52 Books a Year: #24 - Necronomicon

Posted by Brian Thu, 03 Dec 2009 19:54:00 GMT

Necronomicon

2/5

Behold the Necronomicon! Fear its power! …or maybe not. There have been many versions of Lovecraft’s infamous Necronomicon released over the years, but this one has been the most popular. It begins with notes from someone referred to as “Simon” detailing how the work was supposedly discovered and the horrors to be visited upon the reader. From there we get a prologue from someone identified only as “the Mad Arab” who discusses his discovery of the methods to be presented to the reader. Most of the book consists of these methods, various incantations in Sumerian and seals. It then finishes with the demise of “the Mad Arab” before he can finish.

The author takes liberties with Sumerian mythology in order to blend in Lovecraft’s Cthulu Mythos (and the work of later authors who contributed to them), but overall it is more accurate in that respect than I initially expected. Going through the names of various Sumerian gods did make clear to me the origin of many metal names, such as Marduk, Nergal, and Ereshkigal. That combined with the fact that I had just read Satanism: The Seduction of America’s Youth made it fairly enjoyably as a novelty piece. How Bob Larson could have taken this book seriously in any way is just mind-boggling. Worth looking at for the novelty, but beyond that there isn’t much to recommend.

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52 Books a Year: #16 - The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories

Posted by Brian Mon, 16 Nov 2009 18:27:00 GMT

The Thing On the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories
By H.P. Lovecraft

4.5/5

I read my first H.P. Lovecraft stories a couple of summers ago and loved them. This collection contains twelve stories, most of them quite good. The highlight in this collection is At the Mountains of Madness. Longer than most of his works (almost a short novel) it describes an expedition to Antarctica and the horrible things found there. Since Antarctica was barely explored at the time of his writing it provided excellent fodder for this type of story, a remote location about which very little was known. He soon unveils cosmic horrors upon the reader and proves himself to be a master of suspense.

This collection also contains the following stories.

  • The Tomb
  • Beyond the Wall of Sleep
  • The White Ship
  • The Temple
  • The Quest of Iranon
  • The Music of Erich Zann
  • Imprisoned with the Pharaohs aka Under the Pyramids
  • Pickman’s Model
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
  • The Dunwich Horror
  • The Thing on the Doorstep

Of these, Pickman’s Model stands out as a quintessential Lovecraft short-story. Unexplained sounds, a concealed horror, and an mysterious location all combine to form all palpable sense of dread. The Dunwich Horror might be his best known work, but I had read that previously in another collection.

Much of Lovecraft’s work has become cliche today because of the huge influence he has had. Because of this I usually encourage new readers to remember that most of his work is from the 20’s and 30’s and to try to read it from that perspective. While many modern readers can probably guess where At the Mountains of Madness is going it would have been a much more novel experience for a reader in the 30’s. With that being said the complete works of Lovecraft should be required reading for any metalhead or D&D player. This collection would be a fine place to start.

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