the crucible

Kirkus Review: The Crippled Angel

crucible-the-crippled-angel-1stus-editionTriumphant conclusion to The Crucible historical fantasy trilogy (The Nameless Day, 2005, etc.) in which 14th-century Europeans struggle to secure the right of free will from the angelic and demonic forces that battle for their souls.

The concept of angels and demons meddling in human affairs is nothing new, but Douglass puts a terrific spin on those familiar tropes and makes them feel fresh. The liberties taken with Christian mythology will likely offend some, but that the narrative takes chances and challenges what we know is part of what makes the storyline compelling. The prose is lucid and the characters fully realized, making for an enjoyable read.

Outstanding finale to a brilliant series.


©2005 Kirkus Reviews. To read the full review on the Kirkus Reviews website please click on this link.

SMH: The Crippled Angel

The Crippled Angel is the final volume in The Crucible trilogy, Sara Douglass’s “secret history” of medieval Europe, 1348-1381.

An expert in early English history, Douglass stresses that the trilogy is set in a “parallel universe”, thus accounting for variations in the historical record (such as Joan of Arc appearing sooner than in our world, and compressing the Hundred Years War). But readers will equate it all with our own world’s history, and Douglass declares the trilogy to be faithful to the mindset of our own medieval Europe.

She presents the series as offering an “explanation” for the change that came upon Europe in the 14th century. “Medieval Europe had been an intensely spiritual society: the salvation of the soul was paramount. Post-14th-century Europe abandoned spirituality for secularism, materialism and worldliness.”

The Crucible trilogy has won its huge following because Douglass can expertly focus such swathes of pseudo-history into vivid human drama.

Does it all end well? It does for the reader! Despite the fashion for open endings (leaving room for new trilogies), Douglass plays extremely fair and meticulously sews loose ends into a tight weave. This may be a little too neat for some, but most readers will be delighted with such an elegant completion to the tapestry.


©2002 Van Ikin / Sydney Morning Herald. To read the full review on the Sydney Morning Herald website please click on this link.
Van Ikin is co-author of Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction (Greenwood, 1999).