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Ashes and Angel Wings: Trilogy of the Fallen #1
Greg Stolze
White Wolf, 283 pages

Ashes and Angel Wings
Greg Stolze
Greg Stolze is the author of the Trilogy of the Fallen, the fiction series inspired by Demon: The Fallen. His writing has also appeared in such game lines as Hunter: The Reckoning.

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A review by Nathan Brazil

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'When Boyer walked in, Hasmed stood and shook his hand. They exchanged a long, cool look.

Boyer wasn't a big man. He was medium-tall, he was skinny, but he somehow gave the impression of being more vivid than other men. He was like a giant, tightly wound down to a smaller size and ready to burst if touched. He had the eyes of a rabid dog.'

Once in a while I find a novel that hints at being quite an interesting read, and turns out to be much better. Ashes and Angels is a cinematically written mad dash, rather like an episode of The Sopranos though a drug haze, but also including supernatural characters based on the angels and demons of Biblical lore. The mix is one of psychopathic violence, which is never mindless, Mafia culture, and snappy dialogue presented in a New Jersey accent. The anti-hero is one Harvey Ciullo, a born loser who gets into a potentially fatal jam with the local Mob enforcer. Things look terminal, especially when Harv has his brains blown out, but then his death attracts the attention of Hasmed, a fallen angel recently freed from Hell.

Although not yet a household name, Greg Stolze is as fine a writer as anyone in this genre, and arguably better than most. Instead of trudging along the safe, formulaic routes plied by many fantasy novelists, he chooses to write using delightfully murky invention around an unusual depth of characterisation. All titles from this publisher are written in support of and based around existing products, but this is no handicap to Stolze, who still manages to make the story seem like it is one hundred percent his own.

Throughout, we're treated to the grimy spectacle of sociopaths preying on one another, occasionally with a level of described violence which is sufficient to induce a shudder. The ingenuity Stolze employs when depicting how his angelic and demonic characters interact with our world is never less than enticing. In the manner of a car wreck, we all know we shouldn't stop and stare, but it's so hard to look away.

The Fallen come across as much more than powerful humanoids. These are creatures crafted in such a way as to convince readers that they were old when humankind was newborn, and they have an agenda to match. The supernatural characters move like stilettos among those who are wholly human though often inhumane. Without ever climbing into a pulpit Stolze creates an evocative exposition on the nature of evil.

Ashes and Angel Wings is the first in a trilogy which really shows how well this kind of thing can be done. The level of violence won't be everyone's cup of tea, but when things happen it always feels like a necessary part of the plot, not just the gratuitous gore used by authors with less imagination. The sole negative is a technicality of the printing process. According to the publishers, most White Wolf novels run to around 288 pages, a standard length which helps them to keep costs down. The word count of Ashes and Angel Wings meant that it ran a little longer, and was compounded by the use of a different typeface than that normally used. The end result is a smaller type-set, which can be hard on the eyes after a while. However, this minor difficulty aside, it's still a book that I didn't want to put down.

If you fancy something that will make you smile and squirm on the same page, give it a go.

Copyright © 2005 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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