Road to Hell, The

The Road to Hell
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 23-May-1997

A version of the following review is slated to appear in The Vampire's Crypt 16 (Fall 1997).

Review by Cathy Krusberg

Robert Weinberg. The Road to Hell. (Mage: The Ascension; The Horizon War 1) White Wolf, 1996; WW 11012; ISBN 1-56504-847- 4; $5.99/$7.99.

When Robert Weinberg completed his Masquerade of the Red Death trilogy (_Bloodwar, Unholy Allies, The Unbeholden_), he deliberately left a few ends loose. One was vampire Madeleine Giovanni, divided between loyalty to her clan and love for a mortal. And not just any mortal: Elisha is a young but talented mage and a promising student of one of the world's most powerful mages, a man known as Rambam. Consequently it's not surprising that The Road to Hell is set in the universe of Mage: The Ascension rather than Vampire: The Masquerade.

Madeleine Giovanni has several appearances in this book and will clearly be an important player in subsequent volumes of The Horizon War. The trilogy, however, is set in a world where magic-technology (the Technocracy) vies with mages of the Nine Traditions, seeking to make the world a place of machine-like order . . . for the greater good, of course. The Road to Hell focuses on a particular mage, known only as Seventeen, who escapes a Technocracy gene-manipulation facility just in time to give Tradition mages a shot at preventing the Technocracy's latest scheme for world domination. Making matters still more challenging is the setting of their confrontation: the Technocracy's own Horizon, a space-out-of-space woven according Technocracy rules of how reality should operate. Fighting the Technocracy is dangerous; fighting them on their own ground, well-nigh suicidal.

And Madeleine Giovanni's role in all this? Ezra, the mage who tried to betray her to her grandfather, head of Clan Giovanni, has ties to the powers behind Seventeen's imprisonment. Grandfather Pietro Giovanni is of course going to take his granddaughter's word over that of an insane mage and sends Madeleine herself after Ezra's head. Madeleine, nicknamed "Dagger of the Giovanni," is a skilled assassin; but Ezra, insanity and all, has powers to vie with Rambam's own. And while Rambam is willing to give Madeleine moral support, his hands are tied when it comes to actually dealing with Ezra. Consequently, Madeleine may be in over her head on this one.

Although vampires make only scattered appearances, there's no shortage of alliances, betrayals, scheming, and backstabbing -- all the things we're come to expect from White Wolf's World of Darkness. (And you really do need to check out Pietro Giovanni's blood roses.) Even if you don't *have* to find out what happened to Madeleine Giovanni, The Road to Hell will introduce you to other characters with compelling stories. The second installment of The Horizon War, The Ascension Warrior, is slated for November 1997 publication.

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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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