About the Book
Leaving his ever-popular and ever-expanding Amber series behind for the nonce, Zelazny delivers a cheerful, witty, well-crafted fantasy narrated by Snuff, dog-companion to Jack the Ripper. It seems that Jack is in fact a sorcerer and his gruesome exploits were perpetrated in the service of his magic. But the Ripper's killings are tangential to the tale of an upcoming struggle between magical personages. In a rare occurrence, the cosmic forces are in alignment, permitting an opening for the Elder Gods to return to Earth. "Openers" are contending with "closers," who want to keep the Elder Gods shut out. Snuff recounts the day-by-day preparations as players size up the competition, gather their magical arsenals and make and break alliances. Snuff himself maneuvers among other familiars (a cat named Graymalk, a snake called Quicklime, etc.). An instantly recognizable gothic compliment of characters includes a mad doctor trying to reanimate a patchwork corpse with lightning, a werewolf named Larry Talbot and a "Great Detective" who haunts the sidelines. Zelazny handles this material with a charm few can match, and while this novel does not approach the depth of his best work like Lord of Light , its deft, understated good humor and spare, poetic prose reaffirm Zelazny as one of fantasy's most skilled practitioners.