on August 6, 2009
I just finished an advanced reading copy of Anne Rice's "Angel Time." I've never read an Anne Rice book before, and almost passed it by, but I was intrigued by the medieval aspect mentioned on the jacket blurb.
I literally held my breath throughout the entire book. It was "unputdownable." The suspension of disbelief necessary to accept the concept of an angel or "heavenly being" in an earthly reality is not so farfetched with Rice's masterful development - I could easily imagine the "songs of the Seraphim" from her detailed descriptions. The senses of character, place and time enveloped the reading. The dénouement was amazing and showed perfect symmetry; I didn't imagine - much less predict - the fantastic ending. Toby O'Dare's personal quest was the most compelling aspect, and Rice's Catholic background and research is reflected in his every thought, word and deed.
I'll make a point of reading Rice's books now, and will encourage others to do the same. Recommended for Rice fans, those interested in medieval England and France, Catholic history and concepts, angels and heavenly beings and - in an understated but very present way - the relationship of architecture to the spiritual journey.
on November 14, 2009
"Angel Time" is the first novel in a new series of books entitled Songs of the Seraphim written by international bestselling author Anne Rice. Rice, best known for her "Vampire Chronicles" and "Lives of the Mayfair Witches" novels, has taken a new direction in her writing. In 1998, Anne (who had left the church many years before and become an atheist) returned to the Catholic Church and in 2002 she consecrated her writing entirely to Christ, vowing to write for Him or about Him. This abrupt change left many fans scratching their heads in complete shock and left some feeling abandoned and others, angered.
That being said and following two books about Christ ("Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" and "The Road to Cana"), and a memoir, "Called out of Darkness", Anne introduces us to Toby O'Dare; a hit man whose boss is "The Right Man." Toby, born in New Orleans to a corrupt cop father and an alcoholic mother, dreamed of becoming a priest, a scholar, a saint. Highly intelligent and musically gifted, Toby believed he could make a better life for his family and calm the demons that haunted his mother. Educated at Jesuit High School and earning a full music scholarship to The Conservatory, he had also fallen in love with Liona, a Jewish girl from a nearby school. Well on his way to making his dreams come true, his world comes crashing down when he discovers a gruesome and bloody scene that would change his life forever.
Leaving New Orleans for New York in secrecy, Toby begins a new life for himself and finds a father figure in a kindly restaurant owner, Alonso, who gives him a job and a place to live. When Alonso and his family are threatened, something snaps in Toby, thus beginning his life as a hit man known only as "Lucky the Fox". Faithless and empty inside, he kills without question or pity.
One night, after a swift kill, Toby is approached by a seraph and is offered the chance to make amends for the evil he's unleashed upon the earth since leaving New Orleans. Mythical magical and holy, Toby's Seraph calls himself Malchiah and tells him that there is a battle for his soul taking place and asks for Toby's help. Warning him that other forces are at work, he convinces Toby to accept the mission and takes him to 13th century England where Toby must protect a family threatened by a group of superstitious and ignorant people full of bigotry and greed. The lives of many hang in the balance and Toby must make the ultimate choice. Does he stay and help the innocent, or does he leave them to their own devices?
Much like the novels that catapulted Rice into stardom, "Angel Time" has many of the same elements her early works did. Only this time, instead of blood drinkers, mummies, ghosts and spell casters we have angels and saviors. And, like many of her previous novels, the reader must have a willing suspension of disbelief in order to fully enjoy the novel and be open to the idea that all things are possible, whether it's the walking dead or a heavenly creature.
Well crafted and carefully researched, "Angel Time" is destined to become a classic. Anne Rice has done it again. Captivating and enthralling, "Angel Time" belongs on the shelves of every reader.
I really like the story here and how the first and second halves of the book tied together, seeing as how they were so different. Those most familiar with Rice's earlier works may have some issues with the material being so preachy, and it didn't bother me too much, but it does hurt the story a bit in my eyes. If you are of a religious persuasion, you may enjoy it, but I'm not and it did come off a tad bit trite from my viewpoint. It is expertly written and extremely vivid, much like her earlier, more Gothic pieces, so that's definitely another plus. The pace of the book is nothing short of brilliant for the first half but it did start to drag in the second, not too bad but it was noticeable. Overall this is a great book and allows the imagination to flourish but I just couldn't get into all of the religious aspects.
on July 19, 2010
I am a very passionate reader of Anne Rice's books, I have been a fan of hers since the "Interview with the Vampire", and I have read most of her books, I say most because there are still a few left that I haven't read, but life is long, winters here in Finland are also long and my passion for reading will never end.
"Angel Time The Song Of Seraphim" is her last masterpiece, and I have just been given it for Christmas. I started to read it immediately.
The first thing that caught my attention was the subdivision of the chapters, not just numbered but with titles. I think this is clever because as soon as you start to read that chapter you focus on that one thing , it gives a sort of chronology to what happens during the novel itself.
With this book Anne Rice returns to that which has made her famous,story telling that completely captivates the reader and sends them on a journey in time full of detailed description and high emotion, so much so that you feel like the story's main character Toby O 'Dare. You are suffering, you are confused and you are amazed.
Toby O' Dare is the main character, a young man of 28 who has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to killing people on commission, he is a serial killer who has never failed a mission. His boss is called "The Right Man". In the description of his next mission we see the protagonist's psychological shock and desperation as he must carry out his next job in "The Mission Inn", a luxury hotel where he often goes to be a "normal man" and takes refuge from the reality of what he has become. The story is mostly told in first person,so we feel his torment and we see that he may never be free from all his ghosts.
"The Right Man"is Toby's boss, and very mysterious, he is described already old at their first meeting and he is a very interesting character because whilst you are reading you keep asking yourself who is he really? Is he a demon? Is he good or is he bad? Who are those that he orders to kill, why does he want them dead?
Malchiah is the the angel Seraphim, the one who has followed and observed Toby since the very beginning and will appear to Toby as the answer to his prayers, those prayers that he doesn't know why he continues to pray, because he doesn't believe in God any more or in God's mercy. The meeting with the angel is described magnificently I think that Anne has caught exactly the kind of confusion that might occur should you meet an angel,the impossibility to think clearly, the doubt that you are losing your mind, the feeling of immense love that this figure shows, the faith in him who has sinned time and time again who is yet still prepared to forgive and redeem him. I was so moved by this episode that I had to stop reading for a bit. We see a different side of Toby.
Chapter 5 is the chapter that gives the book its title and it is the point at which we go deep into the story and we start to see what will be Toby's new mission. He must answer some prayers of a Jewish family that has been accused by Christians of the murder of their own child. Toby goes back in time to Norwich in England. He will be a Dominican brother, an important detail that is linked to his personality through his readings and his secret dream. It will be an important mission for him and he will be alone, Malchiah will only watch, it is important that he succeeds.
During this assignment the reader is put straight in to all the events and will understand why Toby has become what he has become. I found here the same emotions and the same angriness that sometimes hits me when I see that something very wrong has happened and I don't understand why God has allowed this to happen.
The greatness of the book in my opinion is this, you find a part of yourself in every character that you read.
Angel Time is a perfect title for this novel because we humans often think that time is just a line and is the same everywhere. We don't remember that time is personal and different especially if we talk about Angels and God.
Now we just have to wait for the other missions that will face Toby, and I am looking forward to the next episode of the story of Toby O 'Dare, and I am very curious to see what will happen.
I loved the old style Anne Rice. I was hoping that she was back and she is in some ways. Her descriptive style is back and her ability to make you see and feel what she is writing is back. However, her plot in this book leaves a lot to be desired. The description on Amazon, the title and the back of the book make a reader think that this book is about assassins and angels. It's not really. It's about a man who is finding himself. I was confused throughout the book about where it was going and where it really wanted to go. I felt like Ms. Rice was struggling in getting her true meaning across. I'm very conflicted about recommending this book. In some ways, I definitely want to recommend it because Toby is a fascinating character and I hope that Ms. Rice explores his life further. However, the book doesn't really make complete sense until the final two pages. It was frustrating to say the least. Of course the last couple books by Anne Rice have been frustrating to most of her fans. I would love her to continue the series to see what she has in mind.
on December 14, 2009
Angel Time proves that Rice has not lost her gift for visual prose, creating rich landscapes and tapestries of emotion. Sadly, she uses it for a story we've all heard before and know how it ends.
Toby O'Dare is a hit man born of tragic circumstances and guilt, forged by an injustice to man who has been kind to him. He is, however, a most incongruous hit man. Both a lover of music - he plays the lute - and great beauty, and a ruthless killer who arbores blood and cruelty. So much so, that he dispatches his victims with a syringe instead of a gun and then stays to comfort them while they die. What's more, he is burdened with a conscience. Repulsed by his own actions, he wants to die.
Enter the Seraph, an angel sent to redeem Toby and bring him back to God. To do this, the angel explains, Toby must make amends, which is how he finds himself transformed as a Dominican monk sent to 13th-century Norwich village to intervene for the town's Jews. "I always wanted to be a Dominican monk," he exclaims. Seriously? This is where all ability to suspend disbelief is mortally challenged. The choice between good and evil may be nothing more than a bend in the road; the choice between becoming a ruthless killer and man of God is a hairpin curve.
Rice fans know that after the death of her husband, poet Stan Rice, she returned to her Catholic faith, declaring that she would from then on "write only for Jesus Christ." She kept that promise with the "Christ the Lord" books and "Called out of Darkness," the story of her own spiritual journey back to God. "Angel Time" appears to be fictional account of that journey designed to appeal to the readers of her vampire series. Will it? Reader's of faith may find this book affirming: no one is beyond redemption. But, Rice has broken no new ground here. Bad person finds God, earns forgiveness. Predictable.
Angel Time is a pleasantly short read. A nice side-step from her previous novels, though staying somewhat in the periphery of her vampire classics. This novel is the first of the metaphysical thrillers that sets up a new saga (The Songs of the Seraphim).
A bit of a redemption story, the main character (Lucky the Fox) is in a constant battle of moral reflection and introspection. A contract killer by trade, his guardian angel offers a chance to redeem himself. Then comes some history (in the form of time-travel). A bit "awkward" for my taste, but the storyline remained interesting nevertheless.
The story of Lucky somewhat mirrors a similar tragic history as her other main character (ie. Louis of Interview with the Vampire). The life of an innocent young child raised by a devout catholic family, the sudden loss of family members, fighting through a wrecked and violent childhood, the temptation of dark forces, eventually succumbing to the lure that changes them into creatures of darkness (vampire or assasin).
I found the storyline to be a bit disjointed at times. Other than that, I enjoyed reading this book, and anxiously looking forward to the series.
on October 1, 2012
Best known for her Vampire Chronicles series and The Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy, in 2009 American gothic writer Anne Rice surprised her fans by publishing the first volume, Angel Time, of a new fantasy trilogy - Songs of the Seraphim. Putting aside her charming vampires and modern witches, Rice chose as her main character an angel; to be more exact, a seraph. Now, place the divine creature, in all its beauty and perfection, next to a professional assassin and what you get is a powerful, mind-blowing novel that approaches themes as faith and sin, anger and forgiveness, the futility of good and the necessity of evil, all mingling together in a chance, a single chance of giving up your past and begin a new life.
Lucky the Fox is a hired assassin who works for The Right Man, kills his victims by poisoning them and never asks questions, deep inside hoping that his targets are actually outlaws who deserve to die for the better good of society. Cold and calculated when he strikes, Lucky is lost and confused in his free time, when he goes to Serra Chapel and broods upon the non-existence of God. However, things change when his next mission forces him to kill in the only place where he could feel like home: Mission Inn. Tainting in death his last sacred place in this world, Lucky gains something he has always prayed for but never truly believed in: a savior.
Malchiah is a Seraph and everything about him amazes Lucky to the point when he could even cry at the sight of the angel: "He looked young and eager, and almost irresistibly affectionate as he stared at me, but there was nothing young about him, and the sunlight was spilling in on him beautifully, and everything about him was effortlessly attractive." What astonishes Lucky even more is that Malchiah has chosen him, a killer and a sinner, to help him answer people's prayers and bring life, hope and forgiveness instead of death. However, Lucky's metamorphosis is not something easily attainable, so Malchiah first shows him his own life from an angel's point of view, because Lucky needs to know himself first, understand his reasons for killing and then let go.
This is how we meet Toby O'Dare, a child who has to take care of his little brother and sister, while coping with a drunkard mother and continuing his studies. When the true force and injustice of reality crushes down on him and he's left alone in the world, Toby will follow the one who gives him the slightest reason to live, The Right Man, even though this means he has to kill strangers for the rest of his life. And now, out of the blue, an angel has come to offer him a different job, which Toby gladly accepts.
Norwich, England, the year 1257, is the place where Toby's first mission unfolds. Disguised as a Dominican monk, he has to save the lives of Fluria and Meir, two Jews who have been wrongfully accused of killing their own daughter. During this mission, Toby makes his first true friends and he is truly sad and disappointed when he has to go back in his time and leave them behind, in the past. His only hope is that Malchiah would offer him as many missions as possible, for he is willing to work for divinity and restore his long lost belief in God.
As expected, Angel Time has an open ending, for Toby's adventures are not finished yet. The path to redemption is probably as long as Toby's crimes made it be, which means that the Seraph will offer him many chances to help humanity and answer the most difficult prayers. All in all, Anne Rice has created a beautiful novel that will keep the reader completely engaged and eager to find out as many things as possible about this complex and tormented character named Toby O'Dare.
on October 15, 2009
I was anxious to read this because I have loved Anne Rice's work in the past. Sadly, since she 'got religion', I think she's lost her creative spark. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with faith...in fact, I greatly admire anyone whose faith enriches their life.
I simply don't care for preachy fiction.
In this story, a sad sack named Toby seems to have lived a life similar to that of the Biblical Job. He always tried to be a 'good boy', worked hard, did his best, but lousy luck just kept whacking him in the face. Finally he gave up trying and became a hit man, committing murders-for-hire on behalf of an organization he does not really know anything about. With all of this going on, though, he still carries around his favorite prayer books and he still goes to church and he prays devoutly.
Then one day God sends an angel to tell him he is still loved, in spite of everything, and then he is assigned a task to travel to the past and save a Jewish family who have been falsely accused of murder.
All in all, if you are someone who likes Christian-based fiction, you will like this. Catholic teens will probably enjoy it. I found it kinda dull.
Anne Rice has written well in genres from vampires to pseudo-Medieval erotica. However her new novel, "Angel Time," belongs squarely in the category of Vacation Reading for Pre-teen Christian Girls. This book was a disappointment, and here's why.
The vivid sense of place and fascinating characters that mark Rice's other novels are conspicuously absent. She takes her time setting the scene for her story, but the descriptions of Southern California, New Orleans, and New York City are dulled by the narrator's sluggish, self-pitying voice. As a main character, Toby O'Dare takes a while to warm up to, and the book doesn't hit its stride until Rice introduces other, more compelling, characters. O'Dare is an assassin with a sad past, but his guilt and a good vs. evil tug-of-war aren't enough to sustain the reader's interest.
If the sad-sack narrator makes wading through the novel's first few chapters a challenge, the angel who seems to be pulled straight from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," doesn't help much. The angel hears your secret innermost thoughts. He appears and disappears at will. He wants to show you your sordid past and then win you over for God with lines like, "The Maker loves you. I'm here to offer you...a way to that love if you'll take it." Nothing against angels, but this one was entirely unoriginal.
Finally our angel sends Toby O'Dare on a mission through time to save a Jewish community in 12th century England, and the story really gets rolling. Too bad this doesn't happen until half-way into the book. Toby's daring journey is a clever tale, carefully researched and peopled with a cast of alluring characters. Although her characters study great scholars like Thomas Aquinas and Maimonides, Rice seems to have low expectations of her own readers, keeping to simple language and twice interrupting the story to define the words "Jewry" and "gravitas." This comes across as condescending.
"Angel Time" offers an oversimplified tale of good vs. evil told by an unappealing narrator. While the action, when it finally happens, is entertaining and richly described, the novel as a whole falls flat. I applaud Rice for experimenting in a variety of genres, but the angel theme just isn't working.