To Reign In Hell, book review, by Kimberly Warner-Cohen

To Reign In Hell, written by Steven Brust.

To Reign In Hell holds the record for being the most borrowed book on my shelves, and a few pages in, its not hard to see why.

Quick and well-written, Brust tells the story about the angels’ revolt and events leading up to The Schism as a precursor to Paradise Lost, from Satan’s sympathetic perspective. In it, Heaven is ruled by Yahweh, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Leviathan, after they were created from “the flux”. This flux has attacked the stronghold of Heaven multiple times, and a plan is devised in which a permanent barricade can be constructed. The only way this can work puts the lesser angels’ lives at risk, and it is quickly revealed that these all-powerful beings aren’t quite as divine as we’ve been lead to believe.

To Reign is not, however, simply the fantasy novel it seems at first glance. Its also an intimate story of personal struggle, lies and ego. These make up the dynamics that set the story in motion and at the same time manages to do so without being moral or getting bogged down in good versus evil.

The glaring issue for me was the sudden way the book ended. Things are wrapped up, and Brust presumes the reader knows whats going to happen next, but we are still left with a feeling of being cut off too quickly. The crescendo of the novel plummets suddenly, and not only is little resolved overall, theres similar no closure in the characters individual storylines. Overall, however, Brust bites off a huge chunk and manages to chew and swallow while still penning a breezy and readable book; perfect for a long plane or train ride, where all one wants to do is be whisked away.

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