- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Ace; First Edition edition (August 18, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451477383
- ISBN-13: 978-0451477385
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The House of Shattered Wings Hardcover – August 18, 2015
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Praise for Aliette de Bodard
“Her fiction is exciting because it is both familiar and strange.”—Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Valour and Vanity
"A Gothic masterpiece of supernatural intrigues, loves and betrayals in a ruined and decadent future Paris—wildly imaginative and completely convincing, this novel will haunt you long after you've put it down."—Tim Powers, author of The Anubis Gates
“A writer who deserves attention.”—SF Signal
“Aliette de Bodard is one of the hottest things in SF right now.”—Elizabeth Bear, author of Steles of the Sky
About the Author
Aliette de Bodard is a multi-award-winning author. She is a half-French, half-Vietnamese computer and history geek who lives in Paris and has a special interest in non-Western civilisations, particularly Ancient Vietnam, Ancient China and Ancient Mesoamerica.
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But...The whole time I felt like I was reading the version of a friend of a friend of the characters. I actually thought I had mistakenly purchased a book further on in the trilogy and not the first book because there was so much backstory I didn't get. Maybe fans of the whole angel genre have more information on House politics and Fallen Angels work but there was a lot that I didn't get.
The premise is good and the murder mystery itself is good, but it all felt a little distant to me. Perhaps it's that sort of Goth thing that makes action feel distant, otherworldly, like the reader is a voyeur, that may captivate fans of these stories. It just didn't fully wow me, but lovers of vampire/fallen/goth sagas will probably love it.
Selene is the head of the one of the most powerful Angel houses in post war Paris but her house is constantly being threatened by other houses. She is the 2nd head of Silverspires as Morningstar (read Lucifer) was the first but he has simply disappeared without a trace. Selene knows she is no Morningstar but she does her best to keep the house together. Phillipe acts like he's mortal but Selene quickly realizes there is more to him than meets the eye. In fact, Phillipe is an immortal from Vietnam who was conscribed to fight in the great war by the colonial powers. Selene uses her powers to lock Phillipe to Silverspires against his will and he is quite bitter about it. However, because he got a taste of Isabelle's blood they are permanently bound together.
Then there's Madeleine, one of the rare humans who get a major part, who is the alchemist for Silverspires. She is also an addict to angel essence, something you can get from the flesh, blood, etc., of a dead angel, which gives one powers. She keeps her addiction a secret, however, but it is slowly killing her and if Selene finds out Madeleine will be cast out of Silverspires and on her own which is very dangerous. She is another interesting character, I just wasn't as drawn to her as I was Isabelle and Phillipe.
There are numerous story lines going on in this novel. The main two seem to be who is trying to kill off everyone from the House of Silverspires. This investigation leads to a lot of politics between the houses as we learn of other house leaders and how each house hates the other. Then there's the mystery of what happened to Morningstar and this was a huge surprise. Also there is the side story of Phillipe and what all occurs to him throughout the novel. I felt a certain sympathy and good will towards him throughout.
Once I started this novel I simply could not put it down. I have thought about it many times since I finished it and no other book since has filled that void. This novel is full of magic, mystery and mythology, and is simply too wonderful for a review to do justice to it. You simply must read it for yourself and become immersed in this magical world. I certainly hope there's a sequel!
The world and milieu of The House of Shattered Wings is ours in the large scale and details. It is some time after a Great War early in the 20th century, and Europe is slowly trying to rebuild. The War was an apocalyptic one, one that devastated the city of Paris. The Seine runs black, Notre Dame is a shell, and the city is a dim shadow of what it once was. de Bodard’s Paris is marked and controlled and dominated by a number of noble Houses that, even in the wake of the Great War, still dominate the political landscape.
By the way, these noble Houses are not run by and for humans. No, these Noble Houses that still stand above the ruined landscape after the war are the edifices and power bases of fallen Angels. Now, with House Silverspires, the greatest of the Houses of Paris, is teetering on the edge of a fall, and a shadowy force threatens not only to push it over the edge, but plunge all of the Houses of Paris, and the rest of the city, into darkness and final destruction.
Into this strange alternate fantastical history and plot, de Bodard, inserts an intriguing set of characters. It’s as if she were constructing an Ars Magica RPG campaign; the book has two levels of characters through which she explores her world and develops the narrative. In the highest ring, we have the movers and shakers like Selene, the head of House Silverspires,and other power brokers of the Houses of Paris. In the echelon below them are our main point of view characters that we spend the most time, and it is these characters that are the heart of the novel: Madeline, a tormented, addicted but talented alchemist and Isabelle, a newly minted fallen angel, powerful in her youth, and naive and untrained in her power, so freshly cast from Heaven. Finally we have Philippe, who is originally from Indochina and is cast adrift, a stranger in a strange land, with abilities and a position very uncertain in a world where he is not a Fallen Angel, or a human, but rather something else. The author’s care and steady hand for characterization renders all of these very different protagonists extremely well, and they come to vivid life, as they interact with each other, their superiors, and the half-ruined world around them.
My favorite character, however, that I glommed onto immediately, is Asmodeus, one of the antagonists in the highest echelon, and the head of House Hawthorn. Heroes and Protagonists are the foundation of a book, a world and a series. However, a richly done antagonist makes heroes and protagonists all the more striking and can take a life of their own. In Asmodeus, the author has created a character I want to know more about, and whom I want to see face off against the protagonists in future volumes.
The ruined city of Paris takes a life all its own. From the ruins of Notre Dome, now part of House Silverspires, to the mean streets of the once-great city, every setting and location is invoked in vivid detail, and a very dark world is brought to life.
My only real criticism of the book is that it’s not clear how and why the sociopolitical setup IS so close to ours, with these noble Houses dominating the landscape, figuratively and literally. When did these Houses appear? How did that confrontation between the Fallen Angels and the humans play out? Why has subsequent culture remained so close to ours? I want to know much more about the world and how and why it came to be, and hope to learn more in future volumes.