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4 out of 5 stars
The Descent
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
I love being sucked into new worlds created by great authors, and this is one of them. This is the first Jeff Long book I have read, and I will be reading Year Zero soon.
Long's underground world and underground society are very well described in this book. The subterranean journey far beneath even the ocean floors is fantastic, scary, and interesting. The psychological changes the parties go through is true to form. He even had me looking over my shoulder for the Hadals.
I won't give anything away, but there are some very startling moments in this book that just blew me away and kept me reading through the night.
With a Himalayan mountain guide who goes into the abyss and returns scarred in every way, a beautiful nun teetering on the brink of faith, a group of Philosophers who begin to gather more frequently across the globe in search of Satan himself, an evil corporate head and his fiendish step son, a fanatical mercenary, an Army pilot who falls from grace through disfiguration, and of course the Hadals (underground tribes) all seeking their own prize from the sub planet, Mr. Long has brought a novel to us that you will be unable to put down until you finish it.
I highly recommend this book as an "all-nighter".
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 1999
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
What makes a great adventure book? Is it the plot? THE DESCENT is daringly plotted and full of surprises from start to finish. The twists and turns are audacious. But author Jeff Long pulls them off because he writes with clarity, authority and a great deal of vivid and specific detail. There's lots of science in this book; but instead of sounding like reader-feeder, the cool logic of facts makes an expedition to the center of the earth in search of Satan actually believable. Do great characters make great books? If so THE DESCENT is a winner. Ike and Ali are far from typical hero and heroine yet I found myself committed to the story of their survival thousands of fathoms below sea level, reading way after midnight several nights in a row. For the most part, the secondary characters are also strong though occasionally the villains come close to twirling their moustaches. These lapses are rare, however. Besides character and plot points, this book scores ten for writing style. It's popular fiction and there's no chance of THE DESCENT winning the New York Book Critics. But compared to most action adventure stories it is written with elegance and grace. This book deserves a spot high on the best seller list.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 1999
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I take the time to write a review only for those books that Ihave been significantly affected by, either positively or negatively.I just finished this book, and can truthfully say it was one of the most compelling and fascinating novels I have read in some time. I am the daughter of a Rabbi, married to a degreed philosopher, so theology and philosophy are topics near and dear to my heart. I started this book with an open mind as to its format. My husband had already listened to the Audio version and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you read this book hoping for unending adventure, an "Indiana Jones" type plot, you will be disappointed. While there are many instances of pure action and suspense, much of the book deals with archeological, theological and philosophical theories that are more difficult to breeze through. But those are the very things that held me captive all throughout the book. Do not assume this will be an easy read. It's not. But it is well worth the effort. Ending the book felt somewhat like emerging from the underworld - it was a little hard to return to mundane reality. Definitely a winner in my book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a book to read which is a page-turner and very different from anything you've read recently, this is for you! When I first ordered "The Descent" off of amazon, I wasn't sure what to expect. But the book kept me enthralled for countless days and nights. Jeff Long does an excellent job of character development (there are enumerous players in the story, but the ones that matter, you realy start to feel for). Best of all is perhaps Ali, the nun in search of both her way and for the origin of human language. Several readers have remarked on the great start the story has. I would agree; the first four chapters were fantastic. The book takes a brief fall, however, after this as the discovery of hell under earth and its human reaction is quickly blazen through in several pages which somehow encompasses global war and the deaths of millions. The book recovers nicely afterwards though, and you will find yourself deeply interested as The Jules Vernes Society searches for their knowledge, Ali searches for her word, Ike searches for his meaning, and The Beowolf Circle searches for their Satan. This is recommended reading for a twist of something different, and I look forward to more coming from Jeff Long.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First, the world created in this book simply stretches the imagination! Combinations of JRR Tolkien like mythology and Steven King horror woven into a modern day tale of archeological discovery and intrigue.
The book starts out as a frightening thriller about a variety of interactions with unknown creatures and situations. It all comes together when it is discovered that an entire world exists beneath the surface populated by an unknown species. Is this Hell?
The best aspect of the book is the vivid and remarkable creation of a world below the surface. The depictions of new species, and discoveries are painted with such detail that the reader is taken along on the journey with the characters. The depictions of several of the main characters are also well done. The pace and suspense keep the reader engaged throughout, eager to see what comes next.
The theological issues often lack depth, but frame an interesting sub plot. In the end, several ideas are postulated but not really closed out, leaving much to the imagination. This is much more effective than trying to tie up all loose ends, as it depicts a more realistic mystery.
Overall, I would say that this is a great story but the book is not for everyone. Fans of sci-fi, fantasy and Steven King type thrillers will not be disappointed at all, as it is extremely well written. I agree with the other reviewers here in that this has the potential for being a great film. An excellent addition to the fantasy genre.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book started as one of the best I've read. The prologue excellent, both gripping and frightening. The beginning of the book was strong, really strong. As the story unfolded its potential grew. Then it just stopped growing. Starting with a hiker's frightening discovery, while seeking shelter from a storm in a himalayan mountain cave, of a monster-like man tattoed with faintly glowing ink from head to toe. A short time later a battle-mission leads to the discovery of a society of similar beings living under the earth's surface. Unfortunately this is where the ideas, at least the really gripping ones, seem to stop. All in all it's still a fun read; it's just hard to accept that, with such a beginning, it didn't turn out to be a _great_ read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Only 10% of the ocean is understood by the scientific world. Jeff Long's premise is that we know even less about what lies beneath the Earth's crust. After reading this novel, I'll be reading much more of his work. I'm a convert!

Several plot lines run through the novel from a secret society's search for Satan, the archeology of discovering the first written word, and plan for genocide. On a personal journey for revenge and/or redemption, Ike, a major character guides a team of scientists to explore the new world. Their travels are fraught with danger as the inhabitants of the underground fight back, strengthen by their living god, Satan. Meanwhile world nations and corporations race to claim the underground world, either wanting the scientists to succeed or die.

Jeff's storytelling is excellent. He effectively balances between adventure, science, and horror as Ike and others confront the unknown, which threaten their lives and, worse, their souls. All the story lines come together in the end,

The finish makes the reader journey worth the trip. I'll be reading more of Jeff Long's work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What an incredible novel! What I enjoyed most about TheDescent, apart from the breadth of the writer's imagination and thebrilliance of its concept, is the development of its two key characters, Ike and Ali. Without giving away too much, I have to admit I was surprised by the level of their...interaction...later in the novel, but Ike's character is as unique as they come. And Ali? Wow! What a heroine! There isn't a moment throughout the entire novel when either lose their dignity, and that in itself is an accomplishment.
Admittedly, I feel that the novel could have used another 100 or so pages, particularly towards the end when describing the assemblage of hadal clans and other surrounding factors. But this is its only shortcoming (if it can be called that).
In conclusion, what I found most unsettling about The Descent was that it left me questioning the differences between man and monster, in particular the morality beyween the two. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the scariest part of all.
An epic, mind-blowing read - well deserving of every success!
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
THE BOOK IS DEFINETLY WORTH READING! Although I'm 25 and it is difficult to impress me with an original/imaginative horror or thriller story (maestroes King, Koontz and Barker left me disappointed too often), the first 4 chapters of the book I read on one breath. Further on the narration slows down occasionally, still I was glued to the book every free moment I had. The idea of Hell and its inhabitants and their influence on human civilization fascinated me, because it is real and unnatural phenomena can be explained by natural causes. This book is like a gripping action movie - you are so in it, that forget author's lapses of logics or narration. And yet only 4 stars, because the book might have been SO EXCELLENT and the best thriller I had ever read, but for that it should have contained some 200 pages more and answered all questions that popped in my mind concerning the history and decline of hadal civilization, Satan and his reincarnation and so many more. Judging by other reviews I had read, other readers are of the same opinion. But maybe there will be a sequel in plans, then we can hope for something?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2004
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I had never heard of Jeff Long but I will never forget him now. He had me from the first page and that is very unusual. The language, the way he wrote it had me by the throat and would not let go. It's been years since anyone wrote a book that I really could not put down, could not finish in one night. I kept going back over passages asking, did he say that? I had to re-read paragraphs because they were so pleasing to my eye and my brain. And how well he said it. Oh, I was stunned, beautifully written. The man has suffered physical pain. I had just had surgery and no one has ever told how pain really is until him. I didn't think anyone could tell another what pain really felt like until I read this book.

I hated knowing it was coming to an end. I saw the end of the book coming at me like the final cliff, screaming "please don't let it end." In actuality I re-read it several times because I kept going back just to enjoy his wording. He is a classic born. Stephen King cannot be compared and I know Steve was in awe as I was. I'm searching Amazon for ever book I can find of his. The book just shines as you read it.

Of the thousands of books of fiction I've read this is the top one. It will terrify you, delight you, impress you beyond expression. The way he uses language is stunning. By the way, I'm well over 13, I'm 62 and it scared the hell out of me. I loved it.
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