Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Lammas Night, by Katherine Kurtz

Open Road Media, July 2016 (original publication November 1983)

It's 1940, and Britain's war against Nazi Germany isn't going well. The British Expeditionary Force has been evacuated from Dunkirk back to England, and while the evacuation was a success, it was also a retreat. Hitler is planning an invasion of Britain, and the British military and political leadership really don't know how they're going to mount an effective defense.

Col. Sir John Graham, "Gray" to his friends and family, is a  military intelligence officer--and also a high-ranking member of an occult group, practitioners of the Britain's traditional, ancient rites. This group, the Oakwood group, and other occult groups in Britain, are planning their own response to Hitler's invasion plans. This includes responding, more directly than conventional military forces can, to Hitler's own occult assault on  Britain and Britain's military forces.

In addition to his occult colleagues, Graham has another dear friend--Prince William, Duke of Clarence, the (fictional) twin brother of King George V's youngest son, John, who died at age fourteen. This close friendship is going to lead to some serious complications as the Oakwood group works to organized a unified British occult response to Hitler.

Gray, with few trusted close friends outside of the Oakwood group, which is basically his family--son, father-in-law, nephew, niece, brother-in-law and sister-in-law--turns to his friend Prince William to talk about some of his stress over lack of success in recruiting other occult groups to work in coordination with the Oakwood group. This is the first time he's actually told William that his occult involvement goes beyond party tricks and trying to extract useful military information from Hitler's known occult activities, and he tries to keep that to a minimum. William, though, becomes seriously interested, especially after Gray tells him that he's cast both their astrological charts, and they may have known each other in a previous life.

Over the next weeks and months, William becomes more involved and aware, while Gray tries everything he can to build the cooperation Britain needs among its occultists. Gray's efforts include a memory regression to find out how Sir Francis Drake managed to bring the occult groups of England together in a Grand Coven to stop the Spanish Armada. Gray, we learn, was Drake, in one of his previous lives. We also get hints that William, in a former life, was also there.

There's a tangle of surprises and revelations as the story unfolds. Gray and William have been connected in many previous lives--and it's in those previous lives, and their connection, that they find the answer to what they need to do.

Along the way, we also meet the agent, a former member of the Oakwood group, who infiltrated one of the Nazi covens, one very close to Hitler. Dieter is a very skilled ceremonial magician, and German, and Gray and others are, with reason, no longer sure they can trust him.

Yet they may not be able to do what they need to do without trusting him.

This is an extremely well done alternate, or perhaps hidden, historical novel. The characters are all very well done. Kurtz also treats all the faiths represented here with respect, not feeling the need some see to disdain some to respect the others.

It's been many years since I first read this, and I was hesitant to pick it up again after so long. Many fondly remembered books turn out not to quite so excellent as one remembers them. This one, though, I find u have rather more appreciation for it than I did when I first read it.

Highly recommended. 

I bought this book.

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