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Between Two Fires Hardcover – October 2, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thomas was a knight in mid-14th-century France before war, betrayal, and the Black Plague reduces him to banditry. But his road to oblivion in a nearly dead world ends with meeting Delphine, a young girl speaking with the voice of what may be angels‚--ìshe could be a saint, or a witch. Thomas can't ignore his compulsion to join her quest to go to Avignon, home of the pope, undertaken for reasons unknown even to her. But they and their companion Pv(r)re Matthieu don't realize they're trapped in a cosmic battle between good and evil, God having withdrawn from the world and Lucifer bent on filling the vacuum. until nightmarish creatures rise up everywhere to stop Delphine. Buehlman's (Those Across the River) medieval world is detailed with both sweet-smelling air and the gory results of plague, brutal but where hard-won small victories may add up faster than vast defeats. Thomas is the perfect everyman whose virtuous and sinful sides war internally as much as his sword arm battles in the physical world; Delphine is equally well drawn, part prophet and part frightened child. Fans of historical fantasy and horror will find this epic darkly rewarding.

Review

"Cormac McCarthy's The Road meets Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in this frightful medieval epic...Buehlman...doesn't scrimp on earthy horror and lyrical writing in the face of unspeakable horrors...an author to watch."—Kirkus Reviews

 Praise for Those Across the River

“One of the best first novels I’ve ever read.”—Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“What a treat. As much F. Scott Fitzgerald as Dean Koontz. A graceful, horrific read.”—Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully written…with a cast of Southern characters so real you can almost see the sweat roll down the page. The ending is exceedingly clever.”—Boston Herald

“Wonderfully eerie from start to finish—a novel sure to enthrall readers of all stripes.”—Grant Blackwood, New York Times bestselling author

“An unsettling brew of growing menace spiked with flashes of genuine terror—do not miss this chilling debut.”—F. Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fatal Error

“Lures you into a different era, seduces you with eloquent prose and sensual period details, then clamps down on your jugular…an outstanding debut.”—Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award–winning author of Diabolical

“Buehlman’s lyrical prose vividly captures a landscape made familiar by William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. A delightfully genre-bending juxtaposition of supernatural horror and gothic drama.”—California Literary Review

“A horror story that manages just the right balance between building dread and suspense and delivering action.”—The A.V. Club
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; 1 edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937007863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937007867
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason Golomb VINE VOICE on October 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful book by Christopher Buehlman is part fairy tale, part fantasy, part horror and part historical fiction. These individual parts blend to create a fulfilling whole in his Cantebury-an story of a fallen knight and spiritually lost priest who journey across France during the plague-ridden middle ages with an orphaned girl who's either an exceptionally special individual, a weird witch, or a gift (literally) from the heavens.

The emotional plot and backdrop is a beautifully diverse french countryside, absolutely decimated, both mentally and physically, by the Black Death. Humanity has been abused and tortured so completely and without relief that the very reasonable question of "is there a god, and if so, why is this allowed to happen?" rests on the lips of all but a few of the most hearty of souls.

The three travel across France to follow the girl's very singular vision that she must get to Avignon, seat of the Pope during the years the papacy was moved from Rome. Their travels provide Buehleman the momentum and opportunity to build his narrative through flashback-propelled backstory. They also face trials that range from the supernatural and celestial to the physical and emotional, which build the plot, relationships, and put flesh on the bone of each character.

Redemption and renewal, faith and love are all key themes throughout "Two Fires". The struggles that orbit these themes are not always obvious, and while sometimes dealt with metaphysically, they're often enlarged, and as real as any armored first to the jaw.

A beautiful, horrible and significant battle scene brings their journey to Avignon to an end: good v. evil, demon v. angel, dark v. light.
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By V.L. Mason on October 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those Across the River was excellent so I thought I'd try this new book of Mr. Buehlman's and I've got to agree with the other reviewers who said Between Two Fires is even better.

It's a great,fresh,look at the battle between God and Lucifer,Good and Evil, The Sacred and The Profane and you're not so sure exactly which side the main character, (a young French girl)is on.

This is a gifted young man and both his books are extremely well done but, like good wine, Mr. Buehlman is just getting better and better.

If you are thinking about buying this book...do it!
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Format: Hardcover
OK, I'm a fan of Chris Beuhlman for many reasons, but honestly, this book is amazing. As a medieval history buff, I can say that the research and details he put in it were remarkable. The elements of the angels and demons grappling for control of the world were so enthralling that I couldn't wait to learn more about them... Heck, I wanted to go read up on my history and religion afterwards, just because he'd piqued my interest. The book feels effortlessly written, and you learn the characters' backstories in such a smooth, seamless fashion that you transition back into the main storyline with nary a bump. And the storytelling! Oh! I fell in love with the tragically flawed Thomas, the delicately rendered Delphine, and this beautiful, frightening, totally original rendering of the Black Plague and the fight for humanity's soul. I wish I could say anything about the ending without giving it away, but unpredicted and brilliant are the only words I can use. Enjoy this book - it will terrify and entertain you, make you think, and touch something unexpected inside.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do not believe a review for a book needs to include a synopsis; Professions write those, but I am full of opinions. I would like to say that I loved this book cover to cover. It was filled pure and beautiful moments that made me weep, and others that made me clutch my covers in delicious terror. This author is really capable of creating scenes that you have to think about and become more engrossed to pick up all the subtleties involved. And creepy! Christopher Buehlman is amazing at creepy.

A very fun ride through medieval France. I highly recommend adding it to your literary horror library. Go! Read it!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Buehlman's first novel, _Those Across the River_, was very much the story of one man's loss of faith in the world that shocks him into awful submission. Buehlman seems to have taken the other road in _Between Two Fires_ -- the theme revolves much more around the value of faith and its relationship with luck.

The narrative leaps into the supernatural much more quickly than I expected -- and we're left little room to doubt that these things are *really* happening. The fictional assertion that the Black Death is actually caused by demons opens a fascinating alternate history, but it also forces the novel to labor under the audience's expectation of some "ineffable plan." As with any story concerning angels both obedient and fallen, the concept of free will is starkly called into question.

Buehlman does an excellent (and so far under-sung) job of addressing this within the main character -- Thomas (the doubter?). Thomas' internal monologue is saturated in choices, regrets, and some very little pride. The novel is also remarkably true to the thought-fashion of the time: even if you get tricked by the Devil, you're still liable. In a market driven world hell-bent on manipulating masses of people, what could be more timely?

Some other reviewers have commented on the "deus ex machina" nature of the plot devices. Certainly that couldn't have been unintentional. We are, after all, reading a novel which concerns God's apparent lack of action in a devastated world. The novel seems to me to be a meditation on the very principle of deus ex machina, and I think it was handled well.

In sum, I had an excellent time reading this novel, and it provoked more than a few thoughts about the nature not only of an all to apparently broken universe, but also the lens through which we perceive it.
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