Book 2: The House of Binding Thorns
The House of Binding Thorns is book 2 of Dominion of the Fallen, the standalone sequel to the critically-acclaimed, British Science Fiction Association award-winning The House of Shattered Wings.
It’s on the following best-of-2017 lists:
And here’s the summary:
The multi-award winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war…
As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the Great Houses of Paris, ruled by fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.
House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Philippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic may be more than he can bear.
In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater Dragon Kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear…
As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.
If you’ve read The House of Shattered Wings: yes, this is focused on the House of Hawthorn, and has a bunch of returning characters, notably angel essence addict Madeleine — and a bunch of new ones too, a Houseless Annamite and a kick-ass dragon prince with a talent for getting into major trouble. And hum, yes, rather a lot of Asmodeus, too.
The House of Binding Thorns is currently out from Ace in the US, and Gollancz in the UK and Rest of the World.Buy now
Read Chapter One Online!
What people are saying:
Touches the heart as often as it cuts throats.
Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)
THE HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS takes the gothic atmospheric politics of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS and ramps them up to a pitch of intensity that I really wasn’t expecting. (…) Wrenchingly tense, suffused with a creeping undercurrent of atmospheric horror, of decline-and-fall, and yet vividly alive. (…) It does so much so right, and so well, that I cannot help but love it wholly and entirely. It really is an utterly magnificent achievement.
A successful continuation of a truly grand story, brimming with action, heart, representation, and magic.
Martin Cahill, Barnes and Noble blog
A striking example of a story that both stands alone and expands (…) truly beautifully balanced: between new and old, birth and death, beauty and ugliness, inside and outside, beginning and, yes, ending. It walks the line, and walks it fine.
Niall Alexander, Tor.com
Provocative (…) raises the stakes considerably (…) quite different in scope (from its predecessor), but just as satisfying.
Gary K Wolfe, Locus
A grand and striking expansion upon the world of the Dominion of the Fallen, and a powerful novel from de Bodard, who really brings her full talents to bear on every aspect of the book. A distinct level up from someone who was already a master.
de Bodard’s people feel real to me… There is hope even in the darkest of places, and there is a desire for love, for trust, for harbor, that takes root no matter how often it’s destroyed. This is a stronger, more certain novel than THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS, and if reading it is sometimes walking the unfenced edge of a cliff, the vista is dizzying and beautiful. It is well worth the wait, and if you haven’t read the first novel, I urge you to do so. But have THE HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS in hand before you reach the end.
Michelle West, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine
A subtle, breath-of-fresh-air novel capable of being elegant and nasty in the same breath. The pervading sense of decay and threat is a looming presence as we step a little further out of the Houses and onto the streets/in the river of Paris. (…) very different to most fantasies I read and all the better for that.
Tom Lloyd, author of Stranger of Tempest
“The more that de Bodard writes in the Dominion of the Fallen, the more I want to read of its characters, it worlds, its conflicts and its themes. (…) In every way, THE HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS is a stronger and more assured novel than its already strong predecessor, THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS (…) the writing of her characters within the wonderfully envisioned world is assured, strong, and clear.”
A gothic mystery with diverse and colorful threads, a page-turner full of unforgettable characters who spring from all walks of life—human and divine—and demand the reader’s full attention.
The Dominion of the Fallen Reading Order (Novels Only)
The Dominion of the Fallen Reading Order (Complete)
0.5. “Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship” | 0.6. “In Morningstar’s Shadow” | 0.7. “Against the Encroaching Darkness” | 0.8. “The Death of Aiguillon” | 0.9. “The House, in Winter” | Book 1. The House of Shattered Wings | 1.5. “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” | Book 2. The House of Binding Thorns
Q: what do you mean by “standalone”?
I guess the best term is “standalone sequel”? It’s a bit like a mystery novel that’s part of a recurring series: you have the same characters, but you can pick up anywhere and still enjoy the book! (you of course gain different things if you’re reading in order, because there is a loose arc of the main characters across all the books).
And here’s the Pinterest board for the book!
And here’s a little between-the-books snippet (originally published on Ghostwords):
The Room of Grief
This is the room of grief.
It lies empty, hollowed-out. Fire burns in the grate, a paltry light that doesn’t hold the darkness at bay, or fill in the void of its owner’s absence. Flowers have wilted on the mantelpiece; there is a faint smell of bergamot turned sour–and a sketchpad lies open on the bed, the graceful curves of oranges and grapes trailing off, the still life forever unfinished.
There is someone in the room–walking softly, noiselessly on the Persian carpets. He stops by the bed; stares for a while, at the sketchpad. His face is tight, emotionless. He does not weep. What good would it do? It will not bring him back.
He ponders, for a while–on other ways, on other prices to pay. On what he would get back–a blank slate with no memories, a lich risen from the grave with only hollowness in its eyes. On a courtship, which would have to be done again, painstakingly and methodically: no longer the wild and intoxicating one of their youth, but a thing burdened with too much memory and too much knowledge. Ponders, too, on the possibility that… Samariel might choose another.
His hands have clenched into fists.
He has loved, and lost–one should always admit when one has lost, it saves so much time, so much struggling. When one is beaten–and he’s not, in so many ways. The House stands strong. Silverspires is a wrecked ruin; and there is little to prevent his schemes from coming to fruition. But in this…
He picks the sketchpad from the bed; carries it, as gently as it were his lover, to the fireplace–stands, for a fraction of a heartbeat, the time it takes to utter a scream–and throws it in.
The door opens, as he watches the paper burn. He doesn’t raise his head, or indicate in any way that he has seen the woman. But she has–she stops, with a visible effort–everything about her poised to flee.
“Clothilde,” Asmodeus says. “What a surprise to find you here.”
“My lord.” She’s old–not lined or wrinkled, but with the peculiar smooth agelessness that comes of frequenting a Fallen too closely. “I didn’t expect–” She stops then, raises a hand to her mouth. “Forgive me.”
“What is there to forgive?” Asmodeus shrugs. He moves away from the fireplace, where the papers are still burning. “I was done, in any case.”
As his hand rests on the door handle, she speaks up. “My lord. I have to ask–”
“What will happen?” Asmodeus smiles, an expression that is as sharp and as pleasant as broken glass.
“Samariel–” She stops, again.
“I haven’t forbidden you to speak his name.” She flinches as he inflects the word “forbidden”–it gives him such petty pleasure, to see her still afraid, twenty years on. How it’s so easy, so… permanent, to imprint fear on someone. “You’re wondering if the… protection he afforded you still holds.”
She flinches again, not watching him. She was in a cell, twenty years ago–and he was angrier, and blunter than he is now, with no time for finesse or subtlety. That is what she remembers–the monster that haunts her nightmares, the smiling Fallen with the knife in his hands, assessing how much of a threat she posed to the House.
It’s not that he regrets; or that he wouldn’t do it again–if he thought it necessary, it would happen the same way in a heartbeat, and Samariel isn’t here to save her anymore. But… times have changed. She has changed–pressed and moulded by her proximity to Samariel until she hardly remembers what it was, to be a loyalist–or that she ever gave in to the folly of challenging him. “I still have a use for you, after all. Work,” he says, with a tight smile that has nothing of joy. “You are, whether I like it or not, one of the House’s magicians.”
He says, softly, slowly–because things should be made clear, now, at the very beginning: “Uphir is dead. Ciseis is dead. It has been twenty years, and I am head of the House. Will you still defy me? You know how it would all end.” He brings his hands in front of him; extends finger after finger, like a pianist stretching for a concert. “You would make such sweet sounds, while I finally break you.”
The shudder that runs through her is a thrill in his bones–a hint of a pleasure he won’t allow himself. Cannot allow himself. She is loyal now, and he stands by his own. Always has.
She faces him–hands clenched, gaze raised to meet his–she’s trembling, and trying not to let it show–such joy it would be, in other circumstances. No matter. “My lord,” she says, again. “I am at your service.”
And perhaps, after all, he has broken her. Not every crack is visible; not everything leads to a gibbering wreck seated in the emptiness of cells. Sometimes, screams are stuck inside like broken shards of bone–rubbing against throat tissues until every word comes out flecked with blood.