BooksOfTheMoon

Lucifer, Vol. 4: The Divine Comedy

By Mike Carey

Rating: 4 stars

Lucifer has bound open his portal to another universe and thrown gates throughout the cosmos, welcoming allcomers, his one commandment being: worship nothing. But the Basanos and other old foes are still out to get him, and they may finally have their chance.

Volume three of this series left me a bit underwhelmed, but this one had everything I wanted in spades: a nefarious plot coming to fruition; pride coming before a fall; cavalry coming to the rescue; and the voice of God. I can’t wait to get hold of the next volumes now to find out where Morningstar goes from here.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401200091
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2003

Lucifer, Vol. 3: A Dalliance With the Damned

By Mike Carey

Rating: 3 stars

This volume of everybody’s favourite anti-hero contains three apparently unrelated triptychs, a story of what’s going on in Hell and a short after-story where Michael confronts Lucifer again.

This volume didn’t really do an awful lot for me. The three triptychs were interesting, the first being being Mazikeen’s story of trying to “fix” her face. After being an almost-illegible face in a mask for two volumes, it’s nice to see her get fleshed out a bit, and her story is taken up again in the final segment of the volume. Elaine’s story of trying to find her friend, a journey that takes her to Hell and back, was probably the least interesting of the three, while the final triptych showing Lucifer’s Garden of Eden and the serpent that appears there had a marvellous irony to it.

The second story, showing a power-play going on in Hell seemed like a side-show, with no real purpose other than to fill space. I liked the conceit that in a particular region of Hell, the fashion amongst demons has become to take on the aspect of Humans of the Renaissance period, and what comes of that, but the central story seemed weak, even if Christopher Rudd was quite a cool character.

The final, short, segment shows us the petitioners who come to Lucifer to try and gain entrance to his new Creation and how he deals with them, while simultaneously showing us two young people who are drawn to it and sneak in. I’m sure their fate is symbolic, but I’m not sure what of, other than showing just how callous Lucifer can be.

I’ll continue reading, as I find the arc plot interesting, but this volume of shorts seemed more like punctuation in the story rather than the next chapter.

Book details

ISBN: 9781563898921
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2002

Devil in the Gateway

By Mike Carey

Rating: 3 stars

In the Sandman story “Season of Mists”, Lucifer gives up the key to Hell and loses his wings to walk the world. This series now continues his story. This volume re-introduces us to Lucifer, owner of a nightclub in Los Angeles as an angel comes to him, asking for a job to be done, with any payment he wishes in return.

Lucifer is an intriguing anti-hero. He’s arrogant and smug, but with good cause. You never really feel that he’s in any danger as we follow him around, but that he’s a source of danger to others, who are caught up in his plans.

It’s those around him that suffer. We see that as the camera cuts to humans bound up in Lucifer’s plans, and we see them in danger, and there’s always the sense that the cover star might not coming riding to the rescue. This isn’t a hero, he feels no compulsion to right wrongs, he’ll only come to your aid if you have something he wants or if it’s part of a longer term plan.

While the story didn’t engross me entirely, the character of Lucifer did. There are hints of what he wants to do with his reward and I’m looking forward to seeing those develop.

Book details

ISBN: 9781840232998
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
Year of publication: 2001

Children and Monsters

By Mike Carey

Rating: 4 stars

After gaining a gateway to the void beyond Creation as reward for a task done for Heaven in the previous volume, this volume shows us what Lucifer wants to do with it. Eventually. First, he must gather the tools, and while he’s doing that, protect it from those who would take it from him, especially the host of Heaven. First, Lucifer must reclaim his wings from the goddess of another afterworld, and then he moves his pawns to end up doing exactly what he needs.

This second volume of Lucifer’s story shows us just how manipulative and forward-planning the Lightbringer is. The stronger plot, with its quests and battles, help drive it along at a relentless pace and the final few pages, are breathtaking, with the size of Lucifer’s ambitions revealed. I can’t help wondering where the series will go next.

Book details

ISBN: 9781840233919
Year of publication: 2001

Sacrifice Of Fools

By Ian McDonald

Rating: 4 stars

An alien fleet is detected at the edge of the solar system, but they come not as invaders, but as settlers. Here to trade their advanced technology for land, to live amongst us. In Northern Ireland, people barely notice, wrapped up as they are in their own petty dispute, until an 80,000 strong colony of the Shian is deposited amongst them. Reformed ex-con Andy Gillespie works with them, helping to integrate them with the Human communities around them, and when a Shian family is brutally murdered he takes it upon himself to hunt down the killer.

To me this felt like quite a personal book for McDonald, set in the country that he’s called home for most of his life (and my own homeland, even if I’ve made the migration in the opposite direction). He’s scathing about it being wrapped up in its own politics of bigotry and fear that the “community leaders”, and some parts of the community are in this Province. It’s the old joke updated: “yeah, but are they Catholic aliens or Protestant aliens?” The first contact scenario lets him rake an outsider’s critical eye over Ulster and he finds us wanting.

The Shian were pleasingly alien, in mind, if not necessarily in body. Although they are sexless apart from two mating seasons a year, they are humanoid and can pass well enough that sub-cultures spring up, attracted to them. The idea of encoding language in chemistry and being able to pass it on by exchanging bodily fluids is fascinating (and pleasingly icky).

Of our two point of view characters, ex-con Gillespie is easy to like. He’s the real hero of the book, trying to find a new family to replace the one that fell apart with his marriage and he thinks he’s found it amongst the Shian, until the murders begin. Our other protagonist, Detective Sargent Roisin Dunbar is much less likeable for most of the book. She has entrenched, old-fashioned policing ideas (not necessarily good, when the old police is the RUC) and her prejudices lie near the surface. But as we spend time with her, and get under her skin we start to empathise with her. A neat trick that McDonald pulls off well.

The book, set as it is in the first decade of the 21st century, has now become alt history. It was written in 1996, when the peace process that would lead up to the Good Friday Agreement was still in its early stages, and the Joint Authority (shared sovereignty of Northern Ireland between the UK and the Republic of Ireland) is an interesting alternative, although one that, I think, would have been much harder to get through, than the devolved settlement that we eventually got.

McDonald never shows us how the rest of the world is coping with the Shian, and that also can be a metaphor for Northern Ireland: parochial, petty and wrapped up in its own affairs. Maybe I’m being harsh on my homeland, and maybe the same can be said of most nations but given that apart from a brief mention in the prologue of how the UN was reacting to the news, our focus never leaves Northern Ireland (except for a brief trip to Dublin).

A good first contact story and a good murder mystery. I’ve been a fan of McDonald for some time and this book does nothing to change that.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575060753
Publisher: Victor Gollancz
Year of publication: 1996

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