Patrick's Reviews > The Dirty Streets of Heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
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Sep 14, 12

bookshelves: books-i-would-blurb
Read in June, 2012

Back in 1996, I was in the middle of a creative crisis. I'd been working on The Name of the Wind for a couple of years, and I was consumed with doubt.

The problem? My book was long and complicated. "Am I wasting my time?" I thought, "Does anyone even publish long, complex fantasy series these days?"

Then I picked up Tad Williams' Dragonbone Chair. Apparently people *were* still publishing long, complicated fantasy trilogies.

This knowledge relaxed me, and I kept on writing.

I kept reading Tad Williams, too. It was good stuff.

I followed him when he switched from writing Epic Fantasy into Sci-Fi. I read his stand-alone novels.

What I'm getting at here is that I really enjoy Tad's writing. I've loved it for more than a decade.

But seriously? I think this might be my favorite book that he's written so far.

I read a fair amount of Urban Fantasy these days. And so much of it seems like people trying to copy Jim Butcher with varying degrees of success.

And I get why. Jim Butcher is fucking awesome. I love the Dresden books.

But I get tired of reading books that want to be the Dresden files and fall short. Because they can't help but fall short. Because only Jim Butcher is Jim Butcher.

Similarly, I'm getting pretty tired of vampires and werewolves too. I'm not saying that I haven't seen it done well, I'm just saying that I've seen it done a lot.

It gets a little samey after a while. I get weary. I get bored.

But Dirty Streets of Heaven brings a whole new game to the table. Told from the point of view of an angel. Yes. Hell yes. That's something cool. That's something new.

And Williams does a brilliant job of it. You get a backstage pass into the afterlife. The mythos is fresh and original and the story is full of all the things I want, good characters, mystery, action....

And on top of it all, the voice of the main character is great. Tad Williams himself is delightfully a witty, sarcastic, and occasionally sharp-tongued. This is the first of his books where I've seen those characteristics peek through to a significant degree, and it's great.

What I'm getting at is that I really dug this book. That's it in a nutshell. Made me laugh. Made me curious. Impressed me with its cleverness. Made me hungry for the next book. Kept me up late at night when I should have been sleeping.

What else can I say, really? It's good. If you like good books, you should check it out....

If you don't like good books, you probably shouldn't be following my reviews here on Goodreads, because those are the only books I'm really interested in talking about.
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Comments (showing 1-38 of 38) (38 new)

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message 1: by Samuel (new) - added it

Samuel Yeah! Looking forward to this one and you're the first I "know" to have read it.


Megan Want.


message 3: by Dustin (last edited Sep 09, 2012 03:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dustin If you enjoyed the whole an angel as the narrator thing, you might want to check out the Remy Chandler books by Thomas Sniegoski.


[Name Redacted By Goodreads Because Irrelevant to Review] Well, some of them are trying to be Jim Butcher, but just as many are trying to be Charles de Lint and Emma Bull.

For my part, i think getting degrees in Religious Studies has ruined my ability to enjoy pseudo-Abrahamic religious cosmologies in fiction. I just keep focusing in on the inconsistencies and errors in the author's representation of the religious features, the insufficient research, the usually-thinly-veiled agenda of the author. Though i love Williams, i might have to give this one a pass as a result. :(


message 5: by Zane (new) - added it

Zane Just added this to my "to-read" list. Loved his Dragonbone Chair series and I think I'm gonna dig this one as well. Thanks for the recommendation, Pat!


Tami I have been looking for something new...this just might be it. I will definitely give it a read, especially since I respect your opinion so very much, Mr. Rothfuss!


message 7: by D.G. (new) - added it

D.G. Pat - You haven't steered me wrong yet, so I'll give this one a try!


Brenda ╰☆╮ Wonderful...I haven't thought of Tad Williams for too long.
Thank you for the reminder. I'll be looking into his new book.
Also...and I'm almost ashamed to say...I will pick up some of Jim Butcher's books. I've never read his. :( its very interesting how many times, this week, I have heard of his writing.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I bought THE NAME OF THE WIND solely on Tad's recommendation of the series, because after MEMORY, SORROW AND THORN (with the exception of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE) I had given up on epic high fantasy. I just couldn't find anyone writing big, complex books in the genre who turned finely-crafted sentences like Tad; who leavened the storytelling with beautiful, lyrical, poetic prose the way he had done in MS&T. I wanted High Fantasy that read like literature, full of the author's obvious love of *language.*

So Tad's blurb of THE KINGKILLER books carried enormous weight with me, and I have found in them exactly the sort of Williamsesque prose I've been looking for since TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER finally arrived to finish that incredible series.

Tad was one of the first Online Authors I cyberstalked into being my virtual mentor and email buddy. There was an old BBS service back in the 80s a bunch of us hung out on (anyone remember GEnie®? No? Crickets? Christ I'm old), talking about the MS&T books and getting our Nerd On in the very, very early days of The Internets. Tad was gracious and kind enough -- as are you, Pat -- to spend a great deal of time with an online community of his fans, and even mentioned "all my friends on GEnie" in his Author's Note to TOWER. I remember feeling so proud of that; of being recognized by a favorite author as an important part of the process of finishing so massive a book. It made me feel connected to the finished product, sort of like volunteering to get a president elected against all odds and seeing him through to the White House (coughBarackObamacough!).

And now here you are blurbing Tad's new book in your own vibrant online fan community, where thousands lurk in the ether gently prodding you to finish YOUR third book so that we can all immerse ourselves in the lyric language and pearly prose we've all come to love. Thank you for being here, Pat; we all appreciate your time and generosity.


message 10: by Marek (new) - added it

Marek Angel pov? Not so new concept (in international fantasy I mean) ;)

In Poland one of the most sucessful fantasy series (started with "Sower of the Wind" novel) takes place on Earth in our times, where Archangels (all kind of characters: noble ones, drunks, heroes or traitors - yes I am reffering to Lucifer) rules things around from the backsit (people are not aware of their presence - and mostly do not realize that Angels are among them and how powerful they are). Angels got their fights/adventures/problems in Heaven, Hell and on Earth. Most powerful creatures alive living in constant fear cause Evil is coming and God... Well, God forsaken them thousand years ago.

Series is written from pov of Abbadon (angel of doom) - very entertaining.

But I will check new Williams - always liked his style.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I have heard Tads name mentioned a few times recently, and am getting interested in his work, will probably try this first, but Id like to read his fantasy work, were is it best to start?.


Brenda ╰☆╮ I'm sure it's a matter of opinion...but my favorite ( so far) is Tailchasers Song.
If you like cats, it' s a definite.
:)
The Dragonbone Chair, of course, but it's been long enough since I read it (heh heh), that I (underline) can't say why.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks brenda, I do like cats :)


message 14: by Bookbitten1 (new)

Bookbitten1 Hey Patrick! Have you had a chance to read Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series? They are pretty awesome!!


Saphana How have I been missing out on a new Tad Williams? I'm getting old! Caliban's Hour, everybody, try it.


Bridget Ian wrote: "Well, some of them are trying to be Jim Butcher, but just as many are trying to be Charles de Lint and Emma Bull.

For my part, i think getting degrees in Religious Studies has ruined my ability t..."


I think in the case of a writer as good as Tad, you'll find that the religious backgrounds you studied and the basis of this novel are somewhat different, and any seeming inconsistencies will turn out to have been consistent with what he established from the beginning.


message 17: by Beatrice (new)

Beatrice Lawson Marek wrote: "Angel pov? Not so new concept (in international fantasy I mean) ;)

In Poland one of the most sucessful fantasy series (started with "Sower of the Wind" novel) takes place on Earth in our times, w..."


Marek, the series you are talking about - has it been translated and if so what is the title? Thanks!


message 18: by Kyle (new)

Kyle An Angels point of view. I've been there and seen others living there. The trick is to know what angel you are and who you are an angel for. For instance, An Angel of Comfort (Shoulder to cry on and all that jazz). There are more and everyone has chance to experience these things. The next trick is to consciously percieve them. Almost like pretending...


message 19: by Marek (new) - added it

Marek Beatrice wrote: "Marek, the series you are talking about - has it been translated and if so what is the title? Thanks!"

As far as I know they are translating it now. Hard to tell when they will release it in English-speaking countries (the name of the publisher is still kept in secret).

Unfortunatelly when comes to Polish novels translation takes some time e.g. the best Polish dark fantasy series "The Witcher" (title is as horrible in English as in Polish ;) - was published in English by Gollancz approx. 15 years after first polish edition (and only because computer RPG adaptation of the book was a huge world-wide success).

Why I am giving this example? Cause Witcher is an object of cult in Poland (e.g. when Barack Obama visited our country our Prime Minister gave him complete Witcher series as a gift from Polish people ;)) So if Gollancz needed 15 years and video game success to be encouraged to publish such a diamond the question is how long will take this mysterious publisher to issue one of the few runners-up?


message 20: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom This was already on my "To Read" list. Now it has zoomed to the top and is bouncing up and down on a pogo stick.


Brenda ╰☆╮ That's got to be something!


message 22: by Bryan (new) - added it

Bryan Pope I honestly trust your judgement Pat and just hearing this review brings me happiness as I am rearing to an end of the Dresden books (first timer) and was looking for something else to try out. Thank you for being an awesome author and supporting/reviewing other authors work (and being rather honest about it).


message 23: by Kara (new) - added it

Kara Sold. Added to to-read!


message 24: by Chad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chad I too am sold. You and Jim Butcher are my two favorite authors, so with that and your glowing recommendation I just ordered the book =). This will be my first time checking out a Tad Williams' book and I hope I like it as much as I think I will. Thanks for the awesome heads up!


Felicia Im reading this now and LOVE IT


message 26: by Eric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Eric Beatrice wrote: "Marek, the series you are talking about - has it been translated and if so what is the title? Thanks!"

Not the Polish series, but if you like the angel POV concept, there's a whole urban fantasy series by Thomas Sniegoski about a guy named Remy Chandler you should check out.

There's also a series called the "Night Watch" by Sergei Lukyanenko from Russia. It's not exactly angels and demons, but one of those stories where the principal actors are obviously inspired by the concept.


message 27: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Thrower Yeah Pat, you've convinced me to get this. Same with the Last Unicorn.


message 28: by Kyle (new) - added it

Kyle Thanks Pat! I'll check it out. To be honest, I've never read a Tad Williams book, but now I feel I must.


message 29: by Marcia (new) - added it

Marcia Brenda ╰☆╮ wrote: "I'm sure it's a matter of opinion...but my favorite ( so far) is Tailchasers Song.
If you like cats, it' s a definite.
:)
The Dragonbone Chair, of course, but it's been long enough since I read it ..."


My favorite, too.


Susanne I planned otherwise to clean the stove, read the newspaper, finish knitting socks for my friend's daughter - the plans are now on hold! Damm you Patrick ;-))


message 31: by Colin (new) - added it

Colin just reading dragonbone chair series again about 10 years since first read...and loving it..looking forward to this new one too. Going to give Jim butcher a go too as a friend recommended it.


message 32: by Rob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob I'm looking forward to reading this..but angel as a protagonist is definitely not new. Crossing it with Noir/Detective isn't new either.

I read both Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green's nightside books which led me to buy Mean Streets.

That introduced me to Thomas E. Sniegoski and his Remy Chandler books. The 5th book in that series came out just last month.

They aren't GREAT books, but I enjoy them. They are quick guilty pleasure books.

He certainly doesn't have the name recogniction/following that Tad Williams does though.

Not saying there isn't room for someone else in this field..just that it's not new.


message 33: by Darren (new)

Darren @Rob Mage as a detective isn't new, either. John Constantine was doing it before Dresden (and sorry to say Mr. Rothfuss, but doing it better). I don't see why things need to be "new". The Romantics started the con of originality, and they were lying when they did it. Shakespeare retold old well-worn stories. Jazz is almost all cover tunes. Working within a tradition has always been where it's at.


message 34: by Rob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob @Darren

I wasn't trying to say it needed to be new. But this is the 2nd or 3rd time I've seen Mr. Rothluss say:

"But Dirty Streets of Heaven brings a whole new game to the table. Told from the point of view of an angel. Yes. Hell yes. That's something cool. That's something new.

I was simply pointing out there is other contemporary work in the same area. And as I stated:

"Not saying there isn't room for someone else in this field..just that it's not new. "


message 35: by Nick (new)

Nick Brett I am amazed by how much you liked this. I thought it was 'okay' but flawed, too much was repeated, a slight cop out on the fact nobody can remember details of Heaven and some light characterisation.
Showed potential top grow into a great series, but a fairly average entry I thought...


message 36: by Paul (new)

Paul Totally agree, Patrick. Finished reading Tad's book and looking forward to the next volume! Good beginning, strong middle, and even a not-so-hurried ending! Enjoyed the humour, droll or otherwise, and no shortage of momentum. A good read.


Keith Kelly Thanks for the recommendation Patrick!


message 38: by Julian (new) - added it

Julian Yes Tad is awesome, and I've read all his books. However, I was a little bummed at the heaven and hell themes in these books. Heaven and hell, angels and demons have been written about ad nauseum. Seriously look up urban fantasy with angels and demons and you'll find thousands of books. Can't wait for Tad to move onto something else.


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