Thank you Gollancz for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.
A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.
Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.
But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.
The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .
I have been told by many people to read Garth Nix books and I’m glad I finally did as I really enjoyed it. This story is inspired by The Three Musketeers, except there is four in this book and there are angels and angel mages! I know this book is a standalone, but I really hope we get more in this world especially as the ending was left pretty open and I need answers!
The story begins with Lilliath and we see how powerful she is and how she uses her beauty to her advantage, often to hide just how powerful she is. She is volatile yet has learnt to get people to trust her. She is unapologetic in her ambition and ruthless in her quest to achieve her goals. She is cunning and manipulative and is able to manipulate even the most powerful people into achieving her goals.
And not only do we have a powerful villain who’s a woman but also women in power in all areas in this world! I really loved that women are positions of power in the book and it wasn’t an issue, men didn’t make sexist comments or try to take their power. It was just really nice to see that as the norm in the book. The characters are all diverse and it was really great to see that as a norm too. There wasn’t any racism or discrimination because of someone’s skin colour and it was just so refreshing to read.
I really loved the four main characters, they were different from each other and had distinct personalities. I really loved their friendship and sibling relationship. It was really great to see them all bickering and the banter like siblings would do.
This book has really great world building and while it was a little slow at the beginning there was still lots happening throughout the book but the ending was definitely more action packed. There is so much mystery about Liliath’s plan and what happened in Ystara all those years ago to cause the Ash Plague. We don’t find out until the very end where all the information we are slowly told throughout the book when all it all comes together. It kept me on the edge of my seat as I needed to know why everything was happening.
I’m really glad I was able to read this book and I will definitely be picking up more of Garth Nix’s books!