Cover image for Angel mage
Angel mage

1st ed.
Physical Description:
xxi, 536 pages : maps ; 22 cm.
Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding. More than a century has passed since she crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. She emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and determined to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara. Most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who are the key to her quest -- pawns in a scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life.


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A new fantasy masterpiece from Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Old Kingdom series.

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

It's a seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding. Four young people hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, a glory-seeking musketeer; and Dorotea, icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet but do not suspect their importance. And none of them know just how Liliath plans to use them, as mere pawns in her plan, no matter the cost to everyone else . . .

Fans of Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, and Leigh Bardugo will fall in love with Angel Mage, a feminist fantasy that takes place in an alternate European world ruled by fearsome magic and deadly passions.

* PW Best Books 2019 *

Author Notes

Garth Nix was born in Melbourne, Australia on July 19, 1963. He graduated from the University of Canberra in 1986 and worked various jobs within the publishing industry until 1994. After a stint in public relations, he returned to books and took up writing as a career. He is the author of Blood Ties, Clariel, Newt's Emerald, the Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and The Keys to the Kingdom series. In 1999, he received a Golden Duck Award for Australian Contribution to Children's Science Fiction. To Hold the Bridge was named Best Collection by the 2015 Aurealis Awards. His novella, By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers, was named Best Science Fiction Novella by the 2015 Aurealis Awards. In 2018, he won the 2017 Aurealis Award for the Best science-fiction short story.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nix (Frogkisser!) builds a Dumas-inspired world filled with angelic legions in this tremendous fantasy that follows Angel Mage Liliath, newly risen from more than a century of magical sleep and ready to reunite with the archangel of Ystara, whom she both loves and compels. Her scheme to return to Ystara depends on the presence of four friends, all 18-year-old provincials newly arrived in the neighboring capital of Sarance: a scholar and icon painter of unusual ability; a new cadet in the Queen's Musketeers; a clerk who serves the Cardinal; and a student doctor of some skill. Liliath gathers supporters among the Refusers, whose ancestors fled their native Ystara and cannot be touched by magic following an angelic disaster that cursed the population. Readers familiar with The Three Musketeers will see echoes of it here: a chance meeting among the four friends, an intrigue with some jewelry, and Liliath in the role of the mysterious female foe. A unique magical system based on angel summoning and icons, deft characterization--including male and female protagonists and LGBTQ representation--and an affectionate rendering of Dumas's style will delight teen and adult fans of swashbuckling romance. Ages 14--up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Oct.)

Horn Book Review

In a fantastical realm inspired by the seventeenth-century France of Dumas's Musketeer tales, mages use icons to channel the powers of various angels. Nineteen-year-old mage Liliath commands many angels, chief among them the Archangel Palleniel (protector of the nation of Ystara), whom she loves with frightening zeal. A tense prologue relates Ystara's fall to a supernatural epidemic and the ravenous "beastlings" its victims became. Now, more than one hundred years later, Liliath awakens from a magical sleep to find Palleniel weakened and reviled as the "plague bringer"; those with Ystaran heritage are the underclass of society. Liliath's meticulous and calculating plot to return Palleniel to full power hinges upon four seemingly ordinary young people-medical student Simeon, Queen's Musketeer Agnez, Cardinal's clerk Henri, and apprentice icon-maker Dorotea-whose meeting and eventual expedition to Ystara she engineers. With their complementary personalities and easy affection, the four friends are an endearing, sibling-like group; Liliath, "ferociously single-minded," makes a fascinating antagonist. Understandably, it takes some time to introduce five fully realized main characters and their richly detailed world, but the pace picks up with plenty of court intrigue, beastling attacks, witty banter, and the posturing of rival military factions. In addition to its fantastical elements, Nix's setting is characterized by welcome gender equality, orientation inclusivity, and racial diversity. Katie Bircher November/December 2019 p.94(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

The book begins with the gruesome fall of Ystara. Liliath has led this ill-conceived venture, and now her hopes of uniting with her love, Palleniel, the kingdom's archangel, have been thwarted. Not to worry: a hundred-plus-year sleep gives Liliath a break, and when she arises from her sarcophagus, as lovely as ever, she's ready with a new plan. Part of that involves four young adults, Agnez, a musketeer-in-training; Simeon, a young doctor; upwardly mobile Henri; and the dreamy Dorotea, whose skill in creating angelic icons is of great interest to Liliath, whose ability to summon angels makes her almost invincible. Though the story line gets murky at times, it takes a backseat to the vivid characters, who jump off the pages. Each of the young people has his or her own interesting back stories, and their growing relationships, as they try to figure out just how they are connected, steals the show. But there are plenty of embellishments that enhance the more personal aspects of the story: scary beastlings, brutal battles, and the harnessed power of angelic magic. Liliath's machinations, not completely revealed until the end, also keep pages turning. And kudos to fantasy stalwart Nix for a story with gender and racial equality, a fact that is shown but not discussed, because it shouldn't have to be.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2010 Booklist

Bookseller Publisher Review

Recently in fantasy there has been a move away from medieval Europe settings. One of the most popular examples of this is the 17th-century-Europe-inspired `Flintlock Fantasy', though it owes as much to Alexandre Dumas and adventure movies as it does to history. With Angel Mage, Garth Nix throws his plumed hat into the ring with an adventure featuring musketeers, magic, monsters and angels. Actually, angels are the magic, with each of the vast heavenly hosts possessing powers according to rank. Most people can call on one or two of the lower angels for help with minor things, but very few can command the service of the greater ones. Four young people-a student doctor, an artist, a clerk and a cadet musketeer-are connected to each other and to a century-old disaster in ways they don't understand. One hundred years ago the land of Ystara fell, most of its people killed or turned into misshapen beasts. The Refusers, descended from those few who escaped, are cursed so that the gifts of angelic magic bring them only death or transformation. Unbeknown to them, these four people will be instrumental in revealing the truth of the mystery of Ystara and perhaps even more. Angel Mage is a wonderful standalone book with a diverse, inclusive cast for teen readers and anyone who loves adventure. Stefen Brazulaitis is the owner of Stefen's Books in Perth

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--One-hundred-thirty-seven years have passed since the land of Ystara fell to beastlings and the ash blood plague. Now the infamous mage Liliath has woken from a deep slumber, determined to rally the ancestors of Ystara and summon the archangel Palleniel. In order to do so, she will murder and seduce her way into the Queen's court even while she gathers the four individuals necessary for Palleniel's summoning: the tall, serious medical student Simeon, the dreamy artist and icon-maker Dorotea, the quick-tempered Musketeer Agnez, and the treasure-enamored clerk Henri. Together the four must use every talent at their disposal to avoid being drawn too deep into Liliath's deadly plot. Dedicated to Alexander Dumas and 1970's musketeer films, this novel is set in a world both familiar and enjoyably unique, featuring political intrigue and swordplay combined with extensive fantasy lore and a complicated angelic magic system. Nix has included strong female characters and a no-nonsense approach to sexuality. Unfortunately, the author's efforts to flesh out the world and its many characters sacrifices plot progression for exposition. However, readers willing to plod through the first third of the book will be rewarded with a quickened pace. VERDICT Though occasionally marred by pacing issues, this is a very interesting novel. Recommended for high school libraries and for readers looking for fantasy with a historical literary flair.--Lara Goldstein, Orange County Public Libraries, NC

Kirkus Review

In Nix's (Let Sleeping Dragons Lie, 2018, etc.) latest, a cruel and power-hungry angelic mage, set on reuniting with her Archangel lover, sets her sights on four very special teens.In this fantasy world, humans use icons to call on angelic assistance for tasks ranging from trivial to life altering. Almost 140 years ago, Liliath, a renowned icon maker and preternaturally skilled angelic mage, unleashed the Ash Blood plague, which transformed its victims into horrific beastlings, upon Ystara. Now she has awakened and seeks to use four young men and women to meet her goal: Agnez Descaray, a cadet in the Queen's Musketeers; budding doctor Simeon MacNeel; Cardinal's clerk Henri Dupallidin; and Dorotea Imsel, a uniquely talented icon maker. The friendships they forge may be the key to stopping Liliath. Nix's complex system of angelic magic, and the toll it takes, is fascinating, and he weaves an exciting adventure full of intrigue and action while portraying women in power in a refreshingly casual way. Agnez, full of swagger, biting wit, and an often troublesome eagerness to duel at every opportunity, is a joy, and the obsessed Liliath is heedless of the death and destruction she brings about. Liliath, Simon, Agnez, and Dorotea, along with many of the most powerful characters, have brown or black skin, Henri is pale, and there is a wide variety of skin tones throughout the cast.An original and gripping adventure. (hierarchy of angels, maps) (Fantasy. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.