Multiaward-winning author Aliette de Bodard brings her story of the War in Heaven to Paris, igniting the City of Light in a fantasy of divine power and deep conspiracy.
In the late 20th century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians' War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The grands magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those who survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and the great houses still vie for dominion over France's once-grand capital.
Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.
Within the house, three very different people must come together: a naïve but powerful fallen angel, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires' salvation - or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.
©2015 Orion Publishing Group (P)2015 Blackstone Audiobooks
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
In a post-apocalyptic Paris ravaged by a spiritual war that's gone all flesh and blood, two members of a street gang find a newly materialized fallen angel, pull out knives, and start cutting off her fingers. Angel essence gives a magical high like nothing else, and is worth a lot on the street. It's a brutal opening -- one of the most arresting I've read this year. Unfortunately, it sets a bar the rest of the book just can't reach again.
This story has everything I could hope for -- fallen angels warring with rival houses in a post-apocalyptic Paris, drug addicted magicians, a mysterious curse leveled against one of the houses, and a Buddhist stuck in the middle of it all. For example: Morningstar used to lead one of the houses, but he disappeared 20 years ago, and many of the characters are still haunted by their experiences with him and his charisma. Initially, this seemed like a very interesting riff on an absentee God, but unfortunately it doesn't quite play out that way.
With all these cool and interesting things happening, I was surprised to find how hard it was for me to engage with the characters, which made it difficult for me to be invested in this story. The relationships between some of these characters is crucial in making the narrative work, but unfortunately there wasn't enough there for me to buy their relationships with each other, or invest in them myself. As a result, the motivations and relationships just feel too superficial, and the result is a very dull and slow-moving 14 hours. Additionally, there's a lot of politicking happening in this book, but the characters never felt as politically savvy as we're told they should be. (Politicians don't regularly respond with "You *know* what I mean," do they?)
Whatever faults I can find with the story and characters, I can find no issues with Peter Kenny's narration. Whether he was voicing a naive fallen angel, Lucifer Morningstar, or a homesick Buddhist who is forced to come to terms that home no longer exists, his narration was compelling, even when the story was not.
Despite a pretty brilliant opening, The House of Shattered Wings is unfortunately unable to live up to the promise of miracles. And with a setting and subject matter as fascinating as this, that's an unforgivable sin.
I wouldn't listen to it again, but it was certainly interesting the first time. An extravagant trip through another place, in another time with things and people beyond contemporary imagination.
I hated them all; didn't mind the book but I felt everyone was a naff just waiting to be killed.
No real favourite b ut the whole book did create bizzarro visions and pictures. Maybe too much as I struggled keeping it all together.
To Sip an Angels Blood
I wrote BUT -- great book, visually stunning, poetic and descriptive and expertly written by an author with a steady hand and a steady mind. Damn easy to get lost and forget what the hell is going on. Deserving of an award? If we are just talking literary offering, yes, indeed.
No. The narrator was frustrating.
Philippe. He is the stranger in a strange land that represents the reader, and learning about things as we do. He's sympathetic, intelligent, and homesick beyond measure.
During conversations, the narrator did a great job pacing and producing recognizably different voices. During the descriptive passages, his narration became fast, oddly paced and clipped, as if trying to rush through. I found myself tuning him out, then missing entire passages of important events.
Philippe's rescue after escaping from Asmodeus.
This same narrator is the reason I dropped The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. The House of Shattered Wings is a fascinating, wonderful book of mythology, patriotism, homesickness, and loss. I wish another narrator had been chosen who would have given it the attention it deserves. I'll be checking out more books by the author.
Report Inappropriate Content