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May 2000
 
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Julius LeVallon by Algernon Blackwood

Imagine you meet someone who stimulates in you a memory of past lives. Not just a hundred years ago, or a thousand, or even ancient Egypt. But hundreds of thousands of years ago, maybe more, maybe not even on this planet. And just imagine that the person who does all this shared some of those lives with you, right back to the very start. That's what happens when John Mason meets Julius LeVallon in the novel of that name by Algernon Blackwood.

Blackwood's better remembered for such powerful short stories as "The Willows" and "The Wendigo" and his novels, out of print for far too long, are forgotten. But you won't get one more powerful and with such a tremendous climax as Julius LeVallon, published in 1916.

LeVallon reminds Mason of a time eons ago, which he calls the Temple Days, when the two of them, and a girl, conducted a forbidden experiment which failed. But it had released the elemental powers of Wind and Fire which remained untethered. Over the eons LeVallon had tried to channel those powers back to their domain but had always failed because the channel---the girl---was not present. Now, at last, after all these millennia, the three spirits are together again and LeVallon must face the ultimate challenge. Does he succeed? That's the climax of the book. Let me just say that Blackwood set out originally to write a book about a child whose body was host to the Nature elements of Wind and Fire. That child is the subject of the sequel, The Bright Messenger, but that's another story.

—Mike Ashley

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