Between Two Fires

Between Two Fires

by Christopher Buehlman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937007867
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 10/02/2012
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Christopher Buehlman is the winner of the 2007 Bridport Prize for Poetry and the author of three novels and several plays. He spends half the year in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the rest on the road.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Cormac McCarthy's The Road meets Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in this frightful medieval epic...Buehlman...doesn't scrimp on earthy horror and lyrical writing in the face of unspeakable author to watch."—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Those Across the River

“One of the best first novels I’ve ever read.”—Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“What a treat. As much F. Scott Fitzgerald as Dean Koontz. A graceful, horrific read.”—Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully written…with a cast of Southern characters so real you can almost see the sweat roll down the page. The ending is exceedingly clever.”—Boston Herald

“Wonderfully eerie from start to finish—a novel sure to enthrall readers of all stripes.”—Grant Blackwood, New York Times bestselling author

“An unsettling brew of growing menace spiked with flashes of genuine terror—do not miss this chilling debut.”—F. Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fatal Error

“Lures you into a different era, seduces you with eloquent prose and sensual period details, then clamps down on your jugular…an outstanding debut.”—Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award–winning author of Diabolical

“Buehlman’s lyrical prose vividly captures a landscape made familiar by William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. A delightfully genre-bending juxtaposition of supernatural horror and gothic drama.”—California Literary Review

“A horror story that manages just the right balance between building dread and suspense and delivering action.”—The A.V. Club

Reading Group Guide


"Buehlman...slips effortlessly into a different kind of literary sensibility, one that doesn't scrimp on earthy humor and lyrical writing in the face of unspeakable horrors." — Kirkus Reviews

The year is 1348. Thomas, a disgraced knight, has found an orphan of the Black Death in a Norman village. An almost unnerving picture of innocence, she tells Thomas that the plague is only part of a larger cataclysm-that the fallen angels under Lucifer are rising in a second war on Heaven. But is it delirium or is it faith?

She believes she has seen the angels of God. She believes the dead speak to her in dreams. And now she has convinced the faithless Thomas to shepherd her across an apocalyptic landscape to Avignon. There, she tells Thomas, she will fulfill her mission. There her true nature will be revealed. And there Thomas will confront an evil wrestling for the throne of Heaven, and which has poisoned his own soul.


  • Between Two Fires is the title of the book. What are the literal and figurative "two fires" of the story?
  • Delphine is a French name that refers to the Greek town of Delphi, home to the oracle of Apollo of Greek mythology. Why, therefore, is this an apt choice of name for the young girl?
  • Of all the characters who needed redemption in this book, whose was the most satisfying? Why?
  • Père Matthieu dies saving Delphine from the devil in the river. Why is this important? Would it have been any different if he had died saving her somewhere else?
  • Whenever tragedy or disaster occurs, religion seems to be a focal point. In Between Two Fires, many people ask why God has abandoned them, while others ask when God will save them. Religion can also be used to justify actions despite the results, such as the Crusades. What are some examples of how religion is used to justify actions in today's society?
  • In the chapter titled "Of the Marriage on the Bank and the Visitation in the Stable," a woman inflicted with the plague performs a marriage ceremony with an unconscious Thomas after he battles the monster in Père Matthieu's town. What do you think is the significance of this "wedding"?
  • The author makes it clear that over the course of the story, Delphine has grown from a girl into a woman. Why is this important?
  • What is the role wine plays throughout the story?
  • In the chapter about Thomas's marriage, we come to discover that the Comte de Givras is probably Thomas's real father. How does this revelation about Thomas's parentage change your view of Thomas? How does his relationship with his father impact the relationship he has with Delphine?
  • Thomas doesn't ever seem to fully comprehend who or what Delphine is. While preparing to rescue the true pope, Thomas again asks her what she is. She replies, "Two things, I think. But soon I'll be just one." (Page 390) What do you think Delphine means by this answer?
  • Chapter 40, "Of the Coming of the Host," ends with: "Forgiveness, then, was possible even for the worst." (Page 425) Do you agree? From whom do the characters seek forgiveness? To whom do they need to grant it?
  • The first chapter and last chapter mirror each other. Discuss the similarities and differences of what occurs in each. Does the final chapter make you rethink any of the events in the story?
  • Customer Reviews

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    Between Two Fires 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
    LN_Adcox More than 1 year ago
    A MASTERPIECE This book is fantastic, amazing and masterful. I knew it would be a favorite before I was half way through it, yet it isn’t for everyone. Some may be offended by the profanity of a low born knight and the indecency of evil. Selecting a genre beyond fantasy is elusive as it has elements of horror, thriller, and historical fiction. What it doesn’t have is a boring chapter. The setting is France, particularly the Midi, in 1348 amid the horrors of plague, famine, brigandry and the forces of evil. The masterly woven plot involves a quest by a young orphan of the plague, a lordless, excommunicate, landless knight turned brigand, and a carnal priest who is overly fond of wine. The camaraderie between these protagonists is often hilarious and sometimes touching. This book touches on a multitude of concepts to include the nature of good and evil, sin, and forgiveness. I can’t think of another book with which to compare it. Perhaps if Joe Abercrombie or Mark Lawrence or Glen Cook, Preston and Lincoln, James Rollins, and Michael Crichton had collaborated, they would have come up with something like this.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This wonderful book by Christopher Buehlman is part fairy tale, part fantasy, part horror and part historical fiction. These individual parts blend to create a fulfilling whole in his Cantebury-an story of a fallen knight and spiritually lost priest who journey across France during the plague-ridden middle ages with an orphaned girl who's either an exceptionally special individual, a weird witch, or a gift (literally) from the heavens. The emotional plot and backdrop is a beautifully diverse french countryside, absolutely decimated, both mentally and physically, by the Black Death. Humanity has been abused and tortured so completely and without relief that the very reasonable question of "is there a god, and if so, why is this allowed to happen?" rests on the lips of all but a few of the most hearty of souls. The three travel across France to follow the girl's very singular vision that she must get to Avignon, seat of the Pope during the years the papacy was moved from Rome. Their travels provide Buehleman the momentum and opportunity to build his narrative through flashback-propelled backstory. They also face trials that range from the supernatural and celestial to the physical and emotional, which build the plot, relationships, and put flesh on the bone of each character. Redemption and renewal, faith and love are all key themes throughout "Two Fires". The struggles that orbit these themes are not always obvious, and while sometimes dealt with metaphysically, they're often enlarged, and as real as any armored first to the jaw. A beautiful, horrible and significant battle scene brings their journey to Avignon to an end: good v. evil, demon v. angel, dark v. light. Buehlman paints this scene with audacious characterizations of demons, and brightly colorful descriptions of angels. Within the context of the larger journey of discovery, the scene is realistic, and affecting. Imagine a demon transformer made from the remains of the dead; imagine something more than your typical Hollywood ending. I intensely enjoyed "Between Two Fires". The story is built uniquely, and falls just outside of any easily characterized genre. It crosses categories and does so successfully. The historical details are rich and authentic, the plot is thouroughly developed and tautly paced, and the characters evoke understanding and empathy. Epic, emotional, and exciting - I strongly recommend "Between Two Fires".
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I decided to read this book because I loved Those Across the River and this book was every bit as good, if not better. There is not one dull moment in this story filled with action, horror, lust, redemtion, while occasionally punctuated by parts that are genuinely funny. I was sad to finish it!
    Austin_Zook More than 1 year ago
    I decided to pick this book up after giving the summary on the dust jacket a brief once-over and being intrigued by the premise. I'm passionate about this time period in history -- the plague is something I find infinitely interesting -- and I'm a sucker for well-written fiction, although suspense/horror have never really been my cup of tea. After this novel, I may give them another chance, especially if Buehlman is the author. It's got a lightning pace, is genuinely frightening -- it doesn't just scare you in the moment, some of the descriptions will haunt you as you attempt to fall asleep. There's a section where statues are being possessed and stalking Paris at night that gave me trouble being by myself earlier this evening. Interesting take on the plague, this horror novel with elements of fantasy, historical, and religious genres thrown in is definitely worth the money you pay for it and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a wild ride through medieval Europe, a good fright, or an all around good time.
    Anonymous 7 days ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Unique and compelling and refreshing.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am absolutely in LOVE with this book! I've actually had the pleasure of meeting this fine author in person and I am so so glad he was able to recommend his book to me. I haven't read anything like this before, and I have read a lot! It captured my attention and I could barely stand to put the book down. There was no part of this novel that I found boring and it had so many different aspects, it is a melting pot of emotions. I couldn't recommend anything better!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A good read. The battle between good and evil, and the portrayal of human nature all squeezed in rhis book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book from start to finish! Loved the characters, their adventures, their attitudes and the ending was perfect!! Highly Recommend!! <3
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago