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Comment: please support your canadain independent booksellers ships today dell massmarket paperback first printing july 1969
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Black Easter Paperback – Mar 1 1977

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Paperback, Mar 1 1977
CDN$ 569.43 CDN$ 6.95

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / General (March 1 1977)
  • ISBN-10: 0380009064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380009060
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,743,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This isn't a bad book by any means, but it's very period (one gets the impression the author desires to shock, but, almost 40 years later, there's nothing here to ruffle your maiden auntie's delicate feelings, I assure you.)
The book is brief, and tells a simple tale: a gentleman hires a magician to perform a task (after two earlier trials). There, that's it, that's the plot. Nowadays (not that now is better, but we're used to Now) that would be the set-up to the plot ... the book ends just as things are about to get interesting.
There is a sequel, the Day After Judgement, which picks up immediately afterward but which also somewhat disappoints.
Another fault--well, not a fault necessarily, but certainly a less-engaging choice--is that the horrors one might expect in a book about black magic are entirely played offstage, and only referred to. Imagine a Lord of the Rings with passages like "two weeks later they decided to go through Moria, where Gandalf died, unfortunately, fighting a Balrog. Still, with Lothlorien ahead, the Fellowship was somewhat optimistic." It's not a good thing.
There is a demon fashion-show/parade near the end which is worth a chuckle, but it's still not scary.
Blish' A Case of Conscience is much more compelling reading, so go there instead--unless you're a completist, or in the mood for a brief, non-unnerving look at the dark arts, circa 1967.
Note: a 3 star ranking from me is actually fairly good; I reserve 4 stars for tremendously good works, and 5 only for the rare few that are or ought to be classic; unfortunately most books published are 2 or less.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9856bb58) out of 5 stars 15 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97dd5174) out of 5 stars Tightly controlled but very effective Aug. 8 2012
By maelje - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I must begin by taking issue with some of the more negative reviews here. No, "Black Easter" is not a modern horror novel, or slasher film, or gore-fest. It was first published in serial form in 1968 (in "If" magazine) under the title "Faust Aleph-null." So, first things first, let's give this fine piece of writing its due ESPECIALLY since it is, as of this writing, forty-four years old. Some reviewers here have complained that it's not shocking now. Well, neither, I suppose, is Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House," but it's a marvelously creepy ghost story nonetheless. And, like that book, give "Black Easter" a chance and it just might make your neck hairs stand up a bit.

The premise here is that an arms dealer contracts with a practitioner of black magic, the aim being to loose all the demons of hell upon the Earth for one night -- JUST TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS. What happens, unfortunately, is Armageddon; once loosed, the legion of demons cannot be whisked back to the underworld.

Some who've complained that "Black Easter" seems short and incomplete should know that there's a good reason for that: Blish considered it to be merely the first half of a novel, the other half being "The Day After Judgement." In 1990, a small publishing house called Gregg Press finally released the two novellas as the single novel Blish had intended, under the title "The Devil's Day." Presented in that way, both "Easter" and "Judgement" seem whole, and the entire story arc just makes more sense.

Both "Easter" and "Judgement" are worth reading. True, even for me they don't pack the punch they did when I first read them as a teenager in the 1970s. But still, there are some very dark, disturbing concepts here. Essentially, Blish is writing about the terrible price that experience and knowledge can extract from a person, even to the point of destruction.

And in fact, if the two books are considered as one book under the title of "The Devil's Day," then another of Blish's claims holds water: He considered this the final book of a trilogy about the price of knowledge, with the first novel being 1959's "A Case of Conscience" and the second being "Dr. Mirabilis," published in 1964. His title for the trilogy was "After Such Knowledge," a phrase pulled from the writings of T.S. Eliot.

Those first two books do not share the same character set that appears in "Easter" and "Judgement" or, if you prefer, "The Devil's Day." But if you're going to read "Black Easter," I would definitely pick up a copy of "The Day After Judgement" and read the two novellas back to back as a single novel, as Blish intended. They are fascinating books, their central question being, "What would happen if good were NOT necessarily stronger than evil?"

Finally, I do agree that Blish as a writer can be a bit problematic -- especially annoying is his tendency at times to tell rather than show. But in his best passages here, he presents a world both fascinating and repellent, an Earth awash in wickedness unleashed not with great malice but simply recklessness.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97c27018) out of 5 stars A meticulous and powerful look at magic Oct. 19 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a thesis novel in the sense that its events seem to have been carefully thought out before Blish even began to write the book - from the first page to the last, he leads the reader towards a powerful and inevitable conclusion. This isn't a work which should be read for `plot surprises', but rather for its tight structure: Blish looks at magic with precise, almost clinical attention; as he set out to do in writing this work, he strips the book of extraneous details and instead confines himself to a select few questions and themes. The four main characters - Black magician Theron Ware, monk and White magician Father Domenico, weapons-maker Baines and his assistant Jack Ginsberg - all play clearly defined roles, each providing the reader a different point of view from which to evaluate what is being said and done. This is a difficult but memorable book.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98344078) out of 5 stars Worth reading so I will again. Dec 18 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Though MANY years ago, I remember it so well I have spent the last several months hunting for it again. The ending is the key, and here more than most stories, where the reading is the joy.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97dd73f0) out of 5 stars Brilliant, Pungent, Satanic Fun March 1 2001
By Dark Mechanicus JSG - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First off, the fact that this is such a brilliant, pithy, amazingly tight little tome is doubly amazing when one realizes that the quite gifted Mr. Blish also wrote novelizations of Star Trek episodes. Ah well, even the best have to pay rent.
Second, there is no finer fictional chronicle of diabolism, either ancient or modern, in English, and none that I know of in most of Earth's other tongues. Each of Blish's characters is deftly crafted with a minimum of prose, a compliment which can extend to the rest of this slight and delicious book; Blish accomplished in a few pages what today's pompous and prolix authors take hundreds of pages to say...Stevie King, though the man can write when he wants to, comes to mind.
Finally---and a mild criticism---while it is delightful that Blish takes care to present Malefica as a discipline, it is (or was, for when I first read this I was merely thirteen) somewhat disenchanting to see that Blish gets most of the Satanic formulae, Latin incantations, and demon summoning paraphernalia hopelessly wrong. I have since found older grimoires to draw upon, though, and Black Easter is a work of fiction, so no victim, no foul.
All in all a devilishly clever and delightful book; for more nastiness pick up The Day After Judgement, which is actually the third in a trilogy (the first of which was After Such Knowledge).
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x985eb840) out of 5 stars Black Easter Hype March 4 2005
By Timothy O. Riley - Published on
Format: Hardcover
1968 was a dark year. Robert Kennedy was assassinated and the world was still in shock over Martin Luther King's senseless murder. Hippies rioted at the Democrat's convention in Chicago, Charles Manson had begun his murderous rage, Vietnam was a debacle, the Cold War was still on and it seemed the world (humanity calls home) was on a downward spiral headed to bummerland.
In 1968, James Blish was writing disposable Star Trek "fan-novels" and was (pretty much) considered the"poor man's" Aurther C. Clark-- when he published the second novel (Black Easter) of his trilogy "After Such Knowledge". "Black Easter" remains a touchstone compendium of that nasty year.
No other sci/fi/horror author, before or since, has captured the paranoia of a particular time with such supernatural, black magic volcanism.
Warning: The book feels dated but why grouse.
Violent, debauched, corny and utterly fascinating, "Black Easter" will give every fan of densely plotted intelligent horror more than a few chills.

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