Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
Epic, Emotional and Exciting
on October 27, 2012
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".