Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Premature Book Review: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer

I needed something funny to read. I was getting bored with The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, and went looking for a new book by the other Defoe; Gideon Defoe, author of The Pirates! in their Adventures with... books. Sadly, there was nothing new, but in my search I did come across this book. Jonathan L. Howard's Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (2009).

Johannes is a scientist who sold his soul to Satan in order to become a necromancer. He began to find, despite scientific proof of a soul, that his soullessness was interfering with his necromancy. Feeling that his bargain with Satan was not drawn out properly, he journeys to Hell to renegotiate. Satan agrees to a wager, where Cabal will run a soul-reaping carnival, and has one year to acquire one hundred souls for Satan.

Thus far, the book is cleverly written. It is funny without being wacky. Cabal is egotistical and a snob, and feels the "ritual" part of rituals are unimportant, save those that are truly necessary. When he journeys to Hell, he browbeats the devil's minions into giving him what he wants.
There was hidden meaning in the names he must call, the letters he must chant. That didn’t mean he had to approve or even be impressed by them. As he recited the Grand Conjuration, he thought that some magicians might have better served the world by writing crossword puzzles.

[...]

“Lo!” cried the demon. “I am here! What dost thou seek of me? Why dost thou disturb my repose? Smite me no more with that dread rod!” He looked at Cabal. “Where’s your dread rod?”

“I left it at home,” replied Cabal. “Didn’t think I really needed it.”

“You can’t summon me without a dread rod!” said Lucifuge, appalled.

“You’re here, aren’t you?”

“Well, yes, but under false pretences. You haven’t got a goatskin or two vervain crowns or two candles of virgin wax made by a virgin girl and duly blessed. Have you got the stone called Ematille?”

“I don’t even know what Ematille is.”

Neither did the demon.
In all, I am finding this book to be a lot of fun. It is similar to Gideon Defoe, but perhaps more Peter Cook & Dudley Moore than Monty Python. It is quite similar to Piers Anthony's more comedic works, but a touch more tongue-in-cheek. I think I shall enjoy this one immensely.

7 comments:

Tommy Salami said...

Sounds like fun. If you want a modern take on supernatural fun with a dash of wry humor, I recommend James P. Blaylock's books "The Last Coin," and "All the Bells on Earth," about the 30 pieces of silver Judas was paid, and a novelty mail-order salesman who acquires a charm that is more than it seems. I enjoyed both immensely, and recommend them often.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Cool. I'll have to check those out. Thanks.

Darius Whiteplume said...

BTW, I found this online regarding the summoning Cabal is performing above.

“When the night of action has arrived, the operator shall gather up his rod, goatskin, the stone called Ematille, and shall further provide himself with two vervain crowns, two candlesticks and two candles of virgin wax, made by a virgin girl and duly blessed. Let him take also a new steel and two new flints, with sufficient tinder to kindle a fire, likewise half a bottle of brandy, some blessed incense and camphor, and four nails from the coffin of a dead child. All these must be carried to the place chosen for the great work, where everything hereinafter laid down must be scrupulously performed and the dread Kabalistic circle must be described in an accurate manner. Lastly, it must be carefully borne in mind that there should be either one or three taking part in the ceremony, the Karcist included, who is the person appointed to address the spirit, holding the Destroying Rod in his hand. The evoking process may be given in the actual words of the Grimoire.”

Book of Ceremonial Magic: Chapter IV: The Mysteries of Infernal Evocation according to the Grand Grimoire: Section 1: The Rite of Lucifuge

Copyboy said...

Any stories about necromancers and I'm hooked!

Darius Whiteplume said...

It is pretty good. The more I read the more of an arrogant wizard he becomes.

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

I saw this one in the book store. I was tempted to buy it. Now I think I will.

Darius Whiteplume said...

If you watch "Bones" - I am finding Cabal to be like a wizardly Dr. Brennan. :-)

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