The Faceless God by Tomas Vincente came to me by accident, and was therefore a good opportunity to read something different than my norm. I’m not the best person to review a title such as this, but given the conditions in which it presented itself, I figured I would give it a read and share anyway.
I suppose we should start with its arrival and my early thoughts on the publisher, Theion. I technically ordered their other book, Underworld. An easy mistake: Underworld and The Faceless God are their only two black-bound books, and any number of things could have been going wrong with their day for all I know. What I want to make clear is that I wasn’t upset. Accidents happen. People order books all the time, but most people never actually interact with the publisher or their customer service. When you DO have to contact them is when you tend to learn the most about the companies you support, which isn’t always so thrilling. Theion responded within minutes, and as soon as they found my order, they stated that they would send Underworld out to me right away, and to enjoy The Faceless God in the meantime, that maybe it was meant to be. Their speed, service, and kindness was a pleasant surprise. It’s honestly a great first impression, regardless of a minor bump.
And perhaps it was meant to be. Immediately after reading The Cannibal Spell in Gordon White’s Star.Ships (which I just reviewed here), I received The Faceless God. Before I even noticed the cover or title, I opened immediately to a rendition of the very same Cannibal Spell. A strange synchronicity for a book that randomly found its way to me. I skipped the book forward to next in line.
The book itself is beautiful. I’m quite fond of the cover design which is stamped in gold upon black cloth. It’s a fairly small book, with the last page (not counting appendix or bibliography) on 131. A good length for someone who frequently gets sidetracked in busy routine. A few nice monochrome images are included as well.
Before I get into the contents, I need to make one thing clear… Until this book, I didn’t even know what the fuck a -*pauses to glance at book for spelling*- “Nyarlathotep” was. That is to say, I know less than jack shit about Lovecraft or his works. I’m a horrible person to review it. I’ve no doubt much of The Faceless God would be more enjoyable to actual Lovecraft fans or those at least somewhat familiar with the stories.
The Faceless God essentially works with three contexts: that of Lovecraft, that of the classic Witches’ Sabbat, and that of the Egyptians. When he is speaking more of the Sabbat and the Egyptian material, the book naturally makes a lot more sense for me and becomes a more fluid and enjoyable read.
I had heard of and wondered how Lovecraft’s stories could have anything to do with witchcraft, being fiction. Are they based on something? Should I bother to read them? Vincente actually did a good job at answering some questions I had had on that, questions no one else had been able to answer. He did well at painting the parallels and pointing out what is going on. He makes it quite clear that Nyarlathotep can be easily worked with, much like the gods he is archetypically similar to (or perhaps an expression of). Nyarlathotep isn’t a form I would care to work with, but I’d be curious to read Lovecraft’s stories now and then perhaps come back to this text again some day when I have a better foundation in that separate world.
There are then a few rituals scattered throughout this text, altering between these three mythologies… As I stated above, he points out the similar core elements these different deities/forces are expressing. Which means if a rite calls for Nyarlathotep and your ass is as clueless as mine, you can reword it. One thing I will note about them is that they are quite sexual. The Devil’s Eucharist for instance, was a bit more than expected lol. Having a partner may be best for some of them, and may be required for I think at least one. For the most part, they weren’t really my thing, not being all that sexual of a person. There was, however, a nice exercise for Lecanomancy that was a bit more tame and workable for folk like me lol.
I enjoyed his discussion regarding the renunciation, signing of the book, and other similar acts. I thought he did quite well as explaining their purpose and how its not really just a literal selling of the soul. The Egyptian parts were also a pleasant change for me, as I don’t tend to encounter that lore much in books these days.
When it came to the Cabala chapter, I will admit I had to force myself. For someone who’s more of a fan, they may very likely feel differently. It did a great job at describing what it was mapping to the spheres and pathways (as far as my uneducated self can tell), but it just didn’t really feel like it was necessary or like it added to the text for me. But admittedly, Cabala has never been something I’ve been drawn to explore all that much. Still, despite this chapter triggering some personal disinterest, he did seem to write it in a understandable enough way.
It felt a bit eclectic in trying to discuss or make use of a figure from fictional stories, though it tied things together well enough… A bit “dark edgy”, maybe just because it was working with Lovecraft’s nightmarish world… A bit sexual, for sure… There’s good information there that can be worked with, and I enjoyed probably as much of it as I enjoy of most books. Despite much of it not being for me, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a day.
Would I recommend it? It’s a decent book for what it is, and if I knew someone were into Lovecraft, then I would certainly suggest it to them! For those who aren’t fans, I’d likely guide them to a different, less Lovecraftian book though. I think this is a bit more for that specific audience.
Perhaps once I get the Lovecraft collection and educate myself a bit more, I’ll come back and update this with future impressions.