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God's Demon    by Wayne Barlowe order for
God's Demon
by Wayne Barlowe
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Wayne Barlowe is known already for his graphic and terrifying paintings of demons and extraterrestrial beings, and this novel manages to portray in print what his paintings do visually. There is a sense of repulsion at every turn of the page; hellish demon-beings encased in robes of skin, Prince Beelzebub formed almost entirely of flies and the principle servant to Lucifer himself, tormented souls being compressed into building blocks for the grand cities of Hell.

The repugnance is insidious throughout the book, save for one Demon Major, Sargatanas. Like all the Demon Majors, he amassed a group of equal and lesser demons when they were banished from Heaven and together they set about building his city, a city that proved to be very different from those of his neighbours; here Hell took on a quieter, more serene feel as Sargatanas tried to make a model community more reminiscent of Heaven than the tortured place he now inhabited. He among his peers felt regret for the behaviour that resulted in their banishment, and he would dearly like to rectify the situation and return to God's fold.

This fantasy is not for the faint of heart; the journey is nightmarish and very detailed in its descriptions the artist in Barlowe paints a picture in words, leaving little to the imagination. There are political intrigues, desires, hopes, villainy and guilt depicted in the dark pages of this novel, which looks like it could be the first in a series.

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