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A Star Shall Fall [Paperback]

Marie Brennan

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Price: 10.82 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 Oct 2010
The Royal Society of London plays home to the greatest minds of England. It has revolutionized philosophy and scientific knowledge. Its fellows map out the laws of the natural world, disproving ancient superstition and ushering in an age of enlightenment. To the fae of the Onyx Court, living in a secret city below London, these scientific developments are less than welcome. It is now 1757 and magic is losing its place in the world. Science threatens to expose the fae s hidden city to hostile eyes.In 1666, a Great Fire burned four-fifths of London to the ground. The calamity was caused by a great Dragon an elemental beast of flame. Incapable of destroying something so powerful, the fae of London banished it to a comet moments before the comet s light disappeared from the sky. Now the calculations of Sir Edmond Halley have predicted its return in 1759.So begins their race against time. Soon the Dragon s gaze will fall upon London and it will return to the city it ravaged once before. The fae will have to answer the question that defeated them a century before: How can they kill a being more powerful than all their magic combined? It will take both magic and science to save London but reconciling the two carries its own danger...

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"Stunningly conceived and exquisitely achieved....With intriguing flashbacks to historical events and a cast of deftly drawn characters both real and imagined, Brennan fleshes out the primal conflict of love and honor pitted against raging ambition and lust for power in a glittering age when mortals could well be such fools as to sell their souls forever."--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review) on "Midnight Never Come""You will swallow this book whole, wishing that it would never end. Brennan is a bright new voice in fantasy fiction, and In Ashes Lie is her best effort yet."--"Sacramento Book Review""Brennan has created a fascinating hidden underworld beneath London, and it's enhanced by prose that has an elegance perfect for historical fantasy."--"Romantic Times" on "In Ashes Lie"

About the Author

MARIE BRENNAN is an anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for material. Her short stories have appeared in more than a dozen print and online publications.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "the measured dance of stars" 31 Aug 2010
By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) - Published on Amazon.com
"From the celestial heights the arbitrary acts of life seem patterned like a fairy-tale landscape, populated by charming and eccentric figures. The glittering observers require vital doses of joy and pain, sudden reversals of fortune, dire portents and untimely deaths. Life itself proceeds in its unpredictable infinite patterns -- so unlike the measured dance of stars -- until, for the satisfaction of their entertainment, the watchers choose a point at which to stop."

That's a quote from Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint, but I kept thinking of it while reading A Star Shall Fall. It's part of the nature of the ONYX COURT series that the books are tightly focused on specific points in time. Marie Brennan zooms in on her characters as a pivotal period begins, follows them until that situation is resolved, and then zooms back out, leaving only tantalizing glimpses of what happens in the spaces between books. Inevitably, this leaves me wanting more of some of the characters: I still wish we'd seen more of Michael Deven, for example, and Lune the way she was with him (before he died and she closed off her heart forever); and in this volume we see some flashbacks of Jack Ellin of In Ashes Lie and wish we'd had more time to spend with him as well. There's a new character introduced in A Star Shall Fall, too, who I really wish had more page time.

A Star Shall Fall takes place between the years of 1757 and 1759. At the end of In Ashes Lie, the fae of the Onyx Court imprisoned the Dragon who destroyed most of London by fire. A few years later, the Dragon's prison began to weaken and the fae banished it to a comet. But as science advanced, it was discovered that this comet would approach Earth again and bring the vengeful Dragon with it. Lune and her court must now figure out a way to prevent the monster from destroying London and the Onyx Court when it returns. Meanwhile, dissension is brewing in the court; many disgruntled fae believe that their troubles are due to Lune no longer being "whole" because of her battle scars, and plots to overthrow her are hatching.

Brennan makes the wise decision of stepping a little away from Lune in terms of point-of-view. This enables Brennan to play a few cards close to her chest, plus there's the fact that Lune has steadily become an emotionally remote character. These books already have a certain "coolness" or "distance" about them, and narrating this one through Lune's eyes would probably exacerbate that. Instead, we focus primarily on the tomboyish sprite Dame Irrith and on the current Prince of the Stone, Galen St. Clair. Irrith snoops into the doings of the rebels against the Queen and starts to wonder whether some of their theories might be correct. Galen has an unrequited love for the Queen but is being pressured to marry by his father. The two of them eventually become allies and more.

As in the two previous installments, the plot of A Star Shall Fall builds slowly. The characters are racing against time, but their path to a solution involves many conversations, debates, spying missions, and so on. The prose is elegant, and I found it especially beautiful in the All Hallows' Eve scene.

Marie Brennan does a good job of portraying the time period in which the novel is set. She works that time period's science into the plot in clever ways; several theories that have since been debunked are presented as true, or partially true, or true-but-only-in-Faerie, in the world of the novel. The characters, too, are products of their time. Sometimes they express opinions that will sit uncomfortably with readers. Brennan doesn't write modern characters dressed up in period costumes, and I appreciate this even when it leads to a few moments of unease.

The final scenes are moving; as always, Brennan drops the reserve at the climactic point and lets emotion shine through. The way everything works out is well-thought-out, unexpected, and affecting. Particularly haunting is the scene in which we finally find out what became of the man who was Prince of the Stone before Galen; talk about the stuff of nightmares!

A Star Shall Fall is a well-written novel and a good addition to the series. I recommend it to fans of historical fantasy.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great historical fantasy 3 Sep 2010
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Almost a hundred years ago back in 1666, the Fae and all of London were threatened by the great Dragon Spirit of Fire. However, by 1682 the Fae successfully deported the lethal beast inside its home of what was soon to be named Halley's Comet, but not before the Great Fire of 1666 destroyed much of the city above and beneath the ground (see Midnight Never Come).

In 1705 at Gresham College, predictions of Halley's Comet retuning in 1758 stun the astronomers who though the Great Dragon Spirit of Fire from the sky was gone. In 1758, the Fae astronomers of Onyx Court inform their leader Lune that the lethal dragon is definitely returning as the comet along with its hitchhiker is coming back. Ailing Lune has issues within the Onyx Court as challenges to his rule have surfaced at a time of the pending crisis with many deniers insisting no way. As the great dragon nears earth, London residents (human and fae) are in peril. The only hope for salvation resides with the Stone Prince of the Onyx Court, novice Galen St. Clair, who has no experience whatsoever in dealing with such a catastrophe especially with political enemies from within making his learning curve steeper as time runs out.

This great historical fantasy sequel moves forward in time nine decades to an age where science and math is building off the works of Newton and others. Thus a sense of historical accuracy makes this unique enlightened London seen real as the myriad of vivid descriptions will hook the audience as much as the pending dragon of doom. Marie Brennan provides a fabulous saga that will have newcomers seek the previous visit of Halley's Comet and fans looking forward to the next visit in seventy-five years.

Harriet Klausner
4.0 out of 5 stars The return of the comet may spell doom for both the faery and human parts of London 7 Jan 2014
By Michelle Boytim - Published on Amazon.com
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(3.5 stars) The third book in the Onyx Court series has the court running out of time to deal with the consequences of banishing the dragon that nearly destroyed London to Halley's comet which is now due to return in 1758. Lune's human prince, Galen, is young and is in love with her, which complicates both his human and Court life. His father is pushing him to find a wealthy wife and he is conflicted on this. Galen is also working on the scientific angle, hoping to find a solution to their problem from outside of magic. The story includes some flashbacks from the time of the prior book to the present. As things get more desperate, the Lune must make some difficult choices in order to save her Court. While as weighty and lengthy as the prior book, to me this one flowed better. This one is less from Lune's point of view, and more so from the standpoint of her prince. We also see how the progress of human society has impacted the Court, and I believe this theme will be carried through to the next one in the series.
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare treat for a college-level reader 3 Nov 2010
By E. Yeh - Published on Amazon.com
The most interesting fantasy books I've read before this are Twilight, Eragon, Harry Potter, and Seven Realms series. Fortunately or unfortunately they were for young readers. Ms. Brennen's work is quite a treat. The detailed description of London reminds me of Tolkien's work, with touch of familiarity conveyed through history. The Onyx Court series is definitely in a different class than other fairy literature (like Mercy Thompson)--it is more refreshing and unique. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the use of scientific terms because I'm have a math degree.

When I read "A Star Shall Fall", I constantly feel the sense of excitement from crossing one world to another--from mortal to magical. Many readers of Twilight and Harry Potter feel that the first books were the most irresistible. I believe that is because the first book describes the crossing of worlds from mortal to magical. However, the Onyx Court series seems to do that constantly. Galen doesn't stay in magical world for a whole year and come back to the mortal world during the summer. He pops back and forth, like a vigilante of sorts. If he were smarter I would've compared him to Batman, but I digress.

A delicious book. Read it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing happens for the majority of it 4 April 2012
By Rigmarole - Published on Amazon.com
As a whole, there's a great story in this book full of fantasy, science, love, betrayal, and sacrifice. But it takes FOREVER to get into any of it, and I got bored with a lot of the chapters. I ended up only reading the dialogue because that was the only time anything was happening, and it still got the story across. Another review compared this style to Tolkein with all the descriptions, but somehow I wasn't as invested in wanting to know the details of every room. In Tolkein's? Yes, there are a lot of descriptions. But it was like I was experiencing every morsel of the world I wanted, whereas this story dwelled on characteristics and features that I had little or no interest in. Read it if you like the series and slow drama; don't read it if you're looking for action and a tremendous adventure.
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