British Fiction Focus

Rearranging Angels: Revealing The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard

In the conclusion of my rave of a review, I spoke of The House of Shattered Wings as emblematic of an intelligence and an elegance as rare and precious as angel essence. It was, in a word, a wonder, and one I wanted more of.

My wish was Aliette de Bodard’s command, apparently, as Gollancz has unveiled book two of Dominion of the Fallen: it’s called The House of Binding Thorns, and it “continues the epic story of the fallout of the war in heaven that saw the angelic Great Houses of Paris assaulted and torn apart by mistrust and betrayal” in the winner of last year’s British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel. “Among the ruins of Paris, the Great Houses, shaken to their foundations, now struggle to put themselves back together, as powerful forces, gods and angels, men and demons, begin to circle”—attracted, perhaps, to the power vacuum left in the aftermath of that masterful narrative.

Gollancz didn’t have much more to say about The House of Binding Thorns today, I’m afraid, but I did a bit of digging on de Bodard’s blog this morning, and found the following…

Though The House of Binding Thorns is “very largely self-contained,” and focused on the House of Hawthorn under the ex-angel Asmodeus as opposed to Selene’s Silverspires, the aforementioned author promises that it’ll tie up some of the loose ends left in the first volume of Dominion of the Fallen. There’ll be “a bunch of returning characters, notably angel essence addict Madeleine—and a bunch [of] new ones too, [including] a Houseless Annamite and a kick-ass dragon prince with a talent for getting into major trouble.”

Add to that, this brief piece, which de Bodard teased back in March to celebrate the completion of the 112,000 word first draft of the narrative:

In the House of Hawthorn, all the days blurred and merged into one another, like tears drops sliding down a pane of glass. Madeleine couldn’t tell when she’d last slept, when she’d last eaten—though everything tasted of ashes and grit, as if the debris from the streets had been mixed in with the fine food served in porcelain plates—couldn’t tell when she had last woken, tossing and turning and screaming, with pain shooting up her calf and blood seeping from the wound on her right hand, the one that had inexorably tied her fortunes back to those of the House.

If that got you going, I’d very much recommend you read ‘The Room of Grief’ over on Ghostwords, a wonderful little WordPress page “dedicated to discarded text, forgotten words and the memory of dead manuscripts.” It’s a “between-the-books snippet” set some sixty years after the Great Houses War, and it promises great things for The House of Binding Thorns.

The-House-of-Binding-Thorns-by-Aliette-de-Bodard

Not only, but also—congratulations are in order, because de Bodard was working on a certain something else whilst putting the finishing touches to book two of Dominion of the Fallen: a baby codenamed Librarian! And although the release date of her new novel has “shifted a bit due to, erm, the wonders of the first trimester,” a revised draft was delivered to Gollancz in early May, mere weeks before the Librarian’s arrival, and The House of Binding Thorns is now pencilled in for publication next April.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.

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