Between Two Fires
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"Buehlman...slips effortlessly into a different kind of literary sensibility, one that doesn't scrimp on earthy humor and lyrical writing in the face of unspeakable horrors." — Kirkus Reviews
The year is 1348. Thomas, a disgraced knight, has found an orphan of the Black Death in a Norman village. An almost unnerving picture of innocence, she tells Thomas that the plague is only part of a larger cataclysm-that the fallen angels under Lucifer are rising in a second war on Heaven. But is it delirium or is it faith?
She believes she has seen the angels of God. She believes the dead speak to her in dreams. And now she has convinced the faithless Thomas to shepherd her across an apocalyptic landscape to Avignon. There, she tells Thomas, she will fulfill her mission. There her true nature will be revealed. And there Thomas will confront an evil wrestling for the throne of Heaven, and which has poisoned his own soul.
- Between Two Fires is the title of the book. What are the literal and figurative "two fires" of the story?
- Delphine is a French name that refers to the Greek town of Delphi, home to the oracle of Apollo of Greek mythology. Why, therefore, is this an apt choice of name for the young girl?
- Of all the characters who needed redemption in this book, whose was the most satisfying? Why?
- Père Matthieu dies saving Delphine from the devil in the river. Why is this important? Would it have been any different if he had died saving her somewhere else?
- Whenever tragedy or disaster occurs, religion seems to be a focal point. In Between Two Fires, many people ask why God has abandoned them, while others ask when God will save them. Religion can also be used to justify actions despite the results, such as the Crusades. What are some examples of how religion is used to justify actions in today's society?
- In the chapter titled "Of the Marriage on the Bank and the Visitation in the Stable," a woman inflicted with the plague performs a marriage ceremony with an unconscious Thomas after he battles the monster in Père Matthieu's town. What do you think is the significance of this "wedding"?
- The author makes it clear that over the course of the story, Delphine has grown from a girl into a woman. Why is this important?
- What is the role wine plays throughout the story?
- In the chapter about Thomas's marriage, we come to discover that the Comte de Givras is probably Thomas's real father. How does this revelation about Thomas's parentage change your view of Thomas? How does his relationship with his father impact the relationship he has with Delphine?
- Thomas doesn't ever seem to fully comprehend who or what Delphine is. While preparing to rescue the true pope, Thomas again asks her what she is. She replies, "Two things, I think. But soon I'll be just one." (Page 390) What do you think Delphine means by this answer?
- Chapter 40, "Of the Coming of the Host," ends with: "Forgiveness, then, was possible even for the worst." (Page 425) Do you agree? From whom do the characters seek forgiveness? To whom do they need to grant it?
- The first chapter and last chapter mirror each other. Discuss the similarities and differences of what occurs in each. Does the final chapter make you rethink any of the events in the story?