Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Blog Tour + Review - Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Title: Angel Mage
Author: Garth Nix
Pages: 560
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: 17th October 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

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. . .

My Review:

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Gollancz*

It has been more than a century since Ystara fell and its inhabitants were either killed or turned into beastlings by the Ash Plague.

The descendants of the Ystarans that managed to escape to the neighbouring country of Sarance are called Refusers. They cannot be touched by angelic magic, otherwise they will be affected by the Ash Plague like their ancestors.

One day, Liliath, a Ystaran with a strong affinity for angelic magic, emerges from the tomb she has been asleep in since the fall of Ystara. She hasn’t aged a day, and is determined to be reunited with the archangel of Ystara, who she loves.

Liliath’s plans include four young Sarancians: Agnez, a Musketeer cadet, Dorotea, a scholar and icon-maker, Simeon, a doctor-in-training, and Henri, who is good with numbers and dreams of money and treasure.

The four feel a strong connection with each other the moment they meet, but will they survive what Liliath has planned for them?
How far is Liliath willing to go to get what she wants?

I’m a big Garth Nix fan, so when I heard that he had an adult fantasy book coming out I couldn’t wait to read it.

There are a lot of characters in Angel Mage. There were several times when I forgot who was who when it came to some of the secondary characters, and I think that a list of characters at the beginning of the book would have been useful.

Agnez was my favourite of the main characters. I liked that she always ready and eager to fight. She was also friendly and seemed like someone who would be fun to be friends with.
I liked Dorotea a lot as well. She was interesting and I felt sorry for her at times. Her relationship with Rochefort was intriguing.
Liliath was a good villain. She was determined and manipulative. It was interesting to read as she put the pieces of her plan into action and used people to get what she wanted.

There were five points of view: Agnez, Dorotea, Simeon, Henri, and Liliath. I liked that Liliath had her own chapters and that we could see what she was up to, but I think that maybe there were one or two too many point of views.

Angel Mage is a long book – over 500 pages – but there were times when it felt even longer for me. I think this was due to the pacing, which was slower than I would have liked. While I did enjoy reading as the four met and became friends, I would have liked more action.

The ending was perhaps slightly disappointing, but I do think that this is one of those books where the journey is more important than the ending.

One thing I really liked and appreciated about Angel Mage is that there were a lot of female characters in positions of power. A lot of the characters were also people of colour.
My favourite thing about the book is that it was inspired by The Three Musketeers, which I thought was unique and a really cool idea.

The angelic magic and the concept of using icons to summon angels was intriguing. I liked that summoning higher order angels took a toll on the summoner, so they would only do it if necessary.
The world-building was very good – I came away from the book feeling like I knew a lot about the histories of Ystara and Sarance.

This was the author’s debut adult fantasy novel, but I can easily see YA readers enjoying this.

Angel Mage throws you in to the deep end from the first page, so it took me a while to wrap my head around what was happening. However, the concept/foundations of the book aren’t simple so I don’t think this is something that could have been avoided.

While I didn’t enjoy Angel Mage as much as I hoped I would, I did enjoy it overall, and I really liked the Musketeer-ness to it as well as the characters and the angelic magic, which I thought was an interesting take on angels.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

About the Author

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.

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.

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