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Necroscope

Novel by Brian Lumley (England) 1986.

First in a series, to be followed by Wamphyri! (1988), The Source (1989), Deadspawn (1990) and Deadspeak (1991); and a sequel series was begun by Blood Brothers (1992).

Thibor Ferenczy, a Wallachian wamphyri or vampire, is buried alive (or rather undead) in deserted Romanian hills. He intends to convert Boris Dragosani into wamphyri, in return for certain favours, and in turn teach him how to use certain talents. Dragosani wants the talents to use for his own ends, but wants no part in becoming a vampire. He already has one power, that of necromancy; he can extract the knowledge of the dead by ripping their bodies and souls apart. His work for the Soviet ESPionage department is opposed by the English necroscope Harry Keogh, a man who can communicate with the dead without causing them untold suffering, and they in turn revere him as their champion.

Fiendishly plotted, this book is marketed as horror, but in reality is another category-defying Lumley amalgam of horror and hard sf with a pretty substantial chunk of weird fantasy thrown in for good measure. Superbly written and breathlessly paced, so that even the complex psychic talents are easy to follow; maybe it's only the Mobius space-time topology that gets a bit too involved for an average reader. The above plot synopsis is immensely condensed as the book is so complex in its plot and its scope that it's nigh on impossible to give a complete summary here. On top of its original cast, there are guest appearances from a dead but nevertheless still famous mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius, Yuri Andropov (here as KGB head) and the Witch of Endor herself. Suffice to say, this is another veritable Lumley classic with a new and interesting variant on the tired and overplayed vampire legend, and it's one of the few books that really truly is difficult to put down.


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