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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Angel's Game


The Angel's Game Cover

ISBN13: 9780385528702
ISBN10: 0385528701
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Less Than Standard
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Reading Group Guide

The author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind returns with The Angel’s Game , a dazzling portrait of Barcelona in the 1920s–and a labyrinth of allies and villains, lovers and legends who take us on a wondrous literary adventure. The millions of readers who savored The Shadow of the Wind will delight in being transported to familiar haunts–including the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the bookshop founded by the Sempere family–while discovering a previous generation of characters. Those who are experiencing the fiction of Carlos Ruiz Zafón for the first time will find themselves mesmerized by the dangerous liaisons brewing in The Angel’s Game. This is the story of David Martín, a young novelist who sells his soul when he accepts a small fortune in exchange for writing a work that ignites fervor and faith among gullible sinners. As the stakes escalate to murder, David becomes embroiled in a mystery whose clues lie buried in the abandoned mansion he inhabits. Though books have always been his refuge, helping him survive a troubled childhood, he soon realizes that his life as a writer is destined to cost him everything … including his beloved Cristina, the one woman who dared to warn him against forsaking his art.

Unfolding along the winding streets of Barcelona’s Old Quarter, The Angel’s Game celebrates the magic of the printed word, and the triumph of storytelling in a world of mighty duels between truth and fiction.

The questions and discussion topics that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Angel’s Game. We hope they will enrich your experience of this enchanting novel. To find other great books for reading groups, visit

1. The novel begins with David’s recollection of the first time he tasted “the sweet poison of vanity” by writing for a living. How much of his career is fueled by vanity versus poverty? Why was it so difficult for him to heed Cristina’s warnings about selling out to greedy publishers?

2. Like Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s previous novel, The Angel’s Game is written in the first person. What does David reveal about his view of the world as he tells us his story? How might the novel have unfolded if it had been told from Andreas Corelli’s point of view?

3. Sempere influenced David’s life by giving him a copy of Great Expectations. Later returned to him by Corelli, the book still bore the bloody fingerprints of David’s father. How did David’s life resemble a Dickens novel? How was he affected by his parents’ history? How did books and booksellers save him? What is the most memorable book you received as a child?

4. Discuss the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, described especially vividly in chapter 20 (act one). What do the contents of the cemetery say about which books have long lives, and which ones are overlooked? What is required to honor the soul of a book, applying Sempere’s belief that a book absorbs the soul of its author and its readers?

5. What is the common thread in each of Corelli’s tactics for luring David? How did you interpret his “dream” of Chloé? What made David a vulnerable target?

6. What aspects of his identity does David have to leave behind when he becomes Ignatius B. Samson, author of City of the Damned (chapter 8, act one)? What does The Steps of Heaven say about who he wants to be and who Irene Sabino became?

7. How does Pedro Vidal justify his exploitation of David, stealing the woman he loves and capitalizing on David’s prowess as a writer? How did your opinion of Vidal shift throughout the novel? Does he redeem himself in chapter 22 (act three)? Describe someone whom you idolized early in your career who later proved to be untrustworthy.

8. In chapter 24 (act one), Corelli reveals his plan to David, describing religion as “a moral code that is expressed through legends, myths or any type of literary device.” Does this definition match your experience with religion? What do Lux Aeterna and Corelli’s project indicate about faith and the written word?

9. How did you react to the revelations about Ricardo Salvador at the end of chapter 14 (act three)? What had your theories been about Corelli’s network?

10. Explore the novel’s title. Ultimately, who are the angels in David’s world? What are the rules of Corelli’s game? Who are its winners?

11. Discuss Barcelona, especially the traces of renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, as if the city were a character in the novel. How do the tower house in Calle Flassaders (first described in chapter 8, act one) and Vidal’s Villa Helius, along with the cathedrals, cemeteries, Las Ramblas, and other locales, set the tone for The Angel’s Game?

12. What is the effect of reading a novel about a novelist? What truths about the intersection of art and commerce are reflected in the story of Barrido & Escobillas and in their subsequent demise at the hands of an even more controlling publisher?

13. If you had been Inspector Victor Grandes, would you have believed David’s story in chapters 18 and 19 (act three)?

14. How did you interpret the novel’s closing scene, particularly the presence of Cristina? Throughout the novel, how did David reconcile the ideal of Cristina with the realities of circumstance?

15. What is special about the bond between David and Isabella? What do they teach each other about love? If you have read The Shadow of the Wind, discuss your reactions to Daniel’s heritage, revealed in the epilogue.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 10 comments:

mmackie, August 31, 2012 (view all comments by mmackie)
There is something just musical about Zafon's writing--perhaps that is the translation, but as with his first novel in this "series" I somehow think it is just as musical in Spanish. He draws the reader in, keeps him interested, and delivers a solid punch throughout the book. The ending can be taken in so many ways--it's good to have your readers wrapped up in discussions when a novel is over. Beautifully done, interesting, and engaging, just as a good novel should be.
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Aubrey Kendall, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by Aubrey Kendall)
Second in Ruiz Zafon's series, which traipses through time, Barcelona and a gothic love of literature, The Angel's Game is a lot of devilish fun. If you've already read The Shadow of the Wind, the be prepared for a darker turn. Maintaining the same flavor of film noir (think bad detectives and woman who melt men's hearts) as The Shadow of the Wind, The Angle's Game is far more magical than it's predecessor. The author tends to rely on tropes to portray his characters, but they are lovable none the less. The protagonist is an author with a shadow pressing down upon him, did he really make a deal with the devil? What is festering in his Modernist style home, complete with leering gargoyles and a turret. If you enjoy a darker flavor in your reading, this book is an easy way to get there. There isn't the lingering gruesomeness of Poe, but you'll still want to make sure the doors are locked tight every night. I tend to avoid what people call "light reading" because I am a college student and I feel lazy if I don't, but this is just fun. Step out of your ivory tower and join me in a good, faustian detectivesque novel.
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steph h, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by steph h)
"Angel's Game" has one of the most beautiful descriptions of a sky I have ever come across. I savored this book purely for the beautiful constructed sentences, re-reading passages over and over. Despite this I managed to finish it in less than 24 hours. It is the kind of book that ruins whatever you choose to read next, so I chose to re-read the only book I have enjoyed more, "Shadow of the WInd".
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Product Details

Ruiz Zafon, Carlos
Doubleday Books
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz
Barcelona (spain)
Antiquarian booksellers - Spain - Barcelona
Literature-A to Z
fiction;barcelona;spain;mystery;historical fiction;novel;gothic;books about books;thriller;writers;1920s;suspense;magical realism;literature;fantasy;spanish literature;supernatural;literary fiction;historical;writing;cemetery of forgotten books;21st centu
Publication Date:
June 2009
Grade Level:
9.55 x 6.39 x 1.5 in 1.9 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Angel's Game Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 544 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385528702 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

If you've read The Shadow of the Wind, you won't need to read another word — you were likely so enthralled with Carlos Ruiz Zafón's breathtaking literary thriller that you've already ordered your copy of Angel's Game. For those who don't know, Zafón is a masterful storyteller whose Cemetery of Forgotten Books will enchant every lover of books.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Fans of Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel. In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is born into poverty, but, aided by patron and friend Pedro Vidal, he rises to become a crime reporter and then a beloved pulp novelist. David's creative pace is frenetic; holed up in his dream house — a decrepit mansion with a sinister history — he produces two great novels, one for Vidal to claim as his own, and one for himself. But Vidal's book is celebrated while David's is buried, and when Vidal marries David's great love, David accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger. As he explores the past and his mysterious publisher, David becomes a suspect in a string of murders, and his race to uncover the truth is a delicious puzzle: is he beset by demons or a demon himself? Zafón's novel is detailed and vivid, and David's narration is charming and funny, but suspect. Villain or victim, he is the hero of and the guide to this dark labyrinth that, by masterful design, remains thrilling and bewildering. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Once again, Zafón proves himself a magician, vividly invoking bygone Barcelona while unscrolling a byzantine plot at breakneck pace....[A] feast."
"Review" by , "Zafón delivers a warning about the dangers of obsession, mixed with an obvious passion for literature and the printed word."
"Review" by , "[A] pact-with-the-devil tale whose only purpose is to give its readers some small intimation of the darker pleasures of the literary arts, the weird thrill of storytelling without conscience."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind comes The Angel's Game, a new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love. Through a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.
"Synopsis" by , In the turbulent and mysterious Barcelona of the 1920s, David Martin, a young novelist obsessed with a forbidden love, receives an offer from an enigmatic publisher to write a book like no other before — a book for which "people will live and die." In return, he is promised a fortune and, perhaps, much more.

Once again, the author of The Shadow of the Wind takes us into the gothic universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy, and a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets where the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.

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