Legion by William Peter Blatty

 

 

[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]

 

[This is the most recent cover for the book and honestly it’s pretty boring, but all the other covers are way too cheesy]

 

The sequel to The Exorcist, A young boy is found horribly murdered in a mock crucifixion, multiple priests found beheaded and exsanguinated; Is the murderer the elderly woman who witnessed the crime? A neurologist who can no longer bear the pain life inflicts on its victims? A psychiatrist with a macabre sense of humor and a guilty secret? A mysterious mental patient, locked in silent isolation?
Lieutenant Kinderman follows a bewildering trail that links all these people, confronting a new enigma at every turn even as more murders surface. Why does each victim suffer the same dreadful mutilations? Why are two of the victims priests? Is there a connection between these crimes and another series of murders that took place 12 years ago – and supposedly ended with the death of the killer?

 


 

This was another book that I almost didn’t make a review for, but was just going to make a small blurb about on my GoodReads but after sitting with it for awhile I decided to try and make a quickie review for.

I really liked the original Exorcist book when I read it a few years back, so when I stumbled upon another book by Blatty at my local Half Price, I immediately picked it up only to realize that it’s a direct sequel to the original [but the third in a trilogy]. I knew I wanted to read it, and shifted it to the front of my reading queue to read it in October, when I try to only read horror.

I honestly sort of regret that decision and wish I had read something else to head October.

Legion was written 10 years after The Exorcist and I’m not sure what may have happened in that time but Blatty’s writing style seems completely changed between the two books, and not for the better.

Immediately I realized that Legion just sort of… meanders. For a long, long time. It meanders in another character’s crisis of faith; which I sort of expected because that seems to be a big part of the series and we saw that with Karras in the original. But this time instead of the crisis of faith being a sort of subplot, it pushes itself to very much be at the forefront. I was getting frustrated at the main detective’s constant blabberings about his own crisis and conflict of faiths, why does evil exist/etc and wondering when we were going to get back to the much more interesting plot; the murders and the whodunit aspect of the book.

I realized that I had gotten 75% into the book and there was no real advancement into the plot of the book that was the actual tie to the original, and wasn’t sure if it was going to just end of a cliffhanger or have to escalate suddenly to get to the end. The latter ended up happening.

Now this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the ‘crisis of faith’ aspects of the book, I loved those aspects of the original too. However it just wasn’t done nearly as well and the balance of it vs the rest of the book was incredibly lopsided.

I also was pretty upset to learn that how Legion is tied to The Exorcist is essentially a retcon of the ending to the original. I’m going to have that listed below in white, so if you wanted to read it or don’t want it spoiled [apparently for the movie universe, Exorcist 3 covers the plot of Legion but I haven’t seen it] avoid the white section below.

So… Father Karras kinda sorta survived apparently? Which really feels like it completely undoes his sacrifice to save Regan [and the world] and how impactful his death was. So apparently after he sacrifices himself, Pazuzu is pissed he’s tricked out of Regan, and allows for another spirit/demon to enter Karras. However this being isn’t as powerful and obviously is dealing with a broken body. It scares the priest who was supposed to bury Karras to death, and throws him in the casket instead, leaving Karras’ body to just sort of wander around for years. His soul is gone, so he’s just a sort of shell/conduit. He’s found and put in a mental institution because he’s mostly catatonic and doesn’t have any records to identify him. The demon/spirit is either the actual dead spirit of the man who was the ‘Gemini Killer’ in the book [inspired by the Zodiac Killer] or is the demon that also possessed the man who was the Gemini Killer to make him kill. [I wasn’t sure which was which and online there also seems to be arguments about it too – so who knows.] Because of Karras’ broken body and being weak, it takes about 15-20 years of catatonia for him to truly be able to possess and control Karras; only to find that he’s in a mental institution and strapped up in a straitjacket in a well-guarded padded room. [Can’t really do serial killer/demon-y stuff when in that state.] So he becomes ‘Legion’ [for he is many] because he’s able to fracture himself and possess other people, sometimes multiple at the same time, to do his bidding. He possesses the others in the mental institution because mentally they’re ’empty vessels’ and easy targets. Through them, he continues his murder spree.  

The Gemini Killer is/was a man who was greatly abused by his alcoholic father, who was a popular priest. His younger brother who was intellectually challenged was especially abused and tortured. The father did something terrible to the younger brother who had his mind fully broken and was a shell of his former self after, who also ends up dying in a mental hospital because of an abusive/careless nurse who was supposedly god-fearing. This makes the older brother snap and starts to serial kill people in specific ways to shame his father/ruin his reputation and be a slight to god/the christian religion. 

However, just as everything is escalating to try and figure out how to stop the Gemini Killer/former Karass/mystery patient and figure out the final who/what/when/etc – the priest/father of the Gemini Killer dies of old age and then the demon/spirit decides that it’s all done now and just sort of peaces out/stops and gives his body a heart attack and dies and everything just sort of settles after that? Really, that’s how/why it ends lol 

There’s also a few characters that are involved with major subplots that just sort of… don’t go anywhere or their endings don’t make a lot of sense and it bothered me a lot. In fact one of those characters was completely left out of the movie and I think for once that sort of shows how non-integral they were, despite that I actually liked the character a lot.

The book ends with the detective’s religious musings again, including his theory that the Big Bang was actually Lucifer’s fall from heaven; and that the entire universe, good and bad, including humanity, are just shards of Lucifer that are attempting to be collected. [I read this and I was like, ‘what is he, the fuckin’ Shikon Jewel from Inu-Yasha?’] Also that evolution is the process of Lucifer attempting to put himself together to become an Angel again.

[/blinks]

So yeah, I dunno. The original Exorcist book was an amazing read, loved Blatty’s writing style, kept me enthralled and was excellent October reading. Legion? Not so much.

 

 



I give Legion 2/5 carps in a bathtub

Rating:

He squinted against the cold. The search helicopter was skimming away, throbbing low above the mud-brown darkness of the waters with its lights blinking softly red and green. The detective watched it growing smaller. It dwindled in the dawn like a fading hope. He listened, inclining his head a little; then he shivered and his hands began to dig deeper into the pockets of his coat. The shrieking of the woman had grown more piercing. It clawed at his heart and the twisted forests silent on the banks of the icy river.

His breathing was emphysematous; white vapor wisped at his lips. “No death is natural.” He murmured.

 


 

 

 

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