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review 2018-04-15 22:56
Weird ESPionage from the master of mashing up horror and adventure
Necroscope - Brian Lumley



Brian Lumley's Necroscope is not heroic fiction, which I typically focus on. It is very entertaining and has connections to Weird Sword & Sorcery adventure which led me to read it:


1) Heroes of Dreams & Khash series: I discovered Lumley’s writing via his Weird Sword & Sorcery. Vintage dark fantasy spawned in the early 1900’s from the work of pen-pals R.E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft; though it seems rare to find quality Conan-Mythos mash-ups. Lumely has done so a few times. First, his Hero of Dreams series is an overt mashup of Lovecraft’s Dreamcycle and Leiber’s Fafred and Gray Mouser series. Lumley’s Tarra Khash series (a.k.a. Tales of Primal Land) was written in a similar vein (i.e. fun Sword & Sorcery adventure in a Weird-Fiction, Cthulhu-esque world).


2) Blood Omen Legacy of Kain: A huge fan of the Horror S&S Game Series “Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain”, I was delighted to learn that Lumely’s writing influenced Denis Dyack’s vision of Nosgoth. Denis Dyack, creator of Silicon Knights, made the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain game (various incarnations from 1996 thru 2009). As a Kain fan I did not know the influence from Lumely until I saw an interview on Youtube (The Quantum Tunnel 2016 called Blood Omen Legacy Of Kain Deep Dive 1) in which Dyack reveals that the classic horror/action-rpg game was influenced by Lumey’s Necroscope series. Given the Visceral, Vampire, Lovecraftian, and Time Travel elements, this makes sense; however, the book has a contemporary setting versus the medieval one in the game.


As a fan of Khash, Heroes of Dreams, and Legacy of Kain… I just had to check out Necroscope. So what is it really?


Necroscope is “ESPionage” fiction (a word coined in this book), blending paranormal horror with spy adventure. It kicks off a series of 18 books (published 1986 to 2013). This first entry is entertaining and sets an expansive foundation for a wild ride. People with supernatural powers (predicting the future, speaking to the dead, etc.) are being enlisted into government agencies.


The book is ostensibly about the battle between the United Kingdom vs. the Russian governments special forces, but the conflict is really about Harry Keogh (speaker to the dead) vs. Boris Dragosani (who approximates a vampire). Each is associated with a government, but each is motivated by personal goals which take center stage. The reader learns about supernatural powers as these two do. After they master their respective powers, they go to battle in a most bizarre way chock-full of undead things and over the top time travel.


Expect lots of changing perspective and lots of story threads that will gel about half way through. Artwork is unexpectedly sprinkled throughout the book (even the Kindle version). The geometry puzzles and Moebius Strips shown relate the story and make for fun, relevant, diversions. This is very digestible horror for non-horror fans. A very fast read, recommended to just about everyone who likes dark adventure.



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Source: www.selindberg.com/2018/04/necroscope-review-by-se.html
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review 2017-10-22 00:02
Necroscope IV: Deadspeak - Brian Lumley
Necroscope IV: Deadspeak - Brian Lumley

Harry Keogh has returned from Starside/Sunside and he's been stripped of his power to converse with the dead, or deadspeak. He also isn't able to travel via the Möbius Continuum. His wamphryii son disabled his ability while on Starside. For four years, Harry has been unable to use his former ability to speak with the dead, except while he is sleeping. Unfortunately, he can not remember his conversations with them once he has awakened. He is still employed with E-Branch, just in case his abilities are restored and for his knowledge of wamphryii. Fortunately, there are no more...or is there? High up in the Balkan mountains, where Faethor Ferenczy's castle ruins remain, there is another wamphryii plotting his return. This vampire is Faethor's son, Janos. Janos is a vampire and an expert at black magic, but not a full wamphryii. What powers he doesn't possess, he looks to steal, including those that are locked in the head of the former necroscope. Will Harry ever gain his abilities back and defeat the vampire scourge or will Janos steal everything that is precious in Harry's life?



Necroscope IV: Deadspeak jumps right back in where III left off, giving us more enlightenment into Lumley's vampiric mythos while also delivering more of the same ingredients you'd expect from a Necroscope book. Harry's character is still a tormented soul trying to cope with the huge responsibilities he feels resting on his shoulders, now made infinitely more difficult with the loss of his abilities. Janos is a worthy villain that you want to see get his. Lumley even throws some Cthulhu Mythos Yog-Sothoth in there. He has always been influenced by Lovecraft and I love seeing those influences make their way into a series that it helped create. Necroscope is kind of like a James Bond story or an AC/DC album. Each one is slightly different, expands slightly from the original, but still delivers the goods as you'd expect. Looking forward to Part 5.




4 1/2 Dead Body Salts out of 5


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review 2016-10-12 00:00
Necroscope - Brian Lumley There’s a lot going on in this one. It is much more than the standard blood sucker tale that I thought it was going to be. Brian Lumley pens a unique take on the vampire mythos and adds some very cool paranormal esponiage elements as well. His characterizations were very well drawn and while the pacing is slow at times, it never disengaged me from the storyline. It had a real “old school horror” feeling throughout. Excellent. 4+ Stars.
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review 2015-06-23 00:00
Necroscope - Brian Lumley ""
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review 2015-06-19 00:00
Necroscope - Brian Lumley Man, do I remember this book. I discovered horror when I was in high school, thanks to Stephen King, and the Necroscope books always caught my eye whenever I browsed the bookstore, enough so that I have no idea why I never read it. I may have appreciated this novel more had I read it back in high school, but now, I feel like the book is kind of a mess.

There's something odd about Lumley's narrative. I can't quite place it, but there's something about his descriptions and dialogue that are jarring to me. There are odd bits interspersed into the narrative that take me out of the illusion of the story. It also didn't help that the story jumps around in time. The book starts off in the present (-ish) day, then dives into a lengthy flashback, which jumps between two characters and also goes into flashbacks. Oh, and the hero of the story, Harry Keogh, features in about half the novel, but mostly in his formative years. Once he gets to be, you know, the hero, there's only about 100 pages left in the story. It feels jumbled, and without focus, and it was hard for me to stay invested in the story.

For some reason, I thought this was going to be a vampire novel, and while the novel does feature a vampire (otherwise the cover art would be out of place), the story is really about ESP and other psychic abilities. In fact, the story starts off featuring two types of these abilities -- necromancy, which is the art of reading secrets from dead bodies; and necroscopy, which is the ability to communicate with the dead -- but then as the story progresses, more and more abilities are drawn in, muddying the story. By the end of the novel, it felt more like I was reading a science fiction novel than a horror novel, and while that would be fine under normal conditions, I can't help but feel like I was misled by the way the book was marketed.

Harry's ability allows him not just to talk to the dead, but also to glean skills from them by essentially allowing them to take over and do their own thing. At different parts of the story, he's a math prodigy, a successful novelist, a skilled fighter, and has mastered the art of ice skating, but through no efforts of his own. Harry winds up being a shell, really, just a conduit through which dead people can use their skills. It's a clever enough idea, but once you realize that the heroes aren't Harry, but those he channels, he becomes less a sympathetic character and more just an ordinary person with no real skills of his own. It seemed to be a failure in his character development, and I think that had a big effect on how I responded to the book.

I wonder how relevant this book would be to someone who didn't grow up in the '80s, though, or at least know enough about the Cold War. So much of the setting and theme revolve around the Soviet Union and the KGB, and while it does take me back to high school (which is really the perfect frame of mind for me to read the book, given that's all I was reading at the time) it dates the work as much as the female stereotypes do in 1950s science fiction.

Despite all that, the book didn't feel like a slog. It read quickly, and I felt engaged enough in what was going on to keep reading to see where it was going. I just didn't see that it was a worthwhile read. When I started reading this, and looked at the rest of the books in the series (four more in this one, and eleven others in tangential series), I was a bit apprehensive about tackling a series that big (my plan is that if I start a series I like, I'll go ahead and finish the whole thing before starting on something else (and yes, that makes me apprehensive about getting around to The Wheel of Time)), but now that I've finished the book, I'm not that interested in continuing on.

Ultimately, the book feels forced, and a little stupid. I think it's a good representation of what horror was back in the '80s, but I've moved beyond just wanting to be scared, preferring to read a story that's emotionally compelling. Necroscope, unfortunately, doesn't have that.
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