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The Sorcerer

Novel by Eric Ericson 1978.

Mason, a scientist working in software catalogue systems is invited by a casual lover to an orgy. He accepts but finds himself at a witches' meeting, being initiated into their coven. Though he certainly felt something during the ritual process, he afterwards rejects the idea of joining a coven and attempts to leave the whole thing behind him. Unfortunately, he finds it increasingly difficult to do so, as the coven's master, Frazer, exerts growing pressure on him, both mentally and physically, and he finds himself in over his head. But, though only a beginner, he finds his own powers growing considerably, and he begins to visualise his escape from the coven in terms of defeating Frazer. Meanwhile he must learn what he can, and help towards Frazer's ultimate objective of attaining eternal life.

This was Ericson's first novel dealing with sex and the occult, and it's not a bad one. The plot is played out with style and with surprises, and not to the detriment of characterisation, especially that of Mason (who actually is renamed Thomas after initiation). It is noteable that Ericson sees the occult in a much more modern way than is common in horror fiction, and in dialogue even refers to some of the coven members as being "of the old school", using the occult only as a means of gaining easy sex and easy money. Also, in a nice touch, the formula required to attain eternal life is portrayed as being very technical and understandable only to experts in chemistry: one of the elements required hasn't even been discovered yet. In this way he seems very much to be Dennis Wheatley: The Next Generation, but that's not meant sarcastically. The only problem is that at the speed that modern life seems to run at, such an updating would be required at least every ten years. Not unmissable, but certainly well worth a look.

Apart from a few educated occult novels and a biographical novel of Alastair Crowley, Ericson also wrote The World, the Flesh, the Devil: A Biographical Dictionary of Witches.

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