April 11, 2017

Book Review: The Satanic Warlock

So, I finally finished reading the Satanic Warlock. And not finally because it's a long book to read, but because it's a painfully difficult book to read. Ever read Maxim? The Satanic Warlock is like that, only with fewer pictures and worse editing. The bulk of every chapter in the book is filled with the author bragging about his exploits - which is fine - but unless we're supposed to read between the lines, there's not much to be learned except that the author has had and continues to have a lot of sex. Not even discussing the content of the book, I found it difficult to read because it's riddled through with typos, grammos, and formatting errors. And did I mention that every paragraph is separated by a double line break?

Every paragraph.

Is separated.

With a double line break.

That's a lot of empty space.

The author speaks frequently about how many witches and warlocks were interviewed in preparation to write the book, and also thanks them for their contributions, but their contributions aren't edited into the final work of the book and used as fuel to feed great instruction in the performance of lesser magic or the act of seduction. Instead, these contributors are almost uniformly copy-pasted into the body of the work and their contribution is noted with an (italicized comment) - something I've never seen done before - or in the instances where they aren't noted, their words are just copy-pasted into an unformatted list. In addition to that, several chapters end with disjointed paragraphs written by other people who are simply remarking upon themes set forward by the author. Unless I'm  missing it, no effort was made to weave their words into the content, they're just extra viewpoints tacked on to expand a chapter. In many ways, The Satanic Warlock felt like a copy-pasted survey of sexual practices and opinions from Church of Satan members. Which is fine - it surely makes for interesting reading - but it feels a bit disingenuous to charge money for a book filled with content that feels like it was skimmed from Facebook comments.

In terms of writing style, The Satanic Warlock is painful to read because the tone is almost uniformly declarative and doesn't flow as a conversation. I mean, I've read stereo instruction manuals that were more engaging because at least they provided in-depth instructions how to do what the instructions say they'll show you to do, which is more than I can say for The Satanic Warlock which only skims the surface. Nothing presented in The Satanic Warlock ever goes beyond the 100 level, or when it does attempt to go beyond the 100 level, it doesn't elaborate. For example, a kitchen dullard might ask, "How do I make pancakes?," to which the chef responds, "You fry them in a hot pan." That's what a lot of the content in The Satanic Warlock is like: anything beyond the simplest and most self-evident strategies is answered with an as-the-crow-flies general strategy.

In terms of diversity of content, The Satanic Warlock is all over the place. You'll find advice on how to groom and dress yourself, how to behave in polite company, basic table manners for fine dining, and strategies for the performance of lesser magic including body language, order of operations for how to present yourself to a woman (what to address first, what to address last), the dangers of trying to NEG a woman into sleeping with you, and so on, but again - because nothing in the book goes beyond the 100 level, and anything that does is only described in the most general terms - there's absolutely nothing here that you can't learn for free on the Internet or get for better and cheaper from off-the-shelf books about table manners, courtesies and customs, basic person-to-person direct-sales strategies, and even neuro-linguistic programming.

I'm a big fan of lesser magic and absolutely fell in love with Anton LaVey's The Satanic Witch. When I heard that the CoS canon would be expanded with an officially endorsed follow-on to The Satanic Witch to complete the male perspective on lesser magic, I was stoked. Very nearly as soon as pre-orders became available I laid my money on the table for a signed hard-back edition of The Satanic Warlock. The book was promised to be finished and to have shipped by the 50th anniversary of the Church of Satan on Walpurgisnacht 2016, but then for reasons that were never explained it got delayed and we were promised it would ship before Halloween. Then it got delayed again and we were told that it would ship on Halloween. Then it was announced that the printers were having trouble gilding the pages, and were told that it would ship as soon as it became available. Yeah... not what I was expecting from a Church of Satan endorsed project led by a highly ranked member of the hierarchy. This is the kind of shenanigans I'd expect from a half-baked, crowd-funded project on Kickstarter.

I did eventually receive my copy before the New Year, and was almost immediately disappointed with the purchase when it became evident that the content of the book was not as much to do with lesser magic in general from a man's perspective and instead very heavily to do with how to seduce women. Which is fine - there's nothing wrong with seducing women - but The Satanic Warlock is a pale shadow of The Satanic Witch and taught me nothing that I hadn't already learned in The Satanic Witch or from my tenure in the Marine Corps, a martial arts instructor, a salesman, and a professional Tarot reader. Clearly, I was hoping for more. I also got the impression from the sloppy editing and the numerous typos and grammos that the final draft was rushed to publication and suffered from poor oversight.

Perhaps my disappointment would be less if The Satanic Warlock had been marketed as a 100-level book? Then at least I would have known that it wouldn't have anything to offer me, but marketed as it was as a comprehensive guide to Satanic magic for warlocks and showered with gushing reviews from the known and public faces of the Satanic interwebs, I really got the impression that it was at least at the 200 level or higher - like The Satanic Scriptures by Magus Gilmore, or Infernalia by Michael Rose? Maybe I just don't have eyes to see, but from what I saw there's nothing original in The Satanic Warlock and all the actionable information is either repeated elsewhere and in greater detail in the Church of Satan canon literature, or is so basic that it can be had for free, better, and cheaper from other authors.

Final verdict? Save your money, folks. There's nothing to see here.

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