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Angel Time (Songs of the Seraphim) Paperback – August 9, 2011
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Anne Rice: I have always been fascinated by the idea of angels--these perfect beings who are God’s messengers, sinless, bold, and unfathomable to the human mind. I was deliciously challenged to be biblically correct about them, and theologically correct: to present Malchiah as truly perfect, yet sent to interact with my hero Toby, and commissioned therefore to take a human body and reflect human emotions and respond to Toby’s human emotions.
Question: How did imagining a character like Malchiah the angel differ from creating one like the vampire Lestat?
Anne Rice: Well, again, Malchiah is perfect and sinless. And to make such a character appealing is a challenge; he has to reflect God’s love for human beings, God’s compassion. He’s not sent to judge Toby; he’s sent to guide him to salvation, and to enlist Toby in working for the angels on earth. He must feel things; he must have a personality, but with marvelous theological constraints. Doing Lestat was entirely different: Lestat is sinful and ferociously human, a rebel who wants to be good at being bad; a rebel who is seeking redemption but turning away from it all the time. There is a certain joy in writing about Malchiah because he is sent from God. There was never a perfect joy in writing about Lestat: Lestat suffers too much and does too many bad things with relish.
Question: The hero of Angel Time is Toby O’Dare, a boy who had a tough life growing up in New Orleans and who goes on to become a skilled assassin before meeting Malchiah. How does Toby compare to your past protagonists? What is unique about him?
Anne Rice: Well, Toby is deeply flawed, much like the vampires. He’s an assassin, and he has done terrible things, and questionable things. But he turns around in the very first book of the series and sets out to do the bidding of the angels in helping others. I think of all those characters I’ve created, Toby is most like Michael Curry in The Witching Hour. But Toby has done things Michael would never do. Toby is a deeply flawed human who is offered a chance to be saved; and he takes it. Maybe he’s a first among my characters in that he is given an opportunity to redeem himself through the mercy of God, and then to do good to make up for all the evil he had done before. Toby is also a crafty character. He’s pragmatic. Having been a clever assassin, he knows how to plot to do good. That was interesting to me, to have him struggling to save people from harm, and having to figure out a somewhat complex way to do it.
Question: People who have read your memoir Called Out of Darkness will recognize some elements of your own life in Toby’s story. Did you identify with him as a character?
Anne Rice: Yes, I did identify with Toby, though my life has been nothing like his. I know what it is like to struggle with an alcoholic parent; I know what it is like to care for younger siblings in an alcoholic household. But of course Toby suffers a family tragedy that I didn’t suffer, and he turns to evil in a defiant way, whereas I only turned to writing about evil.
Question: How did you imagine the concept of Angel Time (as opposed to Normal Time)? And what sources did you reference while reading about angels?
Anne Rice: I came up with the concept of Angel Time through meditating on it; really, figuring that from God’s standpoint there is no linear time. I felt certain that the angels would be able to move back and forth in our linear time, and to grasp how some one can be lifted from one century and put down in another to work a solution that then becomes part of the very future from which the original person came. I think meditation led to this definition of Angel Time, more than any actual reading. It seemed logical to me that the angels could do this. I did read theology about angels, of course, including St. Thomas Aquinas and books by Catholic writers who have studied angels and all the biblical references to them. It all starts with the Bible, of course and how angels appear in those pages. But the scholars Pascal Parente and Peter Kreeft help me to cover the sources. I stayed away from other writers’ more fanciful conjectures about angels. I wanted the biblical facts, and the way that the theologians interpreted them.
Question: People are clearly fascinated with angels. Why do you think even those people who do not consider themselves religious are so drawn to the idea of angels?
Anne Rice: People are drawn to angels because there is a deep seated instinctive belief that they do exist, that creatures from Heaven are here on Earth looking out for us and playing a special role in our care. Of course we read of this in the Bible. And it is a very seductive idea. It’s sometimes easier to pray to one’s guardian angel than to pray to the saints or even to the Lord. It’s easy to imagine that our guardian angel is right here with us. In my novel, Toby really does believe this, though after he suffered tragedy, he blamed the angels in charge for not stopping it. And he lived as a cursed human being for ten years.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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".Read more ›
"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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. Anne Rice is a great story teller. I love the history she references and the insight on Angels.Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
Warning: Spoilers for the Vampire Chronicles (and others):
In reading through Memnoch, Prince Lestat, the Mummy, and even Servant of the Bones, a recurring theme is that... Read more
The book starts out strong but petes out during the middle, too much boring stuff in the middle.Published 2 months ago by cheryl edwards
I've read nearly everything Anne Rice has ever written. I've loved much, liked some, and I'll admit there are a few that weren't really for me. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mark Gunnells
Well written, original, the story of good and evil and redemption nicely told and kept me reading to the end gripping my attention with every word.Published 4 months ago by Amira Debbas
Very interesting changes that kept me reading it for hours. I read through the book in only a few hours because I couldn't put it down.Published 5 months ago by Lisa F.