Kirkus Star


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First work in an overarching eschatalogical trilogy about fallen angels that, when done, may well become a classic science fantasy. Biologist-sociologist-novelist Stableford leaps from a sociobiology of vampires (The Empire of Fear, 1991) to a treatise on the biology of angels, subgenus werewolf. Werewolves as fallen angels? Well, the werewolves of London, famed in children's verses, still live and are indeed shape-shifters (ten thousand or more years old) who sleep for a thousand years or so at a time and awaken to find themselves in new surroundings and needing human eyes to help them understand the modern world. Here, that world is the 1870's, in Queen Victoria's London at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Shored up with verses from William Blake, and with long excerpts from mock metaphysical writings, the story seriously pushes Christian myth out to its boundaries while scraping it to ribbons with Darwinian theory-and mixes in some Egyptian gods for spice. As in Bram Stoker, all is Victorian dialogue, no one speaks in contractions. The plot: David Lydyard and Sir Edward Tallentyre are seeking answers to metamysteries in remotest Egypt when David is bitten by an asp-like snake that infects him with the soul of the Sphinx, the slowly awakening great cat-mother of the fallen Creators from the Golden Age of the Gods, now that rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem to be reborn. Back in England, David, nightmare-riddled, falls prey to black magician Harkender, who tells him that he's been chosen to help clear the mind of the reborn Sphinx, whose inner eye can't make sense of modern times. Meanwhile, David is also pursued by werewolf immortals who despise the Sphinx.... Exposition-ridden but way off in a class of its own.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1992
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Carroll & Graf