Bloom has been salting his literary criticism with dashes of kabbalistic and gnostic incunabula for years; here, in this first novel, he really lets his obsession run wild--and we can only hope that it's now out of his system. Valentinus and Perscors, two New Englanders, rendezvous on a barren island with Olam, a heretical angel of the Gnosis, who spirits them to Lucifer, the other world in which abide both the Demiurge and the Pleroma (the Fullness). Valentinus soaks up the knowledge of the latter: "This rocky world is a battered affection of the Pleroma. When the inwardness fell away from itself, through the passion of Achamoth, this became its furthest reach, outward and downward." Meanwhile, Perscors is busy fighting off the forces of the Demiurge, in the form of various Manichees, Archons, and Marcionites, all trying to keep the Gnosis down. The landscape is filled with towers, caves, mills, labyrinths; there are plentiful sword fights and steppings into mirrors--but Bloom never makes any of this vividly visual enough to relieve the tedium. A close-to-unreadable exercise, only for those who share Bloom's gnostic preoccupations--or collectors of literary oddities.