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The Book of the Beast Paperback – Jan 1989

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Paperback, Jan 1989
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; New edition edition (Jan. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0044403232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0044403234
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,625,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've visited Tanith Lee's Paradys three times, in no particular order, and have lamented leaving every time. Having read The Book of the Dead and of the Mad, I was impatient to roll my eyeballs over the Book of the Beast. Though not quite as deliciously dark as the Dead or as refreshingly twisted as the Mad, the Beast still snapped at my cognitive heels. I am a painfully slow reader but managed to polish this off in a single day! In very short and unanalytically, The Book of the Beast charts the course of a contagious family curse with a fair amount of sex and plenty of unnatural deaths. But these are NOT my only reasons for reading. I just adore the way Lee can plonk me effortlessly into the story, weaving a tight and vivid gothic chill with the city she scapes, the particular colour she threads through her stories (this time a pulse of amethyst and green), as well as her intriguing characters and, of course, some characteristically gooey bits, always disgusting in a delightfully original way. What can I say - I'm morbidly fascinated! If only I could get my itchy mits on The Book of the Damned!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Emerald and amethyst horror... 16 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Raoulin, a young student in 18-century Paradys, the Paris of an alterate world full of complex and twilight mystery, has a flexible mind. When he discovers that his lodgings are haunted by a beautiful, green-eyed woman claiming the name of a girl ten years dead, he is hardly surprised. The surprise comes later, when a tryst with green-eyed Helise leaves him infected with the curse of a monstrous beast, half bird and half lizard, whose possession turns his eyes green and drives him mad. Thus begins the second book of the Paradys Tetralogy, a tale as intricate and dark as its predecessor, and fully as excellent. Unlike others in the tetralogy, "The Book of the Beast" is a full novel unfolding in nine linked story-chapters, further subdivided into "The Green Book: Eyes Like Emerald" and "The Purple Book: From the Amethyst." (Readers who have completed the entire tetralogy may notice that the entire color wheel, primary and secondary colors as well as black and white, are represented in the titles and themes of the stories.) "Eyes Like Emerald" deals with the characters of the present time, including Raoulin's dilemma, Helise's own tragic history, and the efforts of a Jewish scholar and his sorcerous daughter to defeat the beast and save Raoulin. "From The Amethyst" looks back to Paradys' origins as the Roman town of Par Dis, where the centurion Retullus Vusca received from a mysterious courtesan a talisman that would change his life and the lives of his descendants forever. Present in all times is the beast, bird-headed and lizard-scaled, a malevolent demon whom neither steel nor sorcery can destroy.
"The Book of the Beast" deals with the full range of darkness, both personal and atmospheric, and thus much of its story merits the name of true horror. Yet it is never repelling-or, if it is, it is a repulsion that intrigues the reader to look closer. The method in which Tanith Lee chooses to tell her story is involved and works extremely well; she frames the past in the present, almost in flashback style, allowing each chapter to focus on a different character until the various stories coalesce in the final pages. Thus the reader learns of the shadowy origins of the beast before doomed Retullus Vusca does, and knows stories of fruitless defenses against its power before Haninuh the Scholar and his daughter Ruquel attempt to combat it. What makes this style work is that nothing is given away; the stories are braided so tightly that all of the various pieces of information interlock perfectly, finishing in a surprising and stunningly executed conclusion. Although Tanith Lee creates her characters from the outside, allowing them to reveal more about themselves through speech and action than she does by transcribing their thoughts, there is little difficulty in identifying or sympathizing with any of them. Altogether, "The Book of the Beast" is a fascinating read, tantalizing the reader into this tangled world of darkness, and carrying the narrative unflinchingly through the darkness and into the light. Do not let the world of Paradys slip through your fingers. The darkness beckons with emerald in its eyes and amethyst in its hands. Do you answer?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
a dark fairytale 20 Sept. 2000
By "hze" - Published on
Format: Paperback
The story begins with Raolin Darksbane. He is staying in a haunted house, and he meets the ghost and learns her story and then becomes infected himself with the curse. The story then follows the exploits of a jewish exorcist and goes back to Roman Paradys where the curse begins. The story goes forward and then it goes back. I liked the story of the "doomed" Heloise and her strange destiny, intricately linked with the story of cupid and Physche and what happens if you look closer at things that you are not supposed to look at. I also liked the story of the roman soldier, his dilemma between looking life and destroying the curse once and for all. Great descriptions, you could almost hear the trumpets at the roman fort as the Roman soldier stayed up and awake to await the beast. The ending seemed rushed to me, the exorcism seemed like the easy way out and the spirituality of it left me tired and lost. But a good story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Book of the Beast 1 Jun. 2001
By Spare-Time Critic - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Much better than the first book, this one is coherent and riveting. Told out of sequence, yet in perfect logical order, this is the tale of a family haunted by a tragic demonic curse. There are enough shivers and surprises to satisfy even a long time fantasy/horror fan.
Tanith Lee has found a theme in the twisting of sex and horror, so the book not for the innocent or prudish, but there's less emphasis on shock value than the previous book in the series (The Book of the Damned). What is emphasized is good storytelling - few can touch her when she's at her best.
As dark and brilliant as its predecessor... 10 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Continuing her tradition of compelling darkness begun in the first book of the Paradys Tetralogy, "The Book of the Damned," Tanith Lee weaves a rich tale stretching from the earliest days of Paradys' history to its 18th-century present. The promise does not disappoint.
Color motifs run all through the Paradys Tetralogy. Here, the colors are green and purple--emerald and amethyst--the chromatic stigma of the beast that drives and possesses the narrative. Retullus Vusca, an unlucky centurion in Roman Par Dis, discovered its power in an amethyst amulet...but it destroyed him, and possessed his line thereafter. The maiden Helise, passionately in love with the honorable husband who would not love her, learned of its powers in a most terrifying way. Now Raoulin, his eyes burnt emerald green by its infection, seeks to rid himself of the beast before it can destroy further. A Jewish scholar and his beautiful daughter Ruquel may hold the key to Raoulin's salvation...but no one has ever fought the beast successfully. Behind it lie two thousand years of dominion. Before is only danger.
Where "The Book of the Damned" was three interlocking novellas, "The Book of the Beast" is one continuous story, and a masterpiece! Tanith Lee's prose, rich in texture and imagery, creates a world a half step away from our own, a place complex and sorcerous, filled with darkness...and even there, the hope of light. Do not pass up this foray into the world of Paradys. Darkness has its place--and nowhere is it crafted with more expertise than in Tanith Lee's works.
My personal favorite of this series 19 Jan. 2000
By Tim Lieder - Published on
Format: Paperback
Moving back and forth in time and yet appearing timeless, this chapter in the world of Paradys has Jewish exorcism, sex-incarnate beasts, Romans and doomed lovers. Every element is precise and every part connects to the other parts with a beautiful serendipity.
If you noticed that the other reviews of this book are brimming with fantastic prose and wonderous metaphors, it is because the fairy-tale inspired style of Tanith Lee inspires her readers to greater heights of passion than other novelists.
I also like the fact that the Jewish scholar saves the day. Why should the priests have all the fun in exorcisms? Jewish mysticism is much more fun than Catholic mysticism any day.
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