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Damiano (Damiano #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  894 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Set against the turbulent backdrop of the Italian Renaissance this alternate history takes place in a world where real faith-based magic exists. Our hero is Damiano Dalstrego. He is a wizard's son, an alchemist and the heir to dark magics. But he is also an innocent, a young scholar and musician befriended by the Archangel Raphael, who instructs him in the lute.

To save his

Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 22nd 1985 by Bantam (first published January 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,455)
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Michael O.
Feb 29, 2012 Michael O. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stopped reading fantasy for a long time because all I saw was a field suffocated with Tolkien clones. But those books weren't just bad because Tolkien had already given us the swords and the creatures and the magic; they were also bad because they missed a huge part of what made Tolkien great: the feeling that Middle Earth was beautiful, wonderful and terrible.

RA MacAvoy's Damiano has that best part of fantasy. Damiano is set in a medieval Italy not as we see it but as the medieval Italians mi
Dec 13, 2011 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-11
I approached this one with some trepidation. I was a teenager when I first read this trilogy, and a Christian. The last is particularly relevant since the characters in this novel include not only an earnest teenager and a talking dog, but also the Devil and the archangel Raphael. I had loved these books in the 80's, but I doubted I would feel the same way today.

Long story short - I was once again completely enchanted by this novel. The plot is simpler than I remembered, and the deus sure do ex
Kat  Hooper
Nov 21, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars

Young Damiano Delstrego is now the head of his house after his father, a witch, was killed when a spell went horribly wrong. Damiano is also a musician, an alchemist, and a witch, but he’s a good Christian, too, and he tries to use his powers only for good. That’s why he refused to help the army who came to take over his town, though they offered him riches. Instead, Damiano decides to follow the townsfolk who’ve fled for the hills. He wants to w
Nov 09, 2007 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I entirely loved this book at age 16, maybe 17. So much so I kept it and the rest of the trilogy in my book collection through several moves and the great purge. However, as part of my Re-read Or Die policy towards my bookshelves, I finally got around to rereading this one. And while its time period was neat, it's an example of a close-to-real-world setting, etc... I didn't love it as much. Damiano is too much an innocent for the likes of old, jaded me. The meaning of the grace extended to him a ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Lance rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this series simply because the author based the main character, Damiano, on Pierre Bensusan, whose music I was studying at the time. I liked the idea of Raphael the Archangel giving lute lessons. There's a music teacher I'd like. To see what inspired her to write this, check out these videos: Merrily Kissed the Quaker, The Alchemist and La Femme Cambree/Wu Wei.
May 25, 2016 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This took awhile for me to get into as I struggled a bit with the prose. But once I did, I enjoyed the journey Damiano took and how he changed. It does however show it's age, not in a bad way but in being more gentle than perhaps most fantasy is now.
Jul 15, 2016 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It had been years since I read the book, but I remembered they lyrical language. When it became affordable on Kindle, I got it. I finally sat down to re-read it, holding my breath, hoping it was as good as I remembered. I was not disappointed.

The writing is at least as good as I remembered. Now that I am older and have my own little dog, I find the Damiano and his little dog to be even more fascinating. I cried for Damiano as he encountered evil and rejoiced at the simple faith his dog had in hi
Carol Wilde
I did enjoy reading this book although I think it may be aimed at younger readers. I enjoyed the historical setting of this alternate-history fantasy and found the main character, Damiano, appealing. I thought the talking dog was priceless. This is very much a fantasy since, besides a talking dog, it includes the angel Raphael and Satan as characters. In addition to these supernatural beings and their powers, there is also magic in this world that humans can wield and that seems independent of t ...more
Tony duncan
May 02, 2008 Tony duncan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci fi, mythology, history , spirituallity
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
this whole series was amazing. She is one of the most lyrical writers and so compelling. for a while she was my favorite author. About an angel in the renaissance.
Aug 10, 2014 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This magical and musical fantasy set in Italy at the beginning of the Renaissance is superior to the second in the series, Damiano's Lute, which I read first. Damiano, witch and lute-player, is a great character, as is Saara, the witch he seeks out for help to save his town from the wars. The history is well researched and well integrated into the story. There are some nice bisexual teasers, with Damiano feeling attracted to the Archangel Raphael, his lute teacher, as well as to the daughter of ...more
Dec 01, 2008 Lera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light and fluffy riff on the Christian mythos, with added magicians. Very readable.
Jun 10, 2014 Melinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal Start to the Trilogy

MacAvoy has created a keeper on Damian Dalstrego, a witch, alchemist and lite player, who takes music lessons from the archangel Raphael and has a dog as a familiar.

When his town is sacked once again by mercenaries, he tries everything in his power to save the city that he loves, and the people along with it. Damian's humility and love shine through, even when he is put on the most horrifying situations.

Great plot, excellent characters, very inventive, and the end
Chuck Childers
Apr 07, 2010 Chuck Childers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
R.A. MacAvoy, you really should write more.
Oct 31, 2014 Nigel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Absolutely lovely fantasy novel, set in Renaissance Italy, featuring an endearingly good-hearted, sweet-natured hero who is by heritage a witch and by preference an alchemst, plays the lute - literally taught by an angel - and cooks up medicine for townsfolk who don't all appreciate or even like him. It's not a nice world, however. The town is invaded by mercenaries and the townsfolk flee, leaving him behind. He sets out after them, accompanied only by his talking dog, and determines to keep the ...more
Sarah Briggs
Dec 11, 2012 Sarah Briggs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(This review may contain spoilers).

I remember reading, when I was a child, a book called Raphael and that it was part of a set of books, though I couldn't remember how many. Typing the title into Amazon brought up the book that was the third in this trilogy. I still couldn't remember if it was the right one, but the image on the cover looked about right.

Since the whole trilogy was available on Kindle, I purchased the three of them and just finished the first book now. I didn't think it would be
Jul 30, 2016 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
RA Macavoy's Damiano Delstrego is a witch with a heart for animals, for his city and for music. Macavoy's uses delicate prose and thoughtful following of his adventure as he searches for someone to help his city, overrun by a conquering warlord, to signify a young man worthy of divine intervention in the form of a helpful archangel, Raphael. Worth reading for the experience of being in the hands of a master storyteller. Magical.
Jun 16, 2016 Betty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out to be a young wizard on a quest to save his town. Seemed to take an quick left turn about halfway in to become an introspective study on God vs. Devil but the main character was oddly clueless about the powers he was dealing with. He started out really good, whip-turn changed to really evil, then came back around after he achieved his goal, sort of. Part of the problem might have been that my Nook died while I was reading it and I had to buy a new Nook before picking it up again.
Melinda Brasher
This had a lot of what I don't like about fantasy: magic you don't really understand and people doing things with their magic when they don't know why.

The characters were very interesting, but it just didn't engage me enough for a higher rating.
I did NOT expect to enjoy this one. The whole angels/alternate reality thing. Turns out - it was pretty good. I would have gone with 4 starts, but I hated the way the author dealt with Macchiato (view spoiler)
Sep 29, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damiano is an Italian witch who sets out to win peace for his town at any cost. He travels with his little talking dog, Macchiata, has lute lessons with the angel Raphael, and makes a deal with Lucifer himself in order to win the peace he seeks.
May 15, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book actually influenced my personal theology a lot.

Damiano Delstrego is the last of a line of witches, the town sorcerer for a small village in the Italian Piedmont. His best friends are his dog, Macchiata (trans=Spot), and the Archangel Raphael, who teaches him the lute. He is a trifle sad-natured, but content right up until a rogue mercenary general, formerly in the Vatican's employ, destroys his town. Then, for the firs time in his life, he seeks power-- the power to stop General Pardo
I really liked this one!

I don't know why I find faith based magical systems so appealing even though I'm not religious at all in real life - but they're so interesting!
May 04, 2013 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damiano's home in the Piedmont is overrun by an ambitious condottiere. Because it is winter, Count Amadeus of Savoy isn't there to protect them. Damiano wants to be a good, kind person, but because he is a wizard, he chooses instead to fight for his city.

Powerfully written, Damiano's horror at what he does batters at him, and is countered by his love for his little talking dog and for his friend the Archangel Rafael. How will the balance fall?
Christopher Allen
Aug 29, 2013 Christopher Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all fantasy readers
This book, and this series, I loved as a young adult, but it has been out-of-print for years. It recently came out on the Kindle directly from the author and I immediately purchased all three.

Re-reading this time they held their own —and even offered more, as my palette is more refined.

Each stands reasonably well alone, which is rare for a series, and each is very different, which too is rare for a series. I highly recommend it.
May 29, 2010 Yune rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I can't fault the writing, or the historical detail of the setting, but the protagonist -- a male witch who wants to be a musician -- is a little too earnestly likeable, if that makes sense. He has a talking dog and music lessons with an angel; when his town is invaded, he goes to talk to the general to see what his intentions are. I respect the material, but it's presented in too cutesy a manner for me to really get behind it.
Jun 22, 2014 Mars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story about an italian boy, his musical instrument, his dog, and his guardian angel. not always in that order.

This has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while, read it about a decade past, so picked it up again. MacAvoy has an easy-to-digest writing style, and while the story itself is not particularly epic the books are quite enjoyable, and highly recommended.
Aug 05, 2011 Arlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damiano is a young man who is caught up in a war when all he really wants to do is study playing the lute with the angel Rafael and work his small alchemy. He sets out on a quest to find a way to save his city in this story set in the Italian Renaissance. I enjoyed it very much.
I loved this series. The concept of Raphael having to - ok, I'm not going to spoil it - go through what he goes through is something I found really charming, and MacAvoy handles it with good sense and humor.
I thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age tale of a young witch in Renaissance Italy finding his true nature amid warlords and maidens,
music and magic, Raphael and Lucifer.
Jul 20, 2012 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
It's not hard at all to recall the 7th grader who loved this book about magic, theology, and alternate Italian history. That little guy would give this book six stars.
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Damiano Trilogy, favorite bits & overall shape 3 10 Dec 22, 2012 02:13AM  
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Roberta Ann (R. A.) MacAvoy is a fantasy and science fiction author in the United States. Several of her books draw on Celtic or Taoist themes. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1984. R. A. MacAvoy was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Francis and Helen MacAvoy. She attended Case Western Reserve University and received a B.A. in 1971. She worked from 1975 to 1978 as an assistant t ...more
More about R.A. MacAvoy...

Other Books in the Series

Damiano (3 books)
  • Damiano's Lute (Damiano, #2)
  • Raphael (Damiano, #3)

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