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Angel Mage

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More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

536 pages, Hardcover

First published September 30, 2019

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About the author

Garth Nix

264 books13.5k followers
Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing 'Hail the Conquering Hero Comes' or possibly 'Roll Out the Barrel'. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a boot full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.

Despite a wheel literally falling off the Austin, Garth survived to return to Australia and study at the University of Canberra. After finishing his degree in 1986 he worked in a bookshop, then as a book publicist, a publisher's sales representative, and editor. Along the way he was also a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, serving in an Assault Pioneer platoon for four years. Garth left publishing to work as a public relations and marketing consultant from 1994-1997, till he became a full-time writer in 1998. He did that for a year before joining Curtis Brown Australia as a part-time literary agent in 1999. In January 2002 Garth went back to dedicated writer again, despite his belief that full-time writing explains the strange behaviour of many authors.

He now lives in Sydney with his wife, two sons and lots of books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 823 reviews
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 341 books97.5k followers
December 25, 2019
Let's begin with my frequent caveat. I know and like the writer. And I received a free copy of the book as an Advanced Reader's Edition.
I will also apologize that I didn't post a review sooner!

Garth Nix has never disappointed me. He writes solid stories, with imaginative systems for magic and plots that are not a rehashing of old familiar tales.

This book stands very well on its own. I have no idea if he intends to write more tales in this world, but if you are hesitant to pick up a nice fat book because you fear that at the end of all those pages you'll be left dangling off a cliff, well . . . No need to fear1

Dedications in books always intrigue me, and this one was no exception. Dedicated to Alexandre Dumas? Author of the Three Musketeers, and all those sequels! I loved those books! And then it goes on to mention the 1973-74 movies, The Three Musketeers and the Four Musketeers. Movies that I truly enjoyed as well.

The setting for this lovely tale is a very alternative France. There are, indeed, four friends who are drawn together to be our heroes. There is a Cardinal. There is a Milady. But as mentioned above, Garth Nix does not rehash old plots. Yes, there is a youngster intent on following in her mother's footsteps as a Musketeer. Yes, there are rivalries between the King's Guard, the Queen's Musketeers and the Cardinal's Pursuivants. Of course there is romance! And magic such as I haven't seen before.

Angels. Why, of course there are angels!

Will you enjoy this book if you've never read Dumas, and don't care for Museketeers in any media? I believe you will. If you do love Dumas and Musketeers, I suspect your pleasure in the story will be a bit keener.

Profile Image for Charlotte May.
695 reviews1,073 followers
March 15, 2021
All hail Garth Nix and the incredible fantasy worlds he builds!

I’ve mulled this over. Fuck it I loved it so I’m upping my rating from 4 to 5 stars ⭐️

I had high hopes for this one because I loved the Old Kingdom series so much. Although this one is adult fantasy rather than YA and the premises couldn’t be more different Garth Nix just has a way of storytelling and getting me invested in characters that few authors do.

The city of Ystara was destroyed long ago and its people fled if not killed. No one is entirely sure of what caused the destruction - whether the people are cursed, and if so why.
All those who fled Ystara are known as ‘refusers’. Where the rest of the kingdom use icons and are able to call on angels and use their magic anyone who uses angelic magic near a refuser will either give them a terrible blood ash plague or turn them into a ‘beastling.’

Meanwhile we have 4 main characters, all different but all connected in some way. Quick tangent - found family!! I love that trope 😊

Dorotea - my personal fave. I got kind of a Luna Lovegood vibe from her. She makes icons and seems to have gifts no other icon makers have shown before.

Simeon - Training to be a doctor both through the usual medical training and also through use of angelic magic.

Henri - A clerk, very intelligent and organised. Comes from a huge family and keen to make a name for himself.

Agnez - A new recruited member of the Queens musketeers. Punch first ask questions later.

All four find themselves in the same location. It turns out they are part of a much bigger and more dangerous plan than they could ever have known.

This brings me into my next point. I saw a few people were disappointed by the book because they were expecting a retelling of the three musketeers. I’m not entirely sure where they’ve seen that this is the case as it’s not on the plot summary of my copy. However I don’t know a great deal about the three musketeers so whether it is connected is something I wouldn’t notice. From where I am sitting there are a few characters with names from the three musketeers (Dartaghan, Rochefort etc.) But for me this book stands entirely on its own anyway.

I loved the world building, I loved he characters. It was a wonderfully intricate and enjoyable high fantasy. 😊


Book Christmas present 2020 🎁


I adored the Sabriel series so I am ALL OVER THIS!!!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
December 18, 2019
Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Chaos, death by the magical Ash Blood plague and by monstrous beasts have consumed the country of Ystara, killing all who remain within its borders. The last survivors, holed up in a cathedral, speculate that this disaster must have been caused by a “ferociously single-minded” young mage, Liliath, whose unprecedented power to call on angels, particularly the archangel Palleniel, has somehow led to things going catastrophically awry.

One hundred thirty-seven years later, Liliath awakes from her magical sleep in the temple of Saint Marguerite, in the neighboring country of Sarance. The weakened angel who awakened her informs Lilith that there are now suitable candidates for her plan — though only four rather than the hundreds she envisioned. But four will do.

Liliath’s targets are four young people who have met in Lutace, the capital of Sarance:

۩ Simeon, a very large black young man who is an intelligent and dedicated doctor-in-training;
۩ Agnez, a brand-new Musketeer cadet whose talent with the sword is equaled by her reckless courage;
۩ Henri, a lowly redheaded clerk with a talent for numbers and a hope for finding his fortune;
۩ Dorotea, a gifted icon-maker whose unusual ability to quickly sketch icons that angels will answer to leads to her imprisonment in the Tower of the Star Fortress at the hands of Captain Camille Rochefort.

Still beautiful, still age nineteen to all appearances, Liliath renews her quest to be physically united with Palleniel, the angel she loves. She gathers new followers from the Ystaran refugees living in Sarance, but they are weakened by their inability to tolerate the touch of angelic magic, which turns their blood to ash or even turns them into one of the feared beastlings. The Ystarans or “Refusers” are treated as untouchables. Liliath’s leadership offers them new hope … but where is she leading them, and why?

Garth Nix’s latest fantasy novel Angel Mage is a four Musketeers type of tale set in a somewhat gritty fantasy world, an analogue of seventeenth century western Europe. In the map that appears at the beginning of the book, Spain is called Ystara and France is Sarance, with Lutace taking the place of Paris. The name changes and physical differences between Angel Mage’s map and the real western Europe drive home the point that one shouldn’t expect simply a retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Angel Mage has its own unique plot, focused on Liliath’s stunningly self-centered scheme.

Although Simeon, Agnez, Henri and Dorotea all become Queen’s Musketeers, for three of them it’s mostly just a courtesy title. Their characters don’t really track the original four Musketeers in any meaningful way, except that a deep friendship and loyalty develops between them, despite their differences. Several characters from The Three Musketeers do appear in Angel Mage, although they are generally older and play supporting roles. Dartagnan, for example, is a 40-year-old woman who’s now the captain of the Musketeers (and yes, it’s Dartagnan without an apostrophe here).

Angel Mage is loaded with racial and sexual diversity; society in this world is fully and unquestioningly accepting of different races (of our four heroes, three are darker-skinned), genders, and sexual orientations. Most of the powerful characters are female, including the Queen of Sarance, Dartagnan, Cardinal Duplessis (which was the real-life name of Cardinal Richelieu), and Captain Rochefort. Two of the four musketeer friends are female, including Agnez, by far the best fighter. Not to mention the arch-villain and “Angel Mage” of the title, Liliath, who (in a move that will tickle Musketeers fans) is occasionally called Milady. Certainly Liliath is the kindred spirit of Dumas’ Milady, though their motivations and schemes are entirely different. At the same time, her name Liliath also evokes Lilith, the mythical femme fatale.

Nix’s magical system in Angel Mage is pleasingly complex. The angels in this novel are more secular than religious in nature, essentially winged spirits from another dimension. Angels are summoned by icons (usually in the form of rings or other jewelry) to exercise their magic for the benefit of the person holding the icon. Interestingly, calling on angels carries an often-steep price: you lose days, months or even years of your life, physically aging your body each time you use the icon, depending on the power and standing of the angel and the scope of the request. Liliath, however, has found a highly dubious way to avoid the aging effect, making her even more dangerous.

Angel Mage is more deliberately-paced than quick moving, but I enjoyed the world-building, the intriguing details relating to angelic magic, and the appealing characters. Nix’s unusual take on the legendary Musketeers and their encounters with the lethally dangerous Liliath is worth taking the time to savor.

P.S. This book has one of my favorite covers of the year.

Initial post: A hardback copy of this book just unexpectedly landed on my doorstep today, courtesy of the publicist, Wunderkind PR. Garth Nix's latest! How cool is that? And it's a fantasy inspired by the Three Musketeers!
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
427 reviews1,697 followers
March 17, 2021
The end of Ystara began with the disappearance of it's Archangel Palleniel and the Ash Blood Plague, that killed Ystaran's by turning their blood to ash and the rest into beastlngs.

Liliath, the angel mage, who can force any angel to do her bidding withought the usual cost of rapid aging, is in search of her lost love, Palleniel.

Liliath lead survivors out of Ystara to the neighbouring Sarance, where she herself went into hiding. Now, over a century later, Liliath is back and ready to find and restore Palleniel — no matter the cost.

The descendants of her people, now known as Refusers, are still cursed and they are forced to live low lives and are shunned for their cursed blood.

The Refusers are eager to help Liliath with her plan not knowing that she is the cause of their misfortune.

Key to Liliath's plan are four young Sarancians. Simeon, Agnez, Henri and Dorotea, who upon meeting feel an immediate but inexplicable bond.

You could tell that the author put a lot of effort into world building, and maybe I wasn't paying enough attention but I felt confused the whole time.

We're sort of thrown in with little explanation and that's usually fine with me as long as things are explained along the way. But it wasn't. Anyway, as I said this might be my own fault.

Liliath seemed like a cool character. Even though she's the villain I was still interested in her but I feel like her background and present day motivations were not explained properly.

Our four protagonists also felt very two dimensional. We get a vague sense of their various personalities but a connection can't be made with characters who feel incomplete.

In the beginning I was optimistic. The angelic magic was interesting, so my hopes were high. But as the plot continued to drag, I got to page 400 and realised nothing significant had happened.

Nonetheless, I still hoped the last 100 pages would WOW me and make up for the lack there of.

Maybe a shocking plot twist could have turned this around.

This book is YA at it's most basic. The magic system was unique and remains it's best feature, but it did not make up for the boring plot and bland characters.

I wanted to love this, I really did.

Thank you to the publishers for this review copy that was sent to me in exchange for an honest review
Four musketeers inspired fantasy with angelic magic. I AM READY FOR THIS.
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,442 reviews364 followers
October 5, 2021
I'd just like to begin with ...


and then follow that up with ...


Everything about this book made me so mad and I don't even know how to properly express my rage. Buckle up, kids, it's going to be a bumpy rant.

Firstly, are we all aware by now that my favourite book of all time is The Three Musketeers? That's vital information. Here's an excerpt from my review of The Vicomte de Bragelonne to give you an idea of my obsession:

The Musketeers are officially my bros, and when I read about them I imagine them as friends, which means I feel their experiences that much more significantly. I laugh out loud, I grin, I gasp, I tear up, I bite my lip and I'm pretty sure if I had a moustache I would twist it. This series gives me a very serious case of feelings.

Naturally, this Musketeer obsession leads me to read anything I get my hands on that's even closely related, and this book here is even dedicated to Dumas and the '73 and '74 films inspired by The Three Musketeers (TTM).

So here's the set up: Set in a world that slightly mirrors historic France, angels are controlled by people and basically used as slaves. Lilliath is a psychopath who did something bad, went to sleep for 137 years or so and now she's awake to finish what she started. Somehow her goal is tied to the fates of four random individuals: Henri, Simeon, Agnez and Dorotea, and there is a high chance I'm spelling all of these names wrong because they're stupid variations of normal names and I'm too damn lazy to check the spelling.

Things I hated:
-The names
-The over-attempt to make this a feminist novel
-Angels being no more than slaves
-Extensive world-building that was mostly confusing
-The story was kind of bland and also confusing
-Random awkward sexual tension
-Issues like racism barely addressed
-THIS DID NOT EVEN COME CLOSE TO THE THREE MUSKETEERS. All it did was steal a handful of characters, make them female, and then completely corrupt their essence.

Here's an example:

Rochefort. In TTM, he is d'Artagnan's nemesis. They get into it, and they're both skilled fighters, but Rochefort is totally ruthless and cunning and spends the novel doing the Cardinal's dirty work. He's a very clear villain.
In this novel, the female Rochefort is the general of the female Cardinal and definitely does her dirty work, but she spends most of this novel being 'poor misunderstood me' and mooning over Dorotea. We are told she's a skilled fighter but this book is more interested in her trying to get into Dorotea's pants.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Firstly, the original names are ridiculous. They just didn't suit and I got them pretty mixed up because they weren't really memorable for a while. I mean who even is Henri? What did he do? Why was he here? Then you've got all the characters lifted from TTM. They're ALL female, now, too. The Cardinal, Rochefort, d'Artagnan. Milady. I think our four friends are somehow supposed to represent the original four musketeers but there are no similarities AT ALL, other than Agnez being a hothead. The angels all blend together and they are in and out of the story so fast they're not worth caring about anyway. Then the place names just made me cringe. Dumas's d'Artagnan was a Gascon; these 'musketeers' are 'Bascons' (so creative). It was such a bastard mix of 'inspired by' TTM and blatantly stolen. Everything that made me love the characters of TTM was completely absent here.

Feminism etc
Look I am all for feminism but this novel was trying way too hard. And not just with feminism. There's a scene where they all get naked together because no one cares about nudity, and the book has more emphasis on same sex couples than hetero. We got told what colour skin everyone has (and it's normally a shade of brown) and all of the best warriors and most powerful characters are women. Representation is great and all, but this just feels cheap. It's like it's going out of it's way to tell you how accepting and open-minded it is, but there's way too much emphasis on it for it to seem normal. I love badass female characters, but there was just no logic to it. It took equality and ran the other way with it, so that the men in this story are soft characters being manipulated by women. Meanwhile there's the 'refusers' who are this book's version of slaves, and it doesn't discuss this issue nearly enough. Points for trying, buddy, but delivery of the themes in this novel would be a D minus.

The Angels
Speaking of barely-addressed slavery, the angels in this book are RUBBISH. There are different tiers of power (thank god for the guide at the front because when they started talking about Thrones I was totally confused) but even the all-powerful archangels are slaves to humans? There are also so many of them that it was pointless keeping track of them all. They might as well have been little fairies or sprites or something. Because they are WEAK. This was such an incredibly disappointing aspect of the story.

World Building vs Story
The problem is, he spent so much time building the world that there just wasn't enough time for a decent story. It was thin and pathetic and really confusing, and there was no real drive to the action. The connection between the four is tenuous and there doesn't seem to be a lot of point to anything. The world-building is extensive, but there is so much of it that it just gets tedious. Throw in that ending and this is basically a pointless, disappointing book.

Look, this is a book that tries so hard to be so many things that it ends up being a mess. It shares some similarities with The Three Musketeers, but it wants to be its own story, too, so it just ends up being a confusing mix of familiar things and completely unrelated magic. There's no real emotion to it anywhere, and the characters don't have any real redeeming qualities. While TTM was based heavily on friendship, loyalty and daring, these 'friends' are a newly formed group, they bicker, they're greedy and ill-mannered and generally don't have strong redeeming qualities to help up overlook this. The musketeers are more of a gratuitous mention than any kind of symbol, and Lilliath is more a sulky, emotional, psychopath teenager than the cunning, skilled assassin the original Milady was. There is so much effort put into making this a story that accepts everyone and everything that there's no real tension to it. There's no struggle. Zero emotional ties to anyone or anything.

I honestly don't know how people unfamiliar with The Three Musketeers are gonna view this one. Maybe you'll have a more enjoyable time because you won't have to witness some of your favourite characters being murdered by creative license. But this was agony for me.

Originally I gave it a generous two stars on finishing, because the beastlings (another creative name) were interesting, but I gotta take that back. My heart is hurting too much. This was an absolute abomination and a shame to the musketeer name. Just read the fking original, honestly.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,126 followers
Want to read
April 26, 2019
Excuse me while I weep tears of joy. Garth Nix's work was my introduction to in-depth fantasy worlds and I feel like I owe so much of my taste in reading to Sabriel. I'm also curious to see how this differs from the other things I've read from him, since he's already gone on the record that this new adult fantasy is a new take from him (and it's a stand-alone!).

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Nils | nilsreviewsit.
316 reviews464 followers
October 16, 2019

Unfortunately Angel Mage by Garth Nix was a book I really struggled with. It had so many elements that I should have loved. Angels that worshippers could call upon for aid, a rogue angel that caused a devastating plague that could be spread if they were called upon, a delusional bishop out to reunite with her love who happened to be said fallen angel. Then there were a band of misfit characters who were the key to the bishop fulfilling her quest, but could they stop her? This was also pretty much female led, which was nice to see in a church establishment.

However, I just couldn’t sink my teeth into this one. I found that it was lacking the depth that was sorely needed. I couldn’t see the motivation for any of the characters doing what they were doing. In fact the characters seemed wooden, stiff, and almost caricature. The plot was far too slow for my own personal tastes. Although the magic system was cool, I felt again it needed more depth as certain parts didn’t make any sense to me.

This could have been a case of the wrong book at the wrong time, as I had quite bad anxiety whilst I was reading, and then I just felt really unwell, I was having such a bad week. I debated about whether posting this mini review, but I felt the need to be honest about books I haven’t enjoyed as well as the ones I have.

I know many of you are Garth Nix fans, so please don’t be discouraged about reading this, because I’m sure many of you will enjoy it. 😊 Sometimes certain books just don’t work for certain people.

Thank you for the review copy Gollancz.
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
763 reviews1,476 followers
November 1, 2019

That's what I keep coming back to when I think about this book, as sad as that makes me. Every strength it has ends up being a weakness when promises go unfulfilled: the worldbuilding is intriguing, but raises so many questions it feels incomplete; relationships are hinted at but not resolved; characters receive sketchy outlines but don't get much depth; and the plot builds and builds for hundreds of pages but is resolved almost effortlessly at the end. Even the ending feels incomplete - the events of the climax actually promise far more interesting developments than anything else in the book, but there's no time for that to be explored at all.

I see what Nix was going for in trying to evoke The Three Musketeers, and there are times when that really works - something about the prose, in particular, which brings it to life - but he didn't quite hit the mark. Angel Mage is too close and too far from Dumas at the same time, and perhaps the best illustration of this is in the cast: we have a Dartagnan, a Rochefort, and a Cardinal, but they don't occupy their usual roles, and the four protagonists map somewhat - but not completely - onto the Musketeers, in a way that makes their almost-closeness more distracting than anything else. The exact audience that will be drawn to this book for its Dumas-esque style is the audience most likely to struggle with this not-quite-different-enough cast.

The plot failed what I think of as the 'reverse sandwich test' - the sandwich test being whether or not the reader will put the book down to wander away and make a sandwich; the reverse is whether the book is something the reader comes back to and genuinely wants to pick up. I just... didn't care enough to come back to it for weeks on end, and had to set aside time to dig in and make progress or I wouldn't have made any. When I sat down for an hour or so, it was interesting, and the pages flew by, but there's no real momentum to the plot drawing me back in. Events unfold at a glacial pace and without much of a sense of connection between one thing and another. It also doesn't help that our four protagonists are more reactive than active - and that brings me to what I suspect is the major failing in the plot architecture.

Liliath. She's the antagonist... and she's the first perspective we get. Throughout the book, she continues to get POVs, and so the reader always knows what her plans are, can always see how she's several steps ahead of everyone else. Not only does it rob the book of an element of mystery, but it makes it abundantly clear to the reader how much the protagonists don't do. Each step of their journey is orchestrated by Liliath, each choice anticipated to perfection (except at the very end, which doesn't feel earned because there's no rising action to support it) and they become less protagonists, more chess pieces. There's something interesting in watching a master manipulator at work, but even that is lost because, frankly, Liliath's scheming isn't actually very complex when you get right down to it, and it never quite feels like anything big is at stake.

The biggest missed opportunity, in my opinion, is Rochefort - a morally grey lesbian standing at the intersection of political and religious power, struggling with her sense of duty and a potential affection for someone she can't have a relationship with, a gifted mage with some unusual abilities which go wholly unexplained. I admit I'm biased towards this type of powerful, conflicted character, but I felt she was deeply underused.

Speaking of underused: this magic system. It's interesting despite its flaws (especially the fact that Nix has the hierarchy of angels backwards), but it raises far, far more questions than the book deigns to address. For one thing, despite angels being very much a tangible force and organized in tiers according to Christian angelology, religion is a weird nonentity - there's a Cardinal, yes, but nobody seems to attend church, and the word 'God' literally does not appear in the text. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Fridge Logic of angelic magic: how does it work in areas like China and India, already major world powers around the era that it's set, where Christianity isn't the dominant religion? What about in the Islamic world, where portrayals of sentient beings is sometimes forbidden? And, as Dorothea asks at several points, how in the world was this magic discovered and developed?

There were plenty of small details I liked: the prose, as mentioned; the way Nix portrays a society pretty much free of racism and sexism; the inclusion of a variety of queer characters. But overall... those details don't make up for the overwhelming feeling that this book just didn't have much substance, at the end of the day.
Profile Image for Ellie.
575 reviews2,113 followers
September 22, 2019

I'm actually not kidding, I'm really upset. The world within ANGEL MAGE captivated me (I mean, it's basically Three Musketeers x Joan of Arc), and in my opinion, leaving it as a standalone . . . leaves so much out? (Not to mention it felt as if it was a trilogy opener. What about Liliath? What about Rochefort and Dorotea? What about the Ystarans?)

Full review to come after I come to terms with my grief/manage to condense all my love for this book into a neat review.

Small note, though: as Garth Nix says, there is always the possibility for more so *rubs hands* please good sir, can I have more?

4.5 or 4.2, have to ruminate on it more
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews868 followers
October 16, 2019
ARC provided by the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review.

2.5 stars.

Angel Mage is a stand-alone fantasy novel that engages with its fascinating magic, but less so in its plot and character development.

I've enjoyed Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy and was particularly impressed with the worldbuilding in that series of books. Similarly, I found the premise of Angel Mage to be intriguing as magic is bestowed by the ability to call upon angels with the use of icons. To make it even more interesting is the cost of magic, i.e. the lifespan of the person who employs angelic magic. The more powerful the angel which was called upon, the more life is literally sucked out of the caller. The lore is also fascinating where different regions or countries are governed by different Archangels and their respective pantheons - from Cherubims to Seraphims, and Principalities, to name but a few.

However, it pains me to say that the execution of the story was not as good as what I've encountered when reading the Abhorsen trilogy. Firstly, the writing in Angel Mage is not at par with the quality in Abhorsen, with several instances where it even seemed clunky. I vacillated between being mildly bored to somewhat interested during my entire read as I did not feel much attachment to the characters at all.

I don't have anything against predictable plots as great characterisation could always keep me invested in the story. There are five major characters together with the so-called villain, Liliath. Four of these characters have supposedly embodied the largest remnants of the Archangel Palleniel, and are the ones Liliath needed the most to further her plans. Out of the four, I was most intrigued with Dorotea, a scholar who has a special talent for icon-making, and that was because her characterisation is linked to the world's lore and angelic magic system. The others just came across as pretty uninteresting, even though sufficiently distinctive in their own personalities. And I cringed at how archetypically villainous Liliath was in her depiction as the most powerful, beautiful and cunning mage. There was even a line somewhere that states how her icons were 'cunningly' hidden in one of her personal effects.

Besides the magic system, I did appreciate the themes of slavery and racial discrimination, but I can't say much more without giving away minor spoilers. There are also obvious inspirations drawn from The Three Musketeers in the story. Nix also showed that he remains relevant in modern story-telling by incorporating LGBTQ characters pretty well into the narrative without making it seemed contrived.

While Angel Mage may not have worked well for me, I do think that this novel still has a place among other fantasy readers who may like the characters more than I did.

You can purchase the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Zitong Ren.
504 reviews153 followers
October 28, 2019
I previously gave this book 3.5 stars and rounded it up to 4, but now, after writing the review and thinking it bit more about it, my final rating for this book is going to be 3 🌟.

I fondly remember reading this man’s work, and have always generally been excited for more books from him. In fact, I seem to remember that The Keys to the Kingdom series, with starts it’s Mister Monday was one of the first book series that I properly finished fully and started my journey into my middle school reading life beyond the more ‘popular’ series’ such as Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, which I had read before reading any of his works. I also seem to have fond memories of The Old Kingdom series and I did enjoy both Clarial and Goldenhand and with actually probably like them more now and appreciate them better now that I have read more epic fantasy.

Angel Mage is a standalone fantasy novel that is set in a world that looks a lot like Medieval Europe with some changes in coastlines, an altering of names and set in the 17th century. If that is something that intrigues you in any way, I don’t see why it won’t be an enjoyable experience, however I found it to be not a lot more than that. In this world(alternative universe) Ystara, or Spain in our world has been overtaken by demons and the people have all been expelled and are called Refusers by the people in Solance(France). It starts with Liliath waking up over a century after her country’s fall and wanting to reclaim it, but she needs four certain people to help her as outlined in the blurb.

The best part of the book was probably the world building, which for me, has always been something Nix has excelled at and the effort and imagination behind his latest magic is truly phenomenal. There’s angels, sacrifices and these things called icons that are worn. There’s also sprawling cities, a vast history of the realm and a world that does not feel overly empty. The worst thing is some cases is that often fantasy worlds feel empty, like there is nothing there but a few capital cities, yet thankfully, Nix included a sizeable amount of smaller locations that just make the map and world feel more full.

I thought that the characters were all right, but, perhaps there were a tad bit too many characters to have shown a whole lot of development in this four hundred page standalone. All the characters certainly grew in their own way and built friendships and met new people along the way, however, I felt that they did not change all that much at all individually and virtually every single one of them have the same ideals as they did at the very start of the book.

Another factor that I felt was not done as well I would have liked was the lack of actual plot progression for the first 80 percent of the book. That’s not to say that nothing happened in that amount, things certainly did, but they felt insignificant and especially since it is a standalone, things would have been better if it was much more punchy from the get go instead of doing trivial things compared to the overarching plot line. In fact, the journey to Ystara itself, is only the last part of the book, which was titled ‘The Expedition to Ystara and takes up maybe 15 percent and no more than 20 percent of the book. This means, that despite the wonderful world Nix has created, they spend the majority of the book in one city, Lutace, when I would have liked to have explored much more the of the world instead of just building upon it in one city.

Also, a problem that I seem to have with a few of his novels now, is that the climax of the novel often feels way too overwhelming. Virtually all the final answers and the final part of the action all happens in the last ten pages of the book. This means that the entire book is building up to that point, yet the final climax ends up only being a final pages which ends it way far too quickly, which ended up making it feel lacklustre rather than grand and epic.

It’s a great book for lovely world building, yet is not the best for character development and plot. 6/10
Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
295 reviews1,463 followers
October 5, 2019

Honestly, this is not as good as I hoped it would be. I absolutely love Garth Nix's books, but this was sort of...lacklustre. I didn't connect with any of the characters, the world didn't feel fully fleshed out, and I truly think this would've done better as a duology. I have so many questions that weren't answered, and I felt just meh overall after finishing it. It was good, but not nearly to the level I was expecting.
Profile Image for Catherine.
415 reviews136 followers
January 2, 2020
I can't believe I've never read Garth Nix before, and I absolutely plan to read more from this author. I loved this book. This book is beautiful, from the writing to the story itself. Garth Nix is talented, and the praise I've been reading about him was obviously well deserved.

Angel Mage is dedicated to Alexandre Dumas, one of my favorite authors, and to the director, the screenwriter and the entire cast and crew of the 1973 movie The Three Musketeers and the 1974 movie The Four Musketeers. For those who live in a cave, Alexandre Dumas is a 19th century french author who wrote, among others amazing novels, The Three Musketeers trilogy. While this isn't my favorite by this author, I still love it. For those of you who haven't read this author yet, I hope Garth Nix will convince you to do so with Angel Mage.

This book isn't a retelling of The Three Musketeers, even if the inspiration obviously came from it. Simeon, Agnez, Henri and Dorotea are indeed the four Musketeers of the Queen, but they have very little in common with Athos, Aramis, Porthos and D'Artagnan. The characters are as original as the story is, so I don't think you should start this book expecting a retelling of Dumas' books. There is inspiration like I mentioned and some references: for example, D'Artagnan is Dartagnan, a woman here.

The story itself and the magic system was brilliant, the world-building is solid, and my favorite character is Liliath because I love female villains who are well written like here. My favorite part of the book was, of course, her POV. There are five POVs in Angel Mage, the four others being the ones of the four Musketeers. The representation was also very welcomed.

What kept me from giving this book a five stars rating is that I think it would have been so much better if the author had maybe written a duology instead to be able to focus not only on the world-building and the magic system which are amazing like I said, but also on the characters. There's little character development in Angel Mage: out of our four Musketeers, Dorotea is probably the most developed character and my favorite. I don't have a lot to say about the three others, which is definitely disappointing. But still, I loved this book and highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Sahitya.
1,031 reviews206 followers
October 9, 2019
I remember owning a couple of books from this author’s Abhorsen series years ago but I never read them. Even this book wasn’t on my radar, but when I happened to read the synopsis around the time of its release, I thought it was a bit different from my usual reads and wanted to give it a try. I can’t say I was blown away by it, but it turned out to be a good read.

I liked the idea of this world, each kingdom having its own archangel with their own host of lesser angels, and the mages of the kingdom being able to summon them using icons. I particularly loved the way the icons are described in detail and it would be very interesting to see some artwork related to it. But we are never given any details of the world itself, beyond the basics. It’s almost not until the end that the Doom of Ystara is revealed, and while it made for a nice mystery, I just wasn’t sure the revelation was worth the wait. There are also too many names of people we care nothing about, a hierarchy of the angels which I couldn’t remember at all, and so many different angels who could be summoned that I stopped who was capable of what magic. The only part of the world that I could remember atleast a little was the top most power players in the kingdom of Sarance and their archangel.

The best part of the book was that it was fast paced right from the get go, with the readers being thrown in the middle of the action in the prologue itself. As there are too many characters introduced to us in the beginning, it took a while for me to realize who the important ones are and then try to remember them. This book is told through third person (I think) and had a level of detachment in the narrative style which prevented me from getting to know any character closely. I found the dialogue also to be a bit repetitive and annoying at times. There are only a few action sequences but I thought they were described very well. But on the whole, I was very interested to know what the end goal was and how it would be achieved, and that’s what sustained me to keep going. I’m also a bit conflicted about the ending - it felt underwhelming but also appropriate, so I don’t know what to say about it.

Whenever there is an ensemble cast, I’m always excited to get to know them all but unfortunately, that didn’t happen here. Lilliath is probably the only one we spend a significant amount of time with, and she was very much a mystery throughout. All I could understand was that despite her promises to her followers, she really seemed very selfish and had her own motives, without any care to protect those around her. Among the other four main characters, the only one I really got to know a bit was Dorotea. She is a scholar and has powers that no one understands but I loved how confident she was in herself, and just wanted the opportunity to continue her education. Her quest for knowledge and her belief that books are the biggest treasure really endeared me to her. Henri, Simeon, Agnez and Dorotea’s instant connection and friendship was also lovely to read about, but it would have been nice to know a bit more about them individually.

To conclude, I think this was a book that had a lot more potential but not all of it worked on page. If you have read the author’s previous books and enjoyed them, then the writing style might work for you. If you like books which focus more on the plot but not a lot on characterization, then this might be the right book for you. It has an interesting world and magic system, but there was just something missing. And I also feel it could have been better fleshed out if it was a duology rather than trying to compress it all into a standalone book.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
November 15, 2019
I read this as I have previously loved the Abhorsen series by Nix and I wanted to see what he was releasing now. This is a standalone fantasy which is focused on a world where Angels are tangible and can be called on for everyday help or even magical deeds, however, there is a cost to your life if you are the summoner.

We follow a group of 5 characters. Liliath who is the 'bad-guy', a young woman who is rather an enigma as she's reborn and possesses magical summoning power beyond any other and then four young friends, a doctor, an icon-maker, a musketeer and a fortune hunter. Of the 4 I only really cared about Dorotea who was the icon-maker as her skills were the most interesting and I think she's also the one who is the most fleshed out from the 4. The others were all a little dull to me and didn't really hold my interest much when it was focused on them.

I liked the concepts of magic in this world and also the way that the relationships included LGBTQ ones, but other than that the characters were lacking and I didn't feel the same wonder I have felt from previous Nix titles. I audio-booked this which I think is a good idea as it did make things a little more fleshed out, but I don't think this book compares to some of Nix's other titles. It's fun, but it's not one which will stand out and which I would remember in a month's time. 2.5*s
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
625 reviews302 followers
September 27, 2019
This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library

Garth Nix is the Australian master of worldbuilding.

I’m not even joking.

Y’all should know that I don’t deliberately seek out male authors (because male authors tend to write books for men about men to the detriment of women) but Nix is one of my exceptions, and I’m happy to share that Angel Mage is not only an equal society gender-wise, with no sexism and many women in power and no labels like gay or straight, but it’s also racially diverse, with most of the characters referred to as having brown skin but also one of the main characters has red hair and presumably the corresponding white skin that tends to go with that, and no one is racist and everything is freaking believable because Nix is just THAT GOOD at presenting this believable alternate fantasy world.

Hoo, I need to remember to breathe.

Oh my gosh this was a big book.

To be honest I’m not really into big books! When The Priory of the Orange Tree was dense worldbuilding and throwing you in without explaining anything and like 800 pages I was like WHOA NELLY I don’t have time for this. I haven’t finished it! I am not a book traitor, it was just BORING in those opening pages and I had to keep looking everything up, and everyone only seemed to get excited right at the end and some people told me “it only really kicks in at about 100 pages!”

Well guess what? UNLIKE what I read about The Priory of the Orange Tree, Angel Mage had action in the very first chapter, it had monsters eating people and swashbuckling swordfighters and magical (women) religious figures and a mystery from the very first page, and I’m telling you, THAT is how you tell a story that’s in excess of 500 pages. Even when I had to look up the meaning of more words than I’d like to admit, being an English major.

However, looking up those words was totally worth it because in this book Nix showcases his mastery of the English language by selecting the absolute perfect if somewhat obscure word to demonstrate his meaning. For example, instead of saying ‘dressed in richly coloured decorative clothing similar to common depictions of a medieval knight’s horse’, he used the word ‘caparisoned’. Instead of saying simply ‘helmet’, he used ‘morion’, which, according to my dictionary, is ‘a kind of helmet without beaver or visor, worn by soldiers in the 16th and 17th centuries’. And I tell you, that very precise word illustrates a whole lot more than ‘helmet’ ever will. Instead of ‘armour’ or ‘breastplate’, he used ‘curass’, which is ‘a piece of armour consisting of breastplate and backplate fastened together’. The language is so precise and, if you’re a dumbass who graduated from an English degree ten years ago like me and have to look it up, so vividly illustrative.

Those three examples were taken from the opening pages, but it doesn’t stop there. If you don’t like looking up word meanings, you’ll still get the general gist of it, but it really shows how Nix selects the perfect words to illustrate his story.

The magic system was so unique: some people can be trained in the art of angel-summoning using icons – depictions of angels – some people can make icons, and even less can make icons and summon angels, and direct them to perform a task within their scope, but at a cost to the summoner. The most powerful angel summoner is the Cardinal, and that’s how religion works.

I didn’t expect to love the four friends of the book: gentle, gifted Dorotea; reckless warrior Agnes; gentle giant and healer Simeon; and Henri, who only wants to become rich with little effort; each beautifully wrought with individual motivations, dialogue, and characterisations. I couldn’t help but fall in love with their instant kinship and desire to be part of their exclusive little gang.

Similarly, I was simultaneously rooting for Liliath to succeed in her terrible quest while at the same time, longing for my new Fab Four to survive and flourish. Liliath was such an awesome, ruthless character, unapologetic with single-minded determinism, and I loved watching her cunning mind and manipulations help her to achieve her goals. She was truly a great villainess: ruthless, ambitious, powerful, beautiful, terrible… and most of all, sympathetic.

So yeah, everything about this book was amazing and if you’ve read other Nix books, or if you’re into fantasy, or if you’ve read The Priory of the Orange Tree and liked it or not liked it for whatever reason (or want to read it but find it too intimidating) then I wholeheartedly recommend you spend a few good nights with Angel Mage.

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
4 reviews
June 7, 2019
I received a review copy of Angel Mage from the publisher via Edelweiss.

First off, I have to say I've always been a big Garth Nix fan. Between Sabriel, Mister Monday, Have Sword Will Travel and the rest, he does a magnificent job with world building. Angel Mage was no different. I was a little hesitant to start reading the book at first because... angels? In my head I imagined the angel/human love stories that were big back when I was a teen that did not pique my interest. But, again, my head told me: GARTH NIX. Angel Mage definitely has a slow burn, and you really don't have the "Aha!" moment until the last bit of the book.

There is a bit of a Renaissance/Middle Ages vibe with those who work with the angels have icons, which I really liked. One of the biggest draws is the diverse cast of characters. The majority of the soldiers, mages, and other people in power are WOMEN, and in a lot of cases women of color. It's done very nonchalantly, and I appreciate that it's just a part of the story and world of Angel Mage.
Profile Image for Laura ☾.
818 reviews270 followers
November 25, 2019
Angel mage is a high fantasy in which the Land of Ystara was wiped out by the Ash Plague which turned its inhabitants into beasts or killed them. Only select few escaped, however these escaped Ystarans were rendered powerless, as angelic magic would corrupt them as well. Liliath, a powerful Ystaran angel mage, now reawakens from her 'sleep' and seeks to restore her homeland.

Nix has created an elaborate world loosely inspired by medieval Europe and the Three Musketeers. The magic system is unusual, containing angelic orders and in the way people use angelic magic. Generally, this book is a brilliant piece of world-building.

However, it also felt underdeveloped in terms of the characters, greatly lacking depth of character development. The plot also felt a bit sparse, and therefore I didn’t feel particularly invested in the storyline or its characters.

I fully expected to love this, but it felt a bit disappointing compared to his other works (such as the Old Kingdom series), wherein the characters are so well-developed!
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,028 reviews2,605 followers
October 21, 2019
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/10/20/...

Since this was my first time reading Garth Nix, I really had no idea what to expect. With the exception of his Old Kingdom series, his books have always given me the impression of being skewed towards younger, Middle Grade readers, which was why I was surprised at the maturity and richness of Angel Mage. I’m not just talking thematically, or the world-building either; even the writing style was very lush and complex, closely resembling the tone of literary classics.

And no wonder. For this novel, Nix was clearly inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. However, the incredible world in which the story takes place feels highly original and unique, filled with a vast trove of magical lore to die for. After more than a hundred years of dormancy, an angelic mage named Liliath emerges from her resting place with the goal of being reunited with her archangel lover once again. In her day, she was a powerful icon maker, and was responsible for the Ash Blood plague which wiped out most of Ystara and transformed many of its victims into horrific monsters called beastlings. The cursed survivors were led to the neighboring capital of Sarance by Liliath where they thrived, but now their descendants are called the Refusers, unable to be touched by magic and shunned by the angels.

As Liliath builds support among the downtrodden Refusers, she also casts her influence outward to four angel-touched young people, all newly arrived in the city: Agnez is a skilled swordswoman and a cadet in the Queen’s Musketeers; Simeon is a promising doctor recently cast out by his institute; Henri is a Cardinal’s clerk who fell into the role by a stroke of fortune; and finally, Dorotea is a scholar and an icon maker of extraordinary talent. The four of them are the key to getting Liliath what she wants, even though they are unaware of their roles in her grand scheme. But as all of them become fast friends, drawn to each other by the hidden threads of fate, eventually they realize Liliath must be stopped and only they can prevent the chaos and destruction which would result from the angel mage’s obsessive quest.

In this fantasy world based on angelic magic and iconography, there’s a lot of background information and detail to get across, making this a very tricky and dense book. I’m not surprised to hear Nix is known for being a master at world building, as evidenced by the amount of thought and effort which must have gone into creating the setting for Angel Mage. In fact, he might have even gotten carried away with it—forgetting that while a complex and rich world is all fine and good, the story needs to be interesting too—because there were sections where I found my attention flagging as I struggled with the information deluge. I hate to say it, but I had to push myself through most of the first hundred pages, because the bulk of it was so tedious.

Thankfully, things improved as our four protagonists were introduced, as the writing style loosened up with their interactions and dialogue, making the story immensely more readable. Although I really enjoyed the idea of icon making and magic from the angels, it was the character development that won me over. Agnez, Henri, Simeon, and Dorotea were all so different, but together their personalities clicked perfectly, and it was convincing and realistic how quickly they became friends. I loved Simeon, a gentle giant who is passionate about healing, as well as flighty Henri who has big dreams but little know-how on how to reach them. And yet, the women were the ones who really stole the show here, with the assertive and hotheaded Agnez offering a counterpoint to the quiet and even-tempered Dorotea. Even Liliath was a powerhouse villainess—ruthless, determined, and uncompromising in her desire to be with her love again. She’s the most frightening sort of antagonist, and while I did not enjoy her POV nearly as much as the other four, it did add a fair amount of excitement and intensity to the overall narrative.

Still, Angel Mage is the kind of book that really demands your full attention, even if it’s not always that successful at keeping it. This can make following the story a little confusing, and there’s also a lot of filler. In general, I think the plot could have used a bit more energy and more even pacing, but that’s really the extent of my complaints.

All in all, I really enjoyed my first book by Garth Nix and would definitely be open to reading more by him in the future. Fans of his will probably eat this one up and fall in love with the characters and this gorgeously crafted world richly threaded with the undertones of a Dumas classic.
Profile Image for Toya (the reading chemist).
1,125 reviews97 followers
November 18, 2019
This was my first foray into Garth Nix’s writing, and Angel Mage was so much more than I was expecting. While this book is technically YA, it definitely reads more like adult high fantasy.

I was initially drawn to this story because of the angels and magic. I am such a sucker for these two plotlines in fantasy. I enjoyed Nix’s spin on this concept where Mages could summon angels through the use of handmade icons or tokens in order to gain access to the magic that they possess. However, summoning angels comes at the cost of one’s life force, so the Mages prematurely age. Well, that is usually the case unless your Liliath, who has discovered a way to avoid paying this cost making her a dangerous threat.

This is definitely a slow-burn fantasy since the majority of the story really focuses on both the world building as well as the characters. I found the world building to be fantastic with the angels, magic, sprawling cities, and political turmoil. I thought that Liliath was an incredible antagonist and probably one of my favorites. However, the other characters of the story felt like they lacked depth in comparison. I usually enjoy slow burns, but I had a hard time really getting inspired by this story since it takes well over 400 pages to finally get to the adventure side of things.

Overall, I think the Angel Mage has fantastic world building and magic, and it is definitely worth a read.

Thank you to Wunderkind PR for providing a finished copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Sandra.
328 reviews16 followers
April 5, 2020
Overall, I loved the world-building and the characters, but I just wished something more happened… I feel like it was closer to 3 stars than 4, but my nostalgia from Sabriel just won't let me rate it lower.

I just don’t know how I feel about this book. On the one hand, the characters were refreshing and their relationship was pretty funny to watch develop, but on the other… the characters didn't feel very complex and had maybe two to three characteristics each.

The pacing was so strange?? There are five parts in this book. This is how they’re split up:
Part 1: Appropriately titled Liliath, as it only follows Liliath
Part 2: Appropriately titled The Four, as it follows the separate lives of four completely new characters
Part 3: The Four come together, meet each other, etc.
Part 4: Liliath’s plans finally starts to happen??? Although this entire part seems to be prep for the action part of the plot to begin.
Part 5: Finally, the action stuff in the plot starts and ends. With the entire lead up, I could not at all predict how everything would go down.

From the breakdown above, you would assume that the book is character-driven, but it didn’t even really feel like that to me, because everything that happened was due to the plot and Liliath’s plan, even if there was little to no action. Only in section 5, does any action happen and the plot finally begins to race forward. However, part 5 doesn’t feel rushed either, it just feels like it took sooooo long to get there.

The world-building was amazing. It was a really interesting and original take on the ‘angel’ concept - angels can be summoned by ‘mages’ to perform tasks, but each summoning requires life force. The more powerful the angel summoned, the more life force required.

I wish this book was like a prequel or something and is the setup to an amazing high fantasy series because it felt that way.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
425 reviews181 followers
May 8, 2021
I wish I had know that this nearly 600 page behemoth was essentially about teenage hubris, lust, and their centuries-long repercussions. I just came for the swashbuckling, and boy does Angel Mage really not deliver in that department.

After two weeks of dutiful slogging, I finished this book with the same feeling as when I finish cleaning a sink full of dirty dishes: free at last! (It was my last library book, and now my library is undergoing renovations and doesn't want it back.) Garth Nix writes fascinating worlds, but this one, which is vaguely based on 17th century France with a number of nods to The Three Musketeers, is not nearly enough to make up for the other problems with the book. Including:

a) 100% ridiculous overarching plot: teen wants her boyfriend back (teen is a single-minded and powerful mage, boyfriend is a dead angel).

b) A large cast of characters, none of whom has any more depth than your average rain puddle, in California, in the third driest year on record. The musketeers can each be summed up in a couple of words. Agnez is a brawler, Henri likes money, Simeon is a doctor, and Dorotea is an artist and scholar. They had potential when they were initially introduced, but they neither acquire nor reveal more dimensionality as they become caught up in Liliath's machinations. Liliath, said teen, is not interesting either. She just wants her angel boyfriend back, and she'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

c) Major pacing issues: all the good stuff happens at the beginning and the end. The middle, despite duels and dead bodies and secret codes and camaraderie, is surprisingly sloggy.

Some of Nix's more horrific inventions are rather delicious: a plague that turns blood into ash (how much cooler is that than covid?), a system of angelic magic that basically involves trapping bits of angel into an icon and then forcing them to do your will (almost, I feel bad for angels), formerly human beastlings whose hearts pump ash (how does this work exactly, the physiologist in me wants to know). I also liked the egalitarian world in which anyone can be anything (even a musketeer) and love anyone. That's an appealing fantasy right there, but not one worth reading 576 pages for.

Garth Nix is turning into a one-trick-pony for me. The only book I've loved of his was Sabriel, and after this one, I'm not feeling too inclined to read any more.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,411 reviews388 followers
November 28, 2019
Liliath has woken from her hundred year sleep, and is determined to complete the task she set out to do. But first—gather the Refusers, those refugees who fled her home country with her. Find the four chosen and bring them to her. And return to Ystara. To finish her goal.

Damn that blurb sounds fucking awful, right?

Not nearly as cool as the actual blurb, and you feel like you're missing a key part of the story, like a big, hulking gap is missing for a sense of completion?

Whelp, that's what reading this entire book was like.

I adored the world-building, which was intriguing and complex and fantastic (and a very neat twist on Christianity what with gift-granting angels), but I constantly felt like I was missing something in the story and the background. Did I read this too fast? Did I miss a key detail somewhere between the pages of descriptions of each room of the New Palace and the Old Palace and the Tower and the streets of Lutrace?

Anywho. I did love the fact that there was a lot of queer representation on page, and a lot of people of color in an alternate European setting.

However, the character development was lacking. It felt like everyone was a caricature and not a fully formed person. Agnez was brash and bold and brave and kinda dumb. Simeon was big and solid and smart and kinda obtuse. Henri was good at math. Dorotea was literally Luna Lovegood. And literally none of them mattered to the plot whatsover, well, besides one. And the kinda romance/really obsession was clunky and creepy.

Liliath didn't even really matter to the plot, and while I liked the "is she good? is she bad?" thing that was going on, I felt that withholding the twist until the final 20 pages was a huge mistake in the pacing of the book because it removed all of Liliath's motivations. Why was she acting the way she was? What was the point? How was she tied to the Ash Blood Plague and the beastlings and the Refusers? (Okay, the blurb spoils literally the entire thing but that's not really mentioned at all in teh book, just that she wants to restore Palleniel and bring back Ystara). What happened to Palleniel and why the fuck did it matter? What was the point of the other angels at all or even the whole aging thing?

So there were a lot of moving pieces and none of them felt wholly fleshed out, and you could probably skip from pages 100-400 and not miss much at all plot wise. It felt like a key chunk was missing, and that meant that I just wasn't motivated to read it. I probably would have put this down as a DNF if this hadn't been a buddy read.

Long story short: read this if you're intrigued by angel magic and alternate European worlds with people of color, queer rep and magic zombie beasts.

Avoid like hell if you loved Sabriel and were hoping to find something similar to that magic, or if you like a book with a tight plot.
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,151 reviews154 followers
October 17, 2019
It was an amazing honour to be selected to be a part of the Angel Mage promotional blog tour, thanks again to the publishers for the chance!

Final rating: 3/3.5 stars!

As someone who is a first-timer to Garth Nix and his books, Angel Mage’s story-line really appealed to me, even though my most read genre isn’t fantasy. Immediately with the introduction of some gorgeous maps to the kingdom of Ystara, I found myself becoming more immersed into the plot before the starting prologue. I enjoyed the elements of angels and magic together. The slow-building adventure came together within the final 60 or so pages, with thrilling action and some surprises I legitimately didn’t see coming. The four main characters Simeon, Henri, Agnez and Dortea all had interesting aspects to them, with coming together as one group and trying to discover some inner secrets as to why they’ve been bought together. What a ride, brace yourself for some fun!

EXTRA- At times, some of the world-building was a little tricky to visualize. Again, I am new to Nix's writing.
Profile Image for Cindee.
810 reviews35 followers
November 3, 2019
I loved this book there is no such thing as a bad Garth Nix book the world building and the characters were the best parts and I love anything Three Musketeers related.. I loved all the characters especially the main four Agnez,Dorotea,Henri and Simeon they were all four unique in their own ways the strong Musketeer,the maker of icons,the fortune hunter and the doctor and they meshed together so well an pretty much instant friendship. I really liked how many strong female characters were in this book it made for a very interesting read. I really liked the plot of this book even if it took a little time to get there the story starts with Liliath woke from an over 100 year slumber to bring her angel lover to s mortal form and along the way we meet four interesting characters that I would love to read more about. So overall I really loved this book Garth Nix never disappoints.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 29 books5,627 followers
January 1, 2021
This book initially felt really long, but then it got going and now it's ended too soon!

I loved the Three Musketeers vibe, and the really interesting magic system. I would like to see more about both our "musketeers" but also angel magic. I wanted more maps and charts and things, and I also wanted more backstory to some of the people, like Rochefort and the Queen vs. Cardinal situation. Really loved the writing, and the descriptions of clothes (which weren't overindulgent, but just enough to give you an excellent picture).

I started out reading this on Kindle, since I bought it when it was on sale a few months back, but found that the names (both French and angelic) were stopping me, so I got it on audiobook from the library, and I must say, the reader was EXCELLENT.
Profile Image for Laura Fantasyliterature.
324 reviews413 followers
March 15, 2021
Estoy flipando!!! Vaya magia mas alucinante, vaya trama tan enganchante!!! Y cómo se soluciona todo.... me ha encantado!! Los protagonistas son geniales, con distintas personalidades que se complementan. Muuuuy recomendado!
Profile Image for Vivianne.
338 reviews64 followers
November 17, 2019
Spoiler free mini review.

This book was very much just an okay/average book for me. I feel like I never really got into it that well.

I do really love the magic system, which was the strong point of this book. I feel like that was so creative and well thought out. The world was also good. I especially liked the refusers element, angels and the beastlings. But I felt like more could have been added to make it more interesting. The story line was a bit underwhelming and I felt like there was just one main plot, that could have been made more interesting especially towards the end. I just missed some surprising twists. I also felt like the pacing was a little bit off.

I also liked the characters enough, but I felt like I wanted more from them. Especially from the four. In the beginning I was obsessed with Liliath I found her such an awesome villain; so determined, so strong, so mysterious. However towards the ending I felt like the focus was not so much on her and I feel like I wanted so much more from her as a character and villain. What I LOVED was that in this world the women had really high powerful places in society and that it wasn’t questioned, e.g. the cardinal and captain of the guard.The writing style was also just okay. I did like the multiple pov, but this also made it not as mysterious because you know what the good and the bad guys are doing.

I was most disappointed with the ending. I really felt like what was the point of this 536 page book, since it's a standalone. It just ended? No epilogue? Where do the characters end up? What will happen to the world? So unsatisfying.
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