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Point of Hopes (Astreiant #1)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  427 ratings  ·  43 reviews
A new fantasy, set in a world of necromancy and astromancy, gunpowder and swordplay, from the authors of The Armor of Light. During the annual Fair in the city of Astreion, someone is stealing children. As a major astrological conjunction approaches, heralding the advent of a new monarch, Astreion's denizens wonder if they will see their children again.
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 384 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Tor Books
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Point of Hopes by Melissa ScottDogsbody by Diana Wynne JonesThe Crystal Ball by Joyce MasonEon by Alison GoodmanTwelve castles in the sky! by Ruthz S.B.
Best Astrological Fantasy Novels
1st out of 12 books — 10 voters
The Hidden Icon by Jillian KuhlmannThe Anvil of Ice by Michael Scott RohanBridge of Birds by Barry HughartInda by Sherwood SmithWinter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip
Best obscure fantasy novels
65th out of 68 books — 32 voters

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Community Reviews

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On the one hand I love fantasies, especially if they have gay characters, but I usually find even the best detective-stories dull.
This is a classical detective-story set in an alternative XVI century French-like kingdom.

The two authors outline a believable society and they enrich their descriptions with many interesting and witty details: the result, admirable though it is, is overwhelming and yet it would have born more development.
Writing is professional and subtle but the story develops slowl
I've read this ages ago but never actually got around to writing a review.

Anyway, Point of Hopes is the first book in the Astreiant series (Shelfari lists Armor of Light as part of the same series, but it's actually not), and I have to admit that Astreiant is not an easy place to understand. It probably has to do with the fact that I read book 2 before this one, but anyway:

The place feels medieval Europe, with a childless Queen (I'm guessing patterned after Queen Elizabeth I), and astrology actu
This novel is incredibly satisfying, despite being fairly uneven technically. The characters are charismatic; the mystery, though fairly simple, maintains an excellent sense of tension due to the stakes; and the world is fascinating, lovingly detailed, and fairly unique among fantasy worlds. I stayed up all night to finish this, and immediately wanted to read the next in the series. (Sadly, neither of the two other Astreiant books are available in any of the library systems I have access to.)

M.C. Hana
I am ashamed to say I bought this paperback used, and owned it for almost two years before I read it. The cover art looked rather bland and dull, and only the back cover blurbs made me pick it up.

When I finished it, I wanted to email Melissa personally and apologize.

Where to begin? I'll start with the world building that Scott and her late partner Lisa Barnett created: an alternate-reality late Renaissance on a world under two suns, where astrological predictions govern nearly every facet of lif
One of my favorite SF worlds, and basically just a really good book. It's an everyone-is-queer, nonobvious-matriarchy secondary-world police procedural mystery fantasy in a world that looks kind of sort of like Renaissance Holland if you squint. (Melissa Scott has a PhD in comparative history. Her worldbuilding is awesome. I first heard of her via Trouble and Her Friends, which I picked up because it was cyberpunk and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was very, very queer.) And if that's ...more
Nicolas Rathe is a pointsman in the city of Astreiant, responsible for keeping the peace and investigating crimes; Philip Eslingen is an out-of-work soldier searching for a job in the city. Together, they fight crime! Okay, sorry, couldn't resist.

In any case, this book and its sequel (Point of Dreams) are an enjoyable mix of fantasy and mystery, with excellent worldbuilding; the city is so intimately described that it feels very real, down even to its smells and sounds. I liked the characters a
Set in a fictional fantasy world similar to seventeenth century England. The main difference is that astrology is real--and not only can it be used to accurately predict the future, it can be used to change it as well. The premise and plot are pretty good, but it gets bogged down in minutia. I know what the two main characters had for literally every meal of the week the story covers. I know how they hang their jackets, I know where they buy their ale--every single conversation, meal, and clothi ...more
This book strangely reminded me of Richard Morgan's Land fit for Heroes Series.
It tells the story from two points of view, one from our pointman Nico Rathe,a kind of policeman in Astreiant, and Philip Eslingen, a more of less retired soldier. Where Rathe tries to unravel the mystery of missing children throughout the city as part of his job, Eslingen is thrust into the thick of things by happenstance.
Fantasy with Mystery.

I really liked the story. Well, not that part where it promised me on th
Abi Walton
What I loved about this book was that everyone was bisexual, but in a very subtle way, and I thought this was brilliant. Melissa Scott has always been a writer I admire as I devoured her Death by Silver and A Death at the Dionysus Club. And Point Of Hopes is very much like these two books in its mystery and writing style. In a lesser writer the book may have been seen as dull and slow, however Scott and Barnett somehow drag you in and keep you hooked with the brilliant world they have created, a ...more
Point of Hopes is an interesting tale that relies a lot on the fantastic world that Scott and Barnett have built. The city of Astreion feels real and actualized, with the different parts (or Points) done in such detail that they felt like real neighborhoods. The characters were greatly developed and interesting, and the society itself is fairly unique (despite the fact that it is yet another pseudo-14th century England so common in High Fantasy stories). The importance of astrology and mysticism ...more
One of my favorite m/m sf books. The world-building is great, the writing is great, the pairing is great. I love the characters. I *love* this book (and its sequel) -- it's a terrible, terrible loss that Lisa Barnett passed away of cancer and will not be able to keep writing with her partner, Melissa Scott.[return][return]Original thoughts: A cross between fantasy and mystery, set in an 'everyone is bi' universe. Oh, I *loved* this book. It follows the efforts of Nicholas Rathe, a pointsman (= p ...more
This book was actually more like a detective novel than a fantasy novel, and takes place in an alternate history medieval setting where most of the characters are middle-class citizens. Magic is a part of everyday life, mainly in the form of astrology, where the stars determine the lives of the people. There were no coming-of-age rites or epic quests to go on as per the usual fantasy fare; instead the plot revolves around Nicolas Rathe, who works a job equivalent to that of a policeman and inves ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Isis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Isis by: Sineala
Shelves: fantasy, glbt
Procedural murder-mysteries set in vaguely matriarchal everyone-is-bi fantasy medieval Holland where astrology works. The worldbuilding is pretty awesome, and yes, I could read endless slash of the two main characters, who are clearly going to tumble into bed together eventually.

However, I found it very hard going at first. The details of the world come fast and furious with no explanation, only context, and although I prefer contextual worldbuilding to exposition, there's just too much too quic
This book takes place in a city called Astreint, in a vaguely defined fantasy world. The city has numerous neighborhoods referred to as Points, and each Point has its own watch station. Rathe is second-in-command at the Point of Hopes watch station and investigating the disappearance of the city's children. The other main character is a recently released mercenary who is searching for employment. The two characters' actions eventually come together to resolve the question of the children's disap ...more
Updated review:

This is why I reread books! To go back in and catch the color, the richness, the subtleties that I miss when I'm barreling full-steam towards the ending. What a gorgeous world Scott and Barnett have created, and what a delicious pair Nico and Phillip are. I really enjoyed catching the little details of their - not flirtation by any means, but the growing sense of attraction they feel for each other. (How adorable that each one of them thinks, "I wish I had been wearing something
I fell in love with Melissa Scott because of Trouble and Her Friends. So when I saw this pop up on my recommended list, I was intrigued.

I love a good police procedural, with or without magic. Nico wears out a lot of shoe-leather tracking down what is happening to the missing kids, and deals with a lot of the public as well as he can. Phillip is a adventurer-gentleman with a distinct paranoid class consciousness.

The world-building is AMAZING, as I would expect from Scott. Men and women have socie
Feb 08, 2009 Jane rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jane by: acchikocchi
Recommended by acchikocchi during the GCADoD '09 as an overlooked, but well-done sci-fi/fantasy series with an OMG!Gay!Woobie!Hero and so far, the series lives up to its promises. Some things of note:

- The Kingdom of Chnedolle is a Renaissance-like world ruled by stars; astrology influenced one's career and choices (hour to hour even)

- As best as I can described it, Boston marriages (for females as well as males) are legal and very common in Chnedolle

- There are some groundworks laid for a relat
In Point of Hopes, our hero, Nicolas Rathe is a Pointsman (think detective) and he's called to investigate the sudden disappearance of a shocking number of Astreiant's children. At the same time, former Lieutenant Philip Eslingen, new to Astreiant and just released from his period of service, finds himself out of a job. He becomes a bodyguard at a local tavern and through a number of twists of fate, he and Rathe cross paths and end up working together to find the children.

There are so many wond
A very good low-magic, low-key fantasy, set in a city undergoing political turmoil, in a world where astrology actually works.

One of the amusing things about the story is that, according to Astreiant's astological system, women tend to be born to stay in one place, while men are born to travel. Which means that political power and high office tend to accrue to women.

I quite liked the focus on street-level people, poor people, who have to be careful how they spend their money.
Nov 11, 2012 SA rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Review for series. God, these books. I'm slightly disappointed I hadn't read them earlier, and also a bit pleased I get to have them now.

This series is like smashing together alternate Tudor-era France with magical realism with Law and Order. Plus the two main protagonist dudes falling in love. It's not that it's epic--it's that it's solid, and the mystery-genre underpinnings of the series go such a long way into making this far more than your average fantasy mass market paperback. The world is
Rose Erin
I loved it, absolutely loved it. I would say 4.5 stars over all, the writing was occasionally clunky and the world could be hard to comprehend, but i'm going to round up because having finished it am am thrilled with the experience. Fantasy, mystery, interesting gender roll reversals and two awesome main characters who are adorably clueless about the crushes they have on each other. I can't wait to read the next three and a half books!
Jillian MacLeod
The characters and story were enough to keep me reading through the occasional patches of head-hopping/sloppy POV and despite the overabundance of epithets. Fascinating world, interesting characters, and just enough spark between Nico and Philip that I really want to see what happens in the next installment.

I read the Scribd version (subscription plan), which had some minor formatting issues and a couple of typos, but was mostly clean and readable.
A reluctant three stars. The writing wasn't bad at all but the book moved very very slow.
The world building was original, a world based on astrology. That I liked and I liked the personages in the story too but as I said, the plot moved a bit slow. Like an old fashioned who dunnit. A lot of collected titbits solved the mystery of the missing children.

Something that annoyed me that there were white lines missing between paragraphs so it wasn't clear when the storymoved to another character.

Angel Pedroza
This is a wonderful series. I started with the third book, Point of Dreams, and loved it so much I have backtracked through the series and started where I should have. This was a good story and a great introduction to the world the author created and the two marvelous main characters. I am beginning the second in the series immediately,
This is shaped like a detective story, but I feel like the world-building is the most interesting point. Astreiant is a world in which astrology is immediately, immensely serious. In this world, everybody knows their date and time of birth as accurately as possible, so as to get the best astrological readings. There's a scene where the swordsman is trying hard to save money, because it has to last until his next campaign, but the one immediate necessity he gets is an astrological reading. (And t ...more
I found confusing the lack of females among main characters (although I guess it's understandable, there being only two of them) when they were featured heavily as supporting cast.

The story itself is fascinating and full of tiny details that usually get overlooked: price of clothes, complications of female costumes, boats rocking, people missing significance of things they see around them. All characters are very different in obvious and subtle ways.

That said, it took a couple of chapters for me
Intricately plotted and fascinating, but curiously unsatisfying when it comes to the inner lives of its characters.
I discovered this book very much by chance - one of those lucky finds that turn into instant favourites! With its excellent, intricately detailed worldbuilding, numerous interesting characters and a plot filled with mystery and intrigue that kept me glued to the page from start to finish, Point of Hopes is a brilliantly entertaining fantasy novel just the way I like it - and its sequel promptly made its way to the top of my shopping list.
J.S. Collyer
One of my favourite books of all time along with its sequel, Point of Dreams. It would highly recommend to fans of fantasy and fans of just good story telling. This and Point of Dreams are absolute gems that I stumbled across quite by chance in local library when I was a teenager. I've lost count of the amount of times I've read them since then. I rarely hear people mention them but they are so muhc fun: rich and vivid in setting and the stories are engaging and action-packed. Seriously, why hav ...more
Walter Underwood
This has a measured pace and it pauses to describe things, something that could be really annoying, but it somehow matches the main character. Nico Rathe is a pointsman (policeman) who is observant and thinks before he acts. The other characters are nicely drawn, too. The mystery is intriguing and actually mysterious. And ... they get to call in the cavalry at the end.

I'm reading the next one immediately.
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Scott studied history at Harvard College and Brandeis University, and earned her PhD. in comparative history. She published her first novel in 1984, and has since written some two dozen science fiction and fantasy works, including three co-authored with her partner, Lisa A. Barnett.

Scott's work is known for the elaborate and well-constructed settings. While many of her protagonists are gay, lesbia
More about Melissa Scott...

Other Books in the Series

Astreiant (3 books)
  • Point of Dreams (Astreiant, #2)
  • Fairs' Point (Astreiant, #3)
Trouble and Her Friends Dreamships Point of Dreams (Astreiant, #2) The Garden (Star Trek Voyager, #11) Burning Bright

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