Title: Angel Mage
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: October 1st, 2019 (Katherine Tegen Books)
Synopsis: 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. . .
Thank you to the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If there was one ARC I was hoping for this year, it was this one. I’ve followed the Old Kingdom series over the years and I completely adore it, so when I heard about Angel Mage, it was an automatic addition to my TBR. Like all of Garth Nix’s other books I’ve read before, Angel Mage takes its time setting up the world, all the while building the mystery. The world itself is heavily influenced by The Three Musketeers, and I love how much attention has been given to detail in this aspect.
This was definitely the most unique manner I’ve seen Angels depicted in in fantasy. People call upon them through icons, and each summoning comes with a cost to the summoner, a fraction of their life – the more powerful the Angel, the more the cost. What makes Liliath unique though, is that she can seemingly call upon Angels at no cost to herself. This is a very well thought out magic system, with Angels having not only scopes of power, but also geographical limitations within which they can function.
What was most interesting about this book was that one of the POV narrators is essentially the villain of the story, and this was a curious choice on the author’s part. It definitely made for an intriguing read, following along with her various plots and manipulations and trying to figure out exactly what led to the Doom of Ystara and what Liliath’s part in it was.
Angel Mage was very nearly a five star read, but for that ending. Compared to the steady pace the story had been going at, it felt like, in the last three or four chapters, everything was hurried up to bring things to a conclusion – and not one I liked. I’m usually all for standalone fantasy novels, but this really needed either a sequel or another 100 pages. The resolution was too fast and too easy for all the great build up, and for all that four of them were there, it only ended up being Dorotea who did something of substance. The other thing was that I found it really hard to connect to these characters, and out of five main figures, I only found Simeon and Dorotea remotely interesting. Agnez was mostly annoying with her constant fight first ask later impulsive attitude and Henri was just…there.
Angel Mage is rather open-ended, and there are still so many questions, so much more I want to know about this world! We only get to see Ystara and Sarance. Did any of the Refusers leave Sarance for one of the other kingdoms? It is obvious that the Temple holds a lot of influence with the Queen and in the politics of the kingdom, so who will succeed Cardinal Duplessis and hold the icon of Ashalael? What exactly happens to Ystara now, seeing as there is no functional government in place?
Angel Mage was a wonderful read and it was so good to get back to one of Garth Nix’s novels again. This is a book that requires a measure of patience, but I would definitely recommend this for fantasy lovers!
Angel Mage releases on October 1st, 2019.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!