December 1, 2022

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Something Angelic Becomes Terrifyingly Corrupt In Garth Nix’s Angel Mage, Out 10/1

Before I get into Angel Mage by Garth Nix, let me clarify two important points.

  1. I have absolutely no background on the Three Musketeers beyond the general knowledge of its existence in both literature and the chocolate bar. And so, no…


And at this point, I feel like I’ve said that about 1/2 dozen books recently so there’s a rant of some sort coming…

Captain America I didn't Understand That Reference
2.  This is the first novel I’ve ever read by Garth Nix, although I do know of his                           inheritance greatness and influence of everyone else in the free reading world.

Having said that, for others that might not have that background knowledge going into reading Angel Mage, FEAR NOT! It is not necessary to fall deep within its spell and enjoy this splendid novel that comes into the world on Tuesday, October 1st. The fact that Mr. Nix and Madame Bardugo will be in the greater St. Louis area within 48 hours of each other the following week is of great shock to me, but I am most certainly ALL IN!
To start, so I don’t forget, let me bullet out the best parts of Angel Mage, although I suspect that, to those familiar with Nix’s work, it won’t come as much of a surprise.
Angel Mage Cover

Thank you to Katherine Tegen and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
  1. Magic System
  • This is not your typical Angel well-to-do. In fact, this is not your typical magic anything.
  • Angels that are summoned at will by mages via Icons with a scope of power.
    • Example: An angel has a scope of finding things or a scope of healing
  • Important to note that there is a hierarchy of angels.
    • This means that more than one angel could have a scope of healing but the higher up in the hierarchy they are, the more power they have within that scope
    • Additionally, it takes mages with additional strength and training to wield the power of angels that are higher up the chain (this hierarchy is provided in the beginning of the book- it is a simple but important step pattern)
    • Now there are the few very powerful mages that can summon without an icon, but they are rare.
  • Most important (well to my belief about how something like this should work): for all but the rare (like two) mages, to summon angels can take a day to a year to decades of life off of a mage. Every time it is done, depending on the power of the angel, the scope requested, and the level of strength needed, it can exact a large toll on the mage.
  1. Dialogue
  • I don’t know about the Three Musketeers and what the dialogue was known for within the boundaries of the original work. However, my comparison is along the lines of Monty Python. And I was there for it. At some point I just wanted them to drop everything and go searching for the Holy Grail.

When (at the beginning of the book- so this isn’t a spoiler) one man is offed in a group leaving a new leader to take his place by default-

Many of his teeth were broken, and his left arm hung at his side, withered and useless.

After dispensing of this man, Liliath turns to another of his compadres…

“I am called Bisc. Biscaray, in full. I am the Night Prince,” answered the young man. “Night King now, I suppose, since you’ve offed Franz Wither-Arm, who was our so most noble lord.”

Image result for holy grail monty python quotes

  • Not to say it was ever silly. It wasn’t silly. It was very well written dry wit banter. The characters had great chemistry and volley back and forth was excellent.

“Trick me, would you! You’ll pay for that!”…
Henri retreated along the passage, speaking as swiftly and clearly as he could.
“Hold! I didn’t trick you! I don’t even know who you are!”

  • Nope. Never silly but always spot-on in its dry dead-panned wit. And it was fantastic. I would have liked to see a bit more of it, but that could just be me. I don’t know that others might not tire of it if there was too much.
  1. Liliath- the villain
  • The Angel Mage- the antagonist of the entire novel and how well written, well developed, all-powerful, corrupted and determined in her single-minded ambition, she is.
  • It is an exquisite and unique privilege that Nix Gives us to have not just one or two chapters from Liliath’s point of view but a great deal of Angel Mage from the devious inner workings of her mind.
    • Had she not been so well written, so vilely complex, layered and gripping in peeling back each layer of her mind and her conquest? It would have gotten old and fast. Instead it is with delight that you get all the layers and clue by clue, step by agonizing step of what Liliath has planned as she gathers her minions and takes her first steps in her ultimate goals.

These are my favorite parts of Angel Mage although they are by far not the only things to love. The “four” are amazing characters, especially Dorotea whose story arc from bewildered girl, who knows so much but yet so little, according to Liliath, to where she ends up by the culminating apex of the plot is astounding.
Bisc’s journey from disfigured and broken to the Night King and confidant of Liliath, so enthralled by her place by his side that her beauty and power blinds to the terrifying brutality lying in plain sight.
Angel Mage opens with the end of one country’s demise and then a powerful mage’s awakening with the clandestine belief that her destiny is a path to fix a past wrong. It is on this path that that the four, those exiled, “refusers,” led by Bisc the “Night King,” are united with Liliath for what they believe is salvation.
What they find, of course, as most desperate for salvation and reconnection to civilization is that all may not be what it seems and that it is easy to be so blinded by want that many will take advantage for there on depraved purposes. It is the collision of these two wants that leads to an ending that literally pulled my stomach into my heart where they were introduced, for the first time.
I tried very hard in the last couple paragraphs to give a bit of a summary (after giving what I felt were the highlights of the book) without out spoiling too much, which is hard because so much is interwoven throughout the book.
It isn’t just the end but so many puzzle pieces lay within the plot. I hope no one feels spoiled and I’ve done Angel Mage justice. There have been so many incredible books released in September and still yet in October. Do not leave Angel Mage off your list.

And most definitely, add it as another example as flushed out magic system that gives us all hope that authors aren’t running short on unique, flushed out magics systems for us all to devour.


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