Heaven and hell duke it out once again in this fourth religious fantasy thriller in the author’s Testament series (Four Dominions, 2018, etc.).
Lucifer, the Principal Resident of hell and the Sum of All Shadows, is fed up with God. So after eons—or at least after three previous Testament installments—he decides to organize the Fallen to “begin their final assault on Heaven.” Of all possible places in the universe, this plot involves climbing out a hole in the Syrian island of Arwad. Their biggest obstacle is not the creator himself but “the accursed Shaw family…the only humans with the knowledge and power to defeat his purpose.” They are the siblings Emma and Bravo Shaw, who are Gnostic Observatines. The Principal Resident wants to drive a wedge between brother and sister, who may not be wholly human. Their great-great grandmother Chynna Sikar had mated with the Fallen Seraph of “Unparalleled Glamour,” Leviathan. He is “something out of a lunatic’s nightmare: a six-winged beast with red and gold eyes, a bestial snout, and ears like a bat’s wings.” Adding to the charm, he likes chowing down on human bones and surrounds himself with an armada of buzzing flies. So what’s not to like? And there’s Oq Ajdar, a chimera that changes from a dragon to a sea serpent to an eagle in a few blinks of the eye. Even good guys take strange form, as Emma is rescued from certain death by a big frog wearing a waistcoat, formal jacket, trousers with a satin stripe, and “jaunty silk ascot.” At least he wasn’t holding a martini glass. The premise is a highly imaginative take on the eternal conflict between good and evil, and just because this novel has a satisfying conclusion doesn’t mean that Lucifer, like Schwarzenegger, won’t be back.
Readers able to suspend great gobs of disbelief will enjoy this yarn, but they might do well to read the books in order.