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Baal

Novel by Robert R McCammon (USA) 1978.

Baal, prince of demons, returns to earth to create havoc as a problem child, more havoc as an orphan in an orphanage (naturally) and much more havoc in the Middle East as "the living Muhammed". As such, he heals the sick and creates almost ghost cities by drawing followers into the desert to his ceremonies. A shaman, a professor of theology and a mysterious stranger known only as Michael, see through his hypnotic command over the masses and try to track him down once and for all, as he tries to play his winning card by seemingly turning himself into a martyr whilst making his escape to the Arctic.

Whilst reading, this book as a whole doesn't seem to be too inventive, and the style is pretty damn annoying in places, but in retrospect it's surprisingly memorable. This was McCammon's debut novel and he has since become a prolific and popular author, concentrating on but not working entirely in the horror genre. Baal contains various good ideas and is a good pointer for the many better books that followed it. Like many debut books by prolific authors (Ramsey Campbell's The Inhabitant of the Lake, Guy N Smith's Werewolf by Moonlight etc), the interest factor takes precedence over any literary merit: seeing how a talent like McCammon's develops is always fascinating.


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