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The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington
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The Enterprise of Death (edition 2011)

by Jesse Bullington

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1951290,101 (3.96)5
Member:JPWickwire
Title:The Enterprise of Death
Authors:Jesse Bullington
Info:Orbit (2011), Edition: 1, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:2011
Rating:
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The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington

  1. 10
    The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington (gonzobrarian)
  2. 00
    Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (gonzobrarian)
    gonzobrarian: Interesting supporting characters and good, old-fashioned mayhem. Oh, and the Plague as well.
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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I’d never heard of Jesse Bullington before stumbling across The Enterprise of Death, so I had the pleasure of entering into it with no expectations. To be honest, I’m not sure having heard of him previously (or having read The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart), would have made a lick of difference. This is the kind of book that beats you over the head, robs you of your expectations, and then forces you to watch as it tears those expectations to shreds, stomps upon them, and gleefully urinates upon the mess . . . all while you nod delightedly and ask to do it all again.

Yes, this is a wonderfully messed-up book, set in a wonderfully messy world, that comes across as a mixture of Terry Gilliam’s most surreal, Tim Burton’s most unusual, and Clive Barker’ most sexual . It’s a book of nightmares and fantasies that are as much the Brothers Grimm as they are the Marquis de Sade. This is a darkly cynical tale of human history, told not by the historians (and not even by the victors), but by the sad souls forced to live out its cruelties and delights, armed only with an unflinching eye and a very dark sense of humour.

As readers, this is a story that demands of us an empty stomach and an open mind, as it repeatedly gives rise to open eyes and open mouths – as often in delight as in disgust. The world of The Enterprise of Death is one populated almost entirely by the scum of society - soldiers, slaves, eunuchs, prostitutes, and criminals without an ounce of morality between them. Even those characters who don’t revel in evil and brutality are often casually cruel, and at least amoral, if not immoral.

Of course, when the choices available are between the supernatural horrors of zombies and vampires, and the all-too-human horrors of necrophilia, bestiality, and cannibalism, it’s really hard to fault the characters for not being paragons of virtue. They are, however, disturbingly endearing characters (particularly Awa and Monique) with whom we are more than happy to tag along on this journey through the horrors of the Inquisition, even if we’d prefer not to shake hands at the end of said journey.

The only thing that initially bothered me about the book was the writing style. The story regularly leaps between past and present, a narrative device that is further confused by frequent jumps in viewpoint from one character to another. As far as the language goes, it’s a story that’s written in a 15th century style (with some quirky turns of phrase), but full of very 21st century dialogue (that, at one time or another, is guaranteed to make every reader blush at least once). Yet, despite the contradictions and confusions, it all works . . . once the story comes together in your head, it holds fast for the duration.

Quite possibly the strangest book I’ve read in a very long time, it’s also one I find myself thinking about reading once again (something I rarely do). I’d love to get my hands on a physical copy, to smell the ink, to feel the paper, to suffer the weight of it in my hands, and to get lost in the experience of reading. Perhaps too dark and morose for a beach read, I suspect it would be an entirely fitting read for a hot, stuffy, candlelit room during a violent summer thunderstorm. While not for everybody, if the subject matter and storytelling style present any appeal, then it’s worth investing the time in a read. ( )
  bibrarybookslut | Jul 5, 2017 |
This is like no Renaissance-based novel you've ever read before: shocking, profane, grotesque, gory, revolting...and yet funny. A swashbuckling tale filled with dark sorcery, graphic violence, mayhem, and unforgettable - and sympathetic - characters. I could not put this book down. Jesse Bullington has a ripe and witty (if twisted) imagination and knows how to put a story together. ( )
  jeddak | Jan 27, 2017 |
Jesse Bullington's follow-up to The Sad Tale Of The Brothers Grossbart is just as energetic, muscular, horrific, violent, inventive, fast-paced and icky as his debut. What wrong-footed me slightly was the sympathetic lead characters when I had mentally braced myself for more in the way of entertainingly sociopathic monsters wreaking havoc on the innocent and the guilty and the spectacularly evil alike. Instead we get Awa, an ex-slave forced into an apprenticeship by a necromancer, as nasty a piece of work as any Bullington has yet invented, and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, an artist turned mercenary who, against his better judgement and self-interest, rescues said trainee necromancer from the attentions of some of his fellow soldiers. The unlikely pair become friends and, with the aid of a another mercenary, a female gunner, set out to thwart the ultimate and extremely horrific schemes of the necromancer. Touring the battlefields, graveyards and whorehouses of a war-torn Renaissance Europe, pursued by a rogue witch-hunter, the ambulatory corpse of Awa's former mistress, a doctor of questionable ethics hungry for hidden knowledge and a particularly horrific corpse-hungry monster.
With corpses galore, in various degrees of decomposition, the grue and gore and ghastly fluids are plentiful, and with war raging all around and the inquisition in full flight there's violence and injustice and poverty and inhumanity to spare, but the warm heart of the book is the friendship between Deutsch and Awa and the things they do to help each other find some measure of redemption and salvation in a savage world. A strong, satisfying second novel that manages to revisit many elements of the Brothers Grossbart and yet remain utterly different. Recommended. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Not done reading yet, but this dude needs to read Strunk and White. The overuse of adjectives is driving me crazy. Just a very immature writer, technically speaking. A little lazy and self indulgent, too. And only four chapters in!

Alright, so i finished it. The guy is a talented writer, or could be with a more discerning pen. The book was just unnecessarily crass. The main character was sort of weak, enough so that i didn't really care what happened to her.

It read too much like a deadwood episode in the second act, which seemed out of place. I think the word ' cunt' is fantastic and can be entertaining, but it poisoned every other paragraph and it wore on my tolerance. Also, it's a cop out for creative dialogue.

Overall an interesting book, though i will pass on this author in the future. ( )
  DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
This is the best book I have read this year. It was deliciously dark yet full of human compassion and love, the ambivalence and grey areas of death and loyalties, etc. I didn't want it to end. ( )
  allyshaw | Apr 4, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316087343, Paperback)

As the witch-pyres of the Spanish Inquisition blanket Renaissance Europe in a moral haze, a young African slave finds herself the unwilling apprentice of an ancient necromancer. Unfortunately, quitting his company proves even more hazardous than remaining his pupil when she is afflicted with a terrible curse. Yet salvation may lie in a mysterious tome her tutor has hidden somewhere on the war-torn continent.

She sets out on a seemingly impossible journey to find the book, never suspecting her fate is tied to three strangers: the artist Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, the alchemist Dr. Paracelsus, and a gun-slinging Dutch mercenary. As Manuel paints her macabre story on canvas, plank, and church wall, the young apprentice becomes increasingly aware that death might be the least of her concerns.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:14 -0400)

As the witch-pyres of the Spanish Inquisition blanket Renaissance Europe in a moral haze, a young African slave finds herself the unwilling apprentice of an ancient necromancer. Unfortunately, quitting his company proves even more hazardous than remaining his pupil when she is afflicted with a terrible curse. Yet salvation may lie in a mysterious tome her tutor has hidden somewhere on the war-torn continent. She sets out on a seemingly impossible journey to find the book, never suspecting her fate is tied to three strangers: the artist Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, the alchemist Dr. Paracelsus, and a gun-slinging Dutch mercenary. As Manuel paints her macabre story on canvas, plank, and church wall, the young apprentice becomes increasingly aware that death might be the least of her concerns.… (more)

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Orbit Books

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