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Book Review: All the Plagues of Hell

 

There are few better pure storytellers than Eric Flint and David Freer. Individually they’re entertaining. Together, the result is splendid. “All the Plagues of Hell,” by Eric Flint and David Freer is the latest novel in the Heirs of Alexandria fantasy series. Set in the middle of the 15th century, it’s alternate history. In this world magic works.

This book centers on Count Kazimierz Mindaug, a long-standing series villain. A Lithuanian nobleman, he fled Lithuania after a failed attempt to kill its leader, Duke Jagiellon (possessed by the demon Chernobog). Mindaug took shelter in Hungary serving the evil King Emeric of Hungary and Countess Elizabeth Barthody. Both were killed earlier in the series. Mindaug escaped, but their destruction left Mindaug with no protector against Chernobog, vengefully pursuing Mindaug.

He flees west, to realms protected by the Knights of the Holy Trinity. They destroy evil magicians and demons. They are hunting Mindaug. Regardless, realms protected by the Knight are safer for Mindaug than other territory, because they keep Chernobog out.

Mindaug cannot use magic. That would draw both Chernobog and the Knights to him. He disguises himself as a book seller to allow him to bring his library and seeks a home in a less perilous climate. He chooses Italy because it’s outside the Holy Roman Empire of the Knights. Along the way he gains two servants (the first to ever serve him willingly) and settles in the Duchy of Milan.

Unknown to Mindaug, who only wants quiet, Milan is about to be attacked. Worse still, a noblewoman in Milan, attempting to gain power is unwittingly unleashing a disease demon, one which will release the plague on the world. The Knights attribute her magic to Mindaug. For once innocent, Mindaug is avoiding magic serving Milan’s Duke as an alchemist developing pyrotechnics.

The Knights are closing on Mindaug, seeking to kill him. Yet he may be the only person able to stop the plague.

“All the Plagues of Hell” is filled with plot twists, misunderstood motives leading to confusion, romance, and battle. Flint and Freer have produced another delightful book.

“All the Plagues of Hell,” by Eric Flint and David Freer, Baen Books, 2018, 432 pages, $25

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

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There are 9 comments.

  1. Member

    Sounds fun.

    • #1
    • February 24, 2019 at 2:21 pm
    • Like
  2. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Sounds fun.

    It is.

    • #2
    • February 24, 2019 at 7:10 pm
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  3. Coolidge

    You made me very interested in this series and novel. They do sound really fun.

    • #3
    • February 25, 2019 at 8:53 am
    • Like
  4. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    You made me very interested in this series and novel. They do sound really fun.

    They are fun. My favorite remains A Mankind Witch. It was the inverse of All the Plagues of Hell, where a magic user pretends to be an alchemist and a magical fraud. In A Mankind Witch, someone who does not believe in magic pretends to use magic – only to discover magic really does work.

    • #4
    • February 25, 2019 at 9:13 am
    • 4 likes
  5. Member

    Having researched Russian mythology for a fiction project of my own, I happen to know Chernobog is not a demon unique to this novel. I get why you didn’t mention that (word counts and all that) but I think it’s worth mentioning to this crew. He’s the god of darkness and he is known in the West, if at all, for making an appearance in the Disney movie Fantasia.

    • #5
    • February 25, 2019 at 3:12 pm
    • 3 likes
  6. Member

    Fredösphere (View Comment):
    He’s the god of darkness and he is known in the West, if at all, for making an appearance in the Disney movie Fantasia.

    • #6
    • February 25, 2019 at 3:58 pm
    • 3 likes
  7. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Fredösphere (View Comment):
    He’s the god of darkness and he is known in the West, if at all, for making an appearance in the Disney movie Fantasia.

    Too handsome for the Chernoborg of the novels. 

    And yes, these folks borrow liberally from history and mythology. The previous novel in the series, Burdens of the Dead, has Hekate as one of the characters and Elizabeth Báthory was a villain in the early novels.

    • #7
    • February 25, 2019 at 6:44 pm
    • 2 likes
  8. Member

    Thanks, Seawriter.

    • #8
    • February 28, 2019 at 9:24 am
    • Like
  9. Moderator

    Are any of you Eric Flint fans thinking you would like to see him in person some day? How about this July? He is one of the Guests of Honor at SpikeCon, which is a combination WesterCon and NASFiC. It also happens to be the summer vacation destination for some of your fellow Ricochet science fiction fans. You can read about the plans for this convention and Ricochet Meetup here.

    • #9
    • March 2, 2019 at 5:44 pm
    • 1 like