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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great new urban legend has been created. Meet Raymond Lilly.
Raymond Lilly doesn't know what his final destination is going to be but he does know that when he gets there, when he finishes the job his boss has for him to do, then he is going to die. His boss, the sorceress Annalise Powliss, would kill him right now but she's probably been told by the Twenty Palace Society that she can't, yet. Annalise's mission is to find workers...
Published on 22 Oct 2009 by J. Lesley

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fire and predators
Most urban fantasy has two things:
1. A female protagonist, usually in her mid-twenties (max) and with an arsenal of weapons and magical superpowers.
2. Lots of extremely cliched politics/romance with vampires and werewolves. Maybe fairies.

And having been oversaturated in both, it's kind of a relief to come across "Child of Fire," Harry Connolly's...
Published on 22 May 2010 by E. A Solinas


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great new urban legend has been created. Meet Raymond Lilly., 22 Oct 2009
By 
J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Raymond Lilly doesn't know what his final destination is going to be but he does know that when he gets there, when he finishes the job his boss has for him to do, then he is going to die. His boss, the sorceress Annalise Powliss, would kill him right now but she's probably been told by the Twenty Palace Society that she can't, yet. Annalise's mission is to find workers of magic and the spell books they have as well as predators, so she can destroy them. She is extremely well equipped to do this work. Ray is just along as her driver and her "wooden man". His reason for volunteering for this mission is to try to do something to atone for his past. The magic force in Hammer Bay, Washington, is immense and volatile. Parents watch their own children being consumed by flames and yet have no memory that the child ever existed. Silver-gray worms leave scorch marks on anything they touch on their way to burrowing into the ground. Dogs that aren't actually dogs at all kill seemingly innocent victims. This town has some serious problems.

Raymond Lilly is a character to watch, and I do mean watch closely. This first episode in the new series created by Harry Connolly will keep readers of urban fantasy adventures sitting on the edge of their seat. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. This book starts off at a dead run and just keeps moving faster. There is action literally on every page as we become acquainted with Ray and the guilt he is suffering over the things he has done in his past. Just released from prison, he is completely in the dark about what is going to happen with Annalise and so is the reader. This author kept me in the dark about most of the major aspects of this story and yet the action taking place was so riveting that I think I forgive him for that. The book is very obviously part of a series. There are absolutely no explanations given concerning what the Twenty Palace Society is. Nothing. Not who makes it up, how it works, what it does. Nothing. There are huge holes left in the history of both Ray and Annalise. I have a mental picture of Annalise but can't come up with anything about Ray. Except for the tattoos, but then, the tattoos aren't just your average tattoo anyway. Definitely things which I wanted to know but which are destined to be revealed in another thrilling adventure. The story has an ending of sorts but not one I would usually allow an author to get away with. All of these things make me begin the countdown to when book two in the series will be released. I don't know when exactly, but I do know that I'm already waiting.

This book receives a very high recommendation from me. I would have liked more detail about what happened in Ray's past. I wish Annalise had talked to Ray more about what she was planning to do and why. I would have liked more information (or even SOME information) about the Twenty Palace Society. I wish the author had chosen a different age group for the victims of the magic. All of these things may sound like negatives and I suppose in some respects they are, but they also show my involvement in this book and my willingness to accept the author's story. I'm waiting impatiently for book two in this fascinating new series. It is almost impossible to believe that this book was written by a debut author.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and entertaining, 22 Oct 2009
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
An entertaining but unusual story this. It unravels bit by bit but still keeps some things from you even after you have finished.

Ex-con ends up as a lackey for a Sorceress (possibly, it's never made very clear) who is part of the "Twenty Palace Society" a group that hunt down and eliminate anyone using unauthorised magic. This is Dark Fantasy at it's best, very little is black or white and nearly everything sits in the grey area in-between. Even our lead characters and the Twenty Palace Society, we assume they are sort of the good guys, but are never sure if they are or if they are just a nicer shade of bad!

Our ex-con Ray works with Annalise who is a nasty piece of work and (for reasons that will only partly be explained) hates Ray and is quite happy to sacrifice him if the job requires it. No nice cosy characters here.

So, this irritable and ill matched duo are despatched to track down a small town with a too popular toy factory and a diminishing population. And what they find is not nice, is very dark and has a real menace about it.

A first time and very accomplished novel, obviously the first in a promising series. I picked this up for a quick read and enjoyed it far more then I thought I would, partly because it chooses not to lay everything in front of you and become stock fare for these kind of books. It has a real pace about it, a refreshing approach and cast and let's not forget that vein of menace that creeps through much of the book. Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fire and predators, 22 May 2010
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Most urban fantasy has two things:
1. A female protagonist, usually in her mid-twenties (max) and with an arsenal of weapons and magical superpowers.
2. Lots of extremely cliched politics/romance with vampires and werewolves. Maybe fairies.

And having been oversaturated in both, it's kind of a relief to come across "Child of Fire," Harry Connolly's dark, often gory urban fantasy -- think the Dresden Files by way of H.P. Lovecraft. Connolly still has some freshman errors to correct, but his prose and characters have a vibrancy and unique quality that are very stirring.

Children in the town of Hammer Bay are bursting into flame, deteriorating into silver worms, and immediately being forgotten by everybody around them. Ray Lilly and his hostile partner Annalise are sent in to find the magical predator who is causing this trouble, but they soon discover that the people of Hammer Bay don't like people who ask weird questions -- especially about its reigning family, who owns a toymaking company.

And after Ray and Annalise confront the rich toymaker who runs the town, Annalise suffers a devastating injury that leaves Ray having do the investigation on his own. As even more kids vanish, Ray has to deal with a corrupt police force (who have some supernatural powers of his own) and an unseen predator that rules the entire town...

"Child of Fire" is definitely a first novel, and Connolly is still working out his writing kinks. Some parts of the plot are not fully articulated (just what IS the Twenty Palaces Society and how does it work?!), and some are kind of repetitive (how many times can Ray be attacked by a gang of thugs, just so he can beat them up and blow them off?).

But despite those flaws, "Child of Fire" is powerful. Connolly's prose is full of snappy dialogue ("My doctor's signature. I copy it when I'm forging a prescription"), blood'n'gore, and emotionally-charged, evocative descriptions (the children turning into worms). And he crafts a very unique urban fantasy mythos -- there are werewolves and mentions of vampires, but the main focus is on Lovecraftian predators from the Empty Spaces. Think flaming wheels, vast singing boulders, and the like -- and all so alien we can't even comprehend what they want.

And Ray is a rather unique fantasy-noir anti-hero -- he's an ex-con with a nasty past, but he also has a soft spot for children and innocent small-town people. And it ought to be interesting to see what caused the rift between him and Annalise. Speaking of which, Annalise is also a fascinating character, a cold and callous woman whose near-invulnerable body seems to have made her something other than human.

"Child of Fire" has some flaws, mostly stemming from Harry Connolly's newbie status, but the Twenty Palaces series has loads of promise and haunting writing. Worth a good solid look.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 23 May 2014
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I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad to come across another great author writing in the Urban Fantasy genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book, 19 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Brought for a birthday present, receiver was very pleased with it. Nothing else that I need to say on the subject
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first in a great series, 8 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
I truly recommend this to any Jim Butcher fan out there. Give this series and it's hero some time and attention, you won't regret it.
The Twenty Palaces series is grittier and more violent than Butcher's Dresden series, but just as entertaining.
A great read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magic - its mostly bad for you., 19 Jan 2012
By 
D. J. Ketchin "living in books" (Edinburgh Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Magic is bad. very bad. Mostly it'll kill you. Sometimes It'll kill your family and leave you forgetting they ever existed.
More rarely it is useable as a spell , but then it attracts attention from the predators of the empty spaces or worse from Raymond Lilly and his boss Analise.

Raymond is a gopher for the now only slightly human sorceress Analise. Her job and that of most sorcerors, to track down, contain and destroy spellbooks. Why - because every spell draws unhealthy attention to earth from the malign or just mindless powers of the unseen spaces. And it doesnt help that sorcerors are jealous of their magic too.

Raymond made the cardinal mistake of learing a spell and then getting caught. Now its work as a spell hunter - or end up killed by them. He's a wonderfully out of his depth excon with a single spell whos trapped between extradimensional horrors and a boss who all seem to want him killed.

Immensely enjoyable , desperately serious , blisteringy dark take on lovecrafts 'from beyond'. Any fan of Harry Dresden or of Charles Stross's laundry books will love this. The two main characters Raymond and Analise are both fascinating. The lack of traditional magic and fantasy elements leaves you intrigued as to what the next page will bring. Given the modern take on lovecraft its normally nothing good.

Fabulous first book. Couldnt put it down, had to read it to the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So good, I bought the sequels..., 3 Sep 2011
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Okay, if you don't like anything fantastical or supernatural, my advice would be to look away now. But you'll be missing good reads. Your loss.

There's no vampires, werewolves or angels in these books, although there is quite a lot of magic. I read it right after finishing one of Charles Stross's Laundry books and it seemed to fit right in.
Ray Lilly is a recently released, ex-con with interesting tattoos that protect him from a lot of violent things - and some magic. His boss, Annalise, is part of a consortium doing its level best to project the rest of the world from rampant, uncontrolled magic and Ray is just supposed to be the driver. And, if he steps out of line, she's going to kill him.

Magic is dangerous and every time they turn around some moron's found a spell book and is creating more havoc. The numpties are forever summoning strange creatures from neighbouring universes whose sole purpose is to consume the denizens of our planet - it appears we're quite tasty...

I really enjoyed <em>Child of Fire</em> - it's a good read for me, as I like fast-paced thrillers a lot and the premise of this one was definitely interesting. It's got great characters and a spooky town that is like the <em>Stepford Wives</em> multiplied by 100!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 27 Jun 2011
By 
C. J. Dyer "bigears" (leeds) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
I really enjoyed this novel and can imagine reading a lot more about the characters in future installments. The plot is highly entertaining with interesting concepts. The pace of the book smooth. I do not want to spoil anyones fun revealing the plot but I will reveal that it is a novel that revolves around modern of magic, with interesting adult themes and vivid descriptions of magic in action.

If you enjoy the idea of modern wizardary and want something stronger than Harry Potter this is a good alternative.I would highly recommend THE DRESDEN FILES, if you have not encountered them before.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Child of Fire (20 Palaces V1), 27 April 2011
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This review is from: Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
This book was recommended to me by Charles Stross (yes the author) on the basis that I enjoyed his "Laundry" series. I'd endorse this as a reason for buying this series.

There are similarities, like both series being set in contemporary Worlds where "magic" in some form works. There are differences too, like the Laundry being part of the UK Civil Service, and 20 Palaces being extra-governmental (I think), which has effects on how the main protagonists interact with each other, and with their controls.
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Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel
Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel by Connolly Harry (Mass Market Paperback - 29 Sep 2009)
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