You have to admire the audacity of author K. J. Parker if only for the high concept of his newest book, Pulling the Wings Off Angels. Put simply, the book is about a man figuring out a way to fight against God and win.  That he manages to make the book work, make it plausible and a page turner and even funny here and there, is amazing and impressive.

For such a short book, it packs quite a wallop. 

Our protagonist is a hapless theology student who has gotten himself in debt to the wrong people.  Specifically, he owes a lot of money to a crime boss by the name of Florio who, in addition to being a ruthless crime boss who has no compunctions about punishing delinquent debtors by removing body parts, also happens to be very interested in theology, a deeply devout believer.  Our protagonist, who is not at all devout, is willing to do anything to keep Florio from keeping his promises of vengeance, so he agrees to find Florio an angel. A specific angel, in fact, which, legend has it, has been imprisoned by our protagonist’s grandfather.  

The legend turns out to be true, and it turns out that Saloninus, the smartest man who ever lived, is behind it.  Saloninus, who seems to have lived an extraordinarily long time, figured out how to create a space that is invisible to God, and, through complicated means, managed to lure an angel into there for our protagonist’s grandfather to trap.

I won’t even try to explain the rest of the plot, which twists and turns and hinges on questions of faith and redemption, justice and mercy and exactly what Saloninus had in mind when he first trapped the grandfather into the whole mess.  Saloninus has a beef with God and basically wants to take God down, and he doesn’t care who he uses to do that or what’s going to happen if he succeeds.

I finished the book, appreciating the tone and the characters and feeling an odd familiarity with the style. I discovered, reading the author’s note in the back of the book, that this author also writes under the name of Tom Holt, and it all made sense: I’ve read and enjoyed many of his Tom Holt books, so why wouldn’t I love this one as well?

It’s a fun read, if you’re into quirky and philosophical, and it’s a novella, so you can knock it off quickly.  Give yourself a different kind of reading experience with Pulling the Wings Off Angels.


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