REVIEW: Angel Mage by Garth Nix
by Garth Nix
Release date: October 1st 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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. . .
Last year I had read Sabriel by Garth Nix and I really loved the writing and the unique world, so when I heard that he was coming out with a new fantasy book based off the Three Musketeers, I was really excited!
Angel Mage is a standalone fantasy that is heavily inspired by the Three Musketeers (which I haven’t personally read, but I know enough about that story to make that call). In this world, Ystara has fallen and all it’s people have either been turned into demons or have fled into a neighboring country. We start the book with Liliath, who was a powerful mage from Ystara who fled when the country fell, is waking up from a magical sleep that she’s been in for over a century. We also follow four additional characters who become important in Liliath’s quest to take back Ystara.
I loved the magic system of angels and archangels, and the hierarchy of that was really fascinating. There is plenty of charts and maps in the front of the book to help you get familiar with the world and the magic system, which was really helpful as it is fairly complex. The majority of this book happens in a city called Lutace, and while I thought the city was interesting, I couldn’t really get a good picture of what the buildings looked like or the atmosphere. I did really enjoy the expedition portion of the book, but that was only the last 20% or so of the book.
The first 80% really dragged and I think the book could’ve benefitted from taking out 100 (or 200) pages, because there was not a lot happening and the pacing was pretty slow, and it felt like what was happening in that section of the book was insignificant in the long run. The major events take place in that last 20% and was probably the most interesting of the book for me.
The characters were okay, I liked Dorotea the most as she was the most fleshed out. Other than her, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and a lot of the times I became very frustrated with them. I know that they are most likely meant to be over the top caricatures of their personalities, but at times it rubbed me the wrong way. However, I did really like the friendship between four of the characters, and Liliath was an interesting villain, although she was so mysterious it was hard to connect with her as well.
It took me a lot longer to actually finish this book than I thought it would, and I feel like a lot of that can be contributed to the pacing and the fact that this wasn’t really holding my attention. I did however find the writing easy to get into and read, so when I did pick this book up it wasn’t hard to get back into it.
I think that if you are a fan of slow burn books and don’t mind the 500+ pages, I think this would be a book you would enjoy. I’ve enjoyed it enough that I still plan on reading more books from Garth Nix in the future!
*I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*