A thrilling adventure through Dante’s Inferno….
“I’ve battled evil all my life. I’ve wrestled with darkness and demons and monsters beyond measure, in the black forests of Germany and in the troubled hearts of men, for it is there, in the human heart, that evil festers and grows. But evil has a source, and we must find that source: at the bottom of the abyss. We must descend into the Devil’s lair, and penetrate the heart of all evil.”
It is the year of our Lord 1349. The world is dying. The Black Death sweeps through Europe. Apocalypse approaches. The Fourth Horseman rides the Earth…
One hope survives. A vision of the Holy Grail. Stolen by Lucifer, the Grail now lies in the lowest circle of Hell. To save the human race, someone must steal the Grail from the Devil and return it to the world above.
Four pilgrims — a knight, a friar, a poet, and a prophetess — will journey down into Hell to confront their deepest fears…
And the Devil himself. (From Goodreads)
I picked up Devil’s Lair on Amazon rather randomly by looking through the fantasy genre. Since I just bought it on a whim, I didn’t check Goodreads to get the summary you just read up above. All I saw were some enthusiastic quotes. So, I read the Look Inside preview and thought – I like this!
We start out following William of Ockham, the poet Giovanni Boccacio, and Nadja as they search for the knight, Marco da Roma. None of them have met Marco before and their only lead is a vision from Nadja and a charcoal sketch. They eventually find him but Marco turns out to be quite different than what they expected. The group embarks on a bold mission to find the Holy Grail which has been stolen by Lucifer. What’s kind of crazy is that this whole thing – the group coming together, the mission for the grail – is based on a vision, or series of visions, that Nadja has had.
My favorite characters were William and Giovanni and I especially enjoyed their debates. They are the two most knowledgeable in the group and they both have intriguing backgrounds. Nadja is nice enough and you really sympathize with her after she is attacked by a group of thieves. Note: There is a rape scene and while it is not described in extreme detail it may be upsetting for some readers. Marco is probably my least favorite character. We learn very little of him until the last quarter of the book and he’s just kind of…there.
The detail and ambiance of the story transported me to the time period and played like a movie as I read, it was that good. It is a religious story in the sense that it deals with religious subject matter and people of faith but it doesn’t preach. There is a lot of action and drama, some politics and plenty of religious debate.
The journey through hell was really interesting. Once the group descends into hell, we really start to learn about them as individuals. You know how they say, adversity (or stressful situations) reveals your true character, well that is certainly the case here. Although I haven’t read all of Dante’s Inferno, I’m guessing that Devil’s Lair draws heavily on its descriptions of the nine circles of hell. That’s not a bad thing per se, but if you’ve read Inferno then you’ll already know a lot of the scenery. Wisehart does a great job describing the ninth circle of hell and the images my mind created were truly creepy!
My only real problem with the book is that the ending was rather anti-climactic. It was predictable, ended really quickly and when you’re facing Lucifer, I can’t imagine things will go as smoothly as it did for the group.
Nevertheless, Devil’s Lair is a solid piece of work full of mesmerizing detail.