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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, Emotional and Exciting
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...
Published on October 27, 2012 by Jason Golomb

versus
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly good, except for one thing...
This is an incredibly well-written book, and the imagery and descriptions of the time are among the best I've ever read. From the historical standpoint, it really shines. I loved the "hero", Thomas, as well as the girl and the monk. He writes strong characters that are flawed enough to be interesting. And his evil creatures scared the beejeezus out of me! The...
Published 13 months ago by florida reader


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, Emotional and Exciting, October 27, 2012
By 
Jason Golomb (Northern Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Between Two Fires (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. Buehlman paints this scene with audacious characterizations of demons, and brightly colorful descriptions of angels. Within the context of the larger journey of discovery, the scene is realistic, and affecting. Imagine a demon transformer made from the remains of the dead; imagine something more than your typical Hollywood ending.

I intensely enjoyed "Between Two Fires". The story is built uniquely, and falls just outside of any easily characterized genre. It crosses categories and does so successfully. The historical details are rich and authentic, the plot is thouroughly developed and tautly paced, and the characters evoke understanding and empathy.

Epic, emotional, and exciting - I strongly recommend "Between Two Fires".
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh yes, a must read!!, October 11, 2012
This review is from: Between Two Fires (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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly good, except for one thing..., October 6, 2013
This review is from: Between Two Fires (Kindle Edition)
This is an incredibly well-written book, and the imagery and descriptions of the time are among the best I've ever read. From the historical standpoint, it really shines. I loved the "hero", Thomas, as well as the girl and the monk. He writes strong characters that are flawed enough to be interesting. And his evil creatures scared the beejeezus out of me! The jousting/tourney scene in the castle at night was amazing.
Here's the "but"(and it surprised me so much): I got seriously bored about two-thirds of the way through. They travel a bit, and fight some demons, travel a bit, fight some devils, travel a bit, fight some monsters. I found myself skipping ahead to see if something else would ever happen, or if the story would ever involve anything besides fighting demons and devils--- scary monsters, but still..
I'll still seek out any of his other books, though; writing at this level in this genre matters a lot, and his imagination is matchless.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo!, October 19, 2012
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This review is from: Between Two Fires (Hardcover)
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eerily beautiful and terrifying...Loved it!, October 4, 2012
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This review is from: Between Two Fires (Hardcover)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark times, dark thoughts, dark deeds...an Epic journey, July 11, 2013
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This review is from: Between Two Fires (Hardcover)
Whats so unusual about this book is that it's so very good in every aspect. And an excellent and interesting story that reminded me somewhat of Bernard Cornwell's reluctant heroes and almost a counterpoint to Thomas of Hookton
How rare these days to pickup a book and like everything about it.
first - the story is engaging, characters are well developed, almost sculpted. Beautiful stylized to the times language, creepy mystical reality of the events. This is one of the books where you don't doubt whats going on, there is nothing of fantasy in this fantasy. I mean that you know that its fiction, but its real.
All in all, very happy with the author and the book, he well deserved his nomination for world fantasy award. My thanks to the author, looking forward to his next book
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical Novel Review, February 7, 2013
This review is from: Between Two Fires (Hardcover)
This review was first published in the Historical Novel Review. It is 1348 and the Black Death has come to wreak its destruction. Thomas, a fallen knight, finds himself in the company of a young Norman girl. There is an innocence and purity about her that he finds unsettling. More than that, there is a holiness, one that allows her to see angels and to know what path they must take as they make their way through the cursed countryside.

The world of men has found itself caught between the fires of Hell and the war in Heaven. Demons and abominations walk the land, and the walls of Heaven are besieged. The very throne of God is at stake. And all the hopes of this world lie with this one girl, and her reluctant guardian. Thomas must account for his many sins and find the faith he needs to escort the girl to Avignon and aid her in her mission.

Between Two Fires is a dark novel, one full of horrors and a vileness that had me cringing at times. It is full of miracles, demonic beings, and bloody combat. And it is beautiful. The characters are captivating and the action riveting. The world is full, and the story inspiring. It is one of faith, of redemption, and one of loyalties. I recommend this only to stout hearts, but I do so vehemently. I intend to reread the novel and pick up Buehlman's debut novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, moving--a book to reread, January 26, 2013
This review is from: Between Two Fires (Hardcover)
This is an amazing book. Stunning, affecting, beautiful. I only just finished it, and after wiping away tears, thinking about it what it meant to me, I already know I will reread this book.

I came to it expecting something different, as probably other readers did as well. This author was recommended to me as a horror writer (probably because of his first novel, which I have not yet read, but I will). I'm an occasional reader of horror, and when I do read it, I prefer less gore and more atmosphere, which is what I expected in this. I also knew, of course, that it was set during the plague years in Europe, and since I also enjoy historical fiction occasionally, I thought I'd give it a read.

I was immediately drawn in by the characters and the story: a knight turned brigand, an orphaned girl who he protects from rape. The only horrors, for quite a long time, were historical: the horrors of plague, the horrors humans routinely subject others to. I began to realize this was not, in fact, a horror novel. And there were angels, and the war between heaven and hell. This was more Milton or Blake than Koontz, but Milton or Blake made accessible. (And I don't mean in terms of specifics here; I mean more in terms of the big themes these works address).

I am not a scholar of the Bible or Christianity, so perhaps I was slow to understand what was happening in this beautiful novel, but for me, it all came together near the end, when I realized who these characters were, and wondered why I hadn't seen it before. Likely other readers will see it quicker than I did (and of course I'm not going to give anything away in this review!), but whether you recognize these characters for the archetypes they finally end up being earlier or later, I think there is great beauty in this book, in the way the characters were created to be both individual (and oh, how real they are, how compelling their stories!) and archetypal. There are horrors aplenty here, but to call this a horror novel is to misrepresent it: this, is, instead a morality play--the powers of good and evil battling, and evil is, yes, drawn in vivid, imaginative detail. Some of the scenes of hell's hosts were horrific indeed, and will stay with me. But is not the point of the novel.

I expected entertainment, and I was entertained. But what I got was something much bigger. I am not a reader easily moved to tears, but this book did it. Because I was left thinking about the nature of good and evil, about forgiveness and redemption, and I ended up considering that in my own life. I am not Christian, and while I recognize the great truths in a variety of faiths, I have not usually been moved by the stories of the Bible or by Christian beliefs (which is why, unfortunately, Milton and Blake do not resonate with me). This book did move me though, and the author did that through beautifully wrought characters, through careful plotting, through asking hard questions. In short, this book changed my ways of thinking and made me consider the nature of redemption and forgiveness. I had to start thinking about forgiveness, and wondering what it demanded of us, and if I was strong enough to be able to offer it. I don't know the answer to that, but this book has started me on a journey--I know that for sure.

I am also a writer and teacher of writing, and can be a bit persnickity about the craft of writing. I was a bit bothered by some of the point of view changes in the novel, as they seem a bit haphazard and not structured as well as I would have liked. I had a few other quibbles on a craft level as I was reading, but in the end, the power of this book overwhelms those complaints: this is simply beautiful, moving, and wise. And it is not simplistic: though I chose to read the end as uplifting, this writer is smart enough to slip in doubt, to make us question how we should read the end. This is a sophisticated and mature book that raises many questions.

If you're looking for a fast read, for a run-of-the-mill horror novel, this is not it. But if you want imaginative, well-wrought historical fiction that delves into some of the big questions we ask of the world, than this may be a novel for you. Thank you, Christopher Buehlman, for writing such a beautiful novel, one that reaffirms my faith in the power of the written word.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, emotional journey, October 15, 2012
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This review is from: Between Two Fires (Kindle Edition)
Mr. Buehlman's second book is even better than the first. The characters are well written and likeable. The supernatural aspects of the story are incredibly vivid and imagined in a completely original way. This book is definitely a page turner, so be sure to set aside plenty of time to read it - you won't want to put it down!

Update, I have now read the author's third book as well (The Necromancer's House) but Between Two Fires is still my favorite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engulfed in Fire, July 9, 2013
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This review is from: Between Two Fires (Kindle Edition)
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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Between Two Fires
Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman (Hardcover - October 2, 2012)
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