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Point of Hopes (Astreiant #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  544 Ratings  ·  62 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 ScottEon by Alison GoodmanDogsbody by Diana Wynne JonesTwelve castles in the sky! by Ruthz S.B.Pisces by Rachel Medhurst
Best Astrological Fantasy Novels
1st out of 13 books — 12 voters
The Anvil of Ice by Michael Scott RohanMythago Wood by Robert HoldstockWinter Rose by Patricia A. McKillipThe Hidden Icon by Jillian KuhlmannBridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
Best obscure fantasy novels
67th out of 70 books — 41 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,504)
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Apr 25, 2016 julio rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
some lovely odds-n-ends, but it was basically a feature length episode of Law & Order: Medieval Victims Unit, with next to no exciting progress in any direction until the last third.

most of it was interviews all over town, and a series of introductions to any one of a hundred characters who have nothing to do with anything—though each of them struck me as nicely done in themselves.

if you like your gumshoe detective stories romance-free, long as hell, and with a minumum of explosions, murder
K.J. Charles
This was just glorious fun. Beautifully and apparently effortlessly developed fantasy world, without the leaden heaps of description and exposition that make so much worldbuilding unreadable. You get a political plot, a cultural background, a whole social structure and a magic system, all conveyed as integral parts of a fast paced investigation plot, with plenty of room for character development. *And* there's three novels and a novella, so I won't be reading anything else for some time. I can't ...more
Mar 29, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fantasy
Tenía mono de fantasía, y no he podido elegir un libro mejor para satisfacerlo.

Me encanta el mundo que han creado las autoras para esta serie, aunque tengo que admitir que me he perdido un poco al principio. Hacen algo que no es demasiado común en la fantasía que he leído, te introducen en el mundo directamente sin largas explicaciones sobre sus características y las propiedades que lo hacen único. Esto quizás es un poco lío al principio del libro, pero creo que a la larga sale ganando.

Me han
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
Wonderful. This is the first book in a cool fantasy mystery series and I really liked it. The main characters are neat, the mystery is engaging, and the story's really interesting. The world-building in this series is amazing. It's thorough and detailed and lush and I love it. Astreiant seems vaguely based on Renaissance-era Holland and it's quite a refreshing and neat place to visit. It's an astrologically-based matriarchal society where women run the government, run business and trade, and own ...more
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
Mar 13, 2016 Jax rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This really could’ve used some action. I would’ve even settled for a sense of urgency. But holy cow was there a lot of description of stuff and talking. Then some more description of stuff and more talking. And more often than I liked it involved repeating something they’d already told one person to a second person so the reader goes through it twice. The whole book is basically Nico crisscrossing the city multiple times to question people. Argh. Major pacing problems, she added silently*. Plus ...more
Marc | Rainbow Gold Reviews
A free audiobook review copy of this book was provided to Rainbow Gold Reviews in exchange for an honest review by the publisher. I'm a huge fantasy fan, so I jumped on the chance. I'm ashamed to say, I never even heard about this series and I am very glad about this re-release as audiobook and stumbling over it.

The worldbuilding in this book was amazing and I found it easy to imagine this world in my head. It is great to get a clear picture of how the world works, without the author having to r
Feb 17, 2014 D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
M.C. Hana
Nov 02, 2012 M.C. Hana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The world-building was a bit impenetrable at first, and while I eventually figured out things from context clues, this was possibly the first time I ever wanted a glossary in a fantasy novel.

That said, this was delightful. Rough entry aside, the world-building is FASCINATING and wonderful, and I loved how pivotal the world-building was in the mystery.

Great cop procedural in a Renaissance-flavored fantasy novel. Also, I almost passed this book over because the blurb sounded like it was a Dude Nov
Jan 10, 2016 Alarra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
I've had this on my Kindle for ages. When I finally got around to reading it, I was all "Why didn't I read this earlier??" The premise is right up my alley: a detective novel set in a typical mediaeval fantasy setting with magic practitioners, where a returned ex-soldier teams up with an upright policeman to solve crime and deny their feelings for each other. The resolution of the mystery happens a little too fast considering the steady pacing of the rest of the book, but it was definitely enjoy ...more
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.)

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
Lillian Francis
Mar 25, 2016 Lillian Francis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phew, that was a monster read. It seemed to take forever but I enjoyed every minute of it. I particularly liked the last 20% when our MCs were finally in the all the same scenes. Up to this point they spent more time apart than together. That said, although there appears to be the start of an attraction, there is no hint of a romance in this book. I'm hoping in book two they have more on page time together and this blossoms into a relationship of sorts.

That said as a work of fantasy this was ama
Mar 06, 2016 Tenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mystery, gay
Okay, so, this book definitely ISN'T romance, despite what the tags on this site might claim. It's more of a fantasy detective novel or mystery novel. Still definitely worth the read, tho.

Nicolas Rathe is a sort of policeman in the city where everything is ruled by stars, clocks and astrology. Unlike many of his coleagues, Rathe doesn't take bribes, is workoholic and genuiely tries to help people of his city.
Philip Eslingen is a soldier, a mercenary... and he is just out of his job and trying t
Caroline Frechette
I really liked this, the world building in particular was extremely well done, but it could have been much better. The pacing of the story was uneven. Things were repeated a lot, and the plot and characters seemed to stagnate in the middle of the book, when they wrapped up quite nicely and with a great pace at the end. It seemed strange to me that the plot was so slowly and carefully laid out, when the authors were very comfortable throwing the reader in a deeply complex world which the audience ...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
Indigo Erin
May 12, 2014 Indigo Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Stephen Poltz
“Point of Hopes” is the first in a cross genre series. It is a mystery set in a fantasy world where astrology is real. It plays an important role in everything from the politics of kingdom to helping people determine the job best suited for them. It also can be used to help Nicolas Rathe find the missing children of Astreiant. I picked this book up because the sequel, “Point of Dreams” won the Lambda Literary Award, and the fourth book “Fair’s Point” recently won the Spectrum Award. I had high h ...more
Oct 18, 2015 Dhuaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: non-conventional fantasy seekers
Marvelous world building, interesting characters, decent story. The setting is very unique and I felt it took central place in this book. The plot seemed to be only a propelling force that served to show more of the setting, culture and interactions in this world. I didn't mind - I love seeing new worlds and Astreiant is the best I've encountered in ages - but it can bog down a normal story-focused reader. The writing is full of made up and specialized vocabulary, names are peculiar, and while b ...more
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
Nov 17, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
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
Jun 12, 2012 Drianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Isis by: Sineala
Shelves: glbt, fantasy
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
Oct 04, 2012 heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, reviewed, wiscon
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
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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)

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