Garth Nix has been a full-time writer since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. Garth’s books include the Old Kingdom fantasy series, comprising Sabriel, Lirael; Abhorsen; Clariel and Goldenhand; SF novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; and a Regency romance with magic, Newt’s Emerald. His novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The
Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series and others. He has co- written several books with Sean Williams, including the Troubletwisters series; Spirit Animals Book Three: Blood Ties; Have Sword, Will Travel; and the forthcoming sequel Let Sleeping Dragons Lie. A contributor to many anthologies and magazines, Garth’s selected short fiction has been collected in Across the Wall and To Hold the Bridge. More than five million copies of his books have been sold around the world, they have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today and his work has been translated into 42 languages. His most recent book is Frogkisser! now being developed as a film by Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Animation.
More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.
A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.
Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.
But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.
The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else.
The country of Ystara has crumbled, its descendants unable to use or have Angel Magic used on them for fear they will turn into a Beastling. Half a century later, Ashalael the Archangel of Sarance senses something stirring. The Killer Mage has awoken and she is intent on restoring Ystara to its former glory. Though she wont be able to do this alone. Unbeknown to themselves, four total strangers are tied together; Agnes a Musketeer, Simeon a doctor in training, Dorotea a skilled Icon maker and Henri a Clerk in the Cardinals service. None know how important they are in completing Liliath’s wish or ending it for good.
The characters in this book were sublimely put to page, you bonded with them almost instantly and I found them at times equally hilarious and infuriating. Agnes, Dorotea, Henri & Simeon made for some hilarious reading and I was thoroughly invested in their little band of misfits. A Musketeer, a Doctor, a Icon maker and a scribe. These four shouldn’t be friends, let alone have met, yet fate dragged them together, and when they eventually all meet they realise there is some hidden string tying them all together. They feel as if they have known each other their whole lives, and through trying to learn why, they become entangled in the Lilliath’s plan. Though these four are the main characters, and the majority of the book is told from their perspective, there is a fifth character, Lilliath – The maid of Ellanda. You are unsure going though the story as to her true intentions, but then they become blisteringly clear at the end… and what it end it is.
Described as a loose retelling of the Three Musketeers, I would definitely focus on the word ‘loose.’ Though there are characters you will recognise from the original such as Rochefort & Dartagnan (although slightly gender bent), the main characters and plot have little semblance to the original story. This did not deter from my over all enjoyment, and I enjoyed the ‘Easter Eggs’ placed throughout the book. Nix manages to create his own magical and wholly encompassing world that, through his descriptions, you feel as though you are a part of.
The magic system was like nothing I had ever experienced. As well as a brand new world Nix manages to introduce us to a brand new form of magic that is weaved into the plot with ease. Magic comes from Angels, and their is a hierarchy from the lowliest Seraphim to Archangels, the more important the angel the better the spell works. Angelic magic is used via Icons made in the specific angels image, and every time you summon an angel you take the magic at cost to your life. Summoning a Seraphim may take a few hours of your life, whereas the Archangels, the greatest of them all can only be summoned by the greatest mages and even then one summoning might end in their death. Each angel has their own speciality such as preventing disease or summoning a wind, and the strength of the magic wholly depends on the strength of the angel you summon. I thoroughly enjoyed learning all about this magic system and seeing it be put into practise throughout the book.
The descriptions in this book are unlike any other. Nix leaves no stone unturned, and you get wholly swept away on a magical journey full of Musketeers, angels and Kings & Queens. Due to the descriptiveness of Nix’s writing and the effort he puts into creating a world you could effortlessly step into the first half of the book came across slightly slow to me. I love world building and the chance to learn all about a cultures and characters backstory, but for people who like to dive right into the action I would definitely warn you that it takes a good while for the pace to pick up. Once we enter the second half of the book I found i had to physically tear myself away from the pages. I could see where the story was taking me and I desperately needed to make sure that everyone of my band of misfits made it out unscathed.
There were plenty of twists, not “OMG” twists, but ones that added invaluable information to the story had you guessing at the ending. An ending that should have been predicable, but Nix had you continuously guessing the characters motives, making sure you to keep you anticipated for the epic ending . That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book as a whole. Nix has a way of introducing you to characters so wholly that you feel you will know what comes out of their mouth, or what their next action will be before it takes place. This was a 4.5/5 read for me.
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