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Crescent Blues Book ViewsTor Books (Hardcover), ISBN: 0-765-30321-3
In the fourth volume of Mick Farren's nosferatu tales, undead Victor Renquist finds himself an unwilling guest of the U.S. government. Nabbed from his room at the Watergate by a covert department which investigates the paranormal, Renquist senses his kidnapping represents only a small part of a much larger plot. After a couple of interrogations, the head of the government group that nabbed him finally gets to the point -- they want Renquist to infiltrate the Underland.

Book: mick farren, underland
When Nazi Germany fell in 1945, rumors of a land beneath the surface of the earth whispered through the intelligence community. The Nazis fled there, and as the years passed, other people joined them, creating an entire underground civilization. The rumors indicate that the Underlanders developed highly advanced technology, which the U.S. government presumably wants. Officially, Underland doesn't exist, though commercial connections with the supposedly non-existent society date back years.

Eventually, after much posturing and negotiation, Renquist, his nosferatu second-in-command Lupo, mortal Jack Coulson (a contractor employed by the paranormal agency who developed a good rapport and trust with Renquist) and Thyme Bridewell (also an agency employee but now a darklost -- a mortal in the thrall of Renquist) head for the Arctic Circle to meet with the Underlanders. "Highly advanced technology" doesn't even begin to describe the marvels of the Underland. The group journeys to their destination in a Flugelrad, a form of UFO. The Underlanders also developed antigravity technology as well as the ability to direct concentrated nuclear reactions (to bore through rock).

The civilization below centers around a serpent-worshipping cult centered on gods known as the Dhrakuh. Dhrakuh history goes back thousands of years and intertwines with that of the nosferatu. Renquist himself was Changed by the Great Lamia, a serpent-vampire. But the mortals of Underland tire of the Dhrakuh's strictures and limitations. The Dhrakuh now approach the end of their existence, and the mortals' leader, Dr. Heinrich Wessel, nurtures greedy ambitions of world domination. Wessel views Renquist as the best way to fulfill his desires, but Renquist refuses to be anyone's pawn.

With its convoluted and wide-ranging plot, Underland makes for rather difficult reading. Perhaps reading the first three books in the series would be beneficial, but I can't make any guarantees. The action moves rather slowly, and many scenes function solely as local color. However, Farren writes Renquist in a very believable way, making the nosferatu a compelling character. Farren's other characters also come across as complex and interesting, but the plot drags everything down.

Jen Foote

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