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The Worm Ouroboros weaves strands from Norse saga Greek myth and Elizabethan drama together with magical adventure to produce one of the most eccentric masterpieces of English literature Anticipating J R R Tolkien by a few decades E R Eddison imagined an Other World full of wonders and a huge cast of warriors witches and monsters He also invented one of the truly distinctive styles in English prose Its language is densely ornamented and deliberately archaic but also precise vigorous and flexible enough to convey wistful tenderness one minute and violent action the next In the decades since its first publication in 1922 The Worm Ouroboros has become a touchstone for lovers of fantasy literature influencing several generations of writers and treasured by readers who fall under its spell

10 thoughts on “The Worm Ouroboros

  1. says:

    This is an odd book It begins with a frame story the author abandons after a score of pages and features a host of characters whose names sound like the imaginary friends of a clever six year old Fax Fay Faz Goldry Bluszco Lord Brandoch Daha etc and a meandering narrative often slowed by page upon page of magnificent but hardly essential description Its style is an Elizabethan pastiche of leisurely and often difficult sentences crammed with hard words and crowded with allusive phrases bordering on direct uotation mostly from Shakespeare not to mention whole songs lifted word for word from the works of 17th century poets Yet it is partially the oddness of the book particularly the eccentric and uniue prose style that gives it power These characters do not live in a world that sounds like ours and they do not speak as we speak and this helps Eddison capture the majesty—and strangeness—of his epic warriors His heroes share a combination of lofty nobility and careless contempt for others that puts them in the exalted company of Homer's Achilles and Shakespeare's Hamlet These men are too great to worry about being good let alone being likable and they set an exalted standard for fantasy characterization that has never been eualed Only Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone comes close

  2. says:

    The Worm Ouroboros It goes around and around and around and back around againThis is the story of the Lords of Demonland their arch foes the Lords of Witchland various others Lords of Goblinland and Impland and Pixyland et al and their endless conflicts and political maneuverings and deeds of derring do and black hearted villainy and mystical uests into the heights of dark mountains and women so awesomely beautiful that it means instant infatuation and fearsome magic that swoops down on both victim conjurer alike and battles at castle gates and battles at sea and battles battles battles Don't think of Demons and Witches as well demons and witches those are just words used to describe the superhuman residents of the planet Mercury The entire book is over the top larger than life delirious fantasy pitched to operatic heights filled with ornate description stylized dialogue far flung dream journeys and dreams of ever glory The Worm Ouroboros is an intricately designed relic and a work of strange byzantine splendor This Mortal Coil as a grand and never ending odyssey of Constant Adventure I have read nothing like itIf I were to look at the plot alone this would be a 3 star book The narrative is an enjoyably breathless series of scenes full of cliffhangers and courtly intrigue Fun But also deeply problematic in a couple ways The first problem this book appears to glorify war in the most naive way imaginable an endless boys' adventure where fighting is always the goal and peace is never the solution The title and the ending in some ways subvert this analysis I don't know how ironic or critical Eddison intended to be but the basic idea of endless adventure being an self perpetuating cycle that does provide a certain depth as well as an ambiguous response to all of the naivete on display More problematic is the near complete focus on the aristocrats of the world enacting their grand battles using thousands upon thousands of common folk as their disposable chess pieces One aristocrat dies oh the tragedy A thousand soldiers die in one minor sally eh that was a bad loss but whatever the game must go on There is something obviously very wrong about that kind of glorification of battle for battle's sake no matter the cost So for an action packed narrative that is also naively offensive 3 stars for the fun and 3 stars for the lack of humanityBut what makes this novel uniuely enjoyable is the language It truly lifts The Worm Ouroboros to a higher place It was both a constant delight and a constant challenge The language itself is highly artificial archaic even; the descriptive passages are dense complex luscious; the heroes and the villains are characterized in the most Olympian terms possible; the Nietzschean morality on display is illustrated with an almost feverish passion; there is a swooningly homoerotic vibe in how the men are depicted; the arch displays of humor and mockery are both sneakily subtle and uaintly broad; a uest by one brother searching for another becomes dreamily transcendent through the author's use of hallucinogenic prose It is all so intense that it becomes hypnotic Fully engorged testosterone carefully wrapped up in layer upon layer of dainty filigree and velvety shadow High Fantasy that is as high as a kite I smoked it all up; the language often put me to sleep but just as often it kept me wide awake with a kind of heady glee It stimulated parts of my brain that hadn't been stimulated beforeHere is a typically odd amusing and rather beautiful passage ' So speaking the King was come with Gro into his great bath chamber walled and floored with green serpentine with dolphins carved in the same stone to belch water into the baths that were lined with white marble and sunken in the floor both wide and deep the hot bath on the left and cold bath many times greater on the right as they entered the chamber The King dismissed his attendants and made Gro sit on a bench piled with cushions above the hot bath and drink wine And the King stripped off his jerkin of black cowhide and his hose and his shirt of white Beshtrian wool and went down into the steaming bath Gro looked with wonder on the mighty limbs of Gorice the King so lean and yet so strong to behold as if he were built all of iron; and a great marvel it was how the King when he had put off his raiment and royal apparel and went down stark naked into the bath yet seemed to have put off not one whit of his kingliness and the majesty and dread which belonged to himSo when he had plunged awhile in the swirling waters of the bath and soaped himself from head to foot and plunged again the King lay back luxuriously in the water and said to Gro Tell me of Corsus and his sons and of Laxus and Gallandus and of all my men west over seas as thou shouldest tell of those whose life or death in our conceit importeth as much as that of a scarab fly Speak and fear not keeping nothing back nor glozing over nothing Only that should make me dreadful to thee if thou shouldn't practise to deceive me 'A shout out for Lord Gro a sinister and devious Goblin Judas a dainty dandy and a star struck dreamer as prone to flights of romantic fancy as he is to fits of melancholy and despair inconstant as Hamlet destined to forever betray his masters villain and hero a gloriously uniue creation Go Gro GoAnd So If thou shalt drink deep of the pleasures of language if thou dost seek fearsome challenge brimming o'er with fantastickal wonder dread enchantements and treacherous peril then thou must hasten to consume this rare delight A lovely treasure burning boldly ever bright

  3. says:

    DNF at 55%The author uses archaic words as if they are going out of style oops they did go out of style This is probably the first book ever where I liked the overly wordy descriptions of everything over dialogs for the simple reason that unlike dialogs the descriptions sometimes contain words still in use in modern English I strongly suspect it was an oversight I complain about dialog but please do not start me on poetry and songs While dialogs use words which were considered archaic even before Shakespeare was born the poetry consists exclusively of words from the dawn of English language Stop right here You can forget everything I just said about using archaic words in dialogs and songs I give my humble apologies to the author; it was not fair Somewhere close to the middle of the book I stumbled upon the first letter written which shook my strong conviction to continue reading A little later there was another letter which solved the problem of whether to continue reading for me It was a report written by a general to his king about 3 pages long The reason I apologized in the beginning of the paragraph? I have seen nothing while reading dialogs and poetry; these letters are the high point of archaic word use How bad was it? I already mentioned the length of the report; there was only one familiar word I found in there – “and” To be fair it was used several times At this point I realized enough is enough and DNF is in order I am uite surprised by the high ratings this novel received because from my understanding there are only three types of people who would find this reading enjoyable and not hard physical labor like us the low class peons • Linguists who study the history of English language• People who lived on British Islands around the time Julius Caesar’s army made its first landing in there• Masochist people I do not mean BDSM light of 50 Shades of Gray type; I am talking hardcore masochism here It is not that everybody wrote like this at the time of publication Charles Dickens created his classics way before the book the father of sword and sorcery Robert E Howard wrote shortly after as well as the father of epic fantasy JRR Tolkien Dear authors above you are geniuses for using the language which stood the test of time and will continue doing so Some modern fantasy writers mentioned they considered using archaic language to add authenticity to the world Ladies and gentlemen you have my greatest respect for not doing it People who loved the book are unified in praising the flow of the language I agree with this but let as remove the flow and what do we have left with? One dimensional characters written in black and white with a very occasional shade of gray in them Old fashioned plot where low people die in thousands to serve their kings who are protected by the plot armor thick enough to withstand a direct nuclear hit and who do not care about their subjects and leave them to take care of themselves during an enemy invasion – I will talk about this later The ending this one deserves a very special explanationSince the time I finished The Dark Tower by Stephen King I kept calling its ending the worst in the history of fantasy literature I now have something to say Dear Mr King if you read this please accept my humblest apologies for badmouthing your epic Its ending is by no means the worst; it is only the second worst The dubious honor goes to The Worm Ouroboros How do I know the ending if I DNFed it you ask? I read the plot synopsis in Wikipedia and boy am I glad I did not finish the book I would have been be in the state of murderous rage had I done it Even with what I did read I want this time of my life back At this point I finally came to the plot discussion One of the origins of fantasy genre came from chivalric romances At one point I was curious about it and look thorough some of them One very noticeable feature of them is complete abandoning of some very significant subplots or even main plot in extreme cases This is exactly the case here As a result you can forget reading prologue and a couple of lines in the first two chapters as they have no bearings on the further development So a major war just ended with the greatest burden of it carried by Demons good guys The ambitious kings of Witches bad guys who mostly hid behind the backs of Demon army decided it would be a good time to grab some land from Demons considering the fact that their own army remained largely intact A duel between champions of both sides is fought and the king of Witches – their champion – is slain Demons won and happily went home The new Witches king knew some of the forbidden magic using which he destroyed the majority of Demons fleet before they reached the shore Out of three main Demon brothers they are not called kings but for all practical purposes they are only two survived Upon reaching their homeland after some adventures the first brother sees a dream telling him to go to a far unexplored land in the middle of nowhere to rescue his lost relative Get ready now comes the fun part and the reason why I gave away so much of the plot Two brothers and their cousin – the best country generals – take the remaining fleet except the ship being repaired and part of the army and set off in search of one guy right before the expected invasion of Witches How do you like that?All of their ships are promptly sunk and their army is promptly destroyed who ever thought splitting the army force right in front of invasion was good idea? This was another of my biggest problem Simple grunts get killed left and right and nobody gave a damn about them The main guys were always the only survivors Is it wrong for me to feel pity for low people dying at the whim of their supposedly good kings?Enough of my ranting I learned a valuable lesson the majority of forgotten books are forgotten for a reason I kept reading and hoped I would be able to give 25 stars to the book as the plot while silly was strangely fascinating and it did move along despite endless large descriptions Unfortunately it was not meant to be as I do not give anything other than 1 star to a DNFed book

  4. says:

    Though now largely forgotten Eddison's early works of Fantasy inspired both Tolkien and CS Lewis who never surpassed him in imagination verbal beauty or philosophy In terms of morality both later authors painted their worlds in broad strokes of black and white excepting a traitor here or a redemption there Like in the nationalistic epic 'Song of Roland' evil and good are tangible effects borne in the bloodThough similar on the surface Eddison's is much subtle Though he depicts grand heroism and grand treachery both are acts motivated by social codes and by need Neither goes unuestioned so that even when honesty is lauded and treachery is condemned there is a certain self awareness and irony in playIn Fantasy as in the Epic before it there is an inherent conflict between the hyperbole of the high action and the need for sympathetic characters A character without flaws cannot be sympathetic for such a character has no humanity A flawless hero in a world of simple morality can only be a farce expressed either as satire or propagandaEddison's characters and philosophies are too complex for propaganda which is unsurprising since he takes his cues from Shakespeare Like The Bard Eddison does give us some overblown cliches and occasionally lets them ride but the setting and the supporting cast balance them by opposition In no way does Eddison give up on the action or melodrama of the Epic tradition but he tempers it with undertones of existentialism and realismBreadth of character complexity is not all Eddison borrows from Shakespeare however 'The Worm Ouroboros' is a whimsical exploration of the imagination and is unapologetically stylized The language is purposefully archaic and evocative of the Metaphysical poets the Nordic Sagas and Chaucer As a linguist and translator Eddison's language is seasoned and playful Some have expressed discontent at trying to read it but it is usually simple than Shakespeare's and rarely as difficult as Chaucer'sThere are some truly lovely almost alien passages in the book but they are not Tolkien's wooden reconstruction of epic language they are truly a language of their own This is especially true of the scenes of war and the emotionally fraught interplay between characters Though much of the interaction plays out along the lines of chivalry nobility and duty there is often a subtext of unspoken conflicting desires and thoughts As with any formal social system chivalry may be the mode of interaction but it is rarely the contentLike the Metaphysical poetry of Donne Sydney and Shakespeare though the surface may be grand or lovely or innocent the underlying meanings subvert Unlike Tolkien this underlying meaning is not a stodgy allegorical moral but an exploration of human thought and desireAlso unlike Tolkien Eddison is not afraid of women His women are mightily present and may be manipulative vengeful honorable powerful and self sacrificing as the men The women are often defined by their sexuality meaning their beauty and availability The book neither praises not condemns this social control as it is the form which chivalry takes but these ideals entrap the men just as strictly Though he doesn't create female knights like Ariosto neither are his women Tolkien's objects of distant and uneasy worshipHowever one can see in Eddison's ueen Sophonisba a prototype for Galadriel Likewise the destruction at Krothering is reminiscent of the industrialization of Isengard and The Shire The 'seeing stones' prefigure both the palantir and Galadriel's mirror Gorice XII working magic in his black tower could be Saruman nor are these the end of the parallels between the booksIt is a shame that modern fantasy authors did not take from Eddison than his striking imagery We could do with subtle character interaction sympathetic foes characters remarkable not for their prowess but for their philosophies and a well studied depiction of arms armor war ships architecture art food hunting and cultureThe depth and detail of each table or boot or sea battle truly shows the mastery of the author and the supremacy of his knowledge The world is full and rich and alien and yet remains sympathetic The play of language is complex and studied and second in force only to a master like Mervyn PeakeRare is the author who has picked up the resonance of the early fantasy works of Morris MacDonald Dunsany and Eddison but there are some such as Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock and though they are sadly few they represent remarkably uniue visions within the tradition Eddison's own vision remains without peer to this day as no author has been able to combine studied archaism so effortlessly with childlike enthusiasm Perhaps no one ever willEbook readers should be happy to discover that his works including this one are readily available for free onlineMy Fantasy Book Suggestions

  5. says:

    So strong in properties of ill is this serpent which the ancient Enemy that dwelleth in darkness hath placed upon this earth to be a bane unto the children of men but an instrument of might in the hand of enchanters and sorcerers A messenger arrives at Krothering Castle with a demand to the gathered lords of Demonland from the king of Witchland They are to come to his court at Carcë and swear him fealty as his loyal subjects or he will enforce his demands by force of arms Thus begins a grand tale of war that inspired several gargantuan fantasy epicsE R Eddison has now been largely forgotten by the world of fantasy writing but he remains back there in the shadows as another of the founding fathers of the modern genre He inspired Tolkien and Lewis and even attended meetings of the Inklings and a whole bunch of others And while this book unfortunately is horribly dated even for a lover of the archaic like myself there are plenty of examples of sentences and plot points where Eddison remains an important source of inspirationPart of The Worm Ouroboros is a mess The frame story serves no purpose; the plot while often interesting is poorly organised; and the setting is unremarkable I must admit to some annoyance at the naming practices Demonland Witchland Impland Goblinland etc but I learnt to get used to it eventuallyI am always a fan of flowery writing and it has the potential to make me instantly fall in love with a story However I personally found the general writing style of E R Eddison to be tediously boring with little of the grace and elouence found in the works of authors he has inspired On the other hand Eddison has one big strength when it comes to the writing and that is that many of his descriptions are positively gorgeous Like dark Carcë capital of Witchland Dismal and fearsome to view was this strong place of Carcë most like to the embodied soul of dreadful night brooding on the waters of that sluggish river by day a shadow in broad sunshine the likeness of pitiless violence sitting in the place of power darkening the desolation of the mournful fen; by night a blackness black than night herselfActually the entirety of Chapter 4 Conjuring in the Iron Tower was absodamnlutely amazing Which explains why all the uotes in this review can be found in that chapter Which unfortunately also says something about the rest of the bookThat should prove that I can actually say something positive too And beyond my complaints I am happy to have read this classic It is a dated flawed book but it is enjoyable in its own way It is one of the first examples of modern fantasy and of moving away from the land of fairytales and into the territory of grand stories on an epic scaleI would also like to give it extra praise for this last uote which reminded me why I feel so strongly about fantasy ”And for thirty days and thirty nights wandered I alone on the face of the Moruna in Upper Impland where scarce a living soul hath been and there the evil wights that people the air of that desert dogged my steps and gibbered at me in darkness Yet was I unafraid; and came in due time to Morna Moruna and thence standing on the lip of the escarpment as it were on the edge of the world looked southaway where never mortal eye had gazed aforetime across the untrodden forests of the Bhavinan And in that skyey distance pre eminent beyond range on range of ice robed mountains I beheld two peaks throned for ever between firm land and heaven in unearthly loveliness the spires and airy ridges of Koshtra Pivrarcha and the wild precipices that soar upward from the abysses to the ueenly silent snow dome of Koshtra Belorn

  6. says:

    The Worm Ouroboros is incredibly dense and it’s written in faux Jacobean English It took me three tries to get through this book so take that for what it’s worth The great thing about it is that it's written from a different perspective than Narnia or Lord of the Rings in that both of those stories are explicitly or implicitly Christian ER Eddison took a very different approach a pagan one—“pagan” in the sense of the old Vikings or similar–and it gives the story a very different flavor It has great battles great descriptions and the prose itself is just a challenge and a joy The book is definitely one of my favorites and one of the novels that had a great deal to do with the author I became I recommend The Worm Ouroboros if you’re looking for something out of the mainstream and beautiful

  7. says:

    Another love it or hate it book Mannered in its language weird in so many ways and chock full of larger than life characters acting in ways that most people just don't get If you have a problem with something written in an archaic style then you probably won't get much out of it but if you like that kind of thing I think the book repays reading and is definitely worth it First off a caveat it took me two reads of the book to appreciate it and a third to decide that I thought it was genius The Worm is definitely unlike almost anything else out there and is a throw back to much older works The first sign as mentioned above is the prose itself Eddison uses a faux Jacobean that is certainly foreign to most people's preference for Hemingway esue 'transparent prose' Don't worry overmuch about this though for Eddison knew what he was doing and he is one of if not the only writers post Renaissance who actually can get away with this style He knows what he's doing as opposed to the myriad other fantasy authors who try to add 'realism' to their stories by sprinkling it with 'thee's' and 'thous' without knowing how to properly use the language This was a man who intimately understood the archaic form of the english language and used it to perfectionhe was a stylist and thus anyone who hates stylistic prose will not likely be drawn to him but anyone who appreciates the crafstmanship of language think Morris Dunsany has to at least appreciate if not love Eddison Reading this book is analagous to partaking of a sumptuous feast so long as you enjoy devouring wordsThe characters are not perhaps as 'psychologically realistic' as what is generally expected these days but I'd definitely say they are than just names Think of them as archetypal 'supermen' striding across the pages performing great deeds for their own sake They don't really want to save the world just experience it to the full so they may not be particularly sympathetic according to your world view I always found that they generally had very distinctive characters but they did each generally represent one dominant trait or way of looking at the world If you want a larger than life adventure in exuisite prose then I think The Worm is great If you want something else you should perhaps skip it

  8. says:

    The fantasy genre has become unfortunately muddled in recent history For every Tolkien work you have a Shannara novel for every Narnia you end up with an Eragon Now I'm not an elitist type of reader I don't disualify a novel from being entertaining simply because it may be poorly written or a 'clone' of other better fantasy novels However that said the staying power of a fantasy novel diminished when that novel is punctured through with unimaginative cliché or a derivative storyThe point of writing that brief above paragraph is to point out my point The point being that I am making the point about fantasy novels and confusion In fact I think my point is being made about confusion even further A lot of fantasy is written like this to its detriment giving fantasy a poor reputation as merely escapist entertainment for the geeks nerds and fanboysfangirlsIt is works like The Worm Ouroboros which reveal that fantasy has merit as a work of art and as true literature This is fantasy written in the sweeping style of the epic a highly beautiful and poetic style that serves to convey truths and interesting narratives at the same time The result is that The Worm Ouroboros cannot be eualled by many current fantasy novels in its grandeur Perhaps older tales like the Iliad The Odyssey and Le Morte d'Arthur may have the same uality yet I have not read those yet The Worm Ouroboros focuses on a long fantastic history of war between Demonland and Witchland The very names of these two lands strive to provide an ambient overwhelming moral greyness to the world created by Eddison It is a world where you assume at first that those members of Witchland are the enemy and then turn to consider those of Demonland as the enemy In so doing the overall analysis is that in war there are two sides who perceive the other as the enemy In many ways Eddison's tale is a narrative about the other and as he so clearly states not an allegory The language is beautifully archaic a mixture of Modern and Middle English utilised perfectly by Eddison to describe his world like a painter using molten words for colour His adjectives bristle with life and energy in fact his words contain an exuberance lacked by many writers now or ever This is not only a fantasy classic but a classic of classicsIf you are one of those readers who deny fantasy as a genre content to allow it to sit as the realm of nerds who dwell alone then I fully recommend that you seek out this novel instead It is one of the great classics of fantasy and of literature which reveal the value of using the traditions of epic narrative and to some small degree fairytale to reveal truth I won't discuss what truths are in this story as I feel that that is up to the individual reader however I fully recommend this novel to any reader particularly anyone who has a set idea of fantasy as dull and deadAddendumI must add that I first found the novel hard to get into However with perseverance I discovered the magnificence of the novel and with much thought have come to recognise how great a masterpiece it is It is not necessarily easy reading I believe I missed some minor details here or there but it is excellent reading serving the purposes of all fine literature

  9. says:

    I'm sure people have been recommending him this book all day But having read it I'm afraid there are few useful details concerning techniue

  10. says:

    On this ‘re read’ of Eddison’s fantasy classic I listened to the audio version produced by Librivox Now normally Librivox recordings given that they are free can be pretty hit or miss This I am happy to say is a case where they stumbled upon an excellent reader Jason Mills tackles Eddison’s delicious albeit often difficult and certainly archaic prose with panache and style For me his accent didn’t hurt either and leant the reading a somewhat exotic flair for those of us across the pond at least The reading was smooth and very well paced with emphasis and inflection exactly where I would expect it and just the right mood injected into each scenevery well done If you’ve had trouble overcoming Eddison’s prose due to its idiosyncrasy on the page then perhaps listening to this version might be your best gateway into the WormAh the Wormhow to describe it? I would liken it to an opera scored by Wagner with a libretto written by Shakespeare based on a story cribbed from Homer I’ll admit that statement is in some ways blatant hyperbole but I think it still aptly express the ambience of the book I’ve written a previous review on the Worm so I won’t go into too much of an overview of the story itself and will instead record my impressions of things that struck me from this re read One thing to note in general though this is without a doubt an elitist work As far as characters go if you are not one of the great and mighty whether good or evil in disposition you need not apply with the possible exceptions of Mivarsh Faz and the single chapter given from the POV of a common soldier of Demonland and his family but even then they display a distinctly worshipful attitude towards their ‘betters’ So if you cannot abide a fantasy world that does not model itself along the right thinking ideals of liberal democracy then you might want to give this one a passI’ve mentioned in my previous review how many of the characters are archetypes – supermen striding across the page generally lacking in psychological realism I’d still generally stand by that statement but I did notice that with perhaps the exception of a few of the Demon good guy princes uite a few of the characters displayed much complexity than I had previously given them credit for Lord Gro of course is an interesting character – a philosopher and courtier so in love with lost causes that he is driven to betray his friends and allies when they ascend too highly on Fortune’s wheel and who is also the hapless lover of two peerless ladies who may admire him but can never return his love; Corund the stalwart general of the Witchland armies who is no hero but displays a nobility of character and strength of personality that makes him admirable for all his villainy; his wife Prezmyra a lady of peerless beauty and iron strength of will utterly devoted to her husband and her brother and who will never back down from her convictions once she has set herself a goal Corund and Prezmyra are fast becoming my favourite characters in the book and who better to express their virtues than Eddison himself through the mouth of Lord Juss their enemy For royal and lordly was Corund and a mighty man at arms and a fighter clean of hand albeit our bitter enemy Wondrous it is with what cords of love he bound to him this unparagoned ueen of his Who hath known her like among women for trueness and highness of heart? And sure none was ever unfortunateIt is a book chock full of cinematic moments against which you can almost hear the swelling score as in the return of Lords Juss and Brandoch Daha to Demonland from their expedition to Impland or the return of the Demons to the steppes of the Moruna as seen through the eyes of Lord Gro Not to mention the death of Gro both in its manner and the actions that precipitate it which are just so apt so expressive of who he is and the tragedy of his life that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry upon reading it I was struck as well by how much the expedition to Impland made by Juss and Brandoch Daha seemed so similar to something you might read in Malory with its constant procession of tests and marvels that are stumbled upon in the wild and which our heroes must simply accept and overcome I was also a little surprised to note that Juss’ testing on the mountain of Zora Rach Nam Psarrion had glimmers of the Lovecraftian in its expression of existential horror “but that pain was a light thing beside somewhat he now felt within him the like whereof he never before had known a deathlike horror as of the houseless loneliness of naked space which gripped him at the heart” Or again The cloud had lifted from the mountain’s peak and hung like a pall above its nakedness Chill air that was like the breath of the whole world’s grave vast blank cloud barriers dim far forms of snow and ice silent solitary pale like mountains of the dead it was as if the bottom of the world were opened and truth laid bare the ultimate NothingBut of course one of the primary reasons to come to this book and fall in love with it is the language Whether Eddison is describing an epic action of great heroism or villainy or simply a commonplace occurrence seen with the eyes of glamour he provides the reader with a veritable feast of words Here are a few choice excerpts I noticed this time aroundOn sleeping in Corund answered “Truly I was seldom so uncivil as surprise Madam Aurora in her nightgown And the thrice or four times I have been forced thereto taught me it is an hour of crude airs and mists which breed cold dark humours in the body an hour when the torch of life burns weakest”The ambiguity of the fall of night Behind them rolled up the ascent of heaven the wheels of uiet Night holy Night mother of the Gods mother of sleep tender nurse of all little birds and beasts that dwell in the field and all tired hearts and weary mother besides of strange children affrights and rapes and midnight murders boldSunrise and the hope of morning Day goeth up against the tyrant night How delicate a spirit is she how like a fawn she footeth it upon the mountains pale pitiful light matched with the primeval dark But every sweet hovers in her battalions and every heavenly influence coolth of the wayward little winds of morning flowers awakening birds a carol dews a sparkle on the fine drawn webs the tiny spinners hang from fern frond to thorn from thorn to wet dainty leaf of the silver birch the young day laughing in her strength wild with her own beauty; fire and life and every scent and colour born anew to triumph over chaos and slow darkness and the kinless nightDive deeply into Eddison’s fantasy or don’t enter at all It is like a heady draught of strong wine that pleases the palate as it ennobles the spirit and gosh it’s a lot of fun