Walpurgis III

We’re back to the point where I occasionally dig into archive to post reviews of a sort from the past.

This one was inspired by Bookstooge’s recent mention of Mike Resnick’s Widowmaker series.

This is the one and only novel I’ve read by Resnick and is set in the Birthright Universe as are the Widowmaker books.

Raw Feed (1992): Walpurgis III, Mike Resnick, 1982. 

I’ve enjoyed Mike Resnick’s alternate history short stories but expected this to be a schlocky, if fun, adventure novel. But it turned out to be surprisingly thoughtful – a rumination on the question of evil and its degrees – as well as a fast-moving, well-told action tale. (Though some details of assassin Jericho’s exploits – like how he dispatches so many troops at once in the final confrontation with Conrad Bland – are left vague but Resnick covers this weakness skillfully). 

Conrad Bland is a mass murderer of the political variety who has taken refuge on the world Walpurgis III, a planet of Satanists. He is capable of any evil act as the narrative shows, and aphorisms from him at the beginning of each chapter reveal the sick mind behind the monstrosities. In a sly bit of satire, Resnick has the Satanists of Walpurgis III talking a good show about worshipping evil and committing it, but, with the exception of the areas under Bland’s control, not fully living up to their principles. It’s as if Resnick is saying that no society can actually allow such evil to be committed. It literally self-destructs if it does. 

Against this ultimate monster is dispatched the ultimate assassin – Jericho. This story details his hunt, a ruthless hunt in which he kills several innocents, even his own fellow agents. Policeman John Sable has to decide which is worse: the compulsive evil of Bland or the ultimately more dangerous evil of Jericho (more dangerous because he slips past Bland’s defenses, his cordon sanitaire of death, to kill him), an evil of calculation and ruthlessness.

Sable takes the only rational, pragmatic, and moral choice: he lets Jericho kill Bland and then arrests him.

4 thoughts on “Walpurgis III

  1. Bookstooge March 18, 2023 / 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the shout out, appreciate it 🙂

    Based on that cover alone, I’d read this book, Throw in that I’m pretty sure Resnick references Walpurgis III in one of the Santiago duology and I’m even more sold.

    While an ebook version exists, most places are asking 8-9 bucks. That’s ridiculous. So I have no idea when, or even if, I’ll end up reading this. I’ll be keeping an eye out though.

    • marzaat March 18, 2023 / 1:07 pm

      I suspect you could find a used paperback much cheaper though I don’t know if you’re solely an e-book guy or not.

      • Bookstooge March 18, 2023 / 1:09 pm

        I only read paper now in emergencies 😀

      • marzaat March 18, 2023 / 1:58 pm

        After packing and moving I don’t know how many boxes (50 or 60? — and that was after selling and donating a bunch) for a move two years ago, I can sympathize with that.

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