To Reign in Hell
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To Reign in Hell

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  2,460 ratings  ·  148 reviews
The time is The Beginning. The place is Heaven. The story is the Revolt of the Angels - a war of magic, corruption and intrigue that could destroy the fragile fabric of the universe, plunge it back into chaos, from which all things come.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1984)
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Mar 31, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Beyond Reality Jan 2010 Selection
Nov 08, 2007 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People obsessed with The Fall
One of my all-time favorite literary genres/subjects is The Fall from Heaven; I eat that stuff up. So I was really excited about To Reign in Hell. But, honestly, I was disappointed in this book. There is a lot going for it, certainly - it's a very novel approach, and I like how Brust treated a lot of the characters. But, to parrot a review that I read online, I can't stand a plot that hinges on Big Misunderstandings that are based on people not talking to each other. And, yes, that's the root of...more
I initially rated this 4 stars but that is not sitting well. I love Brust's originality and his lack of fear to take such a well known story and shape it to his own ideals, which I think I actually agree with. But I thought maybe that was over done. I kept thinking, "really?!, are these characters supposed to be this stupid? Can they really not see what is going on?". The plot moves along due to miscommunications and near misses, by deceit and sheer ignorance. I guess that might have been intent...more
Aug 07, 2012 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Milton's "Paradise Lost"
Recommended to Eric by: Mike Reineke
Shelves: fantasy, religion
Before you pick this up, you should know that it's blasphemous. Seriously blasphemous. Personally, I loved that about it, but you might not (I'm looking at you, people that picketed Dogma, and you, people that think Harry Potter is the work of the devil). You've been warned.

In general, I enjoy different takes on creation and theology, from classics like John Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante Aligheri's Inferno to contemporary works such as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, Christopher...more
4.0 to 4.5 stars. A fantastic retelling of the "Fall" of Lucifer from his point of view. An original, intelligent, and very enjoyable novel.
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
Feb 12, 2010 colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ± rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ± by: Beyond Reality book group
Shelves: dark-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I thought about 3-stars for this, but it honestly had me too captivated for that. TRIH was well written, but not deeply written. The story never really reached its full potential to me. It could have been truly epic in scope, with the material Brust had to write from.

This seemed more like a social comedy. It wasn't slapstick silly humor, though there was the occasional subtle joke that had me laughing. It was written to be very dialogue-heavy, and the shifting scenes made it a quick read.

I wasn'...more
Oh, where to start? I have to say that I was expecting more out of this one. It just didn't really do it for me. The introduction by Zelazny only raised my expectations too, I must say. For him to say that he doubted that Brust could pull off what he set out to do, but found that he was wrong to doubt, and then decided it was good enough for him to write an intro for the story rather than just some cliched blurb for the back cover, that made a change to my expectations.

The beginning started out...more
No stars for this one.

Occasionally I run across a book I dislike so much it goes into the recycled paper bin instead of to a friend or to a secondhand bookstore.

This is odd, because I've really enjoyed several other books by Stephen Brust. Additionally, I loved "Lord of Light" by Roger Zelazny, who wrote an enthusiastic review of this book and whose work it occasionally resembles.

Right in the face of all that, 'To Reign in Hell' was awesomely awful.

So...very...much of it was consumed with chara...more
Boring, juvenile, prurient, unimaginative, flat characters, predictable plotting, lifeless prose.

But, on the other hand, this work is stacked up against Dante, Goethe, Milton, Blake, and a galaxy of lesser writers that have all taken Xtian myth into new and interesting environments. To even try your hand at this takes moxie.

That it fails miserably is almost to be expected...but then it is just genre fiction...which is never meant to be literary or thought provoking in any significant manner.

Trite, sophomoric. It's been done and by better authors.

Good premise: new twist on a (very) old story--you know, turn everything in the original on its head--but it didn't work. Folks who like turning classics inside out (almost a modern genre in itself) may like it. Trades on a well-known "cast" but bends the characters in totally new--and unlikely--directions. Milton ought to feel ripped off.

Technically, it's hard to understand what Zelazny found as "consummate grace and genuine artistry." Is...more
Rating: 5 stars

Why? It made me think. Seldom do I find a book that makes me think, and allows me to picture heaven in the following way:


(Pictured center: Yaweh)

To Reign in Hell took a fictional story we thought we knew, and turned it on its head.

Err... wait, you're saying the bible wasn't fictional? Excuse me then while I go part that ocean over there so that talking, burning bush can get to the other side without getting its leaves wet--whereupon it will still be held in higher esteem than any...more
Frustrating and brilliant.

Like Zelazny, who wrote the foreword to this book, I didn't think Brust could handle it. A story about Satan's rebellion against God? There were so many ways this book could fail. It didn't. It held together with a kind of chaotic intricacy, a huge mess of a plot that somehow holds itself together by virtue of its author's skill and ends with a gratifying finale.

Brust doesn't take any sides here. This book is not a thinly veiled postmodernist attempt to destabilize Chri...more
Sep 03, 2010 Christina rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loved "Paradise Lost"
Recommended to Christina by: sci-fi book club
"To Reign in Hell" is like the movie "Jawbreaker" - or even better, "Saved" with Mandy Moore - in heaven.

Heaven is apparently a great big box floating in space with "cacoastrum" (choas, though I can't ignore how much the first part of that word sounds like "caca") all around it - sort of what high school feels like when you're 15 or 16. Occasionally the cacoastrum breaks in, and some angels die and some new angels are created.

Yaweh, Satan, Lucifer and Lilith are the cool student council kids of...more
Sep 19, 2009 Jeff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians and atheists alike
I'm obliged to be true to myself and rate this 5 stars even though it's nowhere near as great a book as the others i've rated 5 stars simply because it was such a strong influence on me as a young teen. I've probably read it 4 times in my life, but i might never read it again.

I think i identified most with the Mephistopheles character, but boy did i get irritated at multiple instances with various major characters. If we can infer from Brust's characters what he thinks about human character, the...more
When I saw this book, I immediately bought it because the concept seem like a "can't lose" proposition. It started OK, but then just got slower and slower. I kept thinking, "Put this turkey down. But no, what if it gets better?" So I kept reading. Well, guess what? It never gets better.

The primary action in the story appears to be shrugging. It is by far the most prevalent verb. The word shrug is probably used about 80 times (I'm being conservative in my estimate). And that that about sums it u...more
Gustavo Lanzas
Drawing from Milton's Paradise Lost, "To Reign In Hell" tells the story of the first-born in heaven - Yaweh, Satan, Michael, Lucifer, Belial, Raphael, and Leviathan - arising out of the substance of primordial chaos. Fighting against it, they impose order on it, and create Heaven in the process. After a respite, other waves of chaos inevitably break through their walls. But each victory expands Heaven, and increases the heavenly host, as lesser orders of angels are created by imposing order on t...more
The way Brust spins the premise of this novel is quite interesting. The best part of the story is undeniably the beginning, where the angels are united against the "flux" and working to overcome it with the Plan. Those early chapters fly by very quickly. But then the story sort of loses itself in flimsy, unbelievable misunderstandings that escalate into silliness with terrible consequences. It was a little hard to take some of the events in the ending seriously. The characters were very compelli...more
Brust is a writer primarily of fantasy and wow is he good. While telling a good story is always foremost, he also seems to enjoy challenging himself and doing things that are interesting. His Vlad Taltos series, about an assassin, is what he's known for, but To Reign in Hell is actually a re-telling of the story of the Fall, of the creation of everything and how Satan got kicked out. Not to give away too much, but in this version it's not really Satan's fault.
Steve Steidle
I haven't enjoyed a book as I did this one in a long time. I will try to do the book justice, but if you really want a compelling review to read the book, read the foreword by Roger Zelazny. This was a weighty topic presented with human (erm...angelic?) characters that were extremely relatable with real emotions, faults and motivations. The writing was engaging, the dialog sharp, and it was surprisingly hilarious (just read the book's opening sentence: "Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes,...more
D. Logan
This book didn't keep my attention as well as the Taltos Series by this same author, but it was interesting to read. It was definitely a unique take on the war of heaven. All of the ties to what we know where there, but in a unique way that made it into it's own unique story. I imagine there are some who would be offended by the book, but if you read it as the pure fiction it is, it makes for an entertaining read.
Kirk Macleod
So I've just finished To Reign in Hell, and you know what? It was pretty great - it's a fantasy-themed retelling of the War in Heaven (as described in John Milton's Paradise Lost - where the original fall of Lucifer from heaven is described, and you know what? I really liked it.

The author starts with the conceit that "From all of [his] readings on the revolt of the angels, two things are clear: God is omnipotent and Satan is not a fool. There seems to be a contradiction here…" and then goes on t...more
Rory Flynn
I had only read one other novel by Brust, the ambitious, but (for me) disappointing The Incrementalists. While I enjoyed the cerebral tone of the novel my disappointment comes from the lack of a more action-oriented back-story for the titular group. That being said, the premise of To Reign In Hell, certainly tickled my lapsed Catholic/atheist heart. I absolutely loved the characters (Yahweh, Satan, Lucifer, etc) and the personalities bestowed upon them by Mr. Brust. I think my favorite was Beele...more
Dev Null
This... was not at all what I expected.

For some reason I had it in my head that this was one of those anthology / collaboration things where history's greatest villains meet up in Hell and hijinks ensue; I'd been avoiding it for years based on that assumption. I wonder what I had it mixed up with, because that ain't this at all.

Finally picked it up because of the gushing forward from Zelazny, and it is really very good. Not, I think, quite on par with some of Brust's other stuff - its hard to ma...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt Larkin
Stephen Brust is best known for the novels of Vlad Taltos. I've heard lots of good things about them, and always meant to read them. But it was an unrelated book of his, To Reign in Hell, that drew my attention. It was described as a fantasy re-telling of the story of the War in Heaven. The story is mostly from the perspective of the fallen angels, Satan and his lot.

It's interesting because it makes most of the fallen out to be basically good people, who make poor choices, but their choices make...more
Greg Heath
Perhaps my favorite novel of all time, Steven Brust's "To Reign in Hell" is a novel that humanizes what is quite possibly the most reviled figure in literary and popular history - the Devil, himself. Set just prior to the events that will lead to the war in heaven and subsequent fall of Satan, the story opens with an ominous tone: there is a wave of flux energy coming soon, dubbed the Fourth Wave, that will tear down the walls of heaven and simultaneously create and destroy life indiscriminately...more
I actually really liked this book. In some ways, it was similar to Glen Duncan’s I, Lucifer: Finally, the Other Side of the Story, and in other ways it reminded me of elements in Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness series' - particularly the characters (although this was published long before either of those, so I suppose it really ought to go the other way around and perhaps those talented authors found some inspiration from...more
Brust's telling of The Fall From Heaven, or just "The Fall" for those who dwell on this topic a lot, is an ambitious undertaking. It's a subject that has been tread upon by so many others that to even "go there" takes courage. However, "To Reign In Hell" failed to impress the way some of his other works have.

Unfortunately, the plot hinges on multiple misunderstandings, chiefly between Satan and Yaweh, that continue to cascade upon each other, leading to the end we all know is coming. The bigges...more
Thorin McGee
This is like reading a train wreck. Immensely interesting, but you know by the names (Yahweh, Michael, Raphael and Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan, Belial, Lilith, Asmodai...) that it cannot end well.

Brust does a great job of unfolding a very personal story of misunderstandings, betrayals, lies and stubbornness that's a portrait of crumbling group dynamics. This is not a story of good and evil or the typical huge egos. It's immensely personal and takes pains to show each player in their own light. Som...more
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Steven Karl Zoltán Brust (born November 23, 1955) is an American fantasy and science fiction author of Hungarian descent. He was a member of the writers' group The Scribblies, which included Emma Bull, Pamela Dean, Will Shetterly, Nate Bucklin, Kara Dalkey, and Patricia Wrede, and also belongs to the Pre-Joycean Fellowship.

(Photo by David Dyer-Bennet)
More about Steven Brust...
Jhereg (Vlad Taltos, #1) Yendi (Vlad Taltos, #2) Taltos (Vlad Taltos, #4) Phoenix (Vlad Taltos, #5) Dragon (Vlad Taltos, #8)

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