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Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  785 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Dust jacket and interior illustrations by Bob Eggleton

Tortured Souls is one of the most vividly imagined, tightly compressed novellas ever written by the incomparable Clive Barker. At once violent and erotic, brutal and strangely beautiful, it takes us into the heart of the legendary “first city” known as Primordium, the site of political upheaval, passionate encounters, a
Published (first published 2001)
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3.55  · 
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 ·  785 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Gregor Xane
Nov 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This novelette was originally written to help sell the Todd McFarlane-designed figurines shown below. It was sliced up into six pieces and each figurine came with a part of the larger story.

Both the collectibles and the story seem like attempts to out Clive Barker Clive Barker.

I was entertained but not thrilled.

I'd only recommend this to Barker completists like myself.
Paul Nelson
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tortured Souls is set in the 'first city' of Primordium, a city of degradation, corruption and violence. On the periphery of this story is the ancient being known as Agonistes, for two thousand years he has walked the earth, making God's art from flesh or so he proclaims. A transformer of human flesh, if a supplicant comes to him, lost to hopelessness and desperate for revenge. If he agrees to the terms set, then Agonistes will remake the supplicant through a combination of art, magic and pain i ...more
Althea Ann
I thought this was a new novella by Barker, but it's not, really. The material here was originally written back in 2001. Each 'chapter' of the novella originally accompanied a collectible figure produced by McFarlane Toys.

The story is similar in concept, although I don't believe it's directly related, to Clive Barker's 'Hellraiser' series - the characters are just like the Cenobites of those stories, with their sadomasochistically altered flesh and enhanced abilities.

As a story, it's not bad, b
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
Primordium is a city full of chaos and corruption run but by an empire that enjoys the decadence and gore of everything. When an assassin-for-hire named Zarles Kreiger kills a Senator, he meets up with the daughter of the killed Senator who introduces him to a creature who transforms him into a monster. Want to read more? Check this out for yourself and find out.

This was a pretty good and weird horror novella from Clive Barker. If you enjoyed Clive Barker's horror stories, definitely check this
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium by Clive Barker is a collection of vignettes that make of a fast paced, beautifully written novella. The stories were originally released to accompany a set of action figures/toy sculptures by Macfarlane toys. That being Todd Macfarlane of comic book fame, the artist creator of Spawn and arguably the best artist to ever draw Spider-man. But Barker does not slouch on this and creates an erotica, bloody and disturbing tale in Tortured Souls.

"...It is an art
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short series of closely connected tales surrounding the mythos of Agonistes, rearranger of flesh, and his role in the decline and fall of the corrupt city-nation Primordium.
C McDaniel
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very quick read and, as you can see in many of the reviews, it is essentially a series of character sketches. I think most folks know this going into a reading at this point, and I think it's important to approach the short piece with its purpose/structure in mind (and without the expectation of a complex plot, etc.). I've never enjoyed Barker's human characters very much, but he is and has always been a master of the monstrous. It's a weird sort of fascination that's generated in this ...more
Mark Tallen
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed this novella by Clive Barker. It was originally published in six parts that were packaged with six Tortured Souls horror figures. I am a fan of Clive Barker's work but I never bought those models so I was unable to read the story. I was really pleased that Subterranean Press published the novella in a standalone edition. The book itself is of high quality, the artwork, the paper quality and the binding are excellent. The story is a superb example of horror and fantasy fiction th ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm a Barker sycophant; you'll get nothing unbiased from me when it comes to this author. I like every dark and disgusting thing that shoots out of his fingertips and into my brain.

In the end I like that I got a very "Sin City" meets "Sodom and Gomorrah" vibe from this novella, but I wish the whole thing were longer. I feel like there could have been a great (long, drawn out, exhausted) series based in this world... Well maybe there is and I just haven't googled it yet. -Googles....-

Okay, so m
Nathaniel Brehmer
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
An intriguing and surprisingly successful experiment. I'm not sure anyone but Barker could have pulled it off. This novella was released in segments with the Tortured Souls action figure series, each character packaged with a chapter depicting their origins while forwarding the overall story. And in the end, it's an interesting story (and a dark corner of the Hellraiser mythology, perhaps) with memorable, visceral characters and another glimpse, short as it is, into Barker's talent for world bui ...more
Shawn Deal
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is utterly fantastic. A short work by Clive Barker that immediately sucks you in and shakes you until it is finished. I loved this little book. I wish there was so much more. The world he creates in the Primordium is absolutely fascinating and you get caught up in the vivid details and characters that live there. This is a world I would love for him to plunge into whole heartedly with a full novel.
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy
A quick read for Halloween...a harsh nightmare world that transports you to the topography of your fears.
Orrin Grey
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't know the actual word count, though this thing calls itself a novella. Whatever it is, it's really short, I read the whole thing in about an hour. It reads like what it is: glorified back-matter for a series of Todd McFarlane action figures. As such, it (like a lot of later Clive Barker stuff, honestly) feels a lot like someone trying to mimic Clive Barker without really understanding what made his stuff work in the first place, which is weird, since this is Clive Barker, but what're you ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tortured Souls is a slightly unusual project from Clive Barker. The story was divided into six parts and each part was included with a figure from the Tortured Souls collection. These figures were brought to life by Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn) and were based on the characters from the story.

We are taken to the decadent and putrid city of Primordium, which is ruled by cruel and corrupt leaders. No one man can stand up to them; no one, that is, until an assassin, Zarles Kreiger, is offered t
Michael Benavidez
Finished this in a day.
What does that say?
Well it's good. It's Clive Barker being dark and mysterious, constructing a mythos. All these things he's great at.
However, for it to really excel, Barker needs more room than a novella. Especially for something of this magnitude. Instead it looks to the figures (of which this tale surrounds) to fill in the blanks of what details should exist for the creatures.
There is plenty of room for the mythos to thrive, but not enough to really send the story of
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Horror, Gore, and utterly fantastical. This is the sort of dark utterly fantastical horror that made me a Barker fan years ago. Tortured Souls is old style Clive Barker, a remnant of what could have been part of the Books of Blood or the Hellraiser series rather than the more dark fantasy driven novels such as Weaveworld and Imajica. Barker weaves the blood and gore with human emotions that border on the erotic. More horrible than anything King has ever written. A novella that can be read in an ...more
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-books
A very good mix of horror and dark fantasy. It's not at all very scary, but does have some heavy horror elements. Even though it's a fast 87 page read it feels like it's much more epic of a tale for some reason. The characters are all very strong.
Raul Gil Marquez
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I felt the love of Hellraiser, such a great idea!
A book connected with the figures tortured souls, just great, and even more when I have the full series 1.

But I was expecting something more close to Gods or something like that, the monsters cannot cry.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Purchased as part of a Humble Bundle a while back.
I take it that this was part of a "backstory" developed for a set of figurines. There really isn't much of a story here: a demi-god who remakes people's bodies into tools of destruction, an assassin, his murderous lover, and a monster created to destroy them both, combined with an unnatural "child" monster born from a man's DNA in an external womb. Er...weird? Didn't make much sense? Yeah.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This short novel collects the story that was serialized and packaged with the Tortured Souls figures that were released by McFarlane Toys in 2001. It tells of the ancient, decadent city of Primordium, the mysterious entity called Agonistes, and the various individuals who were changed by him. If it's light on story, it more than makes up for it in grotesquerie. A quick, occasionally nauseating read.
Apr 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book was so awful I had to keep reading just to see if there was any hope that it would get better. I thought I remembered Barker being a good writer, but honestly, my 12-year-old writes like this.
Su Halfwerk
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
I couldn't connect with any of the characters. It was as though there is a curtain between me and the story. Perhaps the events moved too fast.
I'm not sure, but I didn't feel this one.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
This is a series of short stories written by Clive Barker with the intention of being included as supplementary material for a series of Todd McFarlane horror action figures (although there was no indication that this was the case in the version that I read). The stories are about as good as that description makes them sound (or not so good, depending on how you may feel about such things). I was not too awfully impressed with the whole thing, myself. It wasn't terrible (except in that grimdark ...more
Brian Salyards
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
What can I say? I have a soft spot for Clive Barker's melodrama and extreme gore. This was a strange tale, in that nailing down the setting was difficult. Talk of gangsters turned into talk of "shooting" somebody, and then finally the use of a car, and at least one utterance of "Jesus!" added to these details puts us close to present day when, without them, it would appear we are in a Primordium of Biblical times.
I would have liked a little better description of the Scythe-Meister and Lucidique
Todd Sullivan
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, horror
If you were to take the works of Clive Barker and try to boil them down to their essence, 'Tortured Souls' is probably pretty close to what you'd get. In a way, this might be a perfect jumping on point for those new to Barker's work, because at a swift 50 pages, it would let readers decide if they had a taste for his type of work without having to make too big an investment.

For those of us who are already fans, though, there's little here to really sink our teeth into. There's some interesting i
Shhhhh Ahhhhh
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Weird. Like really weird. Like The Sadist's Bible but with less seeming desire for sadomasochism and added layer of divine retribution on earth, using pain as part of a tool of transformation. I also liked this idea of God not resting (because in what universe does a seemingly infinitely powerful and knowledgeable being have to rest? why wouldn't they just pace themselves better?) but rather going on a deranged creation bender. As anyone who knows a creative probably is already aware of, wacky s ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a book made from the collection of stories that I believe came with the mcfarlane toys brand figures called Tortured Souls a few years back. They came on the little pamphlets that were included with the tortured soul figures. I own one of the figures from way back but it’s not in its original packaging so I’m not 💯 % sure if I’m remembering this correctly.

This book was okay in my opinion. Interesting but not Clive Barker’s best. Short and easy to read. A must read if you’re looking to r
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love all of Clive's work and this one is no different. This book also had a line of figures made by McFarlane Toys. Clive always brings such beautiful and horrific imagery to all his tales and The Tortured Souls novella, no matter its length, packs a punch.
Brian Stabler
Originally written to accompany the Tortured Souls range of figures and it shows. Each of the chapters serves to introduce a different figure in the range, some of whom wouldn't be out of place in Barker's Hellbound Heart, and does little more than that. Disappointing!
Rob Labriola
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was awesome. Then again im loving the clive barker world right now.
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Clive Barker was born in Liverpool, England, the son of Joan Rubie (née Revill), a painter and school welfare officer, and Leonard Barker, a personnel director for an industrial relations firm. Educated at Dovedale Primary School and Quarry Bank High School, he studied English and Philosophy at Liverpool University and his picture now hangs in the entrance hallway to the Philosophy Department. It ...more
“In his perversity, or his genius, or both,” 1 likes
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