Otherwise known as the angel Moses punched in the face.
Moses was one hundred and twenty years old and had just found the Promised Land when God decided, Yeah, that’s long enough. He sent Azrael, the archangel of death, to bring him to Heaven.
Azrael flew down to Moses’s house straightaway. “Good news!” he said. “Your lifetime is officially over. You get to come with me and spend the rest of eternity in literal paradise. Isn’t that great?”
Moses...did not react well. In fact, he punched Azrael in the face.
We don’t get any confirmation in the Good Book, but Moses’ thought process was probably along the lines of, “Seriously?! I’ve gone through all this shit to get to the Promised Land--dealt with that jerk Pharaoh, put up with way too much crap from my so-called ‘loyal’ followers, and wandered through the stinking desert for forty years--all to get to the Promised Land. And now that I’m literally spitting distance away from that, you decide that now is the best time to kill me? It ain’t happening!”
Azrael returned to Heaven with a black eye and no Moses. “He’s being real mature about it,” he said.
God healed the eye and said, “Go back to Earth--”
“Oh, so he can punch my other eye out? Great plan, Boss.”
“--and tell him to put his hand on the back of a calf. For every hair under his palm, I’ll give him an extra year of life.”
Azrael stared at Him. “You’re going to reward the guy who punched an angel. Not just any angel, the angel of death. ‘If you give Azrael a black eye, you get an extension!’ What do you give out for hair-pulling and breaking bones? You realize this is going to make my job exponentially harder, right?”
God rolled His eyes. “You’ve been reaping souls for thousands of years now. You can’t tell me none of them tried to knock your teeth in.”
“None of them can because they’re just regular humans. Only prophets can do that, and they tend to be a lot more obedient to your will.”
“Yes, and they don’t complain nearly as much,” God said.
Sulking, Azrael went back down to Earth and delivered God’s message to Moses, who asked, “What happens after all those years are up?”
“Then you die,” Azrael said. “For real.”
Moses thought about it for a minute, then shook his head. “Nah. Let’s go.”
“You heard me. I’m done. Let’s blow this popsicle stand.”
Azrael sputtered. “Why didn’t you do that last time?!”
“Because you didn’t give me a choice,” Moses argued.
“I rarely do.”
Moses sighed. “Look, you caught me off guard. And I’m not going to lie, the idea of dying is terrifying. But if I choose to stick around for however many decades, all I’m going to do is dread the day you come back.”
“Wow. Love you, too, sugar,” the angel deadpanned. He took Moses’ hand and they went to Heaven.
This story of Moses only appears in Islamic tradition, which is why Azrael is never mentioned by name in the Bible and is only briefly mentioned in Judaism.
While I may have made up all of the dialogue in this story, the rest of it is faithful to what’s recorded in the Sahih al-Bukhari (a collection of Muslim sayings and teachings). Moses legit punched an archangel to stave off death, only to turn around and agree to go without a fuss.
You can’t blame him, though. Death is terrifying. Problem is, we’ve all got to deal with it. You can kick and scream and fight all you want, and it might even buy you a few extra years, but eventually we all die.
The other moral is don’t procrastinate. You can’t push it off forever; that boss/teacher will come back. And if you went with Moses’ method, they might be bringing police charges with them.
They say it’s not the fall that kills you.
For Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.
On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. Bernat’s own secret assignment is to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision.
So when the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?
There are few things in life more satisfying than reading an incredible book you got for free. (Yay, giveaways!) Robin Bennis’. The Guns Above is a jam-packed, military fantasy adventure about sexism and friendship. I’ve rarely read a book so fast. If I didn’t work full-time, I probably would’ve finished it in a day.
There are many awesome things about this book. The first is the characters themselves. Every single one of them is a sarcastic smartass. None more so than the two main characters: Josette and Bernat. It is beautiful.
Normally I’m not a fan of cliches or tropes. This book has managed to find one of the very few tropes I like, the Sexist Pig Spends Time With Awesome Woman And Stops Being A Sexist Pig narrative arc, and it does it very well. Bernat is horrible at the start of the book: spoiled, misogynistic, a complete and total idiot. By the end of the book, he’s still spoiled, but a hell of a lot less misogynistic and a bit more intelligent. You go from hating his guts the first page you meet him to wanting to hug him at the end.
Josette herself is one of those amazing, kickass military women who does a spectacular job of hiding all of her insecurities and doubts. She has zero tolerance for incompetence from anyone, including her superior officers and herself. In a world that is 100% patriarchal and full of people who want to bring her down, she is her own harshest critic. I’d hug her, but I’m pretty sure she’d stab me for implying she needs it.
Bennis manages to show the horrors of war and how such circumstances bring out the best and worst of humanity in eighteen short chapters. Nobody seems to be sure what they’re fighting for (Bernat), and those who do know understand it’s a pretty dumb reason, but they’ll do it anyway because it’s what their country demands of them (Josette). It’s a very skeptical view of war, but done in a way that doesn’t bash soldiers who are honestly just protecting their home. It’s a rare tightrope ability.
The best thing about this book for me is probably the chemistry between Bernat and Josette. It’s not romantic. There is zero romance or sexual tension between these two. It’s established from the start that Bernat prefers women at least a decade older than him, and Josette never mentions any past lovers or desires. It’s purely a platonic relationship. By the end of the book, they’re more like brother and sister. Words cannot express how grateful I was to find a story that centered on two characters of the opposite sex who did not pursue a romantic relationship between them. I was ecstatic.
Hands down, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, and I’m rarely so invested in the characters. The front cover says it’s the first of a series, and I sincerely hope we see many more airship adventures to come.
It's giveaway time! This week's giveaway is extra special. We have not only the fourth installment of the Earth's Final Chapter series, but also a free poster to go with it!
The image is one of the cover designs for book one, Avinon. It's the one on the right down below with the glowing red sword. While 25 lucky stars will win a free download of book four, one winner will receive an 11 x 17-inch poster!
The book-winners will receive a copy of Kay: Capital City Arena Champion. This story throws a bit of Gladiator into the sci-fi universe. Check out the description:
Far from home and in a foreign land, Kaytherine must fight for her life in the Federation Capital City arena. Mutants, Cyborgs, and other creatures will face off, in the next adventure in "Earth's Final Chapter."
Review by Mark Angelides:
"Kay," the fourth book in Earth’s Final Chapter, has a very different feel to it in terms of character development and getting to know the different people. The Kay character is a real trooper that keeps you turning pages, in anticipation of the next key to her history. In some ways it’s a sad book as it examines what a life of slavery can do to a person, but the gritty characters keep it fast-paced.
The artwork for this volume is of a very different style. A lot more “savage” in interpretation, but it fits in well with the bloodiness of the plot. With a fantastic and gory finale, this is my firm favorite of the series so far.
Once again: 25 people will receive the code for a free download, and one lucky winner will receive a free poster.
Hurry! This giveaway ends Thursday, September 21st.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!