Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Before all the Angels ...

Hey guys - guess what? No more exams! Yes! Done at of 3:04 pm today!
Xmas Hols - here I come!

But first, some blogging!


I last left you with my thoughts of Becca Fitzpatrick's Fallen Angels series, and why the fallen angels in her series worked for me - and why I think they're successful.

Now I turn to the Angels of Angelology and The Angel's Game.

First, The Angel's Game.
Why? Because the Angel in this one, is THE fallen angel. Yep, you know him - the bug guy. And he is wickedly awesome.

'The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whoever cared to listen.'

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David MartÌn, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books, and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has existed - a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realises that there is a connection between this haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

Set in the turbulent 1920s, THE ANGEL'S GAME takes us back to the gothic universe of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books, the Sempere & Son bookshop, and the winding streets of Barcelona's old quarter, in a masterful tale about the magic of books and the darkest corners of the human soul.

Be warned: this is a prequel book. As such, it is often slow, it is a throwback to the original book (Shadow of the Wind) and it tends to be very dependant on cultural information. Case in point, the Russian Princess read this before me, and she loved it, but when we were talking about it, she missed the subtle Catholic overtones that I, as a raised southern European Catholic, picked up - like the Angel pin and the imagery. That being said, she still enjoyed the book, though she admits it was slow going.

But my focus right now, is the way the angel is portrayed. He is devious, and smart, with an agenda, and he never ages. He is basically a Vampire with superpowers. And I think, moreso then with any of the other angel books - fallen, faltering, nephilim or otherwise, this is why the Angel in this book rocks: he's scary.

There is something to be said about how our culture takes concepts and reduces them to bite sized things that we can quickly consume and run with. There is also something to be said about the way our culture likes heroes to have it all - marble good looks, sparkly or otherwise, long life and a sympathetic past. And there is also something to be said when an author knows this, takes it in stride and runs the opposite direction.

These days, Angels are sympathetic. They're generally male, with egos and dangerous personas - they're vampires with wings. And they represent the idea of redemption.

But then there is The Angel's Game, and I realize that there is a darker side to Angels that has nothing to do with grand plots or other bad guys - but the very nature of fallen angels is suspect. Think about it: it's a fall from grace, from light and perfection and happiness - it is temptation they represent, temptation and the grass is always greener idea.

And Andreas Corelli is the embodiment of that type of Angel - he is scary precisely because he represents this idea of truly falling. There is no saving grace for him, no character qurick that will endear him to us - he is that which tempts our real hero, the near broken David MartÌn, into eternal damnation - he offers the world with a hidden price tag, and the price is deathly steep.

In short, he represents a generally overlooked angel in modern literature - the evil angel, the truly scary one.
(the comparison with Vamp lit is overwhelming - I mean, you have Vampires (see David Wellington) and then you have sparkly, sexy, charistmatic old souls who happen to subsist on a diet of blood; see the similarities?)

And I have to say, I am loving the scary angel thing.

Which brings me to Angelology.

Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

This books deals with Nephilim. And boy, does it. It is slow, I will give it that - in the same way that The Ange's Game is slow - it builds up to a climax that is slightly confusing and yet you should totally see it coming. Again, a lot of this is steeped in cultural ideas of angels and demons and what it means for these two entities to exist, and again I fall back to the stories of my sourthern European Catholic childhood to fill in the cultural gaps, but this book is great - and it's the Nephilim that are the scary angels.

And why, I wonder?

Well, mostly, because they are humans - with all the terrible character flaws we have - on crack. Super crack. Super crack that makes them stronger, faster, more ruthless and you know, have wings. And yet the very reason they are scary is also a reason to pity them - like us, they hate themselves. They are critical of one another and would willingly sell each other out in order to get ahead - and for them, it comes with dire consequences.

The difference between nephilim in this book and the devil in the previous, is that in this one - there is still hope. Honestly, it only shows up for a flicker of a moment near the end - our protagonist lady is realizing what is going on, and we're taken into her head to realize that she is confused and almost sad, but then she turns away and leaves.

Honestly, like The Angel's Game, I think that this is a great, gritty interpretation of angels - and I cannot get enough of it!

Angels, as I have said beforem represent the ideal of humanity and the downfall of humanity in one - they are the highest of the high and the lowest of the low, and that is why they are perfect for literature based interpretations of human nature!

Thanks for joining me in my Angel posts!

Now, completely for me to oggle: Cas!

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