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 The Devil Rides Out - The Masterpiece 
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Along with many other Dennis Wheatley readers, I believe 'The Devil Rides Out' to be the best book he has written and is generally regarded as one of the best occult works of fiction ever written.
This book is one of, if not the most influential books that I have ever read.
As a young teenager in the sixties I bought this paperback whilst on holiday with my parents as I used to be a big fan of the scary/horror type stories that parents thought it unsuitable for youngsters to read, so naturally, I did.
I thought the 'The Devil Rides Out' may be another good holiday read never having read any of DW's books at this time
It turned out to be something substantially more than a good read. It totally changed my way of thinking and opened my eyes to so many other possibilities that I had never even heard of, as this type of fiction was in very limited supply, as unfortunately it still is.
The book made me think that there were other things 'out there' that needed investigation.

As Bob Rothwell mentions in the 'General topics' section of the library forum;
"The Devil Rides Out - this is where it all started for me as a teenager looking for truths."

Personally, I wasn't even searching for truths at this stage but after having read the book the seeds were definitely sown!!! I'm still looking!!!!

I think most DW fans will know the story of TDRO but the brief synopsis is that Simon Aaron (or Aron as it is in this book) becomes ensnared into a satanic group. The Duke and Rex Van Ryn with help from Richard Eaton and Marie Lou try to retrieve him and Tanith (Rex's new found love) from a fate worse than death.
A battle ensues between the forces of Light and Darkness to get Simon and Tanith to (or more importantly away from) the Sabbat whilst the planetary alignments are still in place.
For those of you that haven't read the book, I urge you to do so. I also envy you as you still have the pleasure to come.

The book is dated but personally I like this old England upper class feel.
Envy, I suppose.
I found it difficult not to picture the faces of the Hammer film characters when reading the book even though the actors don't totally comply with the book. E.g.
Mocata (Charles Gray) - Is supposed to be a pot-bellied, bald headed man with fishy eyes and a lisp?

For Info: Mocata seems to be a widely used name in Carthage but where the name of Canon Damien Mocata stems from, I don't know.

Tanith (Niké Arrighi) - Is supposed to be a tall gold haired girl?

For info: Tanith or Tanit was a Phoenician-Carthaginian goddess also called BA'ALAT or ASTARTE represented the visage of god BAL'AL, personification of the beneficial sun.
Tanit was also the name given by the Carthaginians to the moon which changes face according to its pale, bright, invisible phases. Therefore, she existed as an antithetic goddess of Love and Death, Creation and Destruction, Tenderness and Cruelty, Protection and betrayal.


DW actually uses the term Negroes in this book rather than the previous non-PC terms.

Surprise surprise 'Justerini's (amontillado) gets mentioned on page 169.


With reference to my Book review on 'The Fabulous Valley' regarding 'Similarities' between TFV and 'A Glastonbury Romance', - They continue into 'The Devil Rides Out'.
The major one being the chapter called 'The ancient sanctuary' where the Duke and Rex take Simon to a place of safety, 'Stonehenge', one of the most hallowed 'Churches' in Europe, as people have been following their religious beliefs there for thousands of years.
'A Glastonbury Romance' devotes a full chapter to a twilight visit to 'Stonehenge'.

On pages 40 and 184 the term Saiitii is used for the 'sack like' creature that tried to enter the pentagram. In the Hammer film the Saiitii was substituted by a Spider.
William Hope Hodgson's - Carnacki the Ghost Finder makes reference to these creatures. This book is no. 5 in the Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult series.


On page 25/26 (arrow) the Duke tries to convince Rex that there have been and still are there are still people trying to seek a substantial extension to their years on Earth by various methods of advancement, including the Rosicrucians and the Alchemists who appeared to have had some success.
He also refers to the Tibetan monks that have achieved such a high degree of enlightenment that they can prolong their lives at will.
Do you remember the book or the film 'Lost Horizon' - a story about Shangri- La where people seemed to age at a much slower rate.
It was written by James Hilton who was a very good friend of DW.

On page 44 the duke refers to Nicolas Flamel an Alchemist who performed many curious rites and was seen alive 100 years after he had been supposedly buried.
According to the Harry Potter stories, Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, earned his reputation as a great wizard due, in part, to his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel.

Perhaps the Harry Potter books will become as famous as the Dennis Wheatley books one day!!


Last edited by Stevie P on Fri 16 Oct, 2009 09:09:49; edited 4 times in total
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Thanks for a wonderful piece, Stevie. TDRO is my favourite DW novel. I'm only just beginning to discover his non-Black Magic work. TDRO is a fantastic book - it moves at an incredible pace, and is a wonderful portrait of England circa 1934.
Thank you for all the pointers to other books and the references.

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Thanks Frank. I'm really pleased that you enjoyed the review. I often think that I over exagerate this book because it had such an influence on me at such a vulnerable age BUT it still excites me now.
I would dearly love to undertake a total re-run of the car journeys in the book to visit the places and sites where it all happened.

Maybe one day.

Stevie P.
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Stevie P, once again, echoing FL's thoughts, an exceptional critique and reference posting - many thanks.

I, along, I suspect, with many others, wouldn't know where to begin with this classic as it must have touched us all in different ways. It certainly became the starting point for my own set of values that I have carried through many years now.

As to the car trip, it's starting to look like we might have to organise a coach trip at this stage!!

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As we approach the 80th anniversary of the book publication of TDRO (12 December 1934) how appropriate to bookend this site’s reviewer-in-resident, Steve Patton’s view of our favourite occult masterpiece with a review by our hero’s great granddaughter, Charlotte Wheatley.

I‘m sure she won’t mind me reproducing her review from her own website for such a significant milestone ( www.charlottewheatley.com – the intuition online option).

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley"

"As you may have guessed, this particular author happens to be a relation of mine - namely my great grandfather. It is for this reason among others I that I have chosen to review one of his many best-selling books based on the subject of Black Magic. Having read this book alone, I can confirm that it is enough to convince all of you sceptics out there that Black Magic is for real. Now, this isn’t normally my ‘kind of topic’ but I now have it down on my list as one of the most exciting and intriguing subjects I have read about to date. It is a must-read in terms of history, drama and literary expertise. I am not biased in my statements!
The Devil Rides Out is a 1934 novel that tells a disturbing yet exciting tale about the capabilities of black magic and the occult; the gripping and eye-opening journey will have you hooked from start to finish. Through the main four characters that are also featured in many more of Wheatley’s novels, the reader is ushered along a dramatic detection story that is thrilling and stimulating to the core. Alongside this, Wheatley takes the chance to educate the reader through true historical facts, each assisting in the gradual conversion of the every day modern sceptic.
Now I feel it necessary to quickly introduce you to Dennis Wheatley himself.
As older generations will tell you, Wheatley was one of the world’s best-selling authors from the 1930’s through to the 1960’s. He is best known for his stylish and original thrillers, but has also written books of a different nature including the famous ‘Deception Planners’ and books on the French Revolution. Wheatley himself testifies to the powers of evil and Black Magic- but aptly makes clear at the start of each novel that he has never, and will never delve into such activities: ‘Author’s Note’
“I desire to state that I, personally, have never assisted at, or participated in, any ceremony connected with Magic- Black or White.”
Furthermore Wheatley makes it utterly clear that historical accounts in the novel are correct and much of his information about rites and magic ceremonies are acquired from genuine practitioners of the Art. The author’s note also states:
“…I found ample evidence that Black Magic is still practiced in London, and other cities, at the present day”. He finally urges his writers to refrain from any contact with the Art, for it carries a most potent and harmful danger to any that choose to involve themselves in it.
Having read this initial blurb, I felt instantly drawn in and inquisitive. My thoughts on Black Magic previous to this encounter were limited, and in its limitations centred on rendering it primitive, medieval, or merely a story for the peasant class, the ignorant. We all know there are no such things as witches…right? Think again.
In my insistence that you should not hesitate to read this novel, I shall attempt at not giving this story away. In doing this, there is really little to tell, apart from the fact that wound up in this fast paced, hair-raising thriller, there are also scenes of romance, loyalty and humour. The main characters consist of Duke de Richleau, (affectionately known as ‘Greyeyes’) an old and experienced French exile, with a surprising amount of knowledge about the powers of darkness. His great friend Rex Van Ryn is a tall and handsome American, and Simon Aron a quiet but thoughtful individual. These contrasting and unlikely friends all met whilst being hunted down in ‘The Forbidden Territory’, and they share a special bond, a bond that they would seek to secure in spite of anything, even in the face of the most fatal potentialities. Richard Eaton, Marie Lou and little Fleur are also in on the sequence. Mocata is a bald-headed, ‘white slug’ of a man, who is at the centre of all the unspeakable powers of evil that take place in the story. It seems it is impossible to defeat him for his powers seem limitless. But we are reminded that nothing should be deemed impossible on the grounds of passion, loyalty and pure goodness.
The short chapters and frequent scene changes make the novel impossible to put down, as one gets irresistibly drawn in to the narrative and increasingly fond of the characters. The countless events that spiral in every direction leave one as exhausted as the characters appear to be in the story. After finishing this book in record timing, I almost forgot which country I was in.
So go on- snuggle up, light a candle and indulge your mind in one of the oldest Arts mankind has to offer…Black Magic."

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Get the champagne on ice for the 12th December.

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Darren.
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my god, she looks like DW!!
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Thanks for posting this. I'm currently re-reading TDRO for the fourth time, as it happens, so that was very apposite. And doesn't Charlotte Wheatley sound great. A real chip off the old block, and by the looks of her website, a very talented artist as well.
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I'll just use this as an excuse to say that The Devil Rides Out is a classic novel. This is a shocking revelation, I know. It has atmosphere, suspense and a grand sense of adventure. The film version is one I would actually like to see remade, but not because the original was bad, rather because so much of the book didn't make it into the original movie, such as the Stonehenge scene with all the sporting gear or the plane chase to Greece with supernatural fog, not to mention the much better developed romance of Rex and Tanith. It's not like a remake would change the fact that the existing movie and the novel are simply great. It's like Dracula with all the various film adaptations, but sort of underground, I guess. As great as Nosferatu is, I would hate to think of a world without the Hammer Dracula.

As long as it doesn't star Robert Pattinson, of course.
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ericmocata :
I'll just use this as an excuse to say that The Devil Rides Out is a classic novel. This is a shocking revelation, I know. It has atmosphere, suspense and a grand sense of adventure. The film version is one I would actually like to see remade, but not because the original was bad, rather because so much of the book didn't make it into the original movie, such as the Stonehenge scene with all the sporting gear or the plane chase to Greece with supernatural fog, not to mention the much better developed romance of Rex and Tanith. It's not like a remake would change the fact that the existing movie and the novel are simply great. It's like Dracula with all the various film adaptations, but sort of underground, I guess. As great as Nosferatu is, I would hate to think of a world without the Hammer Dracula.

As long as it doesn't star Robert Pattinson, of course.


Yes, I'd like to see it re-made as well, and I love the original. I think re-makes are legitimate, if they fulfil at least one of the following two criteria:

1. If the original film isn't very good.

2. If the source material is a novel (as opposed to an original screenplay).

I know that Christopher Lee always used to say that he'd be very sympathetic to the idea of a re-make, and reprising his role as the Duke de Richleau. He thought he was perhaps a little young for the role in 1968, and also that modern special effects could do better justice to the pentagram scene. Now, alas, he'd be too old for any de Richleau adaptation other than "Dangerous Inheritance".

There's been periodic talk over the years of a re-make, including one some years ago, that would have starred Lee, and been directed by Joe Dante, but it never got anywhere. But I wonder now, with Hammer Films having undergone a mini-revival (a sequel to "The Woman in Black" will be released in 2015), if this might be considered once again.
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Our favourite book was first published 80 years ago today!!

Happy anniversary.. Applause roll on floor laughing Boo! Very Happy Very Very Happy Dancing Smile Applause I Love You!

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Darren.
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