Book 6 : Descent of Angels

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Zahariel El’Zurias, a boy native to Caliban, is inducted into the Order, an organisation of knights dedicated to defending the people of Caliban from its many predatory beasts. His induction takes the form of mock interrogation where he is questioned by three of the Order’s leaders: Lion El’JonsonLuther and Cypher. He passes the induction and trains as a knight-supplicant alongside his best friend and cousin Nemiel, with whom he shares a competitive rivalry. While the boys train, the knights of the Order continue to carry out Jonson’s grand plan to hunt Caliban’s Great Beasts to extinction, though the Lion reveals to Zahariel during an minor initiation that the hunt is almost at an end with the near-impenetrable Northwilds the only remaining stronghold of the beasts. During a scouting mission led by Zahariel’s hero Amadis, Zahariel’s squad comes under attack by a Great Beast and takes casualties. Zahariel risks his own life to keep the beast distracted from his friends, and while Amadis kills the beast he ensures that Zahariel is recognised for his actions, earning him attention from the Order’s upper echelons. Amadis begins mentoring Zahariel and Nemiel’s jealousy makes their rivalry less friendly than before, though they remain close.

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The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox – Barry Hughart, Kaja Foglio

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When I got out of Andover in the 1950s I suffered from fairly severe depression, but this was back when the only such term recognized by the medical profession was ‘depressive’ following ‘manic’ which was one bad gig until some genius renamed it ‘bipolar disorder’ and after that it couldn’t harm a fly. Since I wasn’t lucky enough to qualify for manic and clinical depression didn’t exist they diagnosed schizophrenia and packed me off to a booby hatch. (Which was not entirely a bad thing. Man, the scene at Kings Count Psychotic Ward was like awesome!) Then I was promoted to a slightly less odorous asylum where Doctor Oscar Diethelm expounded upon the delights of going snickety-snick on my frontal lobes, and while it would take too long to explain I managed to escape to Columbia University. There I found myself groping through weird landscapes obscured by clouds of pot behind which pimpled prophets of the Beat Generation shrieked, ‘Our minds destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked, dragging through black streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, or what the f*ck, something like that. Yo, daddy-o!’ and I said to myself, ‘Barry, you have found a home.’

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