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Damiano by R. A. MacAvoy

Damiano (edition 1985)

by R. A. MacAvoy

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481521,406 (3.61)17
Authors:R. A. MacAvoy
Info:Bantam (1985), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Fantasy & Science Fiction
Tags:@bsg, @cbr, fantasy, christian, angels

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Damiano by R. A. MacAvoy



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Showing 5 of 5
Absolutely lovely fantasy novel, set in Renaissance Italy, featuring an endearingly good-hearted, sweet-natured hero who is by heritage a witch and by preference an alchemst, plays the lute - literally taught by an angel - and cooks up medicine for townsfolk who don't all appreciate or even like him. It's not a nice world, however. The town is invaded by mercenaries and the townsfolk flee, leaving him behind. He sets out after them, accompanied only by his talking dog, and determines to keep them and the town safe from war and conflict, little realising what a daunting task he sets himself: selling his soul to the devil being only one of his varied efforts. It all has the feel of some sly medieval tale, Dante by way of Eco, with an innocent everyman beset by worldly and otherworldly problems alike, with his willingness to make almost absurd personal and spiritual sacrifices for people who barely know him and generally don't appreciate him and a town that he only loves because it happens to be where he lives, propels him headlong to a kind of saintliness that would be ridiculous and even cruel if Damiano wasn't intelligent enough to be aware of it. Damiano is fun, clever, touching and unusual, about the cost of being nice for the sake of it in a world with lots of bad in it. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I did enjoy reading this book although I think it may be aimed at younger readers. I enjoyed the historical setting of this alternate-history fantasy and found the main character, Damiano, appealing. I thought the talking dog was priceless. This is very much a fantasy since, besides a talking dog, it includes the angel Raphael and Satan as characters. In addition to these supernatural beings and their powers, there is also magic in this world that humans can wield and that seems independent of the powers of the Christian mythos. Excuse me that I call it "mythos", but that is how it's used in this story since summoning angels and talking to Satan aren't part if our everyday experience.
The added magic seemed to me to pose a bit of a problem since it wasn't explained where it came from. MacAvoy wisely doesn't bring God into the story as a character. An all-powerful being is a problem as it can undermine the conflict because an all-powerful being can potentially fix anything, anytime it wants to. At the same time, not having God in play, means that the angel had to step in instead and I ended up feeling as if God didn't really care about the main character. If the angel is willing to appear to a human and doesn't have a problem with intervening, why doesn't God appear or intervene? This kind of dilemma is a big reason why I don't generally like stories that use Cristian beliefs as fantasy elements. That I enjoyed the story as much as I did in spite of these issues is a tribute to MacAvoy's skill as a storyteller. ( )
  Carol_W | Apr 17, 2015 |
3.5 stars http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/damiano/

Young Damiano Delstrego is now the head of his house after his father, a witch, was killed when a spell went horribly wrong. Damiano is also a musician, an alchemist, and a witch, but he??s a good Christian, too, and he tries to use his powers only for good. Thatƒ??s why he refused to help the army who came to take over his town, though they offered him riches. Instead, Damiano decides to follow the townsfolk whoƒ??ve fled for the hills. He wants to warn them that the army plans to find and plunder them. Heƒ??s particularly worried about Carla, the girl he has a crush on. He also wants to seek the aid of a powerful sorceress.

So, with an Italian medieval village behind him and the towering Alps ahead, Damiano sets off in the snow with his lute and his beloved talking dog, Macchiata. Along the way, Damiano has a few mishaps, witnesses brutal deeds done by Roman soldiers, gets some inspiration from the archangel Rafael, finds out some uncomfortable facts about his father, and is offered a deal by the devil. He also learns that thereƒ??s more to life than his dog, his lute, and Carla.

Damiano is the first volume of R.A. MacAvoyƒ??s DAMIANO trilogy, a historical fantasy set in Renaissance Italy. MacAvoyƒ??s prose is lovely and she makes the most of her setting, with allusions to real historical people, events, religious beliefs, literature, and art. The story takes place in winter and all the brutal events that Damiano witnesses seem especially vile when set against the whiteness of the winter alpine landscape.

I didnƒ??t love the plot as much as I loved the writing and the setting, but this is more of a personal preference rather than any problem with the plot itself. Though it depicts some ugly events, Damiano, his talking dog, and the beautiful angel were a little too sweetly innocent for me. The main focus is Damianoƒ??s struggle with his desire to use his powers for good and his discovery that sometimes itƒ??s hard to know whatƒ??s right and wrong. Heƒ??s also worried about his soul because Satan has informed him that, since heƒ??s a witch, heƒ??s automatically damned. I didnƒ??t find this to be riveting subject matter, but I thought the excellent writing made up for it.

Though the DAMIANO books were marketed to adults, I think this coming of age story will be appealing to teenagers, and itƒ??s certainly written more beautifully than most YA fantasy is. Itƒ??s so lovely, in fact, that I plan to try the second book, Damianoƒ??s Lute. This story has plenty of potential. Iƒ??m listening to Audible Frontiersƒ?? version and am very pleased with Nicholas Tecoskyƒ??s narration. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
I really like Roberta MacAvoy's writing and this is a unique fantasy in which the hero is a musician helped by a guardian angel. ( )
  stpnwlf | Jul 16, 2007 |
I have loved this series for years and it doesn't lessen it's impact every time I read it.

Sweet series of novels involving Damiano a witch from Italy and what happens when his world is consumed by war. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Mar 12, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
R. A. MacAvoyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lovest well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage

Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos LXXXI
This novel is dedicated to Pierre Bensusan, the musician, whose face on an album cover inspired the character of Damiano and whose music could inspire Raphael himself.
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