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Jeff Long - The Descent


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So, this book has been on my wishlist for a while, and I got it for Christmas. So now, I am finally reading it. I'm finding it so pleasant to read, and so.. not my usual thing, that I'm making a thread about it. See, usually.. I stick to fantasy, science-fiction and classics. You guys on this forum have dared me to expand my horizons so to speak, and therefore, I have. This, being one of the books I previously would have never read. See, I love horror. But horror books tend to be, well not the best books in the bunch. I am often disappointed. I have not yet finished reading this, am a little over half way.. but it's been a great read so far. First, let me post the summary;


From Goodreads;


Hell exists.


In Tibet, while guiding trekkers to a holy mountain, Ike Crockett discovers a bottomless cave. When his lover disappears, Ike pursues her into the depths of the earth....In a leper colony bordering the Kalahari Desert, a nun and linguist named Ali von Schade unearths evidence of a proto-human species and a deity called Older-than-Old....In Bosnia, Major Elias Branch crash-lands his gunship near a mass grave and is swarmed by pale cannibals terrified of light....


So begins mankind's realization that the underworld is a vast geological labyrinth riddling the continents and seabeds, one inhabited by brutish creatures who resemble the devils and gargoyles of legend. With all of Hell's precious resources and territories to be won, a global race ensues. Nations, armies, religions, and industries rush to colonize and exploit the subterranean frontier.


A scientific expedition is launched westward to explore beneath the Pacific Ocean floor, both to catalog the riches there and to learn how life could develop in the sunless abyss. Is there a natural explanation, as the scientists hope? Or is there a true supernatural basis? Are the "demons" part of our evolutionary family tree? Is their enigmatic leader merely a freak genius, or could he be the legendary Satan?


Fathom by fathom, Ike guides the expedition and Ali deeper into the deadly stone wilderness. In the dark underground, as humanity falls away from them, the scientists and mercenaries find themselves prey not only to the savage creatures, but to their own treachery, mutiny, and greed. Meanwhile, on the surface, a band of aged scholars scours archaeological digs, museums,artifacts, and rare texts for clues to Satan's existence. Is he lurking in wait for the expedition, or is he roaming the earth? Or is he dead? One thing is certain: Miles inside the earth, evil is very much alive.


In the tradition of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, The Descent is an epic adventure through fantastic landscapes, among creatures for whom man is both god and meat. It is a horrifying mystery penetrating the realms of faith and reason, a raw and original questioning of the divine and the demonic. And finally, The Descent is the story of a man and woman who enter the maze of the underworld and find at its center the human heart.


This book has proven a surprise to me. I didn't have any expectations really.. like I mentioned, I had a wishlist.. a long one. Brother picked this book as one of the ones to give me. I am so far, happy he has. The beginning is a little, well not tough, but not very interesting. You get introduced to different storylines, that eventually might come together. Currently I am in the middle of the deep earth exploration, and mind you, I don't have anything with caves, deep beneath the Earth.. I am quite claustrophobic. But this doesn't center on it. It's fascinating.. the "hadals" as they call the lifeforms they find deep beneath the earth, are fascinating. Have you seen the film, "the Descent"? Even though it's got nothing to do with this book (of course humanoid lifeforms developing beneath the surface will have something in common no matter who comes up with it) the crawlers in that film remind me of these creatures. Especially the feeling they invoke. There's the fear of the dark, of being eaten, of torture, pain and death. This is no book for the very faint of heart, the torture and things the hadal do to their prey/slaves (the most treasures slaves they take often have to undergo the most painful procedures, flaying, scarring, then rubbing sacred ochre into the wounds, applying metal, sometimes gold, rings to the noses, or the vertebra of the spine to be able to control them better) are not for ones easily creaped out. But for me, I find myself fascinated with these creatures. But that's very personal.


The rest.. I have read some of Jules Verne's Journey to the center of the Earth. It was a book I read partly, then put away because something else came along. I'll finish it. But it reminded me of this, in a modern version. It's intriguing, fascinating, and the story draws me much more than the lead characters, while usually it's the other way around.


I recommend this to anyone with an open, not too squeamish mind. Those who like exploration, hardship, a little darkness, who aren't repelled by horror. Of course, I have not yet finished this book. It all depends on how they end it, but so far, if they continue this way, I'll go with a 7 or 8 out of 10 rating. 3,5/4 out of 5. ;)




So, I have finished it yesterday. Brilliant, loved it. 4/5 Rating.


This book remains captivating, providing you with a world that is so.. other, that it's just amazing. Who could have though that any world consisting of caves would be this good? There are some minor points.. those mainly have to do with plot lines, so I'll see if I can put them in spoilers.



There was the thing about the search for Satan.. found that quite confusing and incredible. Search for Satan, ok. But why would any of the hadals be Satan? They end up discussing Satan being not just one creature but an endless line of reincarnated beings.. which in this book, is being proved right. But WHY?? Why is this creature the infamous Satan? How can one being creeping on and under thsi Earth be what humans have called Satan or something similar since we can remember? There's more to it, hard to express. But this is not something I accept. That there;s a creature Satan's based on, fine. I believe there's once been some man on which Jesus is based, doesn't make him more than human though. But the storyline "in search for satan".. meh.



Also.. (giving away the ending!!!)



What's up with Ali and Ike just crawling out of the Earth and being happy? I like my story a bit more evolved, more than say, the plain ending.. that's just a matter of taste though, and it would have taken some of the impressiveness (is that a word??) from the story. So am willing to forego that.



Am putting this last thing out of spoiler tags because it might be nice to know before starting this book, that I THINK it's not really over when you've finished this book, for feeling you're done with this story, I think you'll be needing to read the rest of the books the author will write about this universe. The leading characters are done, but the story is not, if you know what I mean.


Still, all in all.. this has been a great read, a surprise for me, a good book amongst many horrible horror books these days. Read!

Edited by Univerze
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I actually clicked into this because I wondered if the movie The Descent was based on it. I really hated that film, I thought it was rubbish - but I'll nearly always give a book a go even if a film was rubbish and it was an interesting concept.


But, this book sounds SO MUCH BETTER. I actually really like the sound of it. I think I'll have to put it on my wishlist.

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