Steven Brust is one of those writers I got to like through one strong series, but who has shown himself to be equally adept at writing very enjoyable stand-alone stuff that has no connection to his Vlad series. So when I went to read TRiH I thought Brust could not fail. Even the weaker The Viscount of Adrilankha trilogy was okay in the end, if not up to his other stuff. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Bad book.
A retelling of the angels revolt and their subsequent fall from heaven has potential, but to retell something you also have to somehow make old stuff fresh again. Which, sadly, is not the case, the whole plot is rather predictable and bland. Brust tried to remake the fallen angels into good characters, but without blaming the other side for the whole conflict. There’s a moderately evil guy who is somehow responsible for everything, but his whole plan works only because most characters act like morons all the time. Real tension comes from real conflict, not one stupid mistake blown out of proportion.
You get the feeling that everything could be easily resolved, if not massive authorial intervention would prevent the right people from meeting. To do that, most characters seem to run around rather pointlessly, instead of trying to meet and solve the problem before it’s too late. Worse, since Brust makes his characters more or less intelligent, their apparent less than smart behavior feels like the already mentioned authorial intervention to make them act stupid when the plots needs them to. Which makes this an annoying and less than enjoyable read.