My thoughts on Peter Levenda’s Starry Wisdom, the conclusion to his Lovecraft Trilogy

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When I received a review copy of Starry Wisdom, Peter Levenda’s conclusion to his Lovecraft trilogy, I was more than a little excited. While I loved the ideas in The Lovecraft Code, it fell a little flat for me, but Dunwich showed definite signs of improvement. Being a fan of Levenda’s work, my hope was that his concluding chapter would finally see the author come into his own.

Before I get into my thoughts, here’s what the publisher had to say:

starrywisdomThis third novel in the trilogy that began with The Lovecraft Code and continued with Dunwich concludes the globe-spanning tale of Professor Gregory Angell and his attempt to keep the Necronomicon out of the clutches of a gaggle of secret societies, and his life out of the grasp of terrorists and intelligence agents.

Angell makes his way back to the Americas after trekking across Central Asia and China and sailing the South China Sea to Indonesia. In the meantime, the search for the missing professor and the all-important book consumes Dwight Monroe and his team, while a string of murders in New Orleans baffles Detective Cuneo and brings NYPD Lieutenant Wasserman out of retirement.

At the same time, Jamila, the young Yezidi woman with a strange paranormal ability and a deadly aim, finds herself on a mission in the United States to take out the man who destroyed her village. And a distraught mother whose two sons were abducted by a sinister being is now pregnant with another child and travels around the country looking for answers in gatherings of UFO contactees and the rites of a voodoo priestess where she will have to confront a mind-bending truth.

They all find themselves drawn together at a building in one of America’s iconic cities at a house with a bizarre architecture that is based on a strange but sacred geometry–a geometry that’s designed to call down something from the stars.

Peter-LevendaBased on themes from the works of H. P. Lovecraft, especially “The Haunter of the Dark” where the mysterious Shining Trapezohedron makes its appearance, Starry Wisdom ties together the various strands of occult knowledge, political intrigue, and pop culture that are woven through the first two books.

Hailed by author Christopher Farnsworth (Red, White and Blood, and The President’s Vampire) as a “more intelligent Da Vinci Code” and by Whitley Strieber (Communion, The Wolfen, and The Hunger) as “a riveting work of fiction,” this book will thrill ancient aliens’ fans and Lovecraft aficionados and is supported by the genuine scholarship of occultists, terrorists, military leaders, and intelligence agents.

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First off, this is certainly the superior of the three books. The prose is tighter, the themes more coherent, and there more of a flow to the narrative than in the previous volumes. Levenda shines as a researcher and non-fiction writer of conspiracy and fringe postulations and those skills highlight the best parts of Starry Wisdom (and of the whole trilogy).

I note that the Lovecraft trilogy is less a successor to the Illuminatus! books of Robert Anton Wilson and Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, and more akin to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels.

I ultimately enjoyed Levenda more than Brown. There’s nothing ‘cookie cutter’ about the Lovecraft trilogy. It’s a gigantic story in which the entirety of pop cultural para-entertainment is meticulously layered.

That Levenda was able to stick the landing is a feat worthy of the highest praise. Whatever shortcomings one might find in the nuts and bolts of the writing itself, the story is a bold undertaking that almost any writer short of Nick Mamatas would be hard pressed to manage.

But manage Levenda does. He delivers a taut occult thriller worthy of the genre and one I recommend to hardcore enthusiasts.

Of course, the highlight for me came in the afterword penned by “Simon”. The exploration of Thelema as a world religion, its origins and connections to Afro-Caribbean practices, was an interesting rabbit hole, and one I can certainly see as relevant to society in its current and expanding guise.

I have my own Thelemic theories that diverge somewhat from Levenda’s narrative, but I certainly acknowledge the scholarship behind his academic speculation.

In the end, Starry Wisdom brings a startling and satisfying conclusion to the Lovecraft trilogy, and the ideas presented are not only worthy food for thought, but a thrilling exploration of the whole of alternative faiths and sciences.

Starry Wisdom is a beautiful book, as all editions produced by Ibis Press tend to be. It, along with the proceeding shapters, make for a handsome collection of one’s shelf.

Peter Levenda’s Starry Wisdom is available wherever books are sold. For more information, visit Red Wheel/Weiser.

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Shameless Self-Promotion: Descendant: A Novel of the Liber Monstrorum is available in trade paperback and ebook on Samhain, October 31. You can preorder the kindle version now via amazon.com.

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