Season of the Serpent book two completes book one in more ways than that of a sequel. It doesn’t just follow it in sense of time, it complements it in terms of ideas. Book one (see my review here) focused on the realm of Chaos; this one introduces us to the realm of Order, and it is as twisted in its way as that of Chaos. Take order to its extreme and personal freedom goes out the door.
The descriptions of the world are superb, in terms of their vision at least. The author takes us on a journey from the lofty pure white heights of Order to the darkest depths of a hell that rivals those of Dante and Bosch.
Our hero Paul is increasingly disillusioned with the level of reality in which the forces of Order and Chaos are in a constant state of war, and as he awakens more to the truth of the situation, he senses that there must be someone else behind the games. As the story progresses, and Paul passes through a series of psychic experiences echoed by physical counterparts, he comes to know who he is and eventually to accept his own power to stop the cosmic game that holds so many souls in bondage.
This is a vast vision with well thought out metaphysics, though ones that I suspect many Christians would find challenging. Layers of analogy and symbolism relate to Jungian and philosophical ideas prevalent in the sixties and seventies, and even contain references to Alice in Wonderland, all set against the backdrop of the Cold War. This book is superb in many ways, and I love the way the end connects with the beginning. Only at the end, did the reason for the prologue in book one become clear.
I would like to have seen the end taken one step higher, beyond even the most subtle formless state and sense of personality, but I should be grateful that at least the author stepped beyond the battle of good and evil, and even with its limitations, the words did evoke a sense of inspiration for the larger possibilities for the human soul.
I would love to give this 5 stars for the richness of the vision and the comprehensive nature of the ideas alone – and the writing is much better than in book one – but it still falls short of fully manifesting its potential due to a tendency in the prose to favour passive over active verbs. With a little more skill in writing, this extraordinary work could be truly brilliant.
As it is, though its multiple layers of overlapping realities may be too bizarre or confusing for many, these two books are a must read for any serious fan of metaphysical fiction, perhaps even if the passive writing has the editor in you rewriting sentences in your head as you read – it is rather distracting. The very aspects that confuse some will delight the philosophically inclined, and I am the first to admit that the lack of sophistication I see in the prose will not be noticed by the general reader. Certainly the offending sentences are surrounded by some beauties that cloak them quite well.
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