THE ARENA MAN by Steve Englehart


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Max August is a magickal superhero. Once upon a time, he was a soldier in the Vietnam conflict and later a DJ, but now, with the aid of magick and the bonus of immortality, Max crusades against the forces of evil. 

Englehart’s (The Plain Man, 2011, etc.) fourth installment in the Max August series opens with comic-book intensity:  Every page snaps the camera to a new location as the reader discovers what is happening to every major (and some minor) character simultaneously. With his apprentice and lover, Pam, at his side, Max seeks to discover what happened to the soul of his first wife, Val. They have been looking for her for two years, so she is hidden well. Of course, the reader knows that Vee, chanteuse and student of Cornelius Agrippa’s book (yes, the book is her master and mentor), has shed her old identity. Meanwhile, the Necklace (a cabal comprised of links in a chain of corrupt magickal men and woman masquerading as leaders of society) has joined forces with the demonic Belia’al. They are conspiring to cause a natural catastrophe (employing U.S. Black Ops helicopters and magickal doorways) which will misdirect everyone’s attention from the real crime. Meanwhile, a diabola, Alexsandra, is posing as the lover of Lawrence Breckenridge, who is the leader (the Gemstone) of the Necklace—although she merely appears to be in his bed, having enough power to remotely manipulate matter—and gearing up for a battle of her own against Belia’al.  And then Max shoves a dead body in the Collective Unconscious and assumes his identity in order to infiltrate the conspiracy. Meanwhile, Pam has fallen into the Subconscious and, with the help of mythical creatures, must find her way back to Max with the Key. 

Englehart’s latest is a thrilling ride that will appeal to readers of fantasy and conspiracy alike.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2500-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2013


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