And Lucifer said, “Let us rise against Him now in all our numbers, and pull the walls of heaven down…”
The year is 1348. Thomas, a disgraced knight, has found a young girl alone in a dead Norman village. An orphan of the Black Death, and an almost unnerving picture of innocence, she tells Thomas that plague is only part of a larger cataclysm - that the fallen angels under Lucifer are rising in a second war on heaven, and that the world of men has fallen behind the lines of conflict.
Is it delirium or is it faith? She believes she has seen the angels of God. She believes the righteous dead speak to her in dreams. And now she has convinced the faithless Thomas to shepherd her across a depraved landscape to Avignon. There, she tells Thomas, she will fulfill her mission: to confront the evil that has devastated the earth and to restore to this betrayed, murderous knight the nobility and hope of salvation he long abandoned.
As Hell unleashes its wrath, and as the true nature of the girl is revealed, Thomas will find himself on a macabre battleground of angels, demons, saints, and the risen dead - and in the midst of a desperate struggle for nothing less than the soul of man.
Christopher Buehlman is a writer and performer from St. Petersburg, Florida. The winner of the 2007 Bridport Prize for poetry, he is also the author of several plays and the acclaimed horror novel Those Across the River. He lives with his wife and his rescued dog, Duck.
©2012 Christopher Buehlman (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Having made a huge bloody splash with Those across the River, Buehlman returns with a book set in 1348 Europe…It’s intriguing that Buehlman has leapt so far from the mid-century Southern setting of his first novel, just as intriguing that he’s also an award-winning poet. Expect demand.” (Library Journal)
Bought this book based on reviews (thank you Audible community) and I was rewarded tremendously. This book has everything a good fantasy - horror novel should have. The story takes you to the medievil ages which are creepy enough as is but then adds to it that half the world is dead or dying with the plague. Pretty horrid setting right? Then comes the added element which the author weaves excellently into a quest story - hell has sent the plague to earth to defeat mankind! Now amongst the dead and dying are demons, shades, and all sorts of hell beasts and imposters that use and abuse human kind. Where is God? Most of the world has given up looking for him. Who will save the world? Could it be a young girl who sees visions, a fallen knight, and a drukard priest?
This book is totally credit worthy and I am a tough critic. It is a fun, weird, scary, quest across the dying landscape of medievil France!
This book was my first experience with medieval fiction/horror, (I don't even know if that's the right way to describe this book!). I bought it because I've enjoyed the author's live performances as "Christophe the Insultor" at the Renaissance Festival for years, and I've always thought him a genius of improv comedy. This book is nothing like that! But I loved it anyway! The story and characters are richly complex and compelling. The imagery is chilling. I was shocked, appalled, and addicted from the beginning. I love an author who can challenge and surprise me, and Mr. Buehlman does not disappoint!
Living in Northern NJ. Addicted to that spine-tingling rush of fear.
They had me at the moving statues - I love that warpy-stuff. A bit of gore, if you're afraid of a little bit of dead children...or rather ...little bits
Mesmerizing. Haunting. Compelling.
I honestly can't think if another book like this. Maybe The Canterbury Tales if Neil Gaiman had written them.
No, but he was magnificent! I'll definitely keep my eyes open for more from this talented narrator.
I adored Thomas from the beginning, and my affection only grew as the story unfolded. A marvelously well rounded, flawed hero.
I can't tell you how much I loved this book. Give it a chance, and you'll be ensnared by it too. I believe I'll wait a month or do and listen to it again. There are many beautiful layers and more to be gleaned a second time through.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I got this one in a Halloween sale at audible, and it's fairly enjoyable. The setting is 14th century France, and the Black Death is ravishing a countryside already ravished by war. To the survivors, it looks like the End Times are coming and the devil's supernatural minions are loose upon the Earth. And perhaps they are...
The story feels like a mix of George R.R. Martin and Cormac McCarthy's The Road, with some Heironymus Bosch-ian freakiness thrown in (if you don't know who he is, do an image search on the internet -- it's worth your time). A hardbitten fallen knight is roaming the hellscape with some outlaws when his compatriots take an unwholesome interest in a strange girl, who claims to hear instructions from angels. The knight takes issue, swords are drawn, and soon the knight is the grudging companion of the girl, whom he intends to dump at the next village. But, after an encounter with a monster and a hallucinatory vision, he begins to think her angels might be real...
The plot takes a while to find its feet as the two protagonists go from town to town, encountering new scenes of devastation, various creatures of the underworld, and the usual demons of human nature, and picking up a wayward priest and a mule, but tightens up as it approaches the last act.
The story isn't without cliches, some dialogue of dubious authenticity, and few scenes or devices straight out of a B horror movie, but its more deliciously nightmarish moments make up for the weak patches. The monster/angel/demon battles are a little "Hollywood", but, otherwise, Buehlman does a fine job with creepy imagery and some of the more human-focused scenes.
I particularly enjoyed the mini-narratives that set the stage for each new act, describing an ongoing war between the hosts of heaven and the hosts of hell (with humanity caught in the middle) in appropriately medieval terms. I'm not sure how much of what transpires really represents Christian theology, but, then again, one could ask that about The Exorcist. The epilogue, though, seems to reach a more spiritual and less supernatural understanding of the religion.
Audiobook narrator, Steve West, does pretty well with male characters, though I wondered why he represented Frenchmen with an English accent. Maybe he can't do a French accent? His German accent might be the most Jamaican sounding one I've ever heard. And I wasn't a huge fan of his falsetto for Delphine.
Regardless, I think that fans of horror fantasy and/or gritty action set in the Middle Ages will enjoy this book. 3.5 stars overall.
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