The Damiano Trilogy (previously published as A Trio for Lute)

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Damiano Trilogy (previously published as A Trio for Lute)
R.A. MacAvoy, originally published in three volumes, 1984

Premise: Damiano Delstrego is a witch by heritage and a musician by choice, although few musicians, even those with second sight, have an Archangel for a lute teacher. Damiano and Raphael face tribulations, hard choices, and danger (both human and demonic) across Renaissance Italy.

I loved this series (originally published as three slim volumes: Damiano, Damiano's Lute, and Raphael) in high school, and I've been meaning to reread it literally for years. I even reread the first book back in 2014, but then got distracted by other, newer works.

Honestly, I finally reread it this summer because after I fell hard into fan content for Good Omens after the Amazon miniseries came out, I was reminded of the first book I loved about an angel interfering with humanity.

Going back to it is... odd. I still think it's quite good. The writing is lovely, the world is intriguing - including the coexistence of celestial powers and multiple human types of magic that might or might not have a heavenly/hellish source.

However, what I remembered about it were these evocative images such as Damiano facing Satan in his palace, Raphael mantling giant wings over his protege, the powerful way the magic was described, and the existential anguish and triumph in the final volume.

And the series has all that, but it's much more a solid fantasy novel and much less a poetic experience than I remembered. Especially the third part. I still really liked it, but I was prepared for something much darker and more transcendental than I got. Plus there's a dragon in it. I didn't remember the dragon at ALL, but he's a major factor in the plot.

Where this series excels is the way actual religious and historical elements are blended with fantasy. Christianity is treated similarly to many religions in fantasy novels, with perhaps a bit more power. Damiano is facing the political and ecclesiastical powers fighting for control of the Italian city-states, and his character is very grounded in the time and place he comes from. Another major character is from what is now Finland, and she might as well be from Fairyland for all she has in common with the Italians. But she at least is mortal, while Raphael sympathizes with his human friends, but cannot understand them, not really.

I might be a smidge disappointed to let go of what I remembered this series being, but what it is is still great.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

Side Note: The Open Road Media Kindle version of this trilogy has the WORST OCR I've suffered through in a while. Avoid if possible.

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