- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Ace; 1 edition (October 2, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1937007863
- ISBN-13: 978-1937007867
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,472,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Between Two Fires Hardcover – October 2, 2012
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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and their companion Pv(r)re Matthieu don't realize they're trapped in a cosmic battle between good and evil, God having withdrawn from the world and Lucifer bent on filling the vacuum.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.
"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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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.
I am not a book reviewer, so I will be brief. The story is set during the black plague in Europe, and follows two characters as they navigate a hideous landscape of death and despair. Supernatural evil rears its head, and is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. It's not your usual kind of story, and the writing reflects this as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
"The language of ravens rasped out as well, obscure in vocabulary but clear in intent."
"They allowed the rich to bury their dead in the churchyard as though the Devil were too simple to find a bad onion in good soil"
"He did not pretend to understand the caprices of celestial clockwork."
The story is grabs you from the start and makes you root for the main characters even though they are deeply flawed. The world they live in is brutal where kindness comes seldom and is repaid with cruelty and death.
The story is set in 1348 France. Demons and angels make appearances throughout the story so if you are looking for the fantasy angle you won't be disappointed. Oh! and there are zombies too. The religious doubts of Thomas the knight make for good arguments between him and the priest.
Just get the damn book and read it, you won't be disappointed...
This subject matter isn't for everyone: violence, profanity, and some sexuality. But the stakes of the story were incredibly high, and I enjoyed reading it. I'm excited to visit Buehlman's past works and also to see what comes next from his twisted, brilliant mind.