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)
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
Between Two Fires is a well written 14th century period piece that expertly intermingles vivid scenes of plague ravaged France with Christian mythos to provide a fantastical horror story that reads like historical fiction. I am not a great horror fan so to say I "liked" this book wouldn't be quite right, but I was completely captivated by it. Christopher Buehlman is masterful in his writing - his characters are so genuine, the settings so sharply etched, the plot so intricate and imaginative that I was engrossed throughout the book. I felt a bit dazed at the end of the book coming back to the 21st century after this total immersion experience in 1348.
I have to thank Audible and Troy's review for giving me a nudge to look at this book. I'm don't normally read books in the horror genre, but I am a huge fan of good writing and this book ranks right up there with the best. And, it paints such a clear picture of this period of medieval history that it is likely to be appealing to those who like historical fiction as well as those who enjoy a good scary story.
It's not a book for everyone - the book covers a dark period of history when the Black Death rampaged through Europe and many of the characters are rough, vulgar people so it is not surprising that there are graphic scenes of violence and a fair amount of cursing and crude language in the book. I did not think the violence or bad language was gratuitous, but I know I like to know before hand when a book is one I want to listen to in private. (One oddity in regard to the vulgar language, Buehlman seems to have no difficult referring to various parts of female anatomy in very coarse terms, but male anatomy was demurely referred to as "the groin" and "his verge" which struck me as a little strange.)
Steve West does a terrific job with the narration. He pitches his voice just right to maintain the growing tension through the plot progression and does a good job with voices as well. One tiny criticism - scythe, a word used many times in the novel, does not have a K sound in it. Not a big deal, but I do think audio production people could do a better job picking up that sort of thing.
This is not a book for the faint of heart or those with delicate sensibilities, but it is a fascinating and well-written story.
Books make the world a better place
Christopher Buehlman is my new favorite author and oh boy does he know how to deliver a jaw-dropping, stomach-lurching, hair-raising apocalyptic tale of heaven, hell and pure evil! That’s right, this story is not for the faint of heart but if you can handle blasphemy, foul language, outrages monstrosities (both physical and emotional), disturbing descriptions of demons, disease, plague, murder, mutilations and gore then this audiobook is definitely for you.
We follow the trail of a disgraced knight, a damaged priest and a young orphaned girl who travel together to reach Avignon for a purpose not entirely clear until much later. What is clear is that the girl is ‘chosen’ and her visions guide the group through 14th century France’s countryside. Amidst the deadly outbreak of bubonic plague there are other things more sinister and the three face trials that range from the supernatural and celestial to the physical and psychological. Their journey is swamped with deliciously described battle scenes, personal struggles and outrageous horrors. Devils and mythical monsters abound since heaven has failed to answer, while Hell’s minions revel because God has fallen silent. Good vs. evil, dark vs. light, sinner vs. saint and demon vs. angel. There is also redemption, renewal, faith, mercy, sacrifice and love.
“Between Two Fires” is impressively detailed and well-written. The main characters are deeply developed and their adversaries are also well defined…and so maliciously murderous that one can almost smell the carnage. There are masterful passages of supernatural warfare, grotesque cruelty as well as moments of tenderness and lighthearted banter. With Steve West’s pitch-perfect narration, I was hooked and I found it near impossible to stop listening.
I can’t believe I had not heard of Christopher Buehlman but you can bet I will not forget him. In fact I’ve already purchased his book, “Those Across the River”. I need more please...more Buehlman for me!!!
ot only would I listen to it again, I WILL listen to it again. Maybe even right now!
This is the most original book I have a]\read in a long time. While some people may be turned off by the religious overtones, the story of Between Two Fires is compelling whether or not you are religious. It is like Stephen King's "The Stand" Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" and Brown's "Da Vinci Code" all got together and had a baby with a history bool about the Dark Ages. I have never read anything quite like it. The characters are fascinating and flawed, the plot is riveting and surprising, and the writing is superb. If you like fantasy or christian literature, or both, or neither, check this book out!
Avid book lover and listener. Nuff said for this purpose.
I enjoyed this book a lot. The fact that the characters were so different from most quasi-type Evil Vs Good. Tomas was interesting and you could really get a sense of how he thought what changed him and why. The female lead was also very different from most 'touched by angels' characters. Yes, it's a book of demons vs God in a battle for men's souls,,seemingly a God who has forgotten earth and his creation. Demons who always remember His creation. But they are different in this story and I enjoyed it. The Author's second book I think, but certainly with a lot of promise.I would definitely read another book by Buehlman. And I really liked the unexpected ending, what a nice surprise.This book isn't over religious and I don't want to give that impression. It's more about how we interact with and treat others and some of the consequences that result. It is a novel and not written as "This is the way it is" feeling one gets from reading an Author who is trying to state that his point of view is the only one, the true one. That sort of judging is not in this book. If you like a good story that has really scary parts, really gruesome parts, really endearing parts that span the continuum then get this book. You won't be disappointed.
Say something about yourself!
I heard about this title on the This Is Audible podcast, and it sounded like a lot of fun. I like a good horror story, I love medieval fiction... it seemed a good match. Honestly, how many medieval horror novels do you know about? Then throw in that the author is known on the Ren Faire circuit as "Christoph the Insulter," well, curiosity made me dive in head first because I've seen this guy's schtick. He's a blast when he takes the stage. But is he a good novelist?
Yes. Yes he is. This book is amazing! You believe in the reality of these characters, and the grim sense of humor that many of them have seems like the only thing that would keep these characters sane, considering the story takes place during the Black Death. It's bad enough the story is descriptive enough that you can smell the carnage. It's clear that the writer has done his homework, because the world and its people feel real. But then add in that Lovecraftian sensibility where the fiends of Hell are crawling all over the place in impossibly grotesque shapes... you're laughing one minute at the jokes, then cringing the next because story is so well told and equally as well narrated. If you this book might be in your wheelhouse, it's an absolute must-read.
Just a simple girl living the simple life. Nothing is complicated when the power of imagination leads the way. Close your eyes & just listen
A fallen knight, an orphaned girl, & a priest are joined together on a trek through hell on earth hoping to each find salvation, life, or simple peace. It seemed a bit 'Wizard of Oz' ish but Steve West did such an incredible job I couldn't stop listening! I had heard Steve before in a romance book- Knight in Shining Armor- and thought he was terrible so I hesitated on this one. Wow I am so glad I took a chance. This type of genre doesn't usually appeal to me but I am trying to expand and read a broader spectrum. It was deep and sometimes confusing with all the religious banter. The power struggles between good and evil and the fantastic horrific demons /monsters really get your imagination stirring. I loved the way it ended......touching and surprising. The knight, Sir Thomas, will now always be one of my favorite characters.
This is now among my favorite stories. The story moves along well from the very beginning. The author builds the characters throughout the story but I fell in love with the main characters from the start. The story starts out interesting enough, but as it moves along the changes drew me in. I was pleasantly suprised throughout the story as the author continued to challenge me to try to guess what he had in store next.
The narration and editing are excellent.
I highly recommend this book.
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
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.
Avid reader all of my life! Favorite author: Stephen King. Favorite book: Hyperion.
The story of a fallen knight looking for redemption and an innocent child he must protect. Set in the time of the Black Plague, Buehlman captures the horror, the disgust, the putrescence of that setting in exquisite detail. The author delivers the aspects of redemption and innocence to perfection with a thrilling finale. The is the first book I've listened to by this author and I'm looking forward to diving into his other works.
Definitely recommend this book!
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