The Night Land
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The Night Land

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  472 ratings  ·  72 reviews
"---this fantasy of a night-black, dead planet, with the remains of the human race concentrated in a stupendously vast metal pyramid & besieged by monstrous, hybrid & altogether unknown forces of darkness, is something that no reader can ever forger" (H. P. Lovecraft).

"One of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written" -- H.P.Lovecraft. Lovecraft wa...more
Paperback, 357 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Wildside Press (first published 1912)
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Henry Avila
The creepy crawlers crawl in the eternal darkness, in this unknown alien world?The 17th Century gentleman arrives here, just after losing his beloved wife Lady Mirdath, and baby during childbirth. The setting,yes Earth, eons of years in the future,when the dead Sun and stars have gone out.An unshining and unseen moon, also orbits the planet.No daylight, perpetual night.Monsters and creatures roam the territory and millions of humans hide in a gray metallic, gigantic Pyramid,The Last Redoubt, mil...more
Simon
Millions of years into the future when the sun has ceased to shine and most of the world is overrun by strange demonic beasts, the remnants of mankind hold out inside a mighty pyramid fueled by the "earth current" in which the beasts cannot enter. No one who ever ventures out ever comes back and since they have all they need inside their redoubt, not many bother.

At first this seemed to be a story about a man who is telepathically contacted by a woman who he remembers from a former life, and was...more
Julenew
I read this book based on a review by C. S. Lewis, who commented that the best fiction adds a new dimension to your life for having read it. "The Night Land" does not disappoint!! It is one of the most incredible love stories, combined with a truly Epic tale of Good vs Evil -- in a genuinely Classic sense.

For some inconceivable reason, the author chose to tell his tale in a bizzare, stilted dialect which is extremely difficult to work through at first. But, once you get past the mechanism of an...more
Michael Eisenberg
Recently I've been delving into the world of whats know as "weird fiction". Not the resurgence which started in the 80's in England by authors such as M. John Harrison and continued by China Mieville and many others, but the original weird stuff that was written back in the late 1800's though the 1930's.

So, my gateway drug into this was William Hope Hodgson's "The Night Land". Let me just say that, ultimately, and upon alot of reflection I felt highly rewarded that I read this but...and this is...more
Sandy
William Hope Hodgson's epic novel "The Night Land" was chosen for inclusion in Cawthorn & Moorcock's "Fantasy: The 100 Best Books," and yet in this overview volume's sister collection, "Horror: 100 Best Books," Jones & Newman surprisingly declare the novel to be "unreadable." No less a critic than H.P. Lovecraft pronounced "The Night Land" to be "one of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written," and yet still insists that "the last quarter of the book drags woefully." W...more
Isaac
Yes yes...the writing style is obnoxious and the constant repetition is grating, but as a reader what would you rather have?
1. A well-paced and readable thriller of a book that causes you no pain, but is soon forgotten and is (in verity) a mediocrity?
2. Or a book that infuriates you and tries your patience to the utmost degree, but is at its core a true original and one of the most remarkable feats of imagination in the the English language?

You need to determine how much you value originality, a...more
Marisa
Jun 04, 2008 Marisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the serious sci-fi fan
this is both the best, and the worst book ever. The faux enlightenment slang is annoying and pages and pages are so repetitive that you want to kill someone. Then, there will be 15 pages of a harrowing escape from giant zombie slugs that makes it all worthwhile. The vision Hodgson had of this world, with the brilliant mysteries of man's end is amazing, but the book is nearly impossible to read.
Jason Mills
Mar 29, 2010 Jason Mills rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy, horror, SF, the weird and the original. But feminists, prepare for wincing.
Recommended to Jason by: "A Short History Of Fantasy" and James Stoddard
This is a much-flawed yet fabulous book. Set mostly in a fantastically distant future, on a dark Earth whose sun has died, it is an adventure and a romance that spans eternity.

First the bad news:

It's written in a clunky, artificially-archaic style. This lends gravitas to the solemn and distant world depicted, and to our heroic narrator, but it is wordy and sometimes laborious.

Some parts of the book portray a land riddled with mighty creatures that are nonetheless natural (as opposed to the super...more
Valeer Damen
Hodgson writes in a sort of pseudo-archaic style, that is, a mode of writing that feels like it could belong between the late middle ages and early 17th century. At the very beginning this seems a bit artificial, but after a few dozens of pages, you begin to notice that it actually works. This is because Hodgson can write.

The 'main character from this time transported to the future' device is faintly reminiscent of The_Worm_Ouroboros, but seems both more reasonably integrated and less intrusive....more
Sara
Critics have repeatedly pointed out the imperfections of this novel. Curiously, The Night Land's critics are frequently its fans as well. That ought to tell you something about how strong its strong points are. That these critic-fans also offer the novel's originality as one of its primary assets, ought to tell you something about how unusual it really is.

This novel is a strange animal. When it was published, in 1912, the ghost story was alive and well at that time, perhaps already starting to...more
Charles
Jun 22, 2010 Charles rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: masochists
Shelves: classics
Man this book was long and repetitive. And that's a shame because there was incredible imagination at work here and there were some lovely passages of writing. But every moment of the story seemed to take a week to describe, and there was so much repitition that I felt like screaming.

When it came to the end, I thought Hodgson was going to pull off a beautiful ending, but, as with most of the rest of the book, he had to write on and on past what would have been the true moment to end the story....more
Derek
How do I rate this thing? This book has such incredible strengths and incredible flaws that they cancel each other out. Hodgson starts from a first-class fantasy premise that is absolutely groundbreaking in scope and unbelievably grim and relentless in aspect, and then makes it the gooshiest and most maudlin of love stories, with all the abuses of language that a man writing in the High Gothic Romantic style can muster.

Fortunately I had the Ballantine edition, which was split in half for publica...more
Ben
Finally! After wading through this tale for a year, I can finally put it back on the shelf. Hard to recommend due to the faux 17th century style in which it's written, it is still an incredible mix of science fiction, horror, fantasy and romance that pits one man against a planet covered in darkness and filled with monsters. Epic in scope, it abounds in original ideas given it's 1912 publication date. It's a shame more people aren't at least aware of this book.
Karen
One of the best worst books ever written. Or maybe one of the worst best books. The imagery is incredible as it the surreal landscape and the mix of horror and hope. But the language, an imaginary pseudo-archaic no one ever used, is fighting you every step of the way.
Craig
Hodgson is my favorite early fantasy author, and this is one of his best. It's one of the most densely-written, dream-like novels I've ever read, and his rich use of language is unsurpassed. It takes a while to get through, but it's worth it.
Kelldicott
Jan 30, 2008 Kelldicott is currently reading it
HOLY CRAP. The nightmarish, beautiful, despairing, idealistic imagination of this guy. Un.be.liev.a.ble.
Perry Whitford
In the depth of his grief after the death of his lover in childbirth, a medieval squire somehow travels through his imagination millions of years forward to the ends of the Earth, where the sun has died and the last human inhabitants of a hostile planet are holed up in a massive metal pyramid seven miles and over a thousand stories high, called the Last Redoubt.
The pyramid is surrounded on all sides by inhuman abominations and horrors straight out of your worst nightmares, including gigantic, mo...more
Chris Lynch
An astonishing work of imagination by a twisted genius. Written in 1912, reading this book is the literary equivalent of finding the fossilised skeleton of a Neanderthal in the belly of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. But be warned, it isn't an easy read, and won't be everyone's cup of tea!



H.P. Lovecraft, whilst acknowledging Hodgson's genius, wrote of his works that they were marred by what he described as 'commonplace sentimentality'. I happen to think that Hodgson's use of emotions such as love, grief a...more
Mark Mercer
A long slog through a deeply flawed book. Yet strangely compelling, as long as taken in small doses.

Let's get its many flaws out of the way up front.

First, this is just damnably difficult to read, due to Hodgson's decision to write in a pseudo-18th-century style. Not even in a consistent version, because in the latter part of the book, he shifts into some time-warped "future-past-infinitive" mashup of a tense. "And I to put on my armor. And Mine Own Maid to walk with me" type of thing. Earlier...more
Al Sirois
Hodgson's name is a well-known one among connoisseurs of classic dark fantasy. He is probably best known for a few books released through Ballantine's wonderful Adult Fantasy series back in the 70s, as edited by Lin Carter: THE BOATS OF THE GLEN CARRIG was one. Ballantine released THE NIGHT LAND as a two-volume set. In my opinion, judicious editing could easily have gotten that down to one volume.

The story, such as it is, is this: a 17th century gentleman bemoaning a lost love has a vision of t...more
Andrei Baltakmens
William Hope Hodgson's science fantasy of a decaying Earth darkened by the death of the Sun in a vastly remote future should be regarded as unreadable. The pseudo-archaic language lumbers along, the plot is simple and largely descriptive, there is virtually no dialog, the characters are thin, there is an unpleasant thread of misogyny in the character relationships, and the whole mass is excessively long and repetitive.

But The Night Land is, after a strange fashion, a masterpiece.

The Night Land i...more
Robert

I've made it through 200 pages of this but, really, I can't go any farther on Hodgson's post-apocalyptic journey -- at least not now. I've never encountered a book that's so enthralling yet so poorly written. The author created such a rich, dark world in his head, only he set out to write it in the style of the King James Bible. So much of the language is horribly stuffy and he'll think nothing of describing a simple compass for two whole pages. At times, the writing improved for short stretches...more
Katerina
W.H.H is not very famous because in contrast to the famous Lovecraft(who by the way is my favourite horror author of all) there isn`t a lot source material about Hodgson. W.H.H. wrote his stories before even 'horror', 'fantasy' or 'science fiction' existed as genres. His works has this medieval touch in them(well, by having in mind it is all written in an archaic, Shakespeare-esque language).Part post-apocalyptic epic, part cosmic horror allegory, part utopian fantasy, "Night Land" is one of his...more
Theophilus (Theo)
Downright scary. Hodgson put to work a superb imagination and created a perfectly believable world. Since it takes place in the dark, the reader's own imagination can contribute to the atmosphere and setting of events. I read this as an adult, mostly at night. After reading this I wondered many times what would happen if the sun did not rise the next day. Highly recommended.
Sean
An eerie and compelling fantasy first published in 1912. Although William Hope Hodgson is not well known today, his contemporary HP Lovecraft considered "The Night Land" a masterpiece. It is the one of the first entries in the popular "Dying Earth" subgenre of fantasy / science fiction. As such, it is set millions of years in the future when the last remnants of humanity are banded together and under threat from a collection of eldritch horrors.

You might be put off by the lack of dialogue and t...more
Joff
Jan 14, 2013 Joff added it
Ever remember why you started reading fantasy novels in the first place?

Whatever you're into these days, whether it's generic multi-volume pageturners set in what the magisterial Encyclopedia of Fantasy calls 'Fantasyland', or Marxist urban grotesques like the work of China Mieville, I expect you started out with the same goal: escape.

Not in the dodgy sense of trying to blot out the world entirely, but simply in the desire to imagine a place that Wasn't Here. And even if you've read nothing more...more
Merinde
I loved the house on the borderland, so I suppose my expectations were too high. The ideas and atmosphere were amazing, but the writing just dragged on and on. I wasn't even that bothered by the fake archaic language: it was the endless repeating that made it hard to read. And the romance was...well.. disgusting. The protagonist is obsessed with his being the "master"" of his beloved and reminded me of Gollum if anything. Only Gollum would probably not slap his beloved ring if it displayed a per...more
Simon Maxwell-Stewart
William Hope Hodgson was, to put it mildly, a very colourful character, who spent much of his life exhibiting Victorian machismo in multifarious ways. He only really resorted to the much less manly profession of writing out of financial necessity; were it possible he would have fashioned himself into a British Charles Atlas, transforming a nation of stiff upper lips into one of stiff upper torsos via intense body-building workouts. It is to the eternal benefit of all lovers of esoteric and uncla...more
Tom
I'll be honest: I didn't finish this. It's a shame, though, because this book had so much potential. Hodgson had such a unique, powerful vision which was bogged down by horrific writing and rampant sexism. Some might say (under much contention) the latter is understandable due to the era in which it was written (early twentieth century.)

The writing, however, doesn't have any excuse. Some apologists say Hodgson was trying to imitate the writing style of the era in which the past-version of the pr...more
Mike
*some spoilers below*

I have mixed feelings on this book. I greatly enjoyed the fantastical world Hodgson has created in the far future. It is very unique and creative view of the world, both in terms of human society, technology, and the environment. The images his writing invokes are quite striking and haunting. I'm a sucker for great world building and Hodgson transports us to a very alien far future earth where the sun has been exhausted and dark forces roam the barren earth.

As far as the sto...more
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William Hope Hodgson (15 November 1877 – April 1918) was an English author. He produced a large body of work, consisting of essays, short fiction, and novels, spanning several overlapping genres including horror, fantastic fiction and science fiction. Early in his writing career he dedicated effort to poetry, although few of his poems were published during his lifetime. He also attracted some noti...more
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“...the history of all love is writ with one pen.” 1 likes
“Moreover, they who returned, if any, would be flogged, as seemed proper, after due examination. And though the news of their beatings might help all others to hesitation, ere they did foolishly, in like fashion, yet was the principle of the flogging not on this base, which would be both improper and unjust; but only that the one in question be corrected to the best advantage for his own well-being; for it is not meet that any principle of correction should shape to the making of human signposts of pain for the benefit of others; for in verity, this were to make one pay the cost of many's learning; and each should owe to pay only so much as shall suffice for the teaching of his own body and spirit. And if others profit thereby, this is but accident, however helpful. And this is wisdom, and denoteth now that a sound Principle shall prevent Practice from becoming monstrous.” 1 likes
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