i'm in some kind of awe of wayne barlowe's pictures of hell. a novel though is a horse (a nightmare?) of a different colour, & he says as much himself, but also that he felt compelled to write it. i figured i'd give it a go, & it was worth it. maybe it wasn't a great work; he's not a writer. his pronouns are a huge fail, pretty often. mister barlowe, you can't compare two people & then say "he," because if you do i can't tell which of the two you mean! & so forth. for all that, though, he gets a leeway with his imagination that, if painting, might be a much greater investment of time. he can say something in a few sentences that might take (days? weeks?) to paint. & his visual imagination is easily engaging enough. i liked it quite a bit, in fact. the story goes in pretty much the way you'd expect it to, but that doesn't really weaken it, since he's obviously shooting for something mythically resonate. to summarize: one day the demon prince named sargatanas decides it is time to stop ruling in hell & start serving heaven again.
one thing that is kind of crummy about this book is the treatment of women. there is only one female character of note: lilith. lilith is the unwilling consort of the prince of hell, beelzelbub. in otherwords, she is his whore, & their relationship is predicated on his having raped her into submission. yes, this is meant to characterize beelzebub as the foulest of the foul, but also, the only other women in the story are the barely mentioned succubi (who, it is made clear, are slaves for pleasure of pain, whichever the master feels like dishing out) & a damned soul with one line, albeit an important one. that is it. lilith as a character exists to showcase the males of the story: she is defined be her relationships with beelzebub, sargatanas, lucifer, hanibal, & valefar. & the way she's "given credit" is in the sort of martyrdom fashion. lines like "fragile & powerful" apply to her, & the "power" she has is beauty & sensuality. not the greatest, right? her big coup is giving hope to souls by distributing idols of herself. so-- yeah. the misogyny is a weakness.