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The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

(Dream Cycle)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  6,146 ratings  ·  390 reviews
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is a novella by H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) published by Arkham House posthumously in 1943 in the collection Beyond the Wall of Sleep. Begun probably in the autumn of 1926, it was completed on January 22, 1927 and was unpublished in his lifetime. It is both the longest of the stories that make up his Dream Cycle and the longest Lovecraft w ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 12th 1976 by Del Rey (first published May 1943)
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Bill Kerwin

The Dream Quest may not be Lovecraft's best effort, but it is undeniably one of his most significant. It is a bridge—and a key—to his two greatest periods. Paradoxically, it is also both his most far-flung fantasy and his most revealing personal work.

Before The Dream Quest came the short stories influenced primarily by Poe and organized around a single effect (“The Outsider” to “Pickman's Model,” 1921–1926) and after came the Cthluhlu-mythos novellas set in haunted, particularized landscapes (“T
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath craft beer commercial take 17:

Randolph Carter: Hi, I’m Randolph Carter, star of Lovecraft’s Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath -

Cthulhu: And I’m Cthulhu and need no introduction.


Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath craft beer commercial take 26:

Cthulhu: I drink Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath craft beer because it tastes great.

RC: and I drink it ‘cause it’s less filling. It’s the Dream Cycle side of Lovecraft’s canon, while referencing the darker Cthulhu stories, it is more
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
*Opens the door*

My friend, The Dreamlands
of Dylath-Leen, Ulthar, Oriab, Celephaïs, even the accursed Plateau of Leng and the unknown golden city of Kadath awaits your pre...

I love Lovecraft's tales from Cthulhu cycle, but his Dream cycle tales and I have a rocky relationship. And Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath is THE Dream cycle tale. It tells the odyssey of Carter through the vast dreamlands to find the mysterious unknown city, Kadath. As Carter progresses through his quest, he gets kidnap
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: HPL fans; weird fiction fans
Shelves: fantasy, classics
Note: The edition to which I attached this review isn't the one I read. Because this novella is short (141 p.), it's hard to find free-standing printings of it. I actually read it in the Bluefield College library's 1970 Ballantine Books printing, with a worthwhile introduction by Lin Carter, The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath (Adult Fantasy Series) by H.P. Lovecraft , which has the same title but binds the novella with five other works by Lovecraft. However, I didn't read the other five at this time. Though it wasn't published until after his death, the author wrote ...more
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel, fantasy

Prodigious, phosphorescent, hideous, terrible, eldritch, sinister, lightless, mad, incalculable, gibbering, twisted, detestable, blasphemous, grotesque, swarming, splendid.

That's just the first page.

Even if you've never read Lovecraft, you've probably heard about his purple prose and overwrought descriptions. Well, this is Lovecraft at his purplest and wroughtest. And longest. How long was it actually? I don't even know (I read it in an annotated collection) but it felt like it went on forever,
Lovecraft Illustrated Volume 1


ix - Introduction by S.T. Joshi
003 - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" by H.P. Lovecraft
141 - HPL and PVS by Pete Von Sholly
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The narration mimics the churning of dreams to a fault, in their ceaseless wheeling, reeling, spinning, unraveling, haltering, scooting,...

In the living maze of events there is no lack of dead-ends, u-turns, desire-paths, unforeseen developments, and yet the story remains invested with some selfsame and tangible presence throughout.

Not to mention the series of apexes in the course of the plot.

As a result, this ranks as a top-tier brand of sheer, unfettered fantasy!

Osmotic Soundtrack :
Azathoth 1
Love of Hopeless Causes
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Better on audiobook. Not an entry level volume. Dream-quest is a strange first choice since it was a Lovecraft first draft. This advanced mythos touches on several stories not present here. This volume would be better if it contained the, Cats of Ulthar and other tales. No doubt this has to do with some publishing brouhaha. A better collection can be had for free online. Beware, Dream-quest has subject matter repugnant to many.

The Silver Key and Through the Gates of the Silver Key, are my two
Nov 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
Well, that was painful!! At least I can say this book didn’t beat me - I read the whole damn thing *pats self on back*.

I used to think back in the first half of the last century that authors were paid by the word. If you read some of the old stuff you’ll see how they tend to ramble a lot. However, I think in this case he was paid by the adjective and adverb. Seriously, you couldn’t fit another one in this story if you were using size 8 font and a crowbar. Does everything have to be described so
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror

The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath is a wonderfully creepy horror story of one man's quest to find and reach a forbidden place with an unexpected and great ending. The lack of dialogue shouldn't be a surprise to any Lovecraft lover, but the imaginative way this story is told and filled with unearthly creatures while the protagonist is searching for a way to get to his destination should be enough to overlook that.

The main character is Randolph Carter who meets many strange and terrifying being
Dan Henk
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think Lovecraft often gets a bad rap. People read that he influenced the modern greats, everyone form authors like Stephen King and Clive Barker, to movie makers like John Carpenter and Wes Craven, and then dive into his books expecting the same fare. He wrote for a different era. His mind-bending, first person surrealistic approach to a creeping, nameless horror stunned and fascinated huge segments of early century America. The America that read, that is, which wasn't nearly what it is today. ...more
Apr 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
H. P. Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is one of his fantasy, rather than horror, stories. Lovecraft was very much influenced by the great British fantasist Lord Dunsany. It’s exactly what the title says it is – it’s a dream quest, wherein the great dreamer Randolph Carter dreams a dream to find the fabulous sunset city which he has so far never quite been able to reach in his dreams, because the gods (possibly the gods of Earth, or the more mysterious outer gods) have prevented him ...more
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009, short-stories
the most boring lovecraft i have ever read. a lot of mythology here but not really much story. more of a travelogue -- it's back on the shelf. not sure when i will finish it.


i did go back and finish it but i must say it was excruciating. again, this is the disappointment i felt when i began to read lord dunsany who had been cited as influential by so many, and found that there really wasn't much of a story but rather a beautiful picture of strange places and people. so sadly, i will not
Nate D
Apr 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back in college, I worked for a few semesters shelving books in the sub-basements of the library, which for some reason set its 3rd floor at ground level. Two floors below that was a largely-ignored fiction section, dimly lit by flickering lights that turned off automatically when no one was around. The farther corners never really got direct light, giving the whole space a perfect kind of eerie-cozy twilight feel, and in retrospect, it was a pretty amazing place to work. Not least because I usu ...more
David Sarkies
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Kubla Cthulu
30 December 2017

While this rather long short story was not necessarily based upon the poem with an interesting background by Coleridge, it still reminded me of it quite a lot, except of the part where he is woken up halfway through his opium induced dream state by some guy from Portlock who refused to go away to get him get back to his trip (well, it didn't happen that way, but it still sounds cool). Actually, considering Lovecraft was a bit of a teatottler then descending into a he
Dana Campbell
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Reading this was like slogging through quicksand. I wanted to enjoy it, I really did, but I just couldn't. I read at least 50 pages a day. This 101 page book took me the entire month to read. It's like Lovecraft sat down and said how many elaborate adjectives can I fit into each sentence. I have an expansive vocabulary so I only had to lookup a word every few pages but I can imagine most people would need a dictionary every few sentences. Also nothing happens. The book over there the most terrif ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s been a while since I’ve read any Lovecraft, and I guess I picked the wrong book to get back to it. No, wait, I picked an abhorrent, detestable, vile tome of repugnance and monstrosity, such that human eyes cannot behold it for any length of time lest it drive the poor reader into the twisted, coiled, convoluted maze of insanity that lies on the other side of that damp, oily, unctuous bog of the most dreadful stench that only the choicest pustulation of a quivering mountain of adjectives and ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love words and lush prose
Shelves: ebook
Synopsis: Three times Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was he snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it. All golden and lovely it blazed in the sunset, with walls, temples, colonnades and arched bridges of veined marble, silver-basined fountains of prismatic spray in broad squares and perfumed gardens, and wide streets marching between delicate trees and blossom-laden urns and ivory statues in gleaming rows; while on steep northward slopes cli ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american, horror
I kinda struggled with this one. This story is certainly very imaginitive, and even spooky and unsettling at times, but honestly: there is so much going on in this story. There are so many names and places and stuff happening in this book - a thing happens and then another thing happens and then there's an interruption of that thing and then Nyarlathotep, Nir, Skai, Dyath-Leen - there's so many names, but by the time you get a proper grip on what they are or who they are or where they are, they' ...more
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, this story, I think, is just for the hardcore Lovecraft fan. Something that one must keep in mind is that “The Dream-Quest to Unknown Kadath” is very much a first draft; Lovecraft wrote it, decided that it was bad and put it in a drawer (he was very critical with his own work). It was only some years after his death that it was published.

Here Lovecraft delves deep in his Dream World and in all craziness of dreams in general (or at least his dreams, which were certainly much crazier than m
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have read parts of Lovecraft's Dream Cycle before, not knowing that they tied together in any way. The prose in this novella is superb, in my opinion, and the quest is compelling. I expect to read this again in the future. ...more
Alan Smith
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
H P Lovecraft is best known as a writer of highly original, wordy and grotesque horror tales, based on the premise that a displaced pantheon of evil tentacled gods lurk just outside our own ordered, settled world, and are only a hairsbreadth away from breaking back in and tearing the universe apart. But many may not be aware that there is a gentler side to the Providence Dreamer.

Now, speaking of this particular author's "gentle side" might seem as weird as anything he ever wrote, but in the earl
So, I learned a few things here. Lovecraft was fond of cats, very fond of England, and just fantastically in love with New England. He is also one for repetition. I feel like I should be calling him "august Lovecraft" or something like that, since unknown Kadath was mentioned in exactly that fashion about seven thousand times.

I also admit I was more than lost with the variety of place names for which I had almost no reference. Like, I've played a board game with some of the places and such, but
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovecraft fans, fantasy fans, horror fans
Recommended to Michael by: blame Gary Gygax
This was the first collection of dream-cycle stories collected by Lyn Carter before he prepared “The Doom That Came to Sarnath” from various leftovers. Accordingly, it is a better-conceived collection, and the stories work together to demonstrate Lovecraft’s work at world-building and character development. Three of the stories star Randolph Carter, who was the most frequently recurring narrator in Lovecraft’s stories, and together they tell the story of his life in this world, the dream world, ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
When I was a kid I always found myself drawn to exploring the many drawers and cabinets that seemed to multiply through the floors of our home, in particular I was always attracted to one low drawer filled with paperback novels , many of them pulp romances and mysteries but including a boxed set of the tales of H. P. Lovecraft, the master of the so-called "cosmic horror" genre. While considered by many to be racist, pulp trash, so that some libraries are only now including him in their collectio ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
I can't believe some people think that something like Kadath could be better than Dunsany's fantasy works.

Let's face it : those dream stories are mostly bad imitations of Dunsany. If you don't see the difference, then, read more. Not only Lovecraft is just "writing", but he's often writing badly. When Dunsany is a master of great prose, music, amazing metaphors, Lovecraft has none of it. He only has those adjectives he dearly loves, sadly the stuff he's writing here, unlike cosmic horror, can't
Phil Slattery
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
I am a Lovecraft fan, but I find "The Dream-Quest..." very tough reading. Though I want to finish it, it is very tough going. The language is cumbersome and the plot is just Randolph Carter escaping one bad situation after another by luck. Still, I am only about half-way through, and the optimistic side of me keeps hoping it gets better. I don't have much hope though, particularly after reading part of the Wikipedia article on it, which gives Lovecraft's own views, which echo my own:

"Lovecraft h
Roman Kurys
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book deserves a solid 4 stars in my book. I was honestly pleasantly surprised as my previous encounter with Lovecraft's early work was sort of ok.
Admittedly, Lovecraft used this story as practice for his novel writing and as some other folks on here said, it shows.
For me, however is was still a very good read.

Character: 4
In short, I liked Carter as a character despite his deficiencies. (Or really Lovecraft's.) The pure concept of a dreamer who is so engrossed in it that it just might be
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was my introduction to the worlds of HP Lovecraft. I found it in the library, was enthralled for some reason by the title, and took it home to read it. Unfortunately, I took it back when I was done. It took me another eight years to find the Ballantine paperback, when a whole series of HPL was published. Because I remembered this book so fondly, I bought the whole series sight unseen, and have never had a second thought about that decision. tDQoUK is extremely accessible to readers of ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This reads like The Lord of the Rings, but set in a dream world...with an army of cats that can fly into outer space. read that correctly. This might be the best piece of fantasy literature ever written. Check it out!
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Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a

Other books in the series

Dream Cycle (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Polaris
  • The White Ship
  • The Doom That Came to Sarnath
  • The Cats of Ulthar
  • Celephaïs
  • Ex Oblivione
  • The Quest of Iranon
  • The Other Gods
  • What the Moon Brings
  • The Silver Key

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