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Child of Fire (Twenty Palaces #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  5,803 Ratings  ·  406 Reviews
BONUS: This edition contains excerpts from Harry Connolly's Game of Cages and Twenty Palaces.

Ray Lilly is living on borrowed time. He’s the driver for Annalise Powliss, a high-ranking member of the Twenty Palace Society, a group of sorcerers devoted to hunting down and executing rogue magicians. But because Ray betrayed her once, Annalise is looking for an excuse to kill h
ebook, 368 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 2009)
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Sep 15, 2013 Carol. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dresden fans and Dresden almost-fans
Making your way in the world today takes everything you got... Making my way through the UF canon takes everything I got...

Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton have a lot to answer for, specifically, for achieving a level of commercial success that has spawned a host of imitators. Child of Fire is one of the later entries into the urban fantasy field, first in a short-lived series of three books.

Dresden is the obvious comparison here, but not for the reasons you might think. On the surface, not t
Aug 05, 2012 Felicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-paranormal
NO ROMANCE YEAH!!! I took a left turn and went straight urban fantasy for this book and YES I really really really enjoyed it! Here's the tale of an ex-con sucked into guarding a sorceror who's part of a secret society to oppress bad magicians from popping up in the world abusing magic (the bad guys have very Lovecraftian overtones). The book is set in a creepy small town they're investigating where children are dying in horrible ways but everyone is magicked into not knowing. I have to say, the ...more

This book started off strong -- I wanted to find out more about the backstory, what the Twenty Palaces were, how Ray became entangled with them, what Annalise's story was, why the kids were being burnt into worms of smoke -- but kind of sagged when they got to town and had repetitive encounters with the locals. Similarly, I liked that Connolly created the opportunity for ethical questions to be raised, but then was disappointed that not much was done in regards to those issues.

Reasonably enterta
Aug 14, 2013 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Amanda by: Goodreads Giveaway
I am a Romance Novel reader, I love the mushy, gushy, touchy, lovey stuff, which none of this is included in the book. This book had me running around like a chicken with my head cut off for the fist hundred pages, I just couldn't figure it out, which of course made me want to read more and one by one the pieces were placed in to give you a little taste just enough to keep you wanting more. It was so surprising to me how well written and fast pased this book was. When I first signed up for the g ...more
Chance Maree
Sep 15, 2011 Chance Maree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, fantasy
After the first couple of scenes I nearly put the book away thinking it would be senseless schlock. That may sound a bit cruel, but really - a child bursting into flames, and worms, and a fight with a couple in a station wagon, with a baby in the back, may foreshadow an action-packed story, but I was in the mood for something more interesting.

Needless to say, thankfully, I kept reading. 4.5 stars. Ray, the main character turns out to be quite introspective, and funny as hell. He is the woodman
BG Josh
Jan 17, 2012 BG Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read a number of poor to mediocre fantasy books recently (Dresden files, game of thrones) and this book is everything they are not. Well thought out interesting characters. A cool, plausible and well built world. An interesting engaging plot. And to top it off the book is well written and actually makes you feel things.

Before I read this novel I was beginning to think no one was even interested in writing good fantasy anymore. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 25, 2012 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Well....what can I say? A good read, not the best I've read and with some things that bugged me a bit, but all in all just this side of excellent.

Which is a bit depressing as the series has already been cancelled. I'm planning on ordering the next 2 (used) tomorrow.

The thing is that I was unaware of this series of books when it was "looking for buyers". Sad I suppose.

Anyway...the book. Our hero (Ray) has a problem. See he's a crook, or maybe an ex-crook and in the life he did some time, establi
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Another series to be added to my reading list. Ray Lilly is a refreshing hero, and the storyline is pretty different for UF. It's dark, pretty dark, but Connolly has the noir vibe down perfectly. I'll keep reading this series for sure. Full review to be posted on the Bitten by Books website:
What a great book. It had me on the edge of my seat more than once. Fast paced action, original plot and interesting characters, spells and werewolves, shoot-outs and strange supernatural forms... Though I did feel like I was missing a prequel to this story, there was much hinted at and never explained. Hopefully, Connolly will rectify that in the next book in his series. I'll be definitely buying it!
Christopher Valin
I finally finished reading Harry Connolly's Child of Fire (I'm a slow reader), and I can definitely see why Publisher's Weekly named it one of the best books of 2009. This story grabs you by the throat on page one and doesn't let up for a second. The characters and setting are rich, the story is suspenseful and exciting, and the Twenty Palaces world Harry has created is fascinating and mysterious. I can't compare it to the Dresden books like a lot of people have since my entire Dresden experienc ...more
Really enjoyed this one. I was a bit worried to start out with, because the description made it sound like Annalise would be a negatively-portrayed bitch-on-wheels character but, though she's undoubtedly incredibly hard-bitten, this isn't a story about how awful she is.

Instead, we have Ray, an ex car thief drawn into a world of monster hunting by good intentions and a bad friend, and serving as a 'wooden man' for a powerful monster hunter who hates him for getting her best friend killed. He does
John Bogart
Dec 24, 2014 John Bogart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fantasy
I loved this book. It hit so many of my buttons just right:

From the first paragraph, we get a fascinating relationship between Ray (the POV character) and Annalise. She wants to kill him but isn't allowed to. A back story why she hates him is hinted at without being explained (it's covered in the prequel, Twenty Palaces, though I'd recommend reading Child of Fire first). What would typically be a mentor/student relationship is instead handled as a grudging, hostile relationship in which she tell
I really have no idea how to review this book. I would never have known of it, but for the UF Geektopia Challenge, and I probably wouldn't have finished it either.

I started to read the prequel novella but felt lost and assumed that it was a novella written for people who had already read the series and wanted to retrospectively know how it all began. I think I was wrong, that is just the way Harry Connolly writes.

Ray Lilly is the driver for Annalise. Annalise is barely human anymore, she hunts t
Aug 15, 2011 Nathaniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I read Child of Fire because it was recommended by Jim Butcher and his fans. Since I had already finished Ghost Story and probably have a good year to wait before Cold Days comes out, I thought I'd try out something else in the urban fantasy genre.

As a page-turning thriller, Child of Fire works. I finished the entire book in two days--despite having young children and a very important test to study for--and it was better paced than many NYT bestselling thrillers that I read in airports. Unfortun
Joshua Palmatier
This is the first book in the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly and is his debut novel. And I thought it was pretty good. The basic premise is that Ray Lilly has done some rather bad things in his past and is now indebted to Annalise Powliss as her "wooden man," basically as her decoy. She sends him in to distract the bad guys and to stir things up, while she takes the bad guys down or sorts through the debris for whatever it is they're looking for. In this case, they've come to the town o ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Andi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I am like the other readers, expecting something like the Dresden Files. It is silly to make me feel that the book series is the ‘be-all, end-all’ of Urban Fantasy. So, when GoodReads recommend this book, I jumped at a chance to read it. The summary and the accolades by a screen writer (Terry Rossio) and author (Jim Butcher) had me thinking that this would be enjoyable.

Child of Fire is a very, very difficult book to write a review about. I think the biggest problem with the book is chara

Really more like 2 1/2 Stars

When I first read about Child of Fire by Harry Connolly, I just knew I had read this book and immediately put it on my wish list. So when I won a copy of it on Twitter, I was pretty psyched about reading it. Plus, the majority of reviews I had read were raving about Child of Fire. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case for me.

Child of Fire reads like a gritty, supernatural crime novel. Ray Lilly is not a super being, just an ex-con artist trying to make amends for past

It seems a lot of people compare Child of Fire to The Dresden Files. Really the only similarity I saw was the noir type feel to the book.

I really wanted to like this book, but there was something about it that was just off putting to me. Maybe it was that it had a kind of Lovecraftian feel about it. I'm really not a fan of that type of horror at all. I usually go for the creepy ghost stories or psychological thrillers. Maybe it was the type of gore, or maybe it was that I just didn't really con
Ex-con acts as dogsbody and general cannon fodder for an operative hunting magical threats, which takes them to your usual small creepy town.

This never would have crossed my radar (publisher dropped the series, didn't get any traction with my friends) but the gf liked it. I guess I did too – the magic was creative and interesting, and the unfolding of the central mystery was genuinely creepy. But this book squandered a whole lot of things. The set-up is 70% of the way to some effective semi-goth
A good addition to the urban fantasy shelf. The author comes up with some inventive depictions of magic, such as Annalise's ribbons and Ray's ghost knife.
Annalise is a hell of a fierce character; my mouth literally dropped open during her first battle scene. It's a good thing Ray is the first-person point of view character, because I don't think I'd want to be inside Annalise's head--even if she did get a teeny bit more sympathetic toward the end of the story. I liked Ray; he's trying to be a g
Maggie K
There was a lot to like about this book, creepy villians, a stepford town, greater-good arguments......
but there was also a lot of stuff that was hard to swallow. I know, I know, its urban fantasy, youre supposed to go along for the ride....but people need to stay in character, their decisions need to at least seem to make sense.

The action and the nt-so-happy ending kept it in the positive for me though. 3.5 stars
k reads
This review first appeared at So I Read This Book... at

There's something exciting about discovering a new series that already has several books out. No anxiously awaiting for the next book to be released - it's already been published and if you want to go on a glom - you can! That's how I feel about Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series. I'd never paid much attention to the series before. I thought it was
Maria Schneider
Oct 19, 2011 Maria Schneider rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent five star read. More review to come! From my blog post:

I purchased Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel by Harry Connolly when it was on sale this summer (it’s still 99 cent and I highly recommend it if you like UF) and finally got around to reading it. It’s urban fantasy and on the dark side. It’s a fairly unusual urban fantasy in my opinion. It’s told from the point of view of the side-kick rather than the amazing kick-ass heroine. Ray is “just a driver” whose task is to help a woma
Nicole Prestin
This is a book that I found fairly entertaining with some interesting ideas, but rather flawed in execution.

The Good:

One of the refreshing things about this novel was that while this story falls under the urban fantasy spectrum, it pushed the border almost into a horror novel. The monsters were different than the typical vampires and werewolves and such and I liked the underlying idea of this book. I actually liked both of the main characters, Ray and Annalise, and I especially liked how they in
I'm on a binge of hard-boiled/fantasy novels these days. Charlie Huston is the reigning champ in my opinion, but there are far more heirs to his throne than I had originally thought. Mike Carey's Felix Castor series are enjoyable, but not as hard boiled or crime fiction inspired. Richard Kardrey's Sandman Slim character is promising but I need to read the second of that series in order to see if the flaws of the first book are ironed out and worth continued attention. The best of these types of ...more
I felt like you joined this story already in progress. There were so many hints and comments made about past events, as if you were supposed to already know it when in fact, they never told you anything. You had to muddle your way through without having any real sense of who the characters were or what their backstory was.

Also, I felt like the plot went awry with all these unnecessary side plots, just for the sake of non-stop action filler. Like, they're trying to get to the bottom of the burnin
It's a shame this book isn't more popular. The premise, magic, and characters are all really promising. The pacing is solid, the jokes are good, the dialogue is believable.

Ray Lilly is a believable, likeable kind of guy. I honestly believed him as a character. He isn't some super-amped up ultra mage or mercenary or supernatural being with magikal powers. He's a (fairly) normal guy who has one spell to his name: the ghost knife. The ghost knife operates like Ray's Swiss Army Knife throughout the
Oct 23, 2011 Bookwormgirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror, urban fantasy
Shelves: urban-fantasy
The main character, Ray Lilly, was interesting and showed a lot of depth. The world building was excellent and the secondary characters interesting. It is a dark urban fantasy that deal with a lot of gray and black moral issues. The major one: is it better to murder someone in order to save thousands? Through the hunt for the killer of the children, Ray comes to some decisions to these questions and some insights to his very cold Boss, Annalise.

I liked the fact that Ray really could only rely on
Jun 20, 2011 Contrarius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. As the first book by this author and the first book of a series, it's impossible to give a final verdict on either; nonetheless, I see a lot of potential here for both the author and the series. The hero seems, to me, to be too virtuous and too soft-hearted to be entirely consistent with his given history, but he is also easy to like and care about. The magical system is interesting, with lots of room for further developments in future books, and the monsters are ...more
Shanshad Whelan
Still clearing my head from this one. Different from a lot of what's already out there. Closest stuff I've read to this one seems to be Butcher's Dresden stuff, though this one comes without the humor. The book doesn't waste much time explaining and jumps right into the story which may take the reader some time to figure out enough to follow.

Not for the faint of heart or those who don't care for gross and grim and lots of death. Still, can't say I felt it was gratuitous for the most part, thoug
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Other Books in the Series

Twenty Palaces (4 books)
  • Twenty Palaces (Twenty Palaces, #0.5)
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