Review – Angel Mage by Garth Nix

I love Garth Nix’ writing adn when this book showed up on my NetGalley feed I did not think twice about requesting it.

This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Gollancz in return for an honest review. Thank you!

Angel Mage

by Garth Nix

Synopsis by NetGalley / GoodReads

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . . 

My Opinion


  • strong women
  • creative magic system


This book drew me in. I was only going to check how it was written and before I knew it I had finished the prologue…

I liked how a lot of these people were strong independent women. Nix has a long record of writing good strong women characters and this book didn’t disappoint there either in comparison to other male authors. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of PoC in this book! Yay Go Garth!

The Story

The story doesn’t feel like a directly straight forward story, especially in the beginning. It starts back in the day and sets the scene for the history and the past of the book. Then the rest of the book is divided into 5 parts. The first part introduced Liliath. Automatically with a name like that I guessed villain, having read the book, I’m still not sure about this. It introduces the world and her plans for it. Then in part 2, another four characters are introduced and the following parts slowly force them together. The author writes in a way where you keep thinking they will meet on the next page, when it only happens a few chapters later.

In the end, it all comes together and everything makes sense. though I still have a few questions about the whole thing.

World Building

The world-building isn’t that heavy and there isn’t a set block of it which is nice. The book is more focused on informing us of how the magic works which I very much enjoyed though that isn’t heavy either. It’s well done and smooth, but at the same time, the world doesn’t feel too big, but big enough for all these people and all this drama. There are hinted at other countries which makes everything feel bigger as well as the focus being on countries and not cities.

Magic System

It’s very interesting and original with the idea of religious icons being the source of magic. The icon is of angels and there is a hierarchy of angels and everything. The higher up the angel is on the hierarchy the stronger it is and the more energy it takes from the summoner.

I always like it when there is a side effect of the magic. It makes it a bit more challenging and more defined. In Angel Mage, the side effect of magic is premature ageing. The more you summon and/or the higher the angle you summon the earlier you age. So fascinating!

Great magic system!


The most interesting things about the characters are that they initially fall into a stereotype, but you later realise they don’t fit that well into that stereotype after all. They grow on you. Again well done Nix for making this effect.

Liliath – having a name like that makes me think she is the villain. Her badass attitude and cruel twist of the mouth again make me think she is evil. But I’m not sure.

Simeon – the medical student and one of “the Four”. The quiet giant who heals people. Though he speaks regularly and even though he is kind all his actions aren’t controlled by this fact.

Agnez – the Musketeer apprentice and one of “the Four”. She is a badass. She is good with the sword, her fist, her sharp tongue and her drinking abilities. But she has morals and constraint which the stereotype lacks. I like her very much, but I don’t think we could be friends. She would have been too much.

Henri – the clerk who is good with numbers and one of “the Four”. He is good at his job, but is too keen on treasures.

Dorothea – icon-maker student with a special talent and one of “the Four”. She is whimsical and dreamy and I really liked her. To break the stereotype she is strong and intelligent as well.

There are more side characters some more interesting than others but all complex and interesting people.


Yes but not straight out. It is a wonderful society where anyone can bed anyone really. There is no straight or gay or bi, there are just people. It was well done and I very much enjoyed the freedom of this subject in this book.


I’ve always enjoyed Garth Nix’s writing and this book is of no exception. It flows easily. Even though it has several narrators, it’s easy to know when the narration has changed.


This was a joy to read. It’s complex but easy, it’s intricate and fascinating. The writing is easy to read but not simple.

It’s inclusive, diverse and refreshingly open and de-labeled.

It’s magical and powerful, it’s got drama and action. It doesn’t focus so much on romance which was great and gave me room to breathe.

I have re-discovered my love for Garth Nix’ writing and story-telling.

Have you read this? What did you think?

4 thoughts on “Review – Angel Mage by Garth Nix

  1. Very much looking forward to this one. It’s interesting to see your thoughts on the characters, hope that I can get into them because that’s always number one for me. Still have high hopes, glad you liked this one!

    Liked by 1 person

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