Virtue’s End: Joseph Sale
Reviewed By Steve Stred
As you’ve probably come to know, I’m a big fan of Joseph Sale’s writing. He has a phenomenal imagination and is always working on pushing the boundaries in his writing, not only his craft but also the worlds that populate them.
‘Virtue’s End’ may well be his Magnum Opus. An intricate, multilayered epic poem, harkening back to Greek times.
Because of the scope of this work, and the format it is told in, this is both incredibly engaging as well as very difficult to get into.
What I liked: The story seems to be metaphorically introspective. Normally, I’d share about a main character and their quest/their journey (and don’t be fooled, that is all here) but when reading this, it comes across as a similar story to Joseph’s own journey in his life, his writing and ultimately his publishing.
I really enjoyed the depth showcased and the hints we got along the way. I’d often need to re-read passages after making progress as future parts seemed to unlock earlier parts and it became a symbolic code to decipher what Sale was truly attempting to say.
What I didn’t like: I’ve only made it through a few of the epic poem’s throughout history. I struggle with the format and following along, so this one took me some time to peck at and return to. Sale writes cinematically throughout, but with a story that would most likely be 2000 pages long if traditionally written with prose, it became tough to discern certain characters and keep the story straight in my head.
Why you should buy this: If you want to be challenged and treat yourself to something that will have you enraptured, ‘Virtue’s End’ is absolutely for you. Sale never fails to amaze me and seeing this challenge he’s undertaken was inspirational to read.
Virtue’s End is a spell, a magickal incantation designed to invoke and vivify that which has been lost by the modern world. This lyrical, occult fantasy-epic follows the account of Horus, a magickal sorcerer blessed with both hellish and heavenly powers, who, upon meeting the demon Melmoth, embarks on a strange quest to save the mystical realm of Ethismos, the seat of human imagination. There, Horus will meet great warriors and friends who will aid him in his battle against the coming darkness, as well as ghosts of his past, spectres of the traumas he has endured, and old enemies hellbent on vengeance.
Despite its fantastical dimensions, Virtue’s End remains Sale’s most intimate, confessional, and personal work, an autobiography of the psychic scarring and divine manifestations that catalysted the birth of a new, Christian magician.
“I’ve many names, but you may call me One,
I am Horus, the Avenging Son.”
Virtue’s End also includes 6 illustrations by Brian Barr.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
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