Cyprianic Novel Review: The Martyrs
Still waiting for the new Cyprian book from Nephilim, but readers of the Inominandum Memorandum have been asking me how The Martyrs by Tono Rondone is. This is a novel about St Cyprian and St Justine and details some of St Cyprians training, Justinas conversion, and St Cyprians conversion. I read it a couple weeks ago and a few people were very excited to grab anything to do with our beloved Sorcerer Saint. So I have been asked how it is.
In a word: disappointing
I REALLY wanted to love this. I really did. As a novel it’s structure is weird and, to my mind at least, annoying. Chapters tend to start with prose history on Diocletian and the political and religious climate of the time, then drift into short bits of really bland dialogue between the characters. I love the historical bits, and long bits of background prose in a novel is fine if you are Milan Kundera, Unfortunately Tono Rondone is most definitely NOT Milan Kundera.
But maybe as an occultist you are thinking “well maybe it’s not a great novel, but I love to read narratives about historical people doing magic anyway…”. Sadly if you know anything at all about magic, this aspect of the book will annoy the piss out of you even more than the writing. Even though Cyprian is a Pagan he performs rituals from the Lesser Key of Solomon and other types of Renaissance style magic ; the problem being that the Renaissance has not happened yet. To place it in context, Cyprian and Justina exist is history that is probably right at, or even possibly 1-2 hundred years before the Greek Magical Papyrii were hidden away in Thebes. The books Cyprian uses will not be available for over a Thousand Years! If that is not enough to get under your magical skin – the demon he sends after Justina is…. wait for it…. AIWASS! Crowley’s demon. The Author also loves to throw in random concepts from India so we get to hear Cyprian talk about Shakti and Tattvas and the like. Now, if you don’t know anything about occultism, none of this will bother you. If you do, its kind of annoying, but you could get past it if the story was good. Finally Cyprian just calls upon the Devil – which will of course piss any Pagans who read it off, but is at least in keeping with the narratives in various Cyprian texts. When Cyprian does become a Christian, it is a complete renunciation of magic so the novel doesnt touch on the parts that interest us most – the way that Cyprian straddles both worlds.
Maybe you are a Christian and thinking “well I would love to read about a Pagan who becomes a Christian”. Well, maybe, but even as a conversion story its rather uninspiring. I mean Justina converts because Jesus appears and tells her too. Her father only converts when Jesus tells him to, and basically identifies himself with Apollo to soften it a little. If the Christian message was spread through Jesus appearing personally to people and filling their hearts with love, I think there would be not much of a story here. As a Christian and Sorcerer I was unimpressed.