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The Midnight Charter

(The Agora Trilogy #1)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  542 ratings  ·  106 reviews
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, unbeknow
Paperback, 378 pages
Published 2009 by Puffin Books
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3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  542 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won the sequel to this book in a goodreads giveaway, and whether by fortunate mistake, or fortunate kindness, the publisher sent me a copy of this one.

Now, I am itching to receive the sequel in the mail because to say this book was amazing is a complete understatement!

This book follows Mark and Lily through a series of coincidences that are just to coincidental to not be fate. I enjoyed the writing style very much, and I loved seeing the way everything was so perfectly tied together. I was gr
Tabitha Olson
May 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent-reviews
Mark and Lily live in a society based completely on trade. No one does anything for free, and debtors are severely punished.

This story has interesting concepts about trade and charity, but it really doesn't feel like a story for the intended audience. Other reviewers have called this YA, but it's supposed to be middle grade (9-12). Mark and Lily don't act like any twelve-year-old I've ever known. Not even the ones who basically take care of themselves. They behave more like sixteen or seventeen
Sofia Teixeira
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Whitley é um jovem autor que em 2005 ganhou o prémio Cheshire Prize for Literature. Depois de ter lido esta obra, consegui perceber o porquê. Um livro de uma imaginação fantástica, de um enredo de nos prender à leitura e que vai pondo à prova todos os conceitos que temos relacionados com elementos da nossa personalidade e da forma como nos relacionamos com os outros.

Numa cidade em que se pode vender tudo, até mesmo a vida, vemo-nos deparados com duas crianças que desde cedo começam a mexer
Jun 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
I tried and tired to like the book but it resisted me in every single way. I have no idea why this would be marketed for 9-12 year olds, from the opening lines the books talks about death , plague, disease, being sold by your parents and other fun things, not to mention that it's boring, there I said it. The whole book felt like a pretty ornament with beautiful words and strange things that were happening but it felt like a façade with a very boring inside. I was not drawn to it at all, and comp ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: megafans of fantasy (but pretty much nobody else)
This book was alright, it wasn't the best book I've ever read. I found it was ok, but I put it down quite a lot due to the dry and boring characters who don't really do much to get the reader truly absorbed in the world of the book. First there's mark,a young boy who is pretty uninteresting. He's only interesting at the start of the novel, though not for his character, but for the predicament he finds himself in. At the beggining, he wakes in a stone cold cell and assumes he's dead, and naturall ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Unique idea for a fantasy setting: a society where money isn't used, but everyone has a value. People barter, signing contracts that they will do such and such for someone else; all kids are worth a certain amount to their parents and some kids get sold by their parents when they can't pay their debts any other way. But at age 13 kids have their "Title Day" and become an adult, earning their signet ring which is how they legally seal contracts (in wax, vaguely medieval). Mark and Lily meet when ...more
Anja von "books and phobia"
Für dieses Buch entschied ich mich im Rahmen einer meiner Jahres-Challenges, um den sagenumwobenen SuB etwas zu verkleinern.

Und wieder einmal zog mich ein Buch aus dem Fantasy-Genre an, wobei ich sagen muss, das Fantasy diesmal ein sehr dehnbarer Begriff war, denn wirklich außergewöhnliche Sachen geschahen fast überhaupt nicht.

Gerade der Anfang machte es mir sehr schwer, da man in die Geschichte gerade zu hinein geworfen wird und dann erstmal schauen muss, was hier eigentlich los ist. Um dann en
Yasmin Halliwell Fraser Bower
The Midnight Charter is kind of a Dystopian story, but not quite. It’s like the origins of pretending to be dystopian, you know? It follows Mark and Lily, two eleven year old kids that are “slaves” of an oppressive system in which EVERYTHING can be exchanged for something else. Furniture, people lives, emotions. Everything has a value in the market, but not really a moral or emotional one. This is Ágora, the city that wants everyone to be equals and fails.

At the beginning of the book, Mark is al
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Do you need something? Well you aren't going to get it if you don't have something worthwhile to trade...not in Agora anyways.

Mark comes from the slums of Agora, only managing to escape the deadly plague because his father sold him. Lily is the servant who takes care of Mark in his new home. In their world where everything -including their lives- can be bought and sold, their only goal is survival.

When the two get a chance to switch lives, they take it. Lily goes outside in the world and Mark re
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally posted on

In a world where everything is bought and living is hard, Mark has been sold by his father to a Doctor who may be able to cure him of the Plague. But on his 12th birthday, Mark must choose how he wants to live. Taking a very different path from his friend Lily, he unknowingly begins the fulfilment of the Midnight Charter, the outcomes of which will decide the outcome of Agora...

With the Midnight Charter, David Whitley has created an unexpe
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Midnight Charter is the first in a promised fantasy trilogy. It is author David Whitley's first novel, and as debut releases go there is a fair amount of pressure following this book around. For a start he is only 24 years old, but even more poignant for such a young author is that this book is published by Puffin. Which means that it has been released in 20 countries in 13 languages (well, you don't expect a company like Puffin to do things by half do you?). And when you add together a youn ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, tween
I'm finally going back and reading books that I placed on my "To Read" list long ago.
Engaging characters, suspenseful in a 'big conspiracy' way, richly detailed world building.
I didn't realize when I put this on my "To Read" list back in 2009 that it was the first of a trilogy. It is definitely written as a beginning to a much larger story. I am slightly interested in what happens next, but I don't feel like I have to know immediately.
Janet Robel
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was quite interesting. I had no idea that it was written for middle readers, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I'd really like to read the other in this series because I enjoyed Lily and would like to see how her journey ends.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In alcuni punti mi ha ricordato la Canavan, questo romanzo che esito a definire fantasy: realtà alternativa magari sarebbe meglio! Attendo speranzosa il seguito.
Lalii Ienco
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I Love this Book 💟🌃
Oct 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I am absolutely amazed by this book. It contains a fantastically spooky setting, very interesting characters and some highly thought-provoking themes. I have started the second book in the trilogy, The Children of the Lost, as soon as I finished this one!

I can't tell you what the Midnight Charter is because that would be spoiling and that is just plain wrong (no, no, I am not hinting to you Mockingjay spoiler-morons).

We start the book with Mark, a young boy suffering from the grey plague who ha
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lily and Mark are both born and raised in The City. Everyone knows that there isn't anything outside of the City, so as they become adults (at age thirteen) and learn to traverse the give and take of the City's commerce they take it as a given. However, so much more is happening between the lines of the contracts upon which the City is built and both Lily and Mark have quite the part to play!

I honestly wasn't sure I'd be able to get into this story. Post-disaster worlds were kind of ruined for

Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
The Midnight Charter / 978-1-596-43381-6

Possibly the most intriguing thing about "Midnight Charter" is the city setting itself. The city of Agora is a closed world, with tall walls preventing any entry or exit to the outside world. Within the city, there is no money - only an elaborate barter system where everything is available for trade, including the emotions of the poor and desperate. The system is, however, inherently unstable - how does one hoard wealth and power in a barter-based economy
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I was actually under the impression the story was dystopian however the plot itself was intriguing, dystopian or not.

While this book is labeled as dystopian on many book sites, there is no indication that this world is our future earth at all. In fact, it is almost certain to be an alternate world somewhere, unless revelations are made in the following books I would label the story as fantasy or science fantasy. Agora is a walled-in city, people are told that beyond Agora the
Rhiannon Ryder
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Apparently the Midnight Charter has been sitting on my shelf since last Christmas when the hubby gifted it to me. That may be open to argument as I thought I'd read all the books he gave me for Christmas 2009 and was pretty sure this was part of my B-day book haul from him. One way or another it was a greatly indignant hubby who suggested I really aught to read it next when I was trying to pick the other night.
So I heaved a big sigh, and put down my two new zombie books I was super stoked about
Sep 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
I picked this book out from my library shelves after seeing the cover was somewhat different to every other teenage book cover in the world- it wasn't black. Picked through the blurb- no mentions of vampires or Angels or werewolves. Good so far. It also seemed to have an interesting and intriguing idea and was intrested to see where the author would go
With it. Unfortunately it didn't go in the direction I would have liked. The big main idea that drew me in about children being sold was barely ev
Bah! I'm not impressed at all with this book! Certainly don't give me an ending that is just a big question when the book wasn't good enough in the first place to make me want to read a sequel.

This novel has lots of good concepts in it that just aren't delivered in an interesting way. The opening is mysterious and has you wondering whether the main character is alive or dead. Is this the afterlife or is this normal reality? Unfortunately, this is not a question that's ever answered. Then you've
Becky B
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I picked this up expecting a dystopian fiction, and instead found myself feeling like I was reading a Dickens novel with a touch of fantasy and minus about half the normal plethora of characters. (There were parts that strongly reminded me of aspects of Bleak House (view spoiler). The story revolves around a boy and girl, both near 12, and both just starting out trying to make their way in the city of Agora without f ...more
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the ancient Celtic land of Tir Na Nog, Shadowmagic is a fabulous adventure fantasy. Conor is a young man on the cusp of adulthood. His father is a one-handed ancient languages professor with a penchant for speaking those languages at home, and for collecting ancient, and effective, weaponry as well. Conor’s mother is long gone and although Conor is used to it, he still wishes she was there for him. He’s a pretty average teenager – he has a girlfriend, Sally, likes loud music and Nikes – l ...more
Nikki Bywater
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Set in the closed in city of Agora, where there is no money only trading and anything can be traded. Parents can trade their children up to the age of twelve and feelings and emotions even bad ones can be traded too. Anyone who has got nothing left to trade can not survive and there is a plague in the slums.

Just before his twelfth birthday, Mark is sold to the grandson of the great astrologer Count Stelli. Mark was traded by his father so that he could get medicine for himself. The Count’s grand
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Bu
Apr 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Die Mitternachtsvereinbarung

Kurz vor seinem 12. Geburtstag wird Mark von seinem Vater an den Doktor verkauft. Er hat die graue Pest, er glaubt, er muss sterben. Und als Mark wieder aufwacht, glaubt er, er ist tot. Denn er sieht Lily, die strahlt wie ein Engel. Doch schnell darf er feststellen, dass er nicht tot ist und Lily ist kein Engel. Der Doktor hat es geschafft, seine Krankheit zu kurieren und dafür soll Mark in des Doktors Dienste treten. Lily arbeitet als Dienstmädchen bei des Doktors Gr
Feb 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book feeling very excited about reading the trilogy. Sadly though, that excitement did not hold true throughout the book. About half way through I had no intention of reading books two and three, but then by the last chapter my excitement was renewed.

I will give Whitley credit, he writes beautifully. The story is so dark but he does an excellent job of not letting it get distorted. The book felt very Tim Burton-ish to me (if you can imagine that, after I said it wasn't distorted)
Tessa Joy
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
During the gray plague outbreak in Agora, Mark is sold to Dr. Theophilus to pay for his father's debts. Mark becomes the doctor's apprentice, but Mark's new friend Lily convinces him to switch jobs with her. Lily was working for Count Stelli, the great Agorian astrologer. After the switch is made, their lives change completely. Mark rises in power and prestige with Count Stelli, while Lily is constantly defending her work with Dr. Theophilus in helping the poor. When a mutual friend is murdered, ...more
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A fantasy book for the recession? 2 4 Apr 17, 2013 02:00PM  
he is so nice 1 3 Jun 24, 2012 09:06AM  
  • Phantom of Blood Alley (Barnaby Grimes, # 4)
  • A Plague of Bogles (City of Orphans, #2)
  • The Three Loves of Persimmon
  • The Toymaker
  • The Locket of Dreams
  • A Passagem - Volume II (The Passage #1, Part 2 of 2)
  • The Bone Tiki (Aotearoa, #1)
  • Tallow (Curse of The Bond Riders, #1)
  • Sombras da Noite Branca (A Saga das Pedras Mágicas, #8)
  • The Red Wind (The Kingdom of the Lost, #1)
  • Let Sleeping Dragons Lie (Have Sword, Will Travel #2)
  • The Orphan of Awkward Falls
  • The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher
  • Word of Honour (The Laws of Magic, #3)
  • Grimsdon (Grimsdon, #1)
  • The Doom Machine
  • The Truth About Verity Sparks (Verity Sparks, #1)
  • The Hollow Bettle (Poisons of Caux, #1)

Other books in the series

The Agora Trilogy (3 books)
  • Children of the Lost (The Agora Trilogy #2)
  • The Canticle of Whispers (The Agora Trilogy, #3)