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Between Two Fires (2012)

de Christopher Buehlman

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5492544,104 (4.02)20
His extraordinary debut, Those Across the River, was hailed as "genre-bending Southern horror" (California Literary Review), "graceful [and] horrific" (Patricia Briggs). Now Christopher Buehlman invites readers into an even darker age--one of temptation and corruption, of war in heaven, and of hell on earth... And Lucifer said: "Let us rise against Him now in all our numbers, and pull the walls of heaven down..." The year is 1348. Thomas, a disgraced knight, has found a young girl alone in a dead Norman village. An orphan of the Black Death, and an almost unnerving picture of innocence, she tells Thomas that plague is only part of a larger cataclysm--that the fallen angels under Lucifer are rising in a second war on heaven, and that the world of men has fallen behind the lines of conflict. Is it delirium or is it faith? She believes she has seen the angels of God. She believes the righteous dead speak to her in dreams. And now she has convinced the faithless Thomas to shepherd her across a depraved landscape to Avignon. There, she tells Thomas, she will fulfill her mission: to confront the evil that has devastated the earth, and to restore to this betrayed, murderous knight the nobility and hope of salvation he long abandoned. As hell unleashes its wrath, and as the true nature of the girl is revealed, Thomas will find himself on a macabre battleground of angels and demons, saints, and the risen dead, and in the midst of a desperate struggle for nothing less than the soul of man.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 23 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The novel is a very slick religio-picaresque based on Christian mythology and set in plague-ridden medieval France. Based on the Book of Enoch, its Christian successor the Book of Revelation, and their associated bubbe meises, it is as exciting and cruel as a zombie movie. The author has attempted to excise some of the story's central anti-semitism and, to some degree, the misogyny and homophobia, but this varies from difficult to impossible in medieval Christian Europe. I am, however, overly sensitive to these things, and I am confident most readers will enjoy this horrific monster-filled ride. ( )
  markm2315 | May 4, 2024 |
A dispossessed knight turned brigand, a drunkard priest and, a little girl travel across the Godforsaken lands between Normandy and Avignon in 1348. On a quest prompted by the little girl, the trio navigate a landscape ruined by the Black Plague as angels and devils wage war in a time and place rife with despair and ruin. Part historical fiction, part horror, part fantasy… it’s greater than the sum of its parts with its scope and vision. Steve West has a rich British voice that served the main narrative well but mispronunciations (“scythe” in particular came up often) and the voice he gave the little girl did the book a disservice in audio ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Feb 5, 2024 |
Gosh, that was a lot of suffering and death. This is an extraordinary historical work of fiction set in a vicious fantasy. It's a world in which Biblical fantasy materializes. It's the Crusades and the Plague. BTF is not the modern version in which peace and harmony between nations and regional beliefs are real.

Heaven and Hell are full of kaiju monsters who use humans to torment each other. I didn't fully understand the war in heaven, but I don't think I was meant to as a human. We are made to suffer, and the angels and demons don't have to explain themselves to us unless it increases human suffering.

Just like the mania in the real world, the people in BTF are only too happy to allow the suffering of others if it gives them a better shot at more wealth, fame, or prestige. Both the angels and demons capitalize on these human flaws to increase the chaos for the same reasons, albeit in a more celestial manner. As above, so below. And the middle is the same, I guess.

Then we have the three main characters: The knight, the priest, and the girl. They are flawed and they are outcasts. I loved them. At times, I was horrified by their actions, but I understood. Unlike some reviewers, I found none of them to be annoying or frivolous. The banter between the knight and the girl stole my heart immediately. The priest was a reluctant traveler. I understood his reluctance immediately. He was living in precarious safety before the plague and was reluctant to leave.

All three are sinfully human and capable of great and horrible things. Their backstories peel off during horrific battles, pleasant chats and daily struggles as they try to survive in a world that is sadistic and cruel. The avatars of torture and death stalk them. Like, they literally stalk them.

The end of the novel was a bit confusing, it introduced many new character POVs, which I'm not sure was necessary. OTOH, it was a spectacular ending to a travelogue/buddy adventure horror/historical fiction. It's not an easy thing to pull off for a writer, IMO.

There were minor Deus ex machina moments.

Buehlman's entire catalog is in my future. ❤ ( )
  rabbit-stew | Dec 31, 2023 |
Very interesting mashup - religious historical horror? Some incredibly evocative scenes of demonic terror, but it doesn't quite stick the landing, playing coy and leaving a lot unsaid that probably should have been said as to what the ultimate conclusion actually is.
Shares something with the After Such Knowledge series by James Blish in taking the religious themes seriously. ( )
  A.Godhelm | Oct 20, 2023 |
You start to imagine that Beuhlman had a print of Bruegel's "The Triumph of Death" hanging over him while he was writing this, the prose so successfully evokes the feeling of a barren world peopled only by laughing tormentors and hopeless, terrified peasants. In this story, the black death and the second crusade are cast as salvos in the unfolding biblical apocalypse, and only an excommunicated knight and a divinely inspired tween girl can hold off the forces of The Adversary. I really enjoyed this book, really really really. I probably made a mistake by taking it with me on a camping trip, because the many disturbing horror scenes (which would delight in the daytime) became a little spooky in the middle of the woods at night. ( )
  adamhindman | Sep 1, 2023 |
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His extraordinary debut, Those Across the River, was hailed as "genre-bending Southern horror" (California Literary Review), "graceful [and] horrific" (Patricia Briggs). Now Christopher Buehlman invites readers into an even darker age--one of temptation and corruption, of war in heaven, and of hell on earth... And Lucifer said: "Let us rise against Him now in all our numbers, and pull the walls of heaven down..." The year is 1348. Thomas, a disgraced knight, has found a young girl alone in a dead Norman village. An orphan of the Black Death, and an almost unnerving picture of innocence, she tells Thomas that plague is only part of a larger cataclysm--that the fallen angels under Lucifer are rising in a second war on heaven, and that the world of men has fallen behind the lines of conflict. Is it delirium or is it faith? She believes she has seen the angels of God. She believes the righteous dead speak to her in dreams. And now she has convinced the faithless Thomas to shepherd her across a depraved landscape to Avignon. There, she tells Thomas, she will fulfill her mission: to confront the evil that has devastated the earth, and to restore to this betrayed, murderous knight the nobility and hope of salvation he long abandoned. As hell unleashes its wrath, and as the true nature of the girl is revealed, Thomas will find himself on a macabre battleground of angels and demons, saints, and the risen dead, and in the midst of a desperate struggle for nothing less than the soul of man.

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