We are not alone. Some call them devils or demons. But they are real. They are down there. And they are waiting for us to find them.
In a cave in the Himalayas, a guide discovers a self-mutilated body with a warning: Satan exists. In the Kalahari Desert, a nun unearths evidence of a proto-human species and a deity called Older-than-Old. In Bosnia, something has been feeding upon the dead in a mass grave. So begins mankind’s most shocking realization: the underworld is a vast geological labyrinth populated by another race of beings.
With all of Hell's precious resources and territories to be won, a global race ensues. Nations, armies, religions, and industries rush to colonize and exploit the subterranean frontier. A scientific expedition is launched westward to explore beneath the Pacific Ocean floor, both to catalog the riches there and to learn how life could develop in the sunless abyss. But in the dark underground, as humanity falls away from them, the scientists and mercenaries find themselves prey not only to the savage creatures, but also to their own treachery, mutiny, and greed. One thing is certain: Miles inside the earth, evil is very much alive.
The premise of this millennial thriller is as audacious as it is problematic: "if there can be a historical Christ," one character hypothesizes, "why not a historic Satan?" Demystification of the ultimate Bad Guy is no easy feat, but Long (Angels of Light) brings it off, if just barely, in a dizzying synthesis of supernatural horror, lost-race fantasy and military SF. From the experiences of a varied cast of characters--including Sister Ali, a Catholic nun serving in South Africa, and Elias Branch, a major with NATO forces in Bosnia--a 21st-century think tank calling itself the Beowulf Circle distills a startling theory: The biblical Satan and his devils in Hell are mythic renderings of Homo hadalis, grotesquely malformed offshoots of Homo sapiens who for centuries have surfaced from underground hideouts to prey on human beings. With the help of Ike Crockett, an escapee from 10 years of "hadal" captivity, Beowulf infiltrates the Helios Corporation's mission to explore caverns honeycombing Earth's interior. Once beneath the Mariana Trench, Beowulf discovers that Helios intends to forcefully annex the world inside the earth's crust to further its business ambitions. Meanwhile, topside, Beowulf's theologians and metaphysicians surmise that the elusive "Satan" has evolved a human form to pass secretly among mankind. Like the subterranean trail blazed by its adventurers, the narrative twists, turns, dead-ends and backtracks. Inventive scenes of underground wonders alternate with talky stretches of scientific discourse and mawkish moments of romance between Ike and Ali. Though its devils prove disappointingly to be made in the image of humans, Long's novel brims with energy, ideas and excitement. 150,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights sold to Warner Bros.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I read this a couple of years ago, and I'm about to read it again. It made my two-timer list (which is a very short list). (update: holds up just as well on the second read. I love this book!)
After my fourth reading, still one of the most compelling books I've read. The characters are fascinating and clearly drawn, and the story is riveting. Long draws a beautiful allegory, imbuing an unknown and hostile environment with savage grace. The great cosmic questions are asked, but as with any great tale, the answers are left to us. One petty cavil: I want to know Isaac's story. He is the alpha and omega character, but we know the least about him. Is that done on purpose?
One of the most terrifying books I've ever read
A hollow-earth adventure novel filled with gore and suspense. I finished it in one night. Best of Longs books.