Jason Mills's Reviews > The Night Land

The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, classics, science-fiction
Recommended to Jason by: "A Short History Of Fantasy" and James Stoddard
Recommended for: Fans of fantasy, horror, SF, the weird and the original. But feminists, prepare for wincing.

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 supernatural 'forces' arrayed against humanity elsewhere). These beasts exist in an ecology apparently devoid of prey-animals; nor is it clear how vegetation (leafy trees!) can survive, illuminated only by the dim red glow of distant volcanoes. Hodgson appears not to have considered these concerns, but they jar on the intellect of the Educated Modern Reader (yours truly).

The second half of the book rather belabours the lovey-dovey stuff, trying this reader's patience. And feminists will shudder from the first page to the last: enlightened sexual relations are NOT on the agenda...

There are smaller quibbles I could mention; but on to the more important good news:

The book presents a vision of the last millions of humanity crowded together for defence in the Last Redoubt, a steel pyramid seven miles high, surrounded by giant malicious beasts so huge and slow that their movements are barely detectable in a human lifetime. Malign influences bear down upon the Last Redoubt: the House of Silence, the Giants, the Strange Things that Peer from the Precipice, the Silent Ones. He who ventures out beyond the protective circle of the Great Earth-Current risks not merely death but the eternal destruction of his spirit.

If that all sounds a bit OTT, it most certainly is. It's hair-prickling Deep Horror, wonderfully evoked. Our hero is a fellow from our time who, losing his love, awakes reincarnated in this far future and hears her mind call to him from far across the Night Land - where there shouldn't even be any more humans. The book relates his epic lonely pilgrimage to find his beloved and return her to safety.

It is, in other words, a Romance, and in grand style. Though it makes the reader work, the broad and dark vision of a dying humanity, the arduous adventures, the thrilling climax and the heart-wrenching ending make this book a timeless classic.
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Reading Progress

February 18, 2010 – Started Reading
February 18, 2010 – Shelved
March 29, 2010 – Shelved as: fantasy
March 29, 2010 – Shelved as: fiction
March 29, 2010 – Shelved as: classics
March 29, 2010 – Shelved as: science-fiction
March 29, 2010 – Finished Reading

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