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Posted November 7, 2010
An involved adventure after Armageddon
n Flaming Dove, Arenson weaves an absorbing tale of the ultimate example of internal conflict: a being part angel, part demon, and fully belonging nowhere. In her quest for a home, she becomes caught up in the ongoing battle between Heaven and Hell for dominion over the Earth, knowing that a win from either side would lead to her death. He places his heroine in quite the predicament!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Laila rises to the task admirably, causing the reader to root for her despite the impossibility of her goals. The complexity of her character - unpredictable, angry, impulsive, loving, and lonely - makes her personality stand out when it could easily have been swallowed up by a face-paced storyline and rapid-fire action sequences. Similarly, Bat El and Beelzebub are thoroughly explored, calling into question the belief that the two represent opposite ends of the spectrum. There is a humanization of the major players here that draws out a reader's compassion. I was flipping each screen with a combination of anticipation and dread, knowing that there was no way for everyone to wind up happy.
One of the risks in writing about angels and demons is the polarization effect: characters are depicted as being wholly good or wholly evil. In Arenson's world, however, the angels have their own hedonistic tendencies, while the demons are barbarians with a heart. He capitalizes on these traits, creating a storyline filled with internal conflict, betrayal, and sacrifice, with thousands of unnamed casualties tossed in for good measure. I almost missed my bus stop a few times as I focused on satisfying the itch to find out how everything would be resolved. I finished the novel satisfied with the course of events and the open doors that the author left.
A second challenge in writing about angels and demons is dealing with readers' preconceived notions based on Judeo-Christian theology. Some circumvent this by leaving faith and God out of the equation, creating an alternate environment in which these beings exist and fight one another in an age-old battle of good versus evil without the oversight of an omnipotent, all-powerful being. Arenson, however, takes a different route entirely, referencing angels such as Michael and Gabriel and turning them into flawed protagonists. While this is an innovative approach, it greatly diminished my ability to believe in the book.
There were many passages in this book that were written well, drawing the reader into the unfolding drama and rapidly pushing the story forward. Even so, there were also areas where the information presented became redundant. For instance, multiple references might be made to a character's current location when it has already been established where he or she is. This might not have been as noticeable had the same word, such as amphitheater, not been used each time and in back-to-back paragraphs. The author also favored the word "maw" throughout the novel, and it started to lose its impact by the fourth or fifth instance of its use.
Overall, this was a fascinating fantasy novel. The plot moves along quickly, the sequence of events makes sense, and the development of the characters along the way adds depth to an action-filled tale.
-Stimulated Outlet Book Reviews
Posted February 16, 2011
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