusing. But they are well-placed in context. The visual descriptions are very well done. I had no trouble visualizing the scenes—places, people, and action—as I was reading. I particu
I found this book because a friend of mine posted a contest on Facebook to win a copy of this re-issued story. The cover of the new release, alone, had me interested, then I read the description. I downloaded it and absolutely loved it!

Lucy Trenton's ability to sense majick is one of her most dangerous secrets. But only one.

A blackmailer knows the other.

Suddenly, Lucy is caught in a treasonous plot to destroy the crown, and she's trapped in the tentacles of a desperate, destructive majick. Her o
Odette Cortés
Well, after finishing this book all I can really say is that the world created by Diana Pharaoh Francis is scary. Actually is more than scary. It’s freaking terrifying, that’s what it is. Apparently the poor folks that live in Cresspointe not only have to worry about the sylveth (toxic little abominations that not only mutilate, but turn their victims into one of them) — no, they also have to worry about dangerous sea monsters, inclement weather, Jutras (a ruthless violent race that wants to inv ...more
Although the new cover looks YA, this isn't a YA fantasy book. It is also a revised edition of the series. I do believe that the whole series is being revised in the same way.

The beginning is a bit slow in pacing, but you really get to know the "flavor" of the world where magic is possible and dangerous. You also get to know several of the characters. As Lucy gets more caught up into a political and dangerous magical plot the book becomes more involved and the pacing increases. There were severa
Jennifer Schaper
The Cipher was a wonderful read, full of rich setting details, mystery, and a thoroughly constructed fantasy world. This book was originally published in 2007 by Tor, and was re-issued in 2014 by Bell Bridge Books. I haven’t read the original version, so I can’t comment on any differences between them. However, it is my understanding that the changes were minor.

The basic storyline of The Cipher is: Lucy works as a customs inspector. She has a strange ability to detect magic. During a salvage, Lu
The Cipher, originally published in 2007, has just been re-released (by Bell Bridge Books). According to the author’s website: “If you read the original version, it’s much the same, though there have been some edits to strengthen the characters more.” This was a first read-through for me, so I can’t speak to how the story has changed from its original version.

I enjoyed the writing style. The dialogue felt fluid and had a good rhythm. The language and setting had the feeling of a historical and y
Berls (Fantasy is More Fun)
This Review Appeared First at Fantasy is More Fun
4.5 stars
Note: The Cipher was recently re-released with some changes. This review is of the version released June 30, 2014

My Initial Reaction...
It's been a little bit since I read Diana Pharaoh Francis and I'd sort of forgotten her incredible ability to weave fantasy worlds that blow my mind with their originality, to torture her characters in ways that make me cringe in pain and despair of hope, all while enticing me to not let the book go. The
The Cipher turned out to be an unexpectedly good read! The twists throughout the story were well foreshadowed, but done subtly enough that you might guess in the right general direction, but the execution of the twist itself would still be an enjoyable surprise.

I think I'd have to say Lucy Trenton's tenacity was my favorite of all her traits. Once she set her mind to something, she would not let go! For a woman who enjoyed following the rules, I was impressed with how brazen she was in her actio
Chrissy Wissler
"The Cipher," the first book in Francis's Crosspointe Chronicles, signals the beginning of another fantastic series by one of my favorite fantasy authors. The island of Crosspointe, and the world around it, is so unique and fresh; it stands apart from the traditional fantasy setting and magic systems.

Lucy Trenton has a unique talent - she can sense majick. Unfortunately, it's a dangerous talent and she has spent her whole life keeping her ability a secret. When she finds a true cipher and it at
In an odd phenomenon I've rarely witnessed, the writing in the beginning of the book was immature at best: badly set-up flashbacks contrived to tell a lot of backstory in one fell swoop, more body language than necessary, the lead character's focus on what appeared to be an important side character that had little to do with the actual plot. In fact, two of the side characters portrayed to be quite significant to Lucy have backstory told about them, but barely impact the plot, while an utterly n ...more
I bought this book a few years ago, and vaguely remember being disappointed in it at the time. So when I found it again today I thought I'd give it a second chance...maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it before...

Alas, no, it is just a disappointing book. It looks as if I should like it. It has this cool setting with a city that feels sort of late-Georgian/early-Victorian, and magic (only, irritatingly, it's spelled "majick") that washes in on the tide, and a royal family that's all tied up in
I am not a person who gives up on books, so I struggled through this - but ultimately found it remarkably un-engaging. I think one problem which might be fixable is that Francis made up terms which we already have words for, which was sort of annoying.

Additionally it read almost as though it were the second book in a series rather than the first, and the characters were just boring.
extra 1/2 star
Nov 11, 2007 Jane rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers who like Dawn Cook.
Shelves: fantasy
Good worldbuilding. Main character is a member of the royal family of her country but because the family has been in litigation for years she works as a custom inspector for incoming ships. Her special ability is to be able to detect magick on others. When a cipher (physical object with a spell included) attaches itself to her, her life changes, and not for the good. Soon she's accused of treason and fighting for her freedom. First in a trilogy.
A great, strong female protagonist and an imaginative world with an interesting take on magic. The ending felt a little rushed and I didn't quite understand (or believe, for that matter) the sudden transformation that the two main characters went through. I wish there'd been more explanation or exploration into Errol Cipher's character and the Jutras people (and perhaps more moral ambiguity instead of clear-cut black and white, good and evil).
Good read but a bit slow in the beginning establishing characters. It did not pick until near the end when things started to get interesting. Lucy was ok and Martin at times I found myself not liking. But both character eventually became more 2 dimensional hopefully as the series continues they will become fully fleshed out. I really liked the book. The series promises to be interesting. Recommended read.
First off, the plot of the book is very different from how the back of the book makes it sound.
Second, while the first couple chapters were full of action, it sort of slows down after that. I put it down at one point and just couldn't find any interest to put it back down again. The plot and the characters just didn't keep my attention. Oh well.
Lari Werner
A very hard read for me starts out with Lucy being a Hippocrate over her values. Marten is a gambler with a bother who has a black soul. In the end Lucy recognizes what she is and tries to turn it around. Martin pays a hefty price for his addition. I enjoyed the last third of the book. Can't wait for the next,
The Cipher is the kind of fantasy I like: spies, magic, betrayal, intrigue, hope... all the good stuff that makes you want to read. I'm looking forward to getting the second book in the series.

I wasn't too thrilled with how this one ended but because it kept me interested through 95% of it, I'm letting that go.
HRM Maire
I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I picked it up because I really enjoyed her first books ("Path" series) and when I read the back, I thought, well, I'll try it...Well, it was worth the read! I hope she hurries up with more of this series! This is really good fantasy without elves or goblins, etc.
Nicole Luiken
Fascinating world full of magic: sylveth, ciphers and the Pale. Excellent plot, especially the last 100 pages. Lucy's trouble got bigger and deeper... and deeper. My only problem was the Marten POV chapters... Although he redeemed himself by the end, his downfall in the middle was painful to read.
I loved the story line, it was a bit choppy but it made the story more exciting. The only things i didn't like was how it didn't really explain the italisized words and the author also used the same phrases over and over on the same page. But other than that it was undoubitably award worthy..
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I was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern California (outside a town called Lincoln which is now part of an enormous sprawl). I taught myself to ride a horse at the age of six, as no one had the time to teach me—they were all busy learning how to irrigate, how to cajole an angry bull into another field, how to pull a calf… Afraid of heights, and absolutely sure I was going to die, I managed to sc ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Crosspointe Chronicles (4 books)
  • The Black Ship (Crosspointe Chronicles, #2)
  • The Turning Tide (Crosspointe Chronicles, #3)
  • The Hollow Crown (Crosspointe Chronicles, #4)

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“There were some days that deserved to be drowned at birth and everyone sent back to bed with a hot brandy, a box of chocolates and a warm, energetic companion. Today was without question one of those days.” 10 likes
“Some days, Lucy thought, deserved to be drowned at birth and everyone sent back to bed with a hot brandy, a box of chocolates, and a warm, energetic companion.” 0 likes
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