"The battle between good and evil has intensified and Lucifer's chains are loose!"
Reviewed by Shellie Surles
Posted January 25, 2015
Suspense | Thriller | Thriller Arcane
Dr Erin Granger is part of a three person group that is
destined to stop Lucifer and the Strgoi from ruling over
earth. Erin is the Woman of Knowledge who has the Blood
Gospels; they are the word of Christ written in his own
blood only to be read by her at the time of their need.
Erin along with Sergeant John Stone, who is the Warrior of
God and Rhun a Sanguinists priest, who is The Knight of
Christ, must stop the evil before it infects the world.
Strgoi are evil vampires who feed on humans and cause
and destruction. Sanguinists are vampire priest and nuns
that survive on the blood of Christ, a special wine made
possible by prayer and dedication to the Lord.
The adventures this group and their friends get involved
are full of nonstop action. BLOOD INFERNAL is an exciting
story line that keeps you intrigued from the first page.
James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell have created a series
that brings in religious history and fantasy to a new
with the Order of the Sanguines. If you want to
whole series then don't start with BLOOD INFERNAL, there
are two books and novellas before it. But BLOOD INFERNAL
can be read as a standalone and it's a well written story.
I didn't read the others and thoroughly enjoyed this one.
I will be picking up the rest of the series and am hoping
all are as good as
BLOOD INFERNAL. James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell have
done a great job.
In a masterpiece of supernatural mystery and apocalyptic
prophecy, New York Times bestselling authors James
Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell bring to a thunderous
conclusion their epic trilogy of novels set between the
worlds of shadow and light, between salvation and
where the very gates of Hell must be shattered to
the true fate of humankind in...
As an escalating scourge of grisly murders sweeps the
archaeologist Erin Granger must decipher the truth behind
immortal prophecy foretold in the Blood Gospel, a tome
written by Christ and lost for centuries: The shackles of
Lucifer have been loosened, and his Chalice remains lost.
will take the light of all three to forge the Chalice
and banish him again to his eternal darkness. With the
Apocalypse looming, Erin must again join forces with Army
Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Rhun Korza to search for
treasure lost for millennia. But the prize has already
fallen into the hands of their enemy, a demon named
before whom even the walls of the Vatican will fall.
The search for the key to salvation will take Erin and
others across centuries and around the world, from the
shelves of the Vatican's secret archives to lost medieval
laboratories, where ancient alchemies were employed to
horrific ends. All the while, they are hunted, besieged
creatures of uncanny skill and talent. As clues are dug
from ancient underground chapels and found frozen in icy
mountain caverns, Erin will discover that the only hope
victory lies in an impossible act--one that will destroy
only her, but all she loves. To protect the world, Erin
walk through the very gates of Hell and face the darkest
enemies: Lucifer himself.
With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the
of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca
combined science, myth, and religion to introduce a
breathtaking world where miracles hold new meaning and
fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we
ever dreamed. And now, in this epic conclusion to the
Sanguines trilogy, Blood Infernal, they take us to the
pit of Hell itself, making us peer into the abyss and
our greatest fears, to answer the ultimate question: What
price will we pay for true salvation?
At last, it is almost done…
Inside his hidden lab, the English alchemist known as
John Dee stood before a giant bell made of flawless
glass. It rose tall enough for a man to stand upright
within its inner chamber. The wondrous work had been
fashioned by an esteemed glassmaker on the faraway island
of Murano, near Venice. It had taken a team of artisans
over a year, using massive bellows, and a technique known
only to a handful of masters, to spin and blow a colossal
pearl of molten glass into this sculpture of perfection.
Afterward, it had taken five additional months to
transport the precious bell from its island birthplace to
the cold court of Holy Emperor Rudolf II in the far
north. Upon its arrival, the emperor had ordered a secret
alchemist’s laboratory to be built around it, surrounded
by additional workshops that extended far beneath the
streets of Prague.
That had been ten long years ago…
The bell now stood atop a round iron pedestal in the
corner of the main laboratory. The pedestal’s edges had
long since gone red with rust. Near the bottom half of
the bell stood a round door, also of glass, fastened on
the outside with strong bars and sealed so that air could
neither enter nor escape.
John Dee shuddered where he stood. Although he was
relieved by the coming completion of his task, he dreaded
it, too. He had grown to hate the infernal device,
knowing the horrific purpose behind its forging. Of late,
he avoided the bell as much as he could. For days he
would putter around in his lab, his long tunic stained
with chemicals, his white beard nearly dipping into his
flasks, his rheumy eyes averted from the bell’s dusty
But now my mission is nearly complete.
Turning, he stepped to the fireplace and reached to its
mantel. With gnarled fingers, he worked the elaborate
catches to open a small chamber carved into the marble.
Only he and the emperor knew of the tiny chamber’s
As he reached inside, a frantic knocking arose behind
him. He turned back to the bell, to the creature that had
been imprisoned inside it. The beast had been captured by
men loyal to the emperor, dragged here only hours ago.
I must work quickly.
The ungodly beast beat against the inside of the bell, as
if it sensed what was to come. Even with its
preternatural strength, it could not break free. Older
and far stronger creatures had tried and failed.
Over the past years, John had caged many such beasts
inside that glass cell.
Though he knew he was safe, his feeble heart still raced,
the animal part of him sensing the danger in a way that
his logical mind could not gainsay.
He let out a shaky breath, reached into the secret
chamber of the mantel, and drew out an object wrapped in
oilcloth. The prize was tied with a scarlet cord and
encased inside a wax shell. Careful not to crack the waxy
covering, John carried the bundle to the draped window,
clutching it close against his chest. Even through the
cloth and wax, a dreadful coldness emanated from the
object and numbed his fingers and ribs.
He opened the thick curtains a crack, allowing in a shaft
of morning sunlight. With trembling hands, he placed the
package in the pool of light that fell atop his stone
desk and positioned himself on the other side of the
bundle so that not the smallest shadow fell upon the
object’s surface. He drew a sharp flensing knife from his
belt and cut through the wax and the scarlet cord. With
great care, he parted the oilcloth as flakes of white
tallow broke off and fell to his desk.
Early morning Czech sunlight shone on what lay revealed
inside the cocoon of wax and cloth: a beautiful
gemstone, as large as his palm, glowing an emerald green.
But this was no emerald.
“A diamond,” he whispered to the silent room.
The chamber had gone quiet again as the creature inside
the bell quailed away from what shone upon his desk. The
beast’s eyes darted around as light reflected from the
gem and formed shimmering emerald veins across the
John ignored the prisoner’s fear and instead stared into
the heart of the diamond at an inky darkness roiling
inside. It flowed like a mix of smoke and oil, a living
thing, as trapped inside the diamond as surely as the
creature was inside the bell.
Thank God for that.
He touched the icy gem with one finger. According to
legend, the stone had been quarried from a mine deep in
the Far East. Like all great stones, this one was said to
carry a curse. Men had killed to possess it, dying soon
after it came into their hands. Smaller diamonds mined
from that same vein graced the crowns of faraway rulers,
but this one had not been put to such vain use.
Carefully, he lifted the green diamond. Decades had
passed since he’d had it hollowed out. Two jewelers had
lost their eyesight using tiny diamond-tipped drills to
create the empty space inside the stone’s luxuriant green
heart. A sliver of bone so thin it was almost translucent
stoppered the small opening—a bone fetched from a
Jerusalem tomb over a thousand years before—the last
intact piece of Jesus Christ.
Or so it was claimed.
John coughed. The metallic taste of blood filled his
mouth, and he spat into a wooden bucket he kept near his
desk. The disease that ate him from within left him
little peace these days. He struggled for breath,
wondering if this time the breath would fail to come. His
lungs wheezed in his chest like a broken bellows.
A muffled knock against the door startled him, and the
stone slipped between his fingers and fell to the wooden
floor. He lunged toward the precious green object with a
The stone landed on the floor, but it did not break.
Pain lanced from John’s heart into his left arm. He fell
against the desk’s stout leg. A beaker of yellow liquid
crashed to the floor and spread across the boards. Smoke
rose from the edge of a bearskin rug laid out on the
“Master Dee!” A young voice sounded from the other side
of the door. “Are you hurt?”
The lock clicked, and the door swung open.
“Stay—” John gasped with effort. “—away, Vaclav.”
But the young man had already rushed inside, coming to
his master’s aid. He lifted John from the floor. “Are you
John’s disease was beyond the skill of even the most
powerful alchemists in Emperor Rudolf’s court to heal. He
struggled for breath, letting the boy hold him upright
until at last his coughing quieted. But the sharp pain in
his chest did not lessen as it usually did.
The young apprentice touched John’s sweaty brow with
gentle fingers. “You have not slept this last night. Your
bed was untouched when I arrived this morning. I came up
Vaclav’s voice broke off as he glanced toward the glass
bell—and discovered the creature imprisoned inside. It
was a sight never intended for his young, innocent eyes.
A gasp escaped Vaclav’s lips, a mix of surprise and
She stared in turn back toward the boy, a hunger in her
gaze as she placed a palm against the glass. A single
fingernail scratched at the surface. She had not fed for
Vaclav’s gaze took in the woman’s naked body. Wavy blond
hair fell past her round shoulders, tumbled across bare
breasts. She could almost be considered beautiful. But in
the faint light from the curtains, the thick glass gave
her snow-white skin a green cast, as if she had already
begun to decay.
Vaclav turned to John for some explanation. “Master?”
His young apprentice had come into his service as a
clever little boy of eight. John had watched him grow
into a young man with a bright future ahead of him,
skilled at mixing potions and distilling oils.
John loved him like one of his own sons.
Still, he did not hesitate as he lifted the sharp
flensing knife and slashed the boy across his throat.
Vaclav grabbed at his wound, his eyes pinned to John’s by
disbelief and betrayal. Blood flowed between his fingers
and spattered onto the floor. He sank to his knees, both
hands seeking to catch his life’s blood.
The creature in the bell hurled her body against the
sides with such force that the heavy iron pedestal
Do you smell the blood? Is that what excites you so?
John bent to gather up the fallen green stone. He held it
up to the sunlight to check the seal. Darkness rolled
inside, as if seeking a crack, but there was no exit. He
made the sign of the cross and whispered a prayer of
thanks. The diamond remained intact.
John placed the stone back in the sunlight and knelt next
to Vaclav. He stroked curly hair back from the young
Vaclav’s pale lips moved, and his throat gurgled.
“Forgive me,” John whispered.
The young man’s lips formed a single word.
John could never explain it to the boy, never atone for
his murder. He cupped his apprentice’s cheek. “I would
that you had not seen this. That you had lived a long
life of study. But that was not God’s will.”
Vaclav’s blood-stained fingers fell from his throat. His
brown eyes turned glassy with death. With two fingers,
John closed the boy’s warm eyelids.
John bowed his head and muttered a quick prayer for
Vaclav’s soul. He had been an innocent, and he rested in
a better place now. Still, it was a tragic waste.
The thing in the glass bell, the monster that had once
been human, met his eyes. Her gaze flickered to Vaclav’s
body, then back to John’s face. She must have read the
anguish there because, for the first time since she had
been delivered to him, she smiled, baring long white
fangs in clear delight at his misfortune.
John struggled to his feet. The pain in his heart had not
lessened. He must finish his task quickly.
He stumbled across the room, closed the door that Vaclav
had left open, and locked it. The only other key to this
room rested on the floor in a pool of Vaclav’s cooling
blood. John would not be disturbed again.
He returned to his duty, running a finger along the glass
pipe that ran from the bell toward his desk. He examined
its length for any new flaws or chinks, taking his time.
I am too close for any mistakes.
At its end, the pipe narrowed to a tiny opening, barely
larger than a sewing needle, the work of a craftsman at
the height of his powers. John drew the thick curtains
apart until a ray of morning sunlight fell on the small
end of the glass pipe.
The pain grew in his chest, locking his left arm to his
side. He needed his strength now, but it was rapidly
With his shaking right hand, he picked up the stone. It
glittered in the sunlight, beautiful and deadly. He
clamped his lips against the dizziness and used a tiny
set of silver tongs to pull the bone sliver from one end
of the stone.
His knees shook, but he gritted his teeth. Now that the
sliver had been removed, he must keep the stone bathed
in sunlight. Even a momentary shadow would allow the
smoky darkness inside to escape into the larger world.
That must not happen…at least, not yet.
The blackness flattened and ran up the sides of its small
prison, reaching for the tiny opening, but it stopped,
plainly fearful of venturing into the light. The evil
inside must somehow sense that unfiltered sunlight held
the power to destroy it. Its only refuge remained inside
the diamond’s verdant heart.
Slowly, and with great care, John settled the small hole
carved out of the diamond over the open end of the glass
pipe. Sunlight covered them both.
He retrieved a flickering candle that rested on the
stained desk and raised it above the diamond, letting wax
drip over the gem and glass pipe, ensuring an airtight
seal between them. Only then did he close the curtain and
allow darkness to fall over the green gem.
Candlelight illuminated the dark mass still moving inside
the heart of diamond. It swirled around, creeping up the
sides to the opening. He held his breath, watching it
flow along the edge. It seemed to probe his seal, and
only after discovering no opening into the laboratory did
the darkness flow up along the glass pipe. It followed
the pipe’s length and continued its inexorable course to
where the pipe ended—at the glass bell and the woman
John shook his grizzled head. Though she had once been
human, she was no longer a woman. He must not allow
himself to view her as such. She had quieted and stood
still in the center of the bell. Her luminous blue eyes
Her skin glowed white as alabaster, her hair like spun
gold; both had a watery green cast through the thick
glass. Even so, she was the most beautiful creature he
had ever seen. She placed one palm against the glass.
Candlelight flickered across lovely long fingers.
He crossed the room and placed his palm over hers. The
glass was cold against his skin. Even without the pain
and encroaching weakness, he had always known that she
would be his last. She was the six hundred sixty-sixth
creature to stand in that coffin. Her death would
complete his task.
Her lips formed a single word, the same as Vaclav.
He could no more explain it to her than he could to his
Her eyes went to the blackness that slid ever closer to
Like the others, she lifted her hand up toward the foul
mist as it swept into her glass cell. Her lips moved
silently, her face rapturous.
In the early years he had always felt shame at watching
this private dark communion, but those feelings had long
since left him. He leaned against the glass, trying to
get as close as he could. Even the pain in his chest
vanished as he watched.
Inside the bell, the black smoke coalesced along the top
of the inner cell, forming a mist of tiny droplets that
rained down upon the cell’s lone occupant. The moisture
flowed along her white fingers and her upstretched arms.
She threw her head back and screamed. He did not need to
hear her cry to recognize her posture of ecstasy. She
rose up on her toes, breasts thrust out, quivering as the
droplets caressed her body, touching every part of her.
She shuddered one final time, and then collapsed against
the side of the bell, her body slumping to the bottom,
The mist hovered over her form, waiting.
It is done.
John pushed away from the bell. He stepped around
Vaclav’s corpse and hurried to the window. He yanked the
curtains fully open, wide enough to allow the morning
sunlight to kiss the side of the bell. The girl’s cursed
corpse burst into flame inside, adding her foul smoke to
the waiting haze.
The black mist—now stoked incrementally stronger by the
girl’s essence—fled from the sunlight, retreating toward
the only dark path left open to it: the glass pipe
leading back to the diamond. Using a handheld silver
mirror, he reflected sunlight along the pipe, chasing and
herding the foul blackness back into the emerald heart of
the gemstone, to its only place of refuge in this sunlit
Once it was again fully entrapped, John carefully broke
the wax seal, freeing the diamond from the pipe. He kept
the tiny opening always in the light as he carried it to
a pentagram he had drawn on the floor long ago. He set
the stone in the middle, still in the sunlight.
So close now…
Carefully, John drew a circle of salt around the
pentagram. As he did so, he chanted prayers. His life was
nearly spent, but at last, he would achieve his life’s
To open a portal to the angelic world.
More than six hundred times, he had drawn this same
circle, more than six hundred times he had chanted the
same prayers. But in his heart, he knew this time it
would be different. He recalled the verse from
Revelation: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath
understanding count the number of the beast: for it is
the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three
score and six.
“Six hundred and sixty-six,” he repeated.
That was the number of creatures he had imprisoned in the
bell, the number of smoky essences he had collected upon
their flaming deaths into this one diamond. It had taken
a decade to find so many, to imprison them, and to gather
together the evil essence that animated these damned
creatures. Now those same energies would open the portal
to the angelic world.
He covered his face with his hands, trembling bodily. He
had so many questions for the angels. Not since the times
chronicled by the Book of Enoch had angels come to man
without the command of God. Not since then had men
benefited from their wisdom.
But I will bring their light to earth and share it with
all of mankind.
He moved to the fireplace and lit a long taper. He
carried it around the circle, igniting five candles
placed at the corners of the pentagram. The yellow flames
looked weak and insubstantial in the sunlight, guttering
in the draft from the window.
At last, he closed the curtains, and darkness cloaked the
He hurried back and knelt at the edge of the circle.
From the gemstone, inky smoke flowed from the tiny
opening, moving tentatively, perhaps sensing the larger
world still glowed with the new day. Then it seemed to
grow bolder, rushing toward John, as if to claim him, to
make him pay for its long imprisonment. But the circle of
salt held it at bay.
Ignoring the threat, John’s voice hissed against the
crackling fire as he recited words in the Enochian
language, a language long thought lost to mankind. “I
command thee, Master of Darkness, to show me the light
that is the opposite of your shadows.”
Within the circle, the black cloud quivered once, twice,
expanding and contracting like a living heart. With each
beat, it grew larger than before.
John clasped his hands in front of him. “Protect me, oh
Lord, as I look upon the glory thou hast wrought.”
The darkness coalesced into an oval large enough for a
man to step through.
Whispered words brushed John’s ear.
“COME TO ME…”
The voice rose from out of the portal.
John picked up an unlit candle from beside his knee and
lit it from one on the corner of the pentagram. He held
the flame aloft, calling again upon the protection of
A new noise reached him as if something shifted on the
far side of the portal, accompanied by a heavy chinking
sound, the clang of metal on metal.
Words returned, worming into his mind. “OF ALL MORTALS, I
HAVE FOUND THOU ALONE WORTHY.”
John rose and took a step toward the circle, but his foot
brushed Vaclav’s outstretched hand. He stopped, suddenly
sensing how unworthy he was to look upon such glory.
I have killed an innocent.
His silent confession was heard.
“GREATNESS HAS ITS PRICE,” he was assured. “FEW ARE
PREPARED TO PAY IT. THOU ART UNLIKE THE OTHERS, JOHN
He trembled at these new words, especially the last two.
My name is known, spoken by an angel.
He teetered between pride and fear, the room spinning
drunkenly. The candle fell from his fingers. Still lit,
it rolled into the circle, then through the portal to
cast its light on what lay hidden on the other side.
He gaped at a figure of incredible majesty seated atop a
shining ebony throne. Candlelight glinted off eyes of
black oil in a face of stern beauty, each plane seemingly
sculpted from onyx. Atop that beautiful countenance
rested a broken crown of silver, its surface tarnished
black, jagged edges looking like horns. From beyond wide
shoulders rose mighty wings, whose feathers were as dark
and glossy as a raven’s. They curved high, sheltering the
naked form within their embrace.
The figure shifted forward, disturbing the tarnished
silver chains that encased his flawless form, securing
him to his throne.
John knew upon whom he stared.
“Thou art no angel,” he whispered.
“I AM…AND HAVE ALWAYS BEEN.” Though that smooth voice
filled his head, the figure’s lips did not move. “THY
WORDS HAVE SUMMONED ME. WHAT ELSE COULD I BE?”
Doubt fluttered in John’s chest, accompanied by a growing
pain. He had been wrong. Darkness had not summoned light—
it had called to darkness instead.
As he stared in horror, a link of the chain shattered
from the figure’s form. Fresh silver shone brightly from
the fractured edge. The creature was breaking free.
The sight cut through John’s trance. He fell away from
the circle and stumbled toward the window. He must not
let this creature of darkness enter this world.
That single syllable of command stabbed a fiery lance of
pain through his head. He could not think, he could
barely move, but he forced himself onward. With hands
like claws, he grabbed the thick curtain and pulled with
all his feeble strength.
The velvet tore.
Sunlight flooded the room, shining onto the bell, the
desk, the circle, and, finally, the portal of darkness. A
piercing scream rose behind him, filling his skull to
It was too much.
But it was enough.
As John Dee slumped to the ground, his last sight was
darkness again fleeing the sunlight, retreating to its
place of refuge in the gem. He offered one final prayer
to the world as he left it.
May no one ever find that cursed stone…
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