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Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel by [Connolly, Harry]
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Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 202 customer reviews

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Length: 365 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Connolly's gritty urban fantasy debut is not so urban: it takes place in Hammer Bay, Wash., where residents are thankful for the toy factory that stimulates their economy and are apparently oblivious to the frequent magical immolations of local children. Convicted felon Ray Lilly works for the mysterious Annalise Powliss and the Twenty Palace Society, hunting down people who use magic and the otherworldly predators whose power they channel. Callous Annalise and hard-nosed Ray have a complicated personal history that gradually comes to light as the Society faces off against factory employees, local law enforcement and other corrupt forces in the town. Unique magical concepts, a tough and pragmatic protagonist and a high casualty rate for innocent bystanders will enthrall readers who like explosive action and magic that comes at a serious cost. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Child of Fire is excellent reading: a truly dark and sinister world, delicious tension and suspense, violence so gritty you'll get something in your eye just reading it, and a gorgeously flawed protagonist. Take this one to the checkout counter. Seriously.”—Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files

"Ray Lilly is one of the most interesting characters I've read lately, and Harry Connolly's vision is amazing. I can hardly wait for the next one." --Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series

“Cinematic and vivid, with a provocative glimpse into a larger world. Where’s the next one?”—Terry Rossio, screenwriter, Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy

“Classic dark noir, fresh ideas, and good old-fashioned storytelling.”—John Levitt, author of Dog Days

“Redemption comes wrapped in a package of mystery and horror that hammers home the old saying ‘Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time’ . . . and even then you’d better check the yellow pages for one bad-ass exterminator first.”—Rob Thurman, author of Nightlife

“A fine novel with some genuinely creepy moments. I enjoyed it immensely and hope we’ll see more of Ray Lilly.”—Lawrence Watt-Evans, author of the Obsidian Chronicles

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3672 KB
  • Print Length: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Original edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Publication Date: September 29, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002PYFW9S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,099 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kurt G. Schumacher VINE VOICE on October 15, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The main thing I would say to potential readers is to judge this book on its own merits.

A number of reviewers compare "Child of Fire" to Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" novels. Yes, this is Urban Fantasy. Yes, this is Dark Fantasy. Aside from that, I didn't find a lot of similarities. Keep in mind, just because Butcher likes a book, doesn't mean that it's the same kind of book that he writes!

Ray Lilly is in prison. We get some hints as to why, but I expect his back story to be revealed gradually in forthcoming books in the series. He is released from jail by the "Twenty Palace Society". We know even less about them, just that their mission is to track down and destroy anyone who is using magic. (Besides them, of course.) He is assigned to work with Annalise, and we don't know a whole lot about her either, other than that she is almost indestructible and has a really bad attitude about almost everything. Especially Ray. Who she fully expects to die very soon.

They are sent to a small town to investigate the disappearance of children, and the strange fact that once they disappear, no one remembers them. Not even their parents. The rest, as they say, is the story. And it's told very well. The narrative is tight and fast paced. The main characters aren't very likable, as some reviewers have mentioned. And on first appearance, they're not. But we don't know a lot about them, and they have a very unlikable job: killing anyone who has, or has been touched by, "unauthorized" magic. And that means there is frequently a lot of collateral damage.

This is obviously the start of a series. I'm willing to give Ray and Annalise the benefit of the doubt for now, until I know about them and their mysterious employer.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ray is just the driver. His boss Annelise hates him -- with good reason, it turns out. Together they ride in a crummy van, chasing after a signal given off by an instance of unauthorized magic. What they find turns out to be more horrific than Ray ever imagined possible, and he's well acquainted with horrific. He just got out of prison.

The pair follows the trail further to Hammer Bay, a small city in the Pacific Northwest, known for its improbably successful toy manufacturing. The city is crawling with multi-generation old secrets, corruption, and lethal magic.

The story is fast-paced, full of violence, drama, and occasional dark humor. I found Ray Lilly to be complex and sympathetic. He does the hard things that need doing, even as he regrets them. Over the course of the story we learn that both Ray and Annelise have complicated histories -- so much so, I almost felt like I was reading book two in a series, rather than the first volume.

Hints about the Twenty Palaces Society were even more tantalizing. They stamp out -- with extreme prejudice, it seems -- unauthorized magic use. Their zeal is appropriate, though. They're the only thing protecting the world from the constant threat of annihilation. Annelise, vastly powerful and nearly indestructible, is merely a junior member.

Except what lurks in Hammer Bay is too strong even for Annelise. Saving the world is left to Ray, who has only a little magical protection, a scrap of a spell, and a whole lot of street smarts.

Normally I don't read a lot of Urban Fantasy, because common tropes of the field (snarky heroines and sex with undead/demons/monsters) are pet peeves of mine, but I liked this very much.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am an avid fan of Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files series and Rob Thurman and his Nightlife Series; both of whom endorse and to some degree write in the style of Harry Connolly. Child of Fire, as a first novel, shows promise. Ray Lilly however, is a darker character than those created by Butcher and Thurman and sometimes reads more as a thug than a protagonist early in the novel. His character grows and develops more nuances as you stay with the book and he becomes a progtagonist you can root for. However, it takes an extreme plot, which centers around the killing of children, to lighten his darkness and make the character more palatable. The early part of the novel reads choppily, not surprising in a new author but after three chapters or so, it settles down into a more even flow that holds the reader until near the end where there are so many subplots and so much going on that I found myself skimming more than reading. I wanted to know how things resolved for the characters but the plot was too convoluted. I think this could be because so much of the backstory is being held for future novels. In may be that after future novels are released, rereading this novel will help it better fall into context. I'd give a second novel by Connolly a try but I'd want more clarity and a main character who has been fleshed out with more humanity so that I'd enjoy reading his storyline.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Lets get the formalities out of the way first; this review is going to be biased. It's not something I can help, so it's important that you know that right up front. The author and I have been friends for years. We met through [...] and I picked up the Black Gate magazines which had his short stories. I ordered the book months in advance and had very high hopes for Harry Connolly's "Child Of Fire", maybe too high. I was really, really looking forward to his debut novel because of the love I have for Harry's short stories. I always hate it when I find myself clapping like a school boy as I plop down my hard earned money. Life rarely lives up to our dreams.

Finally I got to read "Child Of Fire"...

"It felt good to sit behind the wheel again, even the wheel of a battered Dodge Sprinter. Even with this passenger beside me."

That is how it begins, soon I was done. I could not put this book down.

The story is basically about Ray Lilly, an ex-con who is recently released from jail. He's found himself working as the driver for a very deadly woman, Annalise Powliss. She's a member of the Twenty Palace Society, a group of sorcerers devoted to hunting down and executing rogue magicians. That sort of work tends to make one hard to the cruelties of the world, and Annalise is harder than most. She also holds a personal grudge against Ray and searching for an excuse to kill him.

The pair make their way to the town of Hammer Bay. Annalise is sent there on a job, someone is using magic against the Twenty Palace Society rules. They don't get far into the city limits before running into victims of this rogue magician's spells. Annalise isn't affected by the nasty scene, but Ray spurs into action.
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