A tough read. As someone who finds 'occult' themes in books annoying, it helped to know that the book was based on real people who's lives are accurately and fairly presented. Crowley, a occultist who believes in 'magic' in general and 'sexual magic' specifically meets up with his polar opposite Major General Sir Hector MacDonald one night in Paris. The book explores the lives of these two men, one who believes in and has fought for the country he loves, the other who beleives that society must fall and the devil must rise. Their conversations and interactions allow us to visit that century and see the conflicts and the prejudices they live with. MacDonald is forced by revelations and a pending court martial to deal with his 'homosexual urges' ... as painful as it is to read, it must have been sheer hell to have lived. Books like this remind us of the horror's of prejudice and the casual cruelty of the 'norm'. During reading I made a mistake and googled MacDonald and therefore knew how the book would end before I got there. Don't make the same mistake.