To Reign in Hell

Written by: Steven Brust, Roger Zelazny

To Reign in Hell Book Cover
The time is the Beginning. The place is Heaven. The story is the Revolt of the Angels—a war of magic, corruption and intrigue that could destroy the universe.
To Reign in Hell was Stephen Brust's second novel, and it's a thrilling retelling of the revolt of the angels, through the lens of epic fantasy.
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To Reign in Hell Reviews

Max Wellenstein
One of my all-time favorite books, To Reign in Hell is an incredible work of imagination and wit.
Krom
Brust's telling of The Fall From Heaven, or just "The Fall" for those who dwell on this topic a lot, is an ambitious undertaking. It's a subject that has been tread upon by so many others that to even "go there" takes courage. However, "To Reign In Hell" failed to impress the way some of his other works have.

Unfortunately, the plot hinges on multiple misunderstandings, chiefly between Satan and Yaweh, that continue to cascade upon each other, leading to the end we all know is coming. The bigges Brust's telling of The Fall From Heaven, or just "The Fall" for those who dwell on this topic a lot, is an ambitious undertaking. It's a subject that has been tread upon by so many others that to even "go there" takes courage. However, "To Reign In Hell" failed to impress the way some of his other works have.

Unfortunately, the plot hinges on multiple misunderstandings, chiefly between Satan and Yaweh, that continue to cascade upon each other, leading to the end we all know is coming. The biggest strike against the book is that there were two points at the story though were three spoken words by a character could have cleared up the great misunderstandings that were devleoping, and the fact those words went unspoken seemed contrived. Given Brust chose to portray Satan as an open-minded intellectual willing to see both sides of a coin to the bitter end - in fact one almost wondered how much of Brust himself was projected into that role - there weren't many options left to cause a group of people who engaged in group hugs willy nilly to come to each other's throats. And it was a bit frustrating to watch "Satan the Nice Guy" become "Satan the Pussy" before he finally got some spine and became the "Yaweh-can-kiss-my-ass Satan". I also would have liked to seen Raphael and Michael developed more as actual characters since they played such a pivotal role.

With that said, what's to like? Brust's dialogue, as ever. Especially Beelzebub, portrayed as a smart-talking, quick-witted dog whose interplay with Mephostopheles always delighted. In fact, it was the cast of "bad guys" that came to life the most and whose fate kept me turning pages. If one watches carefully, it's easy to see how Lucifer, Lilith, and Asmodius might have been the "original trio" that inspired the troupes in the Khaavren Romances. If you enjoyed those books, there's definitely something here for you.

The "Satan's the Good Guy" ending is predictable. However, one has to concede it's possible someone will get to end of this book and maybe, just maybe, ask questions they wouldn't have before. Beyond that, I'd recommend quite a few other books by Brust ahead of this one, and for anyone reading this who is discovering Brust for the first time, go check out the Khaavren Romances.
Fred
This was far from the best book that I've ever read and I'm a little disappointed that there was so much hype over it. It really seems like everyone must have been excited for the concept of the book alone and maybe for some people that was enough to carry them through and leave them impressed when they are done. Not me though. I will admit that the concept and the premise of the book was enough to get me into it, but after that, to be honest, it sucked.

The characters are flat and there is very This was far from the best book that I've ever read and I'm a little disappointed that there was so much hype over it. It really seems like everyone must have been excited for the concept of the book alone and maybe for some people that was enough to carry them through and leave them impressed when they are done. Not me though. I will admit that the concept and the premise of the book was enough to get me into it, but after that, to be honest, it sucked.

The characters are flat and there is very little distinguishing one from another. The best thing that I can say about it is that Satan turned out to be the guy I would have sided with and Yahweh was an utter douche bag. But that judgement of mine is based upon their moral arguments and their actions throughout the book, essentially as far as characters go, they may as well have been the same person. In other words, character development was lacking.

The cover and the title are also misleading. Hell is not mentioned once in the entire book unless it's in the little quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The whole book but for the last twenty pages or so takes place in Heaven and in that last twenty pages both "Hell" and the Earth are created. It isn't called "Hell" though. When Michael refers to the place where Satan and his followers have gone in conversation with Yahweh, he says something similar to "They've created their own Heaven."

I don't know, really I was just disappointed with the whole thing. Don't pay more than $4.99 USD for this book. Get it at the library or a used bookstore. I made the mistake to pay cover price for this since it wasn't available as an ebook and I'm kicking myself in the ass now.
Yendi :: Issola :: The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology :: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul :: The Reverse of the Medal
Matt Larkin
Stephen Brust is best known for the novels of Vlad Taltos. I've heard lots of good things about them, and always meant to read them. But it was an unrelated book of his, To Reign in Hell, that drew my attention. It was described as a fantasy re-telling of the story of the War in Heaven. The story is mostly from the perspective of the fallen angels, Satan and his lot.

It's interesting because it makes most of the fallen out to be basically good people, who make poor choices, but their choices make Stephen Brust is best known for the novels of Vlad Taltos. I've heard lots of good things about them, and always meant to read them. But it was an unrelated book of his, To Reign in Hell, that drew my attention. It was described as a fantasy re-telling of the story of the War in Heaven. The story is mostly from the perspective of the fallen angels, Satan and his lot.

It's interesting because it makes most of the fallen out to be basically good people, who make poor choices, but their choices make sense given the information they have. Without spoiling the plot, I can say that Yaweh and Satan never really wanted a war, but that both kind of get forced into it. Roger Zelazny wrote the glowing forward to the novel, and to paraphrase what he said, the scope of Brust's project is extremely ambitious.

He manages to make most of the angels and their personalities distinct and understandable. Unfortunately, the one angel I couldn't really understand was Abdiel, the central manipulator of events. While eventually he gets himself into trouble and has to get himself out, the one time I really questioned the plot was why he started trouble at all. The angels, in the beginning, are totally naive, with almost no concept of fighting each other or war against anything but the formless Chaos trying to consume Heaven.

And yet Abdiel drives everyone toward strife and war without clear motivation for doing so. In a way, he's kind of a classic trickster god, I guess. He seems to revel in creating chaos, and then has to create more just to avoid to consequences of his earlier actions. Which makes him more of a mythic archetype than a character with human emotions, like most of the angels.

Because the story is so well known, it's really interesting to see an alternate take on it.
Rory Flynn
I had only read one other novel by Brust, the ambitious, but (for me) disappointing The Incrementalists. While I enjoyed the cerebral tone of the novel my disappointment comes from the lack of a more action-oriented back-story for the titular group. That being said, the premise of To Reign In Hell, certainly tickled my lapsed Catholic/atheist heart. I absolutely loved the characters (Yahweh, Satan, Lucifer, etc) and the personalities bestowed upon them by Mr. Brust. I think my favorite was Beele I had only read one other novel by Brust, the ambitious, but (for me) disappointing The Incrementalists. While I enjoyed the cerebral tone of the novel my disappointment comes from the lack of a more action-oriented back-story for the titular group. That being said, the premise of To Reign In Hell, certainly tickled my lapsed Catholic/atheist heart. I absolutely loved the characters (Yahweh, Satan, Lucifer, etc) and the personalities bestowed upon them by Mr. Brust. I think my favorite was Beelezebub, who is portrayed as Satan's dog. Not just his pet, but also his confidant and bodyguard. Oh, and he speaks in Shakespearean English, but no spoilers from me. I enjoyed the setting up of the aforementioned characters and the coming conflict as Yahweh reveals his Plan and Satan has second thoughts on his role in this Plan. I also enjoyed the final third of the novel where two sides finally engage in battle and the final reveal. I did have problems with some things. There is a single character that instigates much of the forward thrust of the plot, but Brust offers no rationale or motive. While a two-man (two-angel?)Greek chorus provided a few chuckles when first introduced and would/could have been a wonderfully comedic device floundered like a poorly told joke. A lot of Christians will take offense at some of the portrayals here (like Yawhews "first" son, but they should be well-versed in reading allegory. I gave it a 4 stars for the ambitiousness of this, his second novel and, despite my nit-picking kept me turning the pages til the end.
Carey Hanlin
Not uninteresting and definitely imaginative, but the execution was terrible. The entire narrative reads like a play because 80% of the book is fifth grade level dialogue. The lack of detail in the settings and actions of the character might have been intended to create an ethereal feel to heaven, but it really just made the characters and plot difficult to care about or relate to. At times I felt like I was reading the abridged children's version of a more complex and nuanced story. It didn't h Not uninteresting and definitely imaginative, but the execution was terrible. The entire narrative reads like a play because 80% of the book is fifth grade level dialogue. The lack of detail in the settings and actions of the character might have been intended to create an ethereal feel to heaven, but it really just made the characters and plot difficult to care about or relate to. At times I felt like I was reading the abridged children's version of a more complex and nuanced story. It didn't help that the plot - while kind of interesting - was definitely contrived. The idea of moral ambiguity in the "revolt of heaven" might have been more interesting before Wicked became a cultural phenomenon, but it turns out that the "bad guy who was just on the wrong end of a misunderstanding that grew into something bigger" trope just isn't as interesting the fifth time around. At least wicked treated it's characters as if they could likely still end up in the same situations we saw them in the source material. It's a little confounding how some of the characters in "To Reign in Hell" would've ended up in the places we read about them in the bible. I didn't hate the read by any means but just couldn't get too into it.
Gustavo Lanzas
Drawing from Milton's Paradise Lost, "To Reign In Hell" tells the story of the first-born in heaven - Yaweh, Satan, Michael, Lucifer, Belial, Raphael, and Leviathan - arising out of the substance of primordial chaos. Fighting against it, they impose order on it, and create Heaven in the process. After a respite, other waves of chaos inevitably break through their walls. But each victory expands Heaven, and increases the heavenly host, as lesser orders of angels are created by imposing order on t Drawing from Milton's Paradise Lost, "To Reign In Hell" tells the story of the first-born in heaven - Yaweh, Satan, Michael, Lucifer, Belial, Raphael, and Leviathan - arising out of the substance of primordial chaos. Fighting against it, they impose order on it, and create Heaven in the process. After a respite, other waves of chaos inevitably break through their walls. But each victory expands Heaven, and increases the heavenly host, as lesser orders of angels are created by imposing order on the stuff of chaos.

Machiavellian politics and ego cause a rift between Yaweh and Satan, which escalates to the first war in heaven.

The simplicity and power of the angels is conveyed in the sometimes-stiff dialog and narration, with the first born being more powerful, intelligent, animated, and passionate. Satan and his allies in particular are compelling characters as they are manipulated into an untenable situation.

Despite being hampered by wooden writing, and some decidedly 1970's imagery, Steven Brust's reimagining of the "rebellion in heaven" myth is excellent. Very satisfying read, especially for any fans of classic Zelazny or Silverberg.
Faine
The way Brust spins the premise of this novel is quite interesting. The best part of the story is undeniably the beginning, where the angels are united against the "flux" and working to overcome it with the Plan. Those early chapters fly by very quickly. But then the story sort of loses itself in flimsy, unbelievable misunderstandings that escalate into silliness with terrible consequences. It was a little hard to take some of the events in the ending seriously. The characters were very compelli The way Brust spins the premise of this novel is quite interesting. The best part of the story is undeniably the beginning, where the angels are united against the "flux" and working to overcome it with the Plan. Those early chapters fly by very quickly. But then the story sort of loses itself in flimsy, unbelievable misunderstandings that escalate into silliness with terrible consequences. It was a little hard to take some of the events in the ending seriously. The characters were very compelling, but hardly fleshed out enough (the plot sort of takes over), and often we get their motivations by the narrator telling us, rather than by us putting the pieces together through dialogue and action. Then there are huge, key scenes that are completely skipped over in favor of hinting that they happened, which slows down the pacing of the story at the end. Truthfully, it's a story with a strong premise, fast-paced writing, and a very engaging beginning hook, but it unfortunately falls a little flat at the end.
Cliff
I considered this book quite hesitantly because I had been told many good things about it, so there was the concern of having high expectations. Additionally, Brust's choice of topic to tackle, the War of Heaven, is a story that could use a bit of fleshing out.

And what an interesting take on it. In a way, I'm glad that I have not read Milton's Paradise Lost, because I might be inclined to draw comparisons between them or to consider one view to be more valid than another.

To Reign in Hell was a f I considered this book quite hesitantly because I had been told many good things about it, so there was the concern of having high expectations. Additionally, Brust's choice of topic to tackle, the War of Heaven, is a story that could use a bit of fleshing out.

And what an interesting take on it. In a way, I'm glad that I have not read Milton's Paradise Lost, because I might be inclined to draw comparisons between them or to consider one view to be more valid than another.

To Reign in Hell was a fairly quick read, and while it took a little bit of time until I felt truly familiar with this take on "Heaven," it was easy to stay acclimated to it.

I am reserving full marks for the book because, when you write a take on a fairly well-known story, the end result is pretty much known and you end up taking your enjoyment in the journey or in the liberties taken by the author. In fact, because it's these differences that make up the book, I will refrain from discussing the plot, for fear of spoiling anything.
Steve Steidle
I haven't enjoyed a book as I did this one in a long time. I will try to do the book justice, but if you really want a compelling review to read the book, read the foreword by Roger Zelazny. This was a weighty topic presented with human (erm...angelic?) characters that were extremely relatable with real emotions, faults and motivations. The writing was engaging, the dialog sharp, and it was surprisingly hilarious (just read the book's opening sentence: "Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes, I haven't enjoyed a book as I did this one in a long time. I will try to do the book justice, but if you really want a compelling review to read the book, read the foreword by Roger Zelazny. This was a weighty topic presented with human (erm...angelic?) characters that were extremely relatable with real emotions, faults and motivations. The writing was engaging, the dialog sharp, and it was surprisingly hilarious (just read the book's opening sentence: "Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes, swirled and spun in to and out of bright, lustrous shapes that gleamed against the emerald-blazoned black drape of sky and sparkled there for a moment, hanging, before settling gently to the soft, green-tufted plain with all the sickly sweetness of an over-written sentence." Bahahaha). The book managed to be sarcastic, irreverent, blasphemous, heartbreaking, infuriating, endearing, all over the course of less that 300 pages. Very highly recommended.
Octavia Biddle
What I'm going to say about this book might offend you. Maybe I'm an elitist-or maybe I really am just better than you-but I feel like if you didn't love this book then something must be fundamentally flawed in your brain. Maybe your mom smoked pot when she was pregnant with you, maybe you were dropped, maybe you've managed to circumvent your intelligence in order to believe everything that's in the bible, maybe you're a perv who was disappointed that the sex scenes with Lilith weren't in full c What I'm going to say about this book might offend you. Maybe I'm an elitist-or maybe I really am just better than you-but I feel like if you didn't love this book then something must be fundamentally flawed in your brain. Maybe your mom smoked pot when she was pregnant with you, maybe you were dropped, maybe you've managed to circumvent your intelligence in order to believe everything that's in the bible, maybe you're a perv who was disappointed that the sex scenes with Lilith weren't in full corset-ripper detail, or maybe you're just dumb. Regardless, this is how I feel about you if you were unable to fully grasp the subtlety, grace and artistry that surmise this work. I could go on about some of the reviews I read, but I fear this review would only become even more misanthropic and insulting. I highly recommend this book to anyone other than the Danielle Steele type who need everything spelled out for them.
Mandy
To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust tells the story of the revolt in Heaven. I want to classify this book as fantasy or science fiction, but that doesn’t quite seem to cover it. He manages to write an outstanding character driven novel while never hitting the pitfalls that many writers do of over characterizing and making the book sluggish. He humanizes Satan, gives us wonderful imagery of how heaven was created from the chaos, and introduces a host (if you’ll pardon the pun) of characters that you To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust tells the story of the revolt in Heaven. I want to classify this book as fantasy or science fiction, but that doesn’t quite seem to cover it. He manages to write an outstanding character driven novel while never hitting the pitfalls that many writers do of over characterizing and making the book sluggish. He humanizes Satan, gives us wonderful imagery of how heaven was created from the chaos, and introduces a host (if you’ll pardon the pun) of characters that you equally love and love to hate.

This book is a page turner from the word go. Most of the book is dialogue (again, making it very readable) with quick cuts from each of the characters. Knowing how the whole thing ends never detracts from the reader from wanting to turn the page to find out how they get there.

I highly recommend this book. If you’re a fast reader, you can certainly read it in an evening (it’s under 300 pages) and I promise you’ll enjoy every minute of it.
Mark
Readability 7. Rating 4. “His classic novel of the revolt in Heaven.” I like Brust and this book came with high recommendations, so I vaulted it to the top of my list. The good news is that it was an easy read. The not-so-good news is that it wasn’t really for me in terms of plot or general thrust. As the subtitle suggests, it is the story of how we ended up with god in heaven and Satan in hell. The short answer is a combination of a misunderstanding and a disagreement, in Brust’s telling. The t Readability 7. Rating 4. “His classic novel of the revolt in Heaven.” I like Brust and this book came with high recommendations, so I vaulted it to the top of my list. The good news is that it was an easy read. The not-so-good news is that it wasn’t really for me in terms of plot or general thrust. As the subtitle suggests, it is the story of how we ended up with god in heaven and Satan in hell. The short answer is a combination of a misunderstanding and a disagreement, in Brust’s telling. The telling was certainly a good one, but I have always had an aversion to stories that hinge on people (or, in this case, Firstborn angels) doing/saying or not doing/not saying things that would render a simple and reasonable conclusion, rather than a convoluted and unhappy sequence of events – if things are too “evitable” then the story doesn’t compel me.
Lori
The first two-thirds of To Reign in Hell are like a bad Shakespearean comedy of errors (punctuated by metaphysical asides that have little bearing on this particular story).

Good thing the book is worth reading for the last third alone.

I never thought I -- as a Jew -- would put this particular string of words together, but: Things got way better when Jesus came along.

Seriously. The plot crystallizes. The characters gain momentum. And the reader remembers where, exactly, this story is going. (Of The first two-thirds of To Reign in Hell are like a bad Shakespearean comedy of errors (punctuated by metaphysical asides that have little bearing on this particular story).

Good thing the book is worth reading for the last third alone.

I never thought I -- as a Jew -- would put this particular string of words together, but: Things got way better when Jesus came along.

Seriously. The plot crystallizes. The characters gain momentum. And the reader remembers where, exactly, this story is going. (Of course, you knew it all along ... but it gets lost in the 15th misheard conversation. Or maybe it's the 29th assumption. Or perhaps right off the bat, with the vague ethical argument couched in religion set slightly askew.)

Wherever Brust (or I) got off track, it was a fun ride once we were back on it. Shame there's not a sequel. I'd love to hear him make the serpent speak.
Shmarya
The book is a novel depicting the events leading up to the 'revolution' in heaven, with God, Satan and a cast of angels depicted as characters in an almost Shakespearean comedic farce. It turns out the whole good/evil thing was all just a misunderstanding. The author gives the very familiar characters an interesting fantasy twist, adding dimension to the story and personalities. It's more than a little tongue-in-cheek and has a few great subtle references or jokes which are genuinely laugh-out-l The book is a novel depicting the events leading up to the 'revolution' in heaven, with God, Satan and a cast of angels depicted as characters in an almost Shakespearean comedic farce. It turns out the whole good/evil thing was all just a misunderstanding. The author gives the very familiar characters an interesting fantasy twist, adding dimension to the story and personalities. It's more than a little tongue-in-cheek and has a few great subtle references or jokes which are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, but the more sensitive and rigid minded reader might balk at some of the borderline sacrilege the novel contains.

I'd recommend it to people who want a good read and are willing to recognize that nothing should be taken TOO seriously.
David Fraser
The style of writing, at least early on I didn't like. But as I kept going I found myself enjoying this book.
The plot was familiar, and so many different angles that I found myself looking up the names the author used. To my surprise many of these names were from different Christian religions.
The story of what divided the angles, and who would follow Yawehs plan for heaven. His love for the angles, and eventually some of the angles feeling betrayed by Yaweh made a great story.
I probably gave The style of writing, at least early on I didn't like. But as I kept going I found myself enjoying this book.
The plot was familiar, and so many different angles that I found myself looking up the names the author used. To my surprise many of these names were from different Christian religions.
The story of what divided the angles, and who would follow Yawehs plan for heaven. His love for the angles, and eventually some of the angles feeling betrayed by Yaweh made a great story.
I probably gave one more star then I should have, but I found myself enjoying the plot more then I thought I would.
So If you like mythical settings of sorts, and the underline theme of good trumps evil then you should enjoy "To Reign in Hell" familiar, if not down right biblical storyline.
Ted Rabinowitz
This is an enjoyable take on the Miltonic revolt of the Angels, focusing on the politics of the conflct and treating the characters more as mythological than theological creatures: supernatural and cosmic, but not necessarily sacred. Today, this sort of thing is practically its own subgenre, but Brust was one of the first to do it.

It's no coincidence that Roger Zelazny wrote the introduction: Brust's second book is a Zelazny pastiche, and a damned good one, on a par with lesser-known works like This is an enjoyable take on the Miltonic revolt of the Angels, focusing on the politics of the conflct and treating the characters more as mythological than theological creatures: supernatural and cosmic, but not necessarily sacred. Today, this sort of thing is practically its own subgenre, but Brust was one of the first to do it.

It's no coincidence that Roger Zelazny wrote the introduction: Brust's second book is a Zelazny pastiche, and a damned good one, on a par with lesser-known works like "Isle of the Dead." This is no mean feat - ask almost any SF writer to attempt something in Zelazny's style and he will shake his head and back away slowly, like the challenge has a ticking clock and a big biohazard sign.

Diana
I read this book as a teen and it had a profound effect on me, remembering it as a phenomenal book that I wanted to re-read if I could ever find it. I found it at the local library recently and began reading it. However, I cannot continue. I have grown ever more sensitive to disagreements, and the book is full of misunderstandings and back-stabbing meddling.

Don't get me wrong though! The book *is* very well written and makes you really think about how one can never really know or understand what I read this book as a teen and it had a profound effect on me, remembering it as a phenomenal book that I wanted to re-read if I could ever find it. I found it at the local library recently and began reading it. However, I cannot continue. I have grown ever more sensitive to disagreements, and the book is full of misunderstandings and back-stabbing meddling.

Don't get me wrong though! The book *is* very well written and makes you really think about how one can never really know or understand what's going on with other people, especially when hearing things second-hand.

If you haven't read it, and aren't sensitive to discord, I highly recommend it.
Keytar
I picked up this book because my parents had suggested it and absolutely adored the world building. I was completely with it for probably the first quarter or half, but there was a sudden and steep drop off when the story actually started rolling. Many characters felt frustratingly one dimensional, and, ignoring the obvious fact that this is "a story we all know", at no point was I actually surprised by the path the story walked.

It took me about three years to finally get through it. Stopping an I picked up this book because my parents had suggested it and absolutely adored the world building. I was completely with it for probably the first quarter or half, but there was a sudden and steep drop off when the story actually started rolling. Many characters felt frustratingly one dimensional, and, ignoring the obvious fact that this is "a story we all know", at no point was I actually surprised by the path the story walked.

It took me about three years to finally get through it. Stopping and starting over once in the process. I can appreciate that this book may be for some people, and I did really love the beginning, but the second half wasn't really for me.
David
I don't know why, but this book took me 3 or 4 times to get through. Invariably, i would read the first 10-20 pages and just stop reading it for whatever reason. I finally sat down and made a concerted effort to get through it and I'm glad I did.

I found it to be a novel concept. I was curious how he was going to present a fundamentally religious story as fiction and do so without conflicting with the religious version nor offending people. I thought he did quite a good job and answered this stat I don't know why, but this book took me 3 or 4 times to get through. Invariably, i would read the first 10-20 pages and just stop reading it for whatever reason. I finally sat down and made a concerted effort to get through it and I'm glad I did.

I found it to be a novel concept. I was curious how he was going to present a fundamentally religious story as fiction and do so without conflicting with the religious version nor offending people. I thought he did quite a good job and answered this statement quite well: "God is omnipotent, and Satan is not a fool. There seems to be a contradiction here..."
Joe Ohlenbusch
This book was about how Satan became a rebel and opposed the forces of Yaweh (God). This was a simply written book which reminded me of the style of how the bible was written. I wish I could have gave it 2 and a half stars but I can't. It was okay story but gave me another way of understanding a possible way of how Satan was thrown out of heaven in the religious stories. I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone just because I didn't really enjoy reading it. It was simple and nothing was d This book was about how Satan became a rebel and opposed the forces of Yaweh (God). This was a simply written book which reminded me of the style of how the bible was written. I wish I could have gave it 2 and a half stars but I can't. It was okay story but gave me another way of understanding a possible way of how Satan was thrown out of heaven in the religious stories. I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone just because I didn't really enjoy reading it. It was simple and nothing was described in any great detail. I don't think I'd try another Steven Brust novel after reading this one.
Heather
A friend rec'd this to me ages ago, and it's been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be loved. Did I love it, considering it's about my all-time favorite subject, the War in Heaven/the Fall? No, there was no love, but definitely amusement. This is a quick n' funny read, but if your pet peeve is plot development based on withholding of information or misunderstandings...definitely not the book for you. But if you're looking for a light read in the vein of Gaiman/Pratchett's Good Omens, it's worth gi A friend rec'd this to me ages ago, and it's been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be loved. Did I love it, considering it's about my all-time favorite subject, the War in Heaven/the Fall? No, there was no love, but definitely amusement. This is a quick n' funny read, but if your pet peeve is plot development based on withholding of information or misunderstandings...definitely not the book for you. But if you're looking for a light read in the vein of Gaiman/Pratchett's Good Omens, it's worth giving a try.
Thomas
There was very little that could be called Science Fiction or Fantasy in this book. It managed to take what I would consider an epic battle and turn it into a Battle Royal between a bunch of squabbling idiots. There was very little usage of the "Angelic" powers (referred to as Illiaster), and the angels were destroyed far too easily. I did like the reversal between the traditional God and Satan, although Satan was an underused character that continually could not make up his mind. Overall, it wa There was very little that could be called Science Fiction or Fantasy in this book. It managed to take what I would consider an epic battle and turn it into a Battle Royal between a bunch of squabbling idiots. There was very little usage of the "Angelic" powers (referred to as Illiaster), and the angels were destroyed far too easily. I did like the reversal between the traditional God and Satan, although Satan was an underused character that continually could not make up his mind. Overall, it was interesting at times, but not a great read overall.
SA
I'm pretty conflicted about my reaction to this book. On the one hand the portrayal of the Fall of Heaven into a comedy of manners seems to suffer a great deal from inevitable reductionism. On the other, it provided a counter opinion of the characters in the classic judeo-christian myth, and didn't exist in black and white.

I was surprised at how fallible the characters were, to be honest. And there were, by far, not enough female characters.

I suppose at the end of it, a couple days after finis I'm pretty conflicted about my reaction to this book. On the one hand the portrayal of the Fall of Heaven into a comedy of manners seems to suffer a great deal from inevitable reductionism. On the other, it provided a counter opinion of the characters in the classic judeo-christian myth, and didn't exist in black and white.

I was surprised at how fallible the characters were, to be honest. And there were, by far, not enough female characters.

I suppose at the end of it, a couple days after finishing the book, I'm just a bit baffled as to what I was supposed to take away from it.
David
More than 50% of conversations in this book start like this: "Oh, GOOD DAY you strolling wanderer, let's talk about book plot in some stupid way."

After I've heard a lot of positive feedback on this book, I'm deeply disappointed. It has some interesting ideas, but that is only because is explores heaven / hell conflict and the author tried to put some fresh ideas in it.

About other stupidities in the book, I'm way too frustrated to enlist them here because I want to forget it as soon as possible. More than 50% of conversations in this book start like this: "Oh, GOOD DAY you strolling wanderer, let's talk about book plot in some stupid way."

After I've heard a lot of positive feedback on this book, I'm deeply disappointed. It has some interesting ideas, but that is only because is explores heaven / hell conflict and the author tried to put some fresh ideas in it.

About other stupidities in the book, I'm way too frustrated to enlist them here because I want to forget it as soon as possible. Yeah, Beelzebub is a golden retriever, and Lucifer drinks brandy ... right.
Trekscribbler
Stephen Brust's work is assuredly a quick, entertaining read about Lord Satan's (inadvertant?) failed coup of Heaven. With sharp prose and a remarkable sense of humor, Brust makes the most of telling the tale that took place before the events of the Bible but weaving consistently throughout his book foreshadowing of what the Bible says happened and has yet to happen. While the book might not find much support among the religious community, fantasy fans can read the book entirely guiltfree and en Stephen Brust's work is assuredly a quick, entertaining read about Lord Satan's (inadvertant?) failed coup of Heaven. With sharp prose and a remarkable sense of humor, Brust makes the most of telling the tale that took place before the events of the Bible but weaving consistently throughout his book foreshadowing of what the Bible says happened and has yet to happen. While the book might not find much support among the religious community, fantasy fans can read the book entirely guiltfree and enjoy what a gifted writer can do with a relatively elementary premise.
David Bishop
I love Stephen Brust and before reading this I would have said I loved everything he's written. I even love his Three Musketeers pastiches. But this book, I just couldn't get through. I got 25% done and just couldn't force myself to read any more. I hate "big misunderstanding" plots, the kind that can be completely unravelled if anyone in the story would just talk to anyone else. And the entire story revolves around that I couldn't even finish.
Joe
Sympathy for the Devil was my quick reaction to this book. It is an interesting perspective on the War in Heaven. Many of the major players from Christian mythology are represented yet are given different character development arcs than one would assume. This keeps the story fresh for anyone familiar with it and makes it a fun read. It is also a quick read with a heavy amount of crisp, short dialogue passages that keep the pace of the book swift.
Ewa Manek
Brust takes a unique approach to the subject matter and creates an interesting new look at creation and the war between the angels. I found myself being annoyed with the characters, who, I felt, were in some cases being deliberately dense or deliberately misunderstanding things, but, in general, I quite liked the uniqueness of the approach and the sympathy with which all the players were treated.
Kat
I picked up this book because I loved Brust's other work. You won't find any three-musketeer-esque adventure here. Instead this is a heavily dialogue driven story about the rise and fall of Lucifer in Heaven, and its probably not what you're thinking. If you were awake at all in Sunday Schoo, you how it ends, but getting there was a lot of fun, because of Brust's superb dialogue, which is both engaging and witty.
Randy Henke
Steven Brust writes elegant, colorful prose and breathes life into characters both familiar and obscure. A grand retelling of a tale that predates the biblical creation itself. It takes a masterful author to convince readers to actually start feeling pity for such a universally despised villain as Satan but Brust manages to do just that.
Karen
An epic tale of miscommunication which turns the traditional Judeo-Christian creation story on its head. Persons who are fervently religious are likely to be offended. But for those who are open-minded and willing to partake in a work of fiction populated by biblical characters, it is a powerful exercise in perspective, and a reminder that there are always at least two sides to any story.
Aaron
I enjoyed To Reign in Hell, but perhaps not as much as I was expecting. It's difficult to go into stories with high expectations. I thought that the characters and their motivations were just a bit too thin. And, at times I thought the story fell into formulaic traps. It's still an interesting origin tale though, unique in its vision.
Sonia
This book was recommended by a friend and after the disappointment with Anno Dracula, I was hesitant that I would enjoy this read. To Reign in Hell was terrific, brilliantly executed, and beautifully written.

Some instances of the dialogue were so tongue-in-cheek that I found myself chuckling throughout the read. The characters were well defined and distinct and the plot captivating.
Tim Hayes
A superb piece of writing that never got much mainstream attention. While you could compare it to Milton's Paradise Lost, it is substantially more readable (and therefore riveting) to a modern audience. An excellent retelling of the Fall mythology. Unfortunately difficult to find in physical stores, but well worth checking the internet for, if you can avoid shipping.
Matt Maddocks
I enjoyed this book though some parts seemed to drag on and on, but those parts were very few and far between. I found the story interesting and enjoyable. However, if you are offended by anything that contradicts the Bible, or anything that depicts God less than an omnipotent perfect being, then you won't enjoy this book.
Lindsey Hedges
This is Ted's favorite book, and he said if I read it he would read Harry Potter. I liked it -- it's definitely a fantasy book with dragons and all that jazz, but it's set in Heaven before Earth was made in an interesting way. It's a very quick read and once the action starts you can't put the book down.
Willow
There were some things I really loved about this book, and I think it could have been great if it were somewhat different. But the plot relied way too heavily on the machinations of Abdiel, and that aspect bothered me a lot and detracted significantly from my enjoyment and my sense that the book was good. The ending somewhat redeems this, however.
Anita Gupta
Being a fan of Zelazny, I'm always searching for more writers like him. This book was entertaining and witty. It was especially fun to read since we've been watching Supernatural and the whole Angel/Demon thing was resonating. No one matches Zelazny for story-telling depth, but this was definitely worth reading.
Tee
This was more of a look at what led up to the break between God and Satan. What I found lacking was the Archangel Michael came off as a big dump Lug while Lucifer and Lilith seemed to have all the brains and the looks.
While the book did tide me over on my need for a "Angel" fix, it didn't stack up well agains Shinn's books or Thomas Sniegorski's.
Bear DeCastro
I've made 3 attempts to read this book and all 3 times I stopped somewhere in the middle. I find it way too dragging and somehow I feel that I'm wasting time struggling through it. As they say, 'So many books, so little time'. So why am I wasting my time reading this if I could be reading something more interesting/exciting? Moving on...
Ariel
I was raised with a christian upbringing. I fell in love with mythology in college, and also fell out of Christianity. This book is a wonderful view of the relationships between some of the first proposed beings in existence. Was God really the shit? Did Satan just get played by a silly trickster? Really, who knows. I liked Brust's interpretation.
Benjamin
More like 3.5. This review is based off my initial impression when I read this at 8 years prior at 25. Sure it wasn't literary magnificence, and read a bit like fantasy gerne fiction, but this left a long lasting impression on me at the time and I remember really liking it. still have it on my book shelf. Perhaps I'll re-read it sometime. Then again, I have 1000 books to read....
Karen
I didn't like it as much as I wanted to, though I'm glad I read it. I definitely recommend reading it, the world and characters are worth it, but the storyline just didn't resonate with me. It was dissatisfying (much the way real life frequently is), which is not necessarily the fault of the book but which affected my mood when reading it.
Rodolfo
I’m reading “To Reign in Hell”. It’s supposed to be an instant classic but I find the writing disappointing and simplistic.
The subject matter is right up my alley, but the characters are shallow and difficult to like or dislike. I almost put it down but I am loath to not read a book I spent money on. Its only 223 pages so I figured I would suffer it and get what entertainment I can from it.
Jen3n
This is a great book. Well written, funny, painful, with great characters and an interesting take on a story with which almost everyone in the Western Hemisphere is familiar: the war in Heaven after which Lucifer fell.

I recommend this book highly. Some people may have some difficulty with the language, but i think the story and the book as a whole is worth it.

Rowan Fae
This book makes me cry. Maybe later I'll write about the style of it, the choices Steven Brust made as an author, etc., but honestly, unless one is studying the writing of a book to be able to write better, that sort of thing is only important if it interrupts the enjoyment of the story.
I love this book, and I think it's beautiful.
Marianne
I loved the playful wordings the author uses at the start of the book. And the cast is nicely portrayed, with a neat reimagining of the war for Heaven.

I feel like the second half of the book loses the same sense of play, and the increase in miscommunication and lost chances gets repetitious and obvious by the end.

Still, neat story, and worth reading and passing along.
Paul
I remember being very impressed with this book when I read it. It's a story you already know the ending of but making the journey an interesting and unexpected one for the reader is quite the feat to pull off, especially when the readers think they already know the characters too.
Travis Bughi
Pretty interesting concept, good use of high fantasy. Surprisingly easy to follow despite a few less-than-often used scenes described only through dialogue. Not the best book I've read, but I was recommended this book online by some random guy and so didn't have incredibly high expectations.
Mark Stevens
As a fan of Brust and Zelazny, this book is amazing. I love the unusual take on the story of the Fall of Satan, and the consistent manner in which the supernatural is made understandable and accessible.
Janette Coffey
beautiful take on the Christian creation mythos from the point of view of Lucifer. Also a meta-materialist viewpoint on the duality of matter and energy, the virtual-particle thing in quantum physics, etc.
Marty
walking and talking, walking and talking. i think this book needs character development before all the walking and talking. I was bored, I couldn't keep the characters straight, yuch. Even at the end when there is some action i didn't care.
Robert
Steven Brust is an excellent author. In the past I read everything I could find from him, it is frustrating that he is not available in eBook format

To Reign in Hell is a great read turning the story of creation into an excellent read with some nice twists to encourage thinking.
Karen
Absolutely blasphemous, and absolutely fabulous. Brust offers readers a well-crafted mythological heaven, a page-turning epic story, and a few insights into the nature of good, evil, fate, free will, and power.
Jason
i remember i was like seventeen and reading ra salvatore exclusively and then i ordered this book from the storeDOTCOM alongside an eminem cd or some other equally bozack garbage and i read this and i felt pretty erudite then i went skateboarding
Ronald Gibbs
Hidden beauty of a story. The bible made a lot more sense to me after reading this story, though it is by no means a religious read. Brust's take on the War in Heaven just fits really well in my a-religious world view.
Heather Carter
Difficult for me to pick between 4 and 5 stars for this one. I more than "really liked" it, but I less than "it was amazing!"-ed it. I loved the unique perspective of the war in Heaven. I've read it twice now, and fully anticipate picking it up again eventually.
Stephanie Sanford
As a big fan of the Taltos series, I decided to pick this up. And what a great idea that was. This has the cleverness and wit of the Taltos novels while encompassing the biblical universe and Christian mythos. Very enjoyable read.
Kirsten Mann
The creation of Heaven -- as well as the creation of the Earth and Hell. Written almost completely in dialogue; a very interesting treatment of the story. Brust is a new author for me and I'm looking forward to beginning his Vlad Taltos series, as soon as I can find the first two books.
Vasil Kolev
Wonderful story.

The book isn't connected with Brust's series on Dragarea, it's a separate world tied somewhat to the myth of God (Yaweh) and Satan's battle. It's closely related to Milton's "Paradise lost".

Makes a great read.
Sarah
A retelling of the war in heaven with Satan as the sympathetic protagonist. I found it frustrating to read, the plot is based on misunderstanding after misunderstanding. Everything could have been resolved if the characters communicated with each other.
Joni
I'm about half way through this book. I can't keep track of the different characters and who is doing what and almost nothing seems to be happening. It's making me kind of cranky. I'm much more used to plot driven novels.
Craig
This book was an easy read. If you ever wondered about the split of Heaven, this book is for you. I like the flow, but it did become predictable in parts. Overall though, I enjoyed reading it.
Patricia
After reading this novel I can almost believe this is how heaven and hell were created.
Angel S
I love this book. It portrays the war in heaven as the result of a power-hungry angel causing chaos and misunderstanding on both sides.
Matthew
A thorough retelling of a familiar story (duh), which does lead to some points of "um, yeah, pretty sure I know what's gonna happen here". But still a fun read.
Wolf
You should read this book for no other reason than Satan's dry back and forth with Beelzebub (in dog form,) and the best line in the book being "Milord, get thee behind me."
Adam
Beautiful, powerful, Read a couple times
Todd
Great premise, but the execution wasn't quite what I'd hoped for. The wooden quality of the dialogue didn't help any.
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