Aleister Crowley, also known as the Great Beast, is one of the most reviled men in history. Satanist, cult leader, debauched novelist and poet, his legacy has been harshly contested for decades.
Crowley supposedly died in 1947, but in Ian Thornton’s new novel, set in the present day, the Great Beast is alive and well and living in Shangri-la. Now over 130 years old, thanks to the magical air of his mystical location, he looks back on his life and decides it is time to set the record straight.
For Crowley was not the evil man he is often portrayed as. This was just a cover to hide his real mission, to save the twentieth century from destroying itself and to set humanity on the road to freedom and liberty.
The Death and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley is an epic novel that will make you see this notorious figure in a completely new light, as he encounters an impressive cast of real-life characters including Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Princess Margaret, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock.
Ian Thornton’s debut novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms (How One Man Scorched the Twentieth Century, but Didn’t Mean To) was published by Simon & Schuster Canada in September 2013. Harper Collins published worldwide on June 28th 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the pivot of the novel. It was translated across Europe and taught at the Sorbonne.
Prior to becoming a novelist, Ian worked for Broadcast magazine in London and also for Variety. He is a co-founder of the global television industry publisher, C21 Media and http://www.c21media.net. He covered the Royal wedding in London for CTV, Canada’s premier independent broadcaster, and has recently written for Wisden Cricketer, The Guardian, The Hindu and for the Soho House magazine, House. He also wrote on the football World Cup in South Africa for the Canadian sports channel, The Score, and has worked for Queen’s University in Ontario, where his project was presented at the White House as part of President Obama’s new media initiative.
Ian is the official biographer of the Compton cricket club in California and has been a judge on the largest Latin American film festival, Expresion en Corto. He is currently producing a feature documentary.
Originally from Leeds, Ian currently resides in Toronto with his wife Heather Gordon and their children, Laszlo and Clementine.
I don’t know a huge amount about Aleister Crowley other than what I’ve gleaned over the years from various places so I can’t extract the truth from this fiction precisely.
Crowley founded his own religion and was regarded as a Satanist and The Great Beast, not exactly popular with late Victorian/early Edwardian Britain.
From the facts about his life Thornton has spun a fascinating web of mystery and intrigue; positing Crowley as a spy and servant of the British Empire, a friend of Winston Churchill and a man you should never cross.
This was a fun romp across early 20th Century Earth – taking in America, both World Wars, an expedition to Sri Lanka and eventually a retirement of sorts to Shangri-La in the Himalayas.
All sorts of famous faces pass through Crowley’s life and hijinks, making this at times a who’s who of the first half of last century.
I really enjoyed this and found it great fun, well written and very clever.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, but all opinions remain my own.