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The Devil's Paintbrush Paperback – 4 Feb 2010
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Brilliantly expansive and original (Daily Mirror)
A consummate performance...a virtuoso work of near history, with the occasional in-joke thrown in for good measure...immensely enjoyable (Guardian)
One of the many pleasures of this skilful book is the maintenance of suspense...Arnott does not ask us to choose between [Crowley and Macdonald] - but much of the moral force of this excellent book lies in his demonstration that there is, nonetheless, a choice to be made. (Independent)
A great read, full of compassion, humour and riveting detail. (Sunday Express)
Arnott's great leap forward...Macdonald's predicament is sympathetically examined and Crowley's monstrous drive is brilliantly rendered...it is his best [novel] (The Herald)
Arnott is clearly having fun here...So to combine that with how the necessity to be good - to be a hero - can be as suffocating a pressure as battling with occultist demons makes The Devil's Paintbrush a fine book (Metro)
A fascinating, unusual and seductive historical novel by the bestselling author of The Long Firm.See all Product description
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I found it a really good and engrossing read, and while the book is obviously a work of some imagination, it is well researched and certainly one of the better works of fiction (which must include most newspaper reports of Crowley's system and nature!) that I have read. One point made me wince a little, but then my regard for Crowley as the prophet of the aeon is bound to make it difficult for any author to come up with a story involving him that will satisfy me and yet not sound fantastical to those with a different view of him.
I read comparatively little fiction myself so the fact that it gripped me is certainly in its favour, and I found both the central characters well drawn and involving.
I recommend this to any of my fellow Thelemites who might fancy some respite from reading grimoires!
I've given it a 3* not a 4* because the very exciting foreign locations, action (particularly battle scenes) and most minor characters never came to life for me. (particularly his lovers, though his relationship with his fiancee was well-portrayed). A bit of a waste. I may read the author's East End gangster books, though. He's obviously talented and military historicals may just not be his strongest genre.
I know enough about Crowley to be satisfied with Arnott's rendition but there were many other admirable elements to it, including a kind of authenticity that I find hard to define but was quite palpable throughout.
If I have a criticism, I would say that, at times, the plotting became a bit convoluted, but I think this book is well worthy of anyone's time.
These reasons apart - this is an excellent book, another demonstration of the authors uncanny skill in exactly capturing the atmosphere and social mores of the period in which his work is set.
Super detailing of the intertwined life of a professional soldier and the Great Beast... (or should it be the soldier and the hunchback?)
Even without any insight in Crowley's belief system this is still a cracking good read.....with some insight, you are able to appreciate this book more deeply and travel with its cast through its different planes.
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