Monday, July 21, 2008

Nightworld

Nightworld delivers, big time. After a build up over five preceding books, I had to wonder if F. Paul Wilson could bring off a climax worth the wait, and boy did he. I started the book yesterday morning, planning to only read a couple of chapters and then take care of some other things, but I read a third of Nightworld at a sitting. Then I forced myself to put it down so I could get some laundry started, eat some lunch, check emails and such. But soon I was back to the book and I read the other two thirds straight through.
In the two previous books we see the slow rebirth and rise of Rasalom, the ancient enemy from Wilson's novel The Keep. He has returned to earth through a series of events far too complicated to summarize here. At the end of Reprisal he is poised to begin his reign of terror and to plunge the world into a literal hell on earth. As Nightworld begins he gets right down to business.
One morning the sun rises five minutes late. It's not physically possible, but it happens. And the sun sets about the same amount of time too early. Then a huge hole opens in Central Park and as darkness falls even earlier, the hole spews forth an army of hellish creatures that begin slaughtering the citizens of New York. Over the next few days more holes open around the world, and larger and more savage creatures emerge, sort of like the extra dimensional monsters in Stephen King's The Mist. These are some bad boys. The creatures can't abide the light, so they only come out at night, but every day the sun rises later and sets earlier and soon there will be no sunrise and harried humanity will have no respite from the monsters.
Meanwhile, in a sort of chrysalis beneath the ground, Rasalom is growing and changing into a new form, feeding off the fear and despair his legions are creating above, and planning his revenge against his ancient enemy Glaeken.
Characters from the previous books play pivotal roles in Nightworld. I'd mentioned in reviews of the earlier books in the Adversary cycle that a couple of the books (The Tomb and The Touch) didn't seem to have much connection to The Keep and the last three books, but all becomes clear as the now old and feeble Glaeken gathers the surviving characters into a rag tag "army" to try one last battle against Rasalom before the earth falls into final darkness.
It sounds epic and it is. Wilson's signature mix of horror and action/adventure is at full blast here as the heroes rise to the occasion only to be struck down again and again. Pain, loss, and tragedy are ladled on the protagonists as Rasalom feeds off their despair. But Glaeken has a plan. He'll need the help of each of his allies and especially that of Wilson's urban mercenary Repairman Jack, and even that may not be enough.
In case you can't tell, I really really liked this book. The whole Adversary series seems tailor made for me. It has all the genres I read, crime fiction, fantasy, horror, action, and it begins and to some degree ends with sword & sorcery. So I guess it's fitting that I discovered the series through Wilson's short story, Demonsong, read in an old S&S anthology purchased on a whim. I do wonder what readers who never read Demonsong make of some of the dialog between Rasalom and Glaeken. Without that hard to find short story you don't really know why some of this stuff is happening. Of course it doesn't really matter in the end. The books can be read without even knowing the short story exists, but it certainly adds something extra for those who've read it.
Anyway, I highly recommend the Adversary Cycle. Just don't start it if you have other things to do.

No comments: