Hey everyone! Today I’m lucky enough to be part of a blog tour for Angel Mage, a new adult fantasy by Garth Nix. I’ve never read any of Nix’s books before, but I know that he has such a huge fanbase so I was ready to see what all the excitement was about!
Liliath is determined to find Pelleniel, her lost lover, the archangel of Ystara. For any other, it would be an impossible quest. But Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic who ever lived, able to summon angels and force them to do her bidding. She also knows the truth: most of the inhabitants of Ystara died during the Ash Blood plague. Those who didn’t were transformed into beastlings…and she led the few survivors into neighbouring Sarance, herself. Now their descendants are shunned by angels as, when touched by angelic magic, their blood turns to ash.
But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save for how they can serve her, and four young Sarancians have caught her interest.
Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.
The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but none know why, nor suspect that they will all become pawns in Liliath’s plan to fulfil her destiny…
Right from the get go, Angel Mage plunges you into a hugely rich fantasy world, where people can summon angels – ranging from assistance with daily tasks to protection for entire nations. The hierarchy of angels was fascinating – archangels, for example, were the highest in the hierarchy, but to summon them took great toll on the summoners lives. Overuse of the angelic power would end up leaving visible . I also really loved that the angels weren’t actually physical beings, which made them almost ethereal.
The world building of the book is wonderful, but can be a little confusing at times. I adore books that make me sit and understand what’s going on in the world before I can dive right in. With Angel Mage, I sometimes felt that even halfway through the book I was still having to sit and understand it. I feel like Angel Mage would have benefited a lot more with a more extensive prologue, but would have even worked with a shorter book before this one that details Liliath’s time before this book! Perhaps that may be something that Nix may write in the future – a prequel would be something fascinating to read!
Some of the characters in this book were incredibly likeable! Dorotea was one of my favourites; she was incredibly carefree and inquisitive, especially when it came to the magic of summoning angels. She was also one of the characters who I felt moved the story along a bit more than others, as she was always asking questions and wanting to understand things that the other characters were quick to glance over. Simeon was also a wonderful character – determined and very eager to learn, whilst also being quite cautious to the world around him. I was also really surprised about Liliath’s character – at times, you could never really tell whether she was villainous or not, which really added to her mystery. It was always enjoyable to read her chapters and to see her interactions with her growing number of followers.
I did think that at times there was too much repetition in this book, especially when it came to character descriptions. Often, it would be half a page of what characters were wearing just in a list format, which can get really boring to read and also a little basic too. There was also a fair amount of repetition with certain phrases – the term ‘the four friends’ springs to mind as it was used far too often in chapters and even on the same page at times. Rather than it being endearing, it just ended up being a little jarring and would take me out of the immersion at times, which is a shame. I also found that the pacing was up and down. Some of the chapters in Angel Mage were thrilling and exciting, so I sped through those well-paced bits! But then it would be followed by a much slower chapter, so ended feeling a bit disjointed at times. Towards the end of the book, this vastly improved and the last chapter had me reading eagerly with excitement!
Final thoughts: A fascinating fantasy with a brilliant concept that becomes a little repetitive and confusing at times. 3/5