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Child of Fire

(Twenty Palaces #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  6,672 ratings  ·  467 reviews
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 him - or let someone else do the job.

Unfortunately for both of them, Annalise's next mission
Mass Market Paperback, 343 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 2009)
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Fred Hicks No, it's correct. Child of Fire was the first book in the series released. Twenty Palaces was published by the author, years later, as a prequel.…moreNo, it's correct. Child of Fire was the first book in the series released. Twenty Palaces was published by the author, years later, as a prequel. (less)

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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  6,672 ratings  ·  467 reviews

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Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, adventure

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.

Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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,
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, kindle
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 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
 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:
Dec 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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!
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
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Christopher Valin
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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
John Bogart
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Dark urban fantasy about a guy, freshly out of prison, who's working for a powerful spellcaster as she tries to find the source of a magic that's killing kids in a small Oregon town.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Joshua Palmatier
Dec 05, 2010 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was ok

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
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Maggie K
Feb 13, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
For awhile, I’ve had an urban fantasy low light . I bought this on the recommendation of some GR urban fantasy mavens. They recommended it for its noirishness, horror and somewhat gritty look ‘n feel, but cautioned me that the author still needs a bit of seasoning. I found their recommendation to be true.

Prose was OK. Its workman-like. Dialog was better than descriptive prose. The author does a good job at the old-fashioned noir of the Dashell Hammett/Raymond Chandler style with the protagonist’
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a fun book! I really enjoyed. A magic book, but there are different things here. Our hero is a gun fodder, and an ex-con, but he means well (that type) but all the stuff that happens surprised me, so I really enjoyed the ride. Looking forward to the other two books.
Ranting Dragon
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: garrett

Magic, supernatural powers and spell books. Rogue magicians and otherworldly predators—not to mention a secret society of sorcerers devoted to hunting them down. And ex-convict Raymond Lilly, right in the middle of it all—as a driver to one of the Twenty Palaces Society members, Annalise, who wants nothing more than to kill Ray herself. But when Annalise is incapacitated, Ray must complete her assignment on his own—armed with nothing but a single spell and
Maria Schneider
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nicole Prestin
Oct 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
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
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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Readers Unbound: Child of Fire 30 16 Oct 28, 2018 10:57PM  

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Other books in the series

Twenty Palaces (3 books)
  • Game of Cages (Twenty Palaces, #2)
  • Circle of Enemies (Twenty Palaces, #3)