The Drawing of the Dark ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Drawing of the Dark
Series: ———-
Author: Tim Powers
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 311
Words: 111K


The year is 1529, and Brian Duffy, a world-weary Irish mercenary soldier, is hired in Venice by the mysterious Aurelianus to go to Vienna and work as a bouncer at the Zimmerman Inn, former monastery and current brewery of the famous Herzwesten beer.

Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turkish army under Sultan Suleiman I has achieved its most advanced position yet in their march into Europe, and is prepared to undertake the siege of Vienna. With the Turkish army travels the Grand Vizier Ibrahim, a magician who intends to use horrific spells as part of the siege.

Duffy spent time in Vienna years ago, and as he returns, he is haunted by memories of past events, and also finds himself having visions of mythical creatures and being ambushed by shadowy people and demonic monsters.

Upon arriving in Vienna, Duffy reconnects with Epiphany Vogel, a former girlfriend, and her father Gustav, who is working on a painting he calls “The Death of St. Michael the Archangel”. It seems the painting is never quite complete, and the elder Vogel is continuously adding additional detail to the work, causing it to gradually become more and more obscure.

Then Duffy finds himself not only drafted into the city’s defensive army, but also led by Aurelianus down mystical paths from the surprisingly old brewery to even more ancient caves beneath the city, in search of defenses against the approaching army and clues to Duffy’s very nature.

As it turns out, Aurelianus knows more about Duffy and his past than Duffy himself knows, and his real purpose in hiring him is to protect the hidden Fisher King, secret spiritual leader of the western world, and to defend him and the West against the Turkish advance. And the real reason that Vienna must not be captured by the Turks is that it is the site of the Herzwesten brewery. Its light and bock beers are famous throughout Europe, but the dark beer, produced only every seven hundred years, has supernatural properties and must not be allowed to fall into enemy hands.

Meanwhile, others are drawn to Vienna in anticipation of significant events. The so-called “dark birds”, magically sensitive individuals from far flung corners of the world, arrive in the city hoping for a sip of the Herzwesten dark, and a small group of middle-aged Vikings have improbably sailed their ship down the Danube River to Vienna, having sensed that the prophesied final battle of Ragnarok will take place there.

This book can be summed up with the tabloid headline “Magical Beer Saves Western Civilization – read more on page 3”. It is ridiculous.

Not a bad novel, but I simply couldn’t get past the ridiculousness of the premise. Powers like playing with history and showing a “secret history” behind the events we all know and as such, I thought he did an excellent job here.

But I cannot get past Magical Beer saving civilization as we know it. I can’t. So 3 stars for a solid “secret history” fantasy but that’s as far as I’m willing to stretch here.


The Anubis Gates ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Anubis Gates
Series: ———-
Author: Tim Powers
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 353
Words: 162K

I’ve read this multiple times before and so I was wondering how this would turn out. After my recent experience with On Stranger Tides I had high hopes though and thankfully, this not only met those hopes but exceeded them.

Some old used up has-been magicians are trying to bring back the old gods of Egypt into our modern world (well the 1800’s through 1980) but with magic drying up like a raisin, things don’t quiiiiite go as planned. One of them gets possessed by Anubis and pretty much turns into a body switching werewolf. Another side effect is that time holes open up and people from our time figure it out and a dying tycoon takes advantage of it for his own purposes. Then the main character gets stuck in the past and has to deal with various other mad magicians who also cycle through time (they are trying to change history but their efforts simply make it happen, of course) and there is murder and mayhem and romance and lots and lots of weirdness. I loved every second of it. The magic was just different enough that it didn’t affect me like in Powers’ other books and for that I am grateful.

The only weak point is the ending. Once the main character accepts that he is now an obscure poet in a new body (that body switching Anubis guy causes a LOT of problems), Powers takes us through his life in about 10 pages and then right at the end, when he’s like 60 or something, (at least if I did my math right) he gets to live his own life. It was a very amateurish attempt to deal with Free Will and Pre-destination. That wasn’t the main point of the book, but it was a theme and I didn’t feel that how it was handled was very professional.

For a book that I am giving 5stars too it seems like I should have more to say. But since this is at least my 3rd read, if not more, simply being able to enjoy the story and saying so is going to have to be enough.

This re-read has convinced me to seek out Powers’ earlier work, The Drawing of the Dark. From my experience, the further into the past I go with Powers, the better I like his stuff. DotD was published in ‘79 so if my hypothesis is right, it should be right up my alley and possibly the book I like best by him. Only time will tell.

I’ve included the original 1983 cover, because just like with Santiago, this image is what is burnt into my brain to be associated with this story. While some of the later covers look very nice and all, they’re just not the same garish awesome that I want. The little picture up above is clickable for a much bigger version for those who are curious.


On Stranger Tides ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: On Stranger Tides
Series: ———-
Author: Tim Powers
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 301
Words: 122K

Phewwwww, what a re-read. I read this for the first time back in ’07. Then the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise used it as the basis for the 4th movie.

This time, while I enjoyed it as much as the previous time, the magic used in the story really bothered me. I found the same thing when I read The Stress of Her Regards. The emotional content really hit me in the pit of the stomach. The inclusion of demoniacal beings in league with humans bothered me a lot more than last time too. Being older and seen more since then has made me realize that joking around about spiritual affairs, or trivializing them in fiction, has consequences.

Other than that, this was a cracking good read. I mean, we’re talking about pirates and magic all rolled together. Plus the Fountain of Youth and ghosts that can run you through with a ghost sword. That is just good story telling right there 😀 Add in that the hero’s name is Jack Shandy, he gets the girl in the end AND he kills an immortal Black Beard the Pirate, well, if that doesn’t do it for you then you should probably check your pulse.


The Stress of Her Regard

The Stress of Her Regard
The Stress of Her Regard

Tim Powers

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Normally, I’d probably be giving this a 4star rating. It was extremely well written, exciting, horrifying, action-packed and chock full of blood and magic.

So stop there if you liked this book.

The main reason I’m going with 2stars is because the week that I read this book I worked double shifts almost every day, was coming down from dealing with my first ABB and had no emotional cushion to deal with this book.

It many ways it was brutal. When Michael wakes up the first morning and sees Julia and reacts, I almost screamed right along with him. When the children and relatives keep dying off, something inside me just curled up and died with them. When Keats did what he needed to to keep others safe, I almost cried. When Byron tried to have the best of both worlds [or at least the non-worst of both], I wanted to shoot him.

The only other books by Powers that I’ve read have been The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides. Both were pretty cool and I especially liked Anubis, as it was pretty much a character kicking ass, making the best of a bad situation and coming out on top at the end.
This book, not so much. I felt like the characters, all of them, were barely making it through each day and that was just depressing to me the reader.

So to end. If you’ve enjoyed Powers other books, you’ll probably like this one. If you like vampires, you’ll probably like this one.
But if you’re an emotional person like me, wait to read this until you’ve got some reserves to deal with it. You’ll need it.

On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides
Tim Powers
4 stars
325 pages

magical, piratical adventures. Follows one man who is sucked into the world of pirates and magic against his will. Many of Powers ideas from The Anubis Gates are present here: reincarnation, destiny, magic. I really enjoyed this book. Maybe more so than The Anubis Gates.

The Anubis Gates

anubisgates (Custom)

The Anubis Gates

Tim Powers

4 Stars


An old, rich eccentric discovers certain portals in which it is possible to time jump.

Takes a group back, one gets left behind, his story. Ends up fighting a bunch of crazy egyptians who want to change history so that Egypt rises again, while doing this he becomes a little known[in the future] poet.

I had read this in highschool, so had a vague rememberance of what was going to happen, but it was still a nice surprise overall. Very enjoyable.