Adventure isn't dead. It's just gone to Hell.
The Descent is a 1999 science-fiction/horror novel by American author Jeff Long focusing on the discovery and exploration of an extensive labyrinth of tunnels and passages stretching throughout the sub-surface of the entire world, inhabited by several species of alternately-evolved troglobitic hominids. While presently degenerate and brutal, the "hadals" had once possessed a high level of civilization, having reached the Iron Age as far back as 20,000 years ago and mentored subsequent human civilizations. Their fall from grace formed the basis of the historical belief in demons.
The book is split between two storylines. The first concerns an ill-fated expedition into the sub-planet. The other about the Beowulf Club, a group of highly-determined scholars who set out to find the historical figure who inspired the legends of The Devil. Eventually, these two stories intersect as the expedition comes face-to-face with Satan himself.
Has nothing to do with the video game series Descent. Nor the 2005 British horror film The Descent written and directed by Neil Marshall, although there are certainly similarities. The novel was followed by a sequel, Deeper.
- Exclusively Evil: Reconstructed. Lip service is paid to the idea that the hadals simply act out of a culture with a different set of expectations about good and evil. None of that changes the fact that hadal behavior towards outsiders involves hefty doses of what humans would consider slavery, rape, mutilation, torture and cannibalism.
- Beneath the Earth: The discovery and exploration of the sub-planet drives the plot of the novel.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: Considering that hadal captivity often leads to cannibalism and trauma-induced psychosis among humans, many characters choose to commit suicide instead.
- Doing In the Wizard: The novel goes to great lengths to show that seemingly supernatural phenomena observed in the sub-planet are rooted in science. Weird Science but science nonetheless.
- Human Resources: An artifacts exhibit shows hadal weapons made of human bones.
- I Am a Humanitarian: One of the defining characteristics of Homo hadalis.
- Our Demons Are Different: First off, there are not demons. They are cave-dwelling hominids with a culture that makes the Aztecs look like the Amish. Also, they are revealed to be able to transmit the consciousness of their dead into other sapient lifeforms via electrical currents.
- Shout-Out: Where to begin.