Chris's Reviews > The Night Land

The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson
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Apr 30, 12

Read in April, 2012

An astonishing work of monumental imagination, this undeniably unique book suffers from severe flaws. The best review I've seen comes from H. P. Lovecraft, who knew his stuff. He wrote, "It is seriously marred by painful verboseness, repetitiousness, artificial and nauseously sticky romantic sentimentality and an attempt at archaic language [that is] grotesque and absurd." The other weakness is the clunky narrative device of a 17th century gentleman who has a dream of an earth untold eons into the futue. However, as Lovecraft goes on to write, these flaws "fail to spoil the tremendous power of the whole."

Briefly, a 17th century gentleman's beloved wife dies giving birth, and while still deep in his grief he he dreams of a time so far in the future the sun has died, the earth has suffered a cataclysmic earthquake ripping open a trench 100 miles deep and a thousand miles long, amidst which the only surviving humans live in a single gigantic pyramid, and the physical realm is torn asunder letting in Evil Forces from beyond. While the long dead surface of the earth is a frozen wasteland, monstrous horrors, natural and unnatural roam the impossibly large valley, such as The Silent Ones, the ominous mountain-sized watchers who take centuries to move inches, humped men, the mysterious "Thing That Nods," and many others.

In this dread landscape, a young man (who is the reincarnation of the 17th century gentleman) receives a telepathic message from a young woman from a previously unknown pyramid whose power source is failing and they are being threatened by the horrors of the night. Five hundred young men set out to rescue their newfound brethren, and are almost immediately slaughtered. Then the gentleman (who is never named) realizes the woman he has been communicating with is a reincarnation of his long lost love. So he sets out on an epic journey alone to see if he can rescue her and her people. The action is highly repetitive, and the archaic language is painful to read at times, but the the story builds slowly and powerfully, building suspense to the final few pages, and I hung on despite the the many aspects about the book I couldn't stand.

Nevertheless, I don't recommend this for just anyone, but definitely someone with a lot of patience willing to overlook the previously mentioned flaws for an unexpected pleasure.
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