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To Reign in Hell (1984)

by Steven Brust

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1,2272513,828 (3.72)19
Steven Brust is the author of numerous fantasy novels, including Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla, and Orca. He lives in Minneapolis.

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» See also 19 mentions

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Walking and talking, walking and talking. A lot of walking and talking in this book. Which makes it all more annoying when characters don’t seem to get where they’re going and don’t say what they need to say. This is a book where the entire premise relies in a Big Misunderstanding, where everything could have been avoided if only people had actually talked to each other. I can't lie, I hate those sort of plots unless very well done, and I don't feel that it was particularly well done in this instance - it relied entirely on angle Abdiel wanting to sew discord for... funsies?

I generally enjoy "sympathy for the Devil" type stories, but I think I might be tried of “God is actually the bad guy” narratives. It was probably revolutionary in the 80’s when this was written. In 2019 though I just found it predictable, and compounded with the other things I didn't like about this book, made this a very difficult book to finish.
( )
  Fardo | Oct 15, 2019 |
A reimagining of the revolt of Satan and the creation of the Earth.

In the beginning was chaos--cacoastrum--from which was formed the first Angel, Yahweh. As he fought for his existence, Satan was formed, then five other angels--the Firstborn. The seven built themselves a fortress against the cacoastrum--Heaven. And this was the First Wave.

As the cacoastrum surged, the walls of Heaven could not hold it back, and the angels were once again forced to fight for their lives. Heaven was expanded, and several hundred new angels were formed out of the cacoastrum as they fought--the archangels. And this was the Second Wave.

Once again the cacoastrum surged, and once again the angels fought. Heaven was further expanded, and many thousands more angels were formed. The Third Wave.

Thousands of days have passed since the last wave, and Yahweh presents a plan to Satan, to build a permanent bastion against the cacoastrum, so no more angels need fight and die in the waves. Satan agrees with the plan, but has misgivings about his role: to ensure that all the hosts of Heaven participate, whether they want to or not. He is uncertain that he--or anyone--has the right to force the angels to risk themselves against their will.

These doubts, and the treacherous actions of another angel, lead Satan into conflict with Yahweh, and the fate of all the angels--and the eventual creation of Earth--hangs in the balance.

An excellent book. ( )
  Sopoforic | Aug 27, 2019 |
Like many of Brust’s earlier works, I’ve owned the physical book for many years but haven’t re-read it for almost as long. With an introduction by Roger Zelazny, it certainly bore re-reading.

However, I would say that you need to have some passing familiarity with Milton, given the subject: the ‘revolt’ of Satan. I say ‘revolt’ rather than revolt as the story treats it as a series of misunderstandings and betrayal rather than an active rebellion as most would describe it, and Satan and his allies are treated rather more sympathetically than Yaweh and his allies.

Fans of Brust will enjoy finding the Devera reference, although there is no overt connection to Dragaera (but how cacoastrum and illiaster work may be linked to the Dragaeran Chaos magic, and the references to the artifacts of the senior angels may be a call-out to Dragaeran Great Weapons).

Enjoyable, but probably not to everyone’s taste given the subject.
  Maddz | Dec 10, 2017 |
Points for ambition, but the execution leaves much to be desired. Brust attempts to apply his breezy fantasy storytelling to Paradise Lost, inventing a whole new storyline for how the war in Heaven came about. Unfortunately, there are too many characters, and not even the most important ones are fleshed out in any interesting way. It's all plot mechanics, and the core of that plot is a series of deceptions by a single angel, with some rabbits pulled out of hat from time to time to keep it going. Frustrating. ( )
2 vote ChrisRiesbeck | Sep 2, 2017 |
Highly imaginative recasting of religious archetypes. ( )
  apomonis | Jun 2, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brust, Stevenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hickman, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marschall, KathyMapsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zelazny, RogerForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Angels and mortals Fight for the right To have a little pleasure And enjoy an easy flight Angels and mortals Sometimes get their way Mark Henley "November Song"
This book was written for my wife, Reen, whom I love and cherish.
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Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes, swirled and spun in to and out of bright, lustrous shapes that gleamed against the emerald-blazoned black drape of sky and sparkled there for a moment, hanging, before settling gently to the soft, green-tufted plain with all the sickly sweetness of an over-written sentence.
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Steven Brust is the author of numerous fantasy novels, including Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla, and Orca. He lives in Minneapolis.

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