Saturday, January 25, 2014

Necromancer and Self tear it up in Tom Piccirilli's "A Lower Deep".

Here's a review of "A Lower Deep" that I wrote a couple of months back. I picked up this book back in September; I had heard some good things about Tom Piccirilli's stories, and the cover art and synopsis intrigued me. I figured I could read a little at a time, and see how I liked it. After reading the opening sequence, I found I could not put it down! The novel concerns Necromancer, an adept in the magic arts, and his demonic familiar, simply called Self. After a catastrophic event involving his old coven, he chooses to wander the earth, seeking something that only he knows. This story, in my mind, is mainly about the journey, getting from the event that nearly killed him and took away the woman he loves; and towards a fated meeting with those who were there at the start. It's about how unfinished chapters in your life can come, uncalled, back into the present, and force a conclusion. The novel is highly detailed, and has a distinct surreal, dreamlike quality to it; broken up by very substantial episodes of supernatural violence. The character of Necromancer, in my mind, is a very moral type of person. That said, his code of ethics and those of the general populace are not always one and the same. He is not really a hero, villain, or anti-hero, per se... He is just a man, with unworldly powers, who has seen too much of the things that lurk behind the façade of "reality". His motivation, once you grasp it, is easy to understand. The struggle to choose between what he desperately wants, and something that is larger than himself, is also something every human being goes through, to one extent or another. The characters populating this book are all well crafted, and very intriguing, in their own right. The supernatural aspects are very well done and detailed; they are definitely one of my favorite aspects of the book. The villain is suitably evil, but you can, in a way, sympathize with his motivations. Mainly, for me, experiencing the changes forced upon Necromancer by his unwanted journey is one of the strongest draws of this book. Reading of his interactions with past friends and foes, with truly unwished for new experiences, and watching him grow are some of the best parts. Slight flaws that I see in the novel; I would have liked more backstory, and a bit more room to flesh out this wonderful tale. In a few instances, some of the characters act against type, and choose an entirely baffling response to an event. That said, these are minor points, and the latter can be explained away as simple human nature. After all, we are a very wrong-headed collection of malcontents, in general. I know I am, at least. The only other problem I have with this... is that I want more! Much, much more with this character. Thankfully, I found a collection of short stories that were precursors to this novel, titled Pentacle, on kindle. I will be happily reading them, and have one last thing to say... More Necromancer and Self, Tom!

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