A modern man starts receiving psychic messages from hundreds of thousands of years in Earth s future messages from himself The sun is dying, the world is filled with horrific monsters, and the last remnants of humanity have locked themselves away in a vast pyramid to await the death of their world in peace They peer out from countless windows at the awful monstrosities which beat at the gates, who want nothing so much as to kill every man, woman, and child within Then, one day, they receive a message, from far beyond the monstrous lands someone else is out there.At first, I thought it no wonder Lovecraft declared this a must read for any scholar or writer of Supernatural Horror it s a great premise, not quite like anything before, with clear potential for unexpected moments, high tension, a depiction of the ultimate struggle of mankind to survive and Hodgson squanders all of it Everything about this book seems designed to work against the story, to undermine it, to remove any thrill or tension or genuine human sentiment.Our hero isn t just psychic he s the most psychic, with knowledge and theories that no one else can ever hope to comprehend The message isn t just from some other survivor, it s from the reborn soul of his dead girlfriend Though it s supposed to literally be a love for the ages, the romance is as naive and idealized as a Taylor Swift song, full of grand words and gestures but completely lacking in any emotional depth or personal connection.It s the sort of romance that occurs automatically, without any participation from those involved there is no connection, and their personalities especially hers are entirely superfluous to the relationship The romance is really for him, to motivate him, to draw him out it s your standard love interest as plot device The entire relationship is presented in terms of control and possession, until the hero ends up creepier than all the faceless monsters.Here s a man who sees himself as far above others, in both body and mind, who constantly talks about his own amazing abilities Hodgson was, himself, an early proponent of bodybuilding Meanwhile, he is beset on all sides by a dark, incomprehensible world of faceless figures bent on destroying him It is such a complete image of self obsession, persecution complex, and profound entitlement Hodgson s success inHouse on the Borderlandsseems entirely to hinge on the fact that the protagonist was supposed to be a creepy, reclusive weirdo write what you know , I guess.Then there is the physical style of the work, which begs through bloody lips for some kind of editing We get the same information again and again, recapped and repeated The agonist is constantly trying to explain the plot to us, as well as his thoughts, his desires, and every other thing The story is never allowed to progress naturally, but is instead whipped and drug every inch of the way.It s as if an author wrote a short book, perhaps two hundred pages, and then went back through everything he had written and copied paragraphs and sentences, repeating them over and over throughout the story, changing the order here and there, until the book swells to six hundred pages There is no thought, observation, description, or scene too banal to be repeated five or six times usually capped off by the narrator saying as I ve mentioned several times before.There are entire chapters and the chapters aren t short which are just the author walking for six hours always six hours across some barren plain or dry seabed before reaching some notable piece of landscape he d mentioned before usually a large rock , and then, at the tenth hour , realizing that he hasn t slept or eaten anything in twelve hours, and collapsing exhausted in a shallow cave to a brief meal before passing out a good long while When he wakes up, he ll hear or see some terrible beast nearby, but it won t notice him Then he ll get up and do it all again two or three times, until the chapter ends That same scenario repeating is literally at least 50% of the book.Finally, after walking halfway across the world in the narrator s words , he reaches the only other human settlement on Earth, a place he d never imagined existed, but which he was determined to reach against all odds So, what does he do then Check for supplies See who else survived Try to band together and save some of the other people He doesn t even look at the place, he just conveniently finds his girlfriend in a shallow cave outside, takes a nap, and then they leave.Her only home has been destroyed, everyone she knows is dead or hiding from monsters, and yet when they meet, it s all sweet kisses and blushing, holding hands, laughing and teasing and of course him ordering her around for her own good, since she s too stupid to do even the most basic things herself.Then there s the language, which is artificially archaic, as Hodgson seeming to think that the residents of One Million AD will all sound like a Roanoke colony parson While I enjoy the carefully constructed archaism of Dunsany and E.R Eddison, which provide their works with a sense of tone and poetry, a beauty of language that is appreciable in and of itself, Hodgson s archaism is clunky and serves only to draw out an already tedious narrative.The book is odiously stupid, just a constant test of the reader s patience Yet, it s not stupid like most books, which are simply cliche and badly written by accident of the author s lack of skill this book is terrible because of a series of increasingly stupid and pointless decisions, all despite the fact that it s conceptually interesting and inventive By all rights, this book should have been worth reading, but it simply fails to be, at almost every turn. And I Caught Mirdath The Beautiful By Her Shoulders, And Shook Her Very Soundly, In My Anger And Afterward, I Sent The Maid Onward And She, Having No Word From Her Mistress To Stay, Went Forward A Little And In This Fashion We Came At Last To The Hedge Gap, With The Lady Mirdath Very Hushed But Yet Walking Anigh To Me, As That She Had Some Secret Pleasure Of My Nearness And I Led Her Through The Gap, And So Homeward To The Hall And There Bid Her Good Night At A Side Door That She Held The Key Of And, Truly, She Bid Me Good Night In An Utter Quiet Voice And Was Almost As That She Had No Haste To Be Gone From Me That Night Yes yesthe writing style is obnoxious and the constant repetition is grating, but as a reader what would you rather have 1 A well paced and readable thriller of a book that causes you no pain, but is soon forgotten and is in verity a mediocrity 2 Or a book that infuriates you and tries your patience to the utmost degree, but is at its core a true original and one of the most remarkable feats of imagination in the the English language You need to determine how much you value originality, and how much energy you are willing to expend in the fight to expose yourself to it If you are brave, try the Night Land But do not expect an unturbulent relationship with the text I hate it, but I love it so much .P.S I advise reading The House on The Borderland or the Boats of the Glen Carrig first. One of the greatest love stories ever written This is a SYMBOLIST work, other reviewers here who don t understand that are demi morons This is Amor, A Mor, Without Death, as Serrano defined it, not the mundane love of boyfriend and girlfriend. Disappointing I was excited to read this after experiencing The House on the Borderland but this severely dragged.The beginning to this novel is supremely evocative a world in darkness due to the absence of the sun, lit from within by flaming pits and powered by a type of geothermal energy The landscape is visionary, the creatures suitably monstrous and unsettling from slug like behemoths to the vile and base Humpt men After the initial world building the descriptive fervour wanes and we are left following a very traditional tale of a knight on a quest to rescue a fair maiden This can be tolerated if done well, but seems so naive now to a modern audience that the feeling it should be relegated to a children s fairy story is the tempting compulsion, but then again that would insult the modern child Even allowing for the literary conventions of a hundred years back this is deeply repetitive I set it down for four days without any desire to pick it back up again and complete it Out of fairness, stubbornness and being blown away by The House on the Borderland I went back to it but unfortunately that was a waste of time By the time the ending came around the lack of any psychological truth made what was supposed to be a stirring denouement unengaging and fatuous.It shocked me how quickly this turned from an imaginative fantastical world of wonder to a tedious drudge in the company of a messed up knight with issues and his drippy girlfriend The misogyny on show is just awful and cannot be excused by saying it was of its time And even if that is disregarded there is not enough to sustain the narrative for even a half of the length of the novel.Please read The House on the Borderland It is completely ace. Millions of years into the future when the sun has ceased to shine and most of the world is overrun by strange demonic beasts, the remnants of mankind hold out inside a mighty pyramid fueled by the earth current in which the beasts cannot enter No one who ever ventures out ever comes back and since they have all they need inside their redoubt, not many bother.At first this seemed to be a story about a man who is telepathically contacted by a woman who he remembers from a former life, and was his beloved She is however not located within the mighty pyramid but in another lesser pyramid somewhere out there in the night land, and it s earth current is failing Eventually he decides to go out, on his own, to try and find his soul mate He must venture out and brave the unknown terrors of the night land with only a general idea of direction and no idea how far Can he defy all odds, find her and bring her back alive Actually though, the story is not about the above, it is in fact the protagonist s very poorly written account of these events To start with, the protagonist writes with a seventeenth century English prose and is no natural story teller The narrative is in the first person with large amounts of exposition and no dialogue Rarely is the reader able to feel that they are put into the story, instead is constantly reminded that they are reading about the story after the event The tediousness of his journey is exacerbated by the constant dwelling on the daily routines of walking, sleeping, drinking water and pill popping And on his return journey, the narrative becomes dominated by the childish behaviour of two love sick teenagers in which they are constantly smiling at each other, kissing, teasing and upsetting each other Remember, there s no dialogue Just when I was looking forward to relieving the monotony of the first half with another character for protagonist to interact with, I found that it was instead replaced by something eveninfuriating.The prose is not archaic in a good, Eric R cker Eddison kind of way It instead feels clumsy, repetitive and ugly If I m being unkind I would say that Hodgson was very bad at archaic styling and if I m being generous I would say that he most skillfully constructed a character whose prose was appalling Indeed, I ended up feeling that all the flaws of the book were intentional, part of Hodgson s deliberate styling And I know full well from reading his other work that this man could write really well when he wanted to What he was trying to achieve in this book I will never really understand but whether it was deliberate or not, I didn t enjoy it.This is a long book, coming in at just over 500 pages The blurb on the front boasted this was the complete and unabridged version and I found myself wishing it wasn t At various points I was on the verge of giving up but just managed to force myself to carry on until the end My advice to anyone considering reading this is to only do so after reading some of his other work and if you really feel you just have to haveof this otherwise wonderful writer whose life was cut tragically short. It was in the Olden Days of the dawn of the world that I didst stumble across a copy of this book at the Lovecraft Arts Sciences store in Providence, Rhode Island, a city anigh to both mine own redoubt and also mine own Heart Obviously I was aware of the book s reputation what with Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith being professed fans , and had recently seen it discussed at the Ligotti forums, and now lo there it was on the shelf before me So didst I purchase it very quickly, though put off reading it until recently, for divers reasons This book is truly of those rarest of beasts a novel I feel that I cannot give a star rating to, as truly mine own feelings for it are quite conflicted, and in verity, I m still not sure if I could call this book a Masterpiece of the Imagination or one of the most boring novels I ve ever read I will say that it was, by far, one of the most exhausting novels I ve ever read, and by the end of it didst seem as if I had literally walked every damn mile of the Night Land by the narrator s side, and didst felt much awearied the fact that there s almost no dialogue at all, and that the whole thing is torturously written in a ludicrous and misguided attempt to mimic the archaic writing style of the 17th century, doesn t help matters It almost reads less like a novel andlike a nightmarish geography reduced to words In his essay The Supernatural Horror in Literature H.P Lovecraft declares this book as one of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written while at the same time bemoaning its many flaws painful verboseness, repetitiousness, artificial and nauseously sticky romantic sentimentality He also mentions that the last quarter of the book drags woefully, and he s not kidding The first half, in which the unnamed and, it must be said, somewhat sexist, pompous and unlikeable narrator travels across that bleak landscape kist by Everlasting Night in search of his lost Beloved, is generally quite good, and captures a nice sense of cosmic loneliness But then around the book s halfway point he finds his Beloved who actslike a spoiled and simple minded child than a grown woman and they head back home, and that s when the tedium sets in every now and then there s an exciting scene like when they re forced to flee from giant slug monsters, only for it to be followed by a MINDBOGGLINGLY BORING 7 page scene of the narrator and his girlfriend bathing and washing their clothes in a hot spring I lost count of how oft times mine eyes glazed over while struggling through the second half to say nothing of the dulling of mine poorly taxed brain elements , though I perceived that it didst pick up at the final few chapters One thing that impresses me about this book is how that many of the monsters are only sketchily described or heard rather than seen , leaving much to the imagination I also like how many of the locations mentioned in the Night Land doth not even appear or gat visited by the narrator, though those we doth see are pretty cool especially the chilling House of Silence. William Hope Hodgson s epic novel The Night Land was chosen for inclusion in Cawthorn Moorcock s Fantasy The 100 Best Books, and yet in this overview volume s sister collection, Horror 100 Best Books, Jones Newman surprisingly declare the novel to be unreadable No less a critic than H.P Lovecraft pronounced The Night Land to be one of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written, and yet still insists that the last quarter of the book drags woefully With critics seemingly split down the middle regarding this novel, I manfully plunged into this book s 400 page story, having greatly enjoyed four previous Hodgson titles The Boats of the Glen Carrig 1907 , The House on the Borderland 1908 , The Ghost Pirates 1909 and the short story collection Carnacki The Ghost Finder 1913 Although The Night Land was initially published in 1912, it may very well have been Hodgson s first novel, if we can believe Sam Gafford s scholarly Internet essay entitled Writing Backwards The Novels of William Hope Hodgson Be it the author s first novel or last, however, the book is extraordinary in many ways, and depicts a milieu not easily forgotten.Our nameless narrator, who apparently lives in the 18th century, tells us of his visions of the very far distant future His reincarnated self, he reveals, lives in a time when the Earth s sun has burnt itself out, and the remnants of humanity reside in a seven mile high, 1,320 story pyramid, The Last Redoubt, around 150 miles below the planet s frozen surface Our narrator, using a pseudo archaic form of English that doubles as the language of the far future, goes on to tell of the epic journey he takes through the uncharted bowels of the Earth in search of a woman named Naani, who he is in telepathic communication with and who also seems to be the reincarnation of our narrator s 18th century wife The travails that our young hero undergoes to find his lost love and bring her safely back to the Redoubt are certainly no less insurmountable than those that Homer s hero experienced in his classical odyssey This young man is forced to encounter monstrous beastmen, enormous slugs and spiders, giants, feral hounds, volcanoes and other menaces during his months long journey, and his plight is only madeworrisome when he ultimately does find Naani and has to turn around and bring her home But a mere plot summary can in no way convey the atmosphere of eeriness that Hodgson manages to sustain for the entire duration of his book The Night Land is indeed a world of dark wonders, most of which go unexplained The angelic powers of good that repeatedly come to our hero s salvation, the dreadful Watchers, the inhabitants of the House of Silence, the Laugher of the East, the invisible Evil Powersall these mysterious inhabitants of the underground realm are fleetingly referred to, leaving the reader hoping to learnDespite the novel s length, The Night Land could easily have served as a mere introduction to an epic fantasy series Sadly, with Hodgson s death in World War I action in April 1918, that continuing series was never to be, leaving us with this tantalizing glimpse of Earth s future.I mentioned that archaic language before, the major stumbling block, seemingly, for most readers the one responsible for the charge of the book being unreadable Here are some examples of this supposedly unreadable language And presently, when eighteen hours did have passed since that my sudden awakening to the peril of the Grey Men, I did search about for a place to slumber But I to know how that she did be like to be all gone of her strength thiswise And there to be yet one thing upon which, mayhap, I not to have thought sufficient Although this diction is initially offputting, I found that I quickly adapted to the book s unusual grammar, syntax and punctuation Hodgson s other works, especially Glen Carrig, were a good prep for this , and soon felt that the narrator s manner of speech is almost charming The book is far from unreadable indeed, I think it is actually quite gripping The final quarter that Lovecraft complained about is, for me, anything but a drag Yes, the action does slow down a bit, as Hodgson details the Taming of the Shrew like relationship that develops between our hero and his Naani but this only sets us up for a final 50 pages or so that are really very thrilling The relationship referred to, by the way, is quite a sweet one Has a couple in all of fantasy literature ever beenmanifestly in love than this couple here Have you ever seen two people so enad of each other that they actually kiss each other s food Though some modern feminists might have a problem with our narrator s pet name for Naani Baby Slave , the two are as perfect a couple as one could hope to find, and the reader s sympathies are wholly with them during their harrowing journey Indeed, thesentimental reader may find him herself getting quite a bit misty eyed by the book s conclusion In any event, the bottom line is that this novel is some kind of brilliant work, and one that should greatly appeal to all fantasy, sci fi and horror fans It is well worth seeking out. Critics have repeatedly pointed out the imperfections of this novel Curiously, The Night Land s critics are frequently its fans as well That ought to tell you something about how strong its strong points are That these critic fans also offer the novel s originality as one of its primary assets, ought to tell you something about how unusual it really is This novel is a strange animal When it was published, in 1912, the ghost story was alive and well at that time, perhaps already starting to look a bit hackneyed vampire stories not unheard of science fiction, though perhaps not yet called science fiction , also beginning to get regular shrift And while gleaning atmosphere and substance from all of these genres, The Night Land mimics none of them Often called a horror novel, that moniker also seems to suit it only partly.One obvious strangeness in The Night Land involves Hodgson s archaism The frame narrative occurs in some indistinct past time a number of commentators specify the 17th century, so I ll roll with that The 17th century narrator, after the death of his love, indeed seemingly due to grief itself, receives sudden insight into a man, himself think reincarnation , living in a period unimaginably far in the future, long after the sun has died He begins telling of this future life, in the Night Land, and his quest to find the future self of his dead 17th century love Owing to this 17th century character stuck narrating a futuristic story, Hodgson wrote the tale in a faux archaic language that can be difficult to get into, but flows after a couple of pages Many of Hodgson s critic fans number this faux archaism among the book s flaws I disagree The language lends the story an ingenuousness that s both appealing and suitable to the storyline which does, after all, hinge upon a love that outlives millennia This is legendary, grand, heady stuff and the language suits it Critics also dismiss the love story as trite or sentimental, but I adhere to the camp who does not use sentimental as a dirty word The love story is sentimental, but so is love when it s not callous, and every kind of love story has its place Besides, spitting out sentimental as a pejorative equates to belittling genuineness and earnestness I may not want to constantly read about these qualities, but I value them when I find them and I think the world a little meaner of a place without them, so I m quite comfortable with sentimental What I am not comfortable with is repetition and that, by my estimation, is the worst sin of The Night Land This novel could have been cut almost in half and, in fact, Hodgson released his own abridged version We read how our hero stops and seeks shelter for the night, every night, how and when he eats his rations, over and over again On one hand, including these quotidian details gives the reader a good sense of the interminability of a voyage on foot, always walking day after day, where sleeping and eating would both comprise the high points of one s day and serve to break the journey up into mentally manageable components On the other hand, enough already Few exciting altercations with giant slugs and other beasties punctuate this mundanity and it s simply asking a lot of a reader s patience to get through every last word of this lengthy book if we feel like we ve read half of it before As a matter of fact, I skipped through large chunks of the second half and skimmed manyBut this is my only real beef with what, otherwise, is an atmospheric, strange and beautiful story Hodgson well imagines his future world He vividly portrays the bleakness and horror of the sunless darkened earth, lit by volcanic fissures belching noxious gases, terrors waiting at every turn He creates vile and gruesome beasties to inhabit this place Lovecraft style, he tells you just enough about the monsters to make you shiver and never enough to make you scoff I think of JAWS and its notoriously malfunctioning shark Spielberg knew it was better to show half a scary looking shark than all of a broken, fake looking one a little detail will never blow the illusion the way too much detail will Hodgson nails this and, indeed, Lovecraft numbers among his critic fans I guess I do, too I ve really never read anything like it. I read this book based on a review by C S Lewis, who commented that the best fiction adds a new dimension to your life for having read it The Night Land does not disappoint It is one of the most incredible love stories, combined with a truly Epic tale of Good vs Evil in a genuinely Classic sense.For some inconceivable reason, the author chose to tell his tale in a bizzare, stilted dialect which is extremely difficult to work through at first But, once you get past the mechanism of an incredibly distant future prophet sending his Tale back through time to this possibly Chaucerian age bard, and get into the story of Earth s Last Two Cities, and what one great and gifted man will endure to save his love, you re hooked.I also appreciated the subtler, spiritual journey our Hero must make to succeed in his quest.When he learns that his Great Love is in jeopardy, of course our hero wants to rush right off and rescue her But, he is persuaded that he must first prepare, or he will hardly make it past the outer walls And so he prepares, both mentally, spiritually, and physically, while the Elders work to make him magical armor, so that when he finally ventures forth he will have the best possible chance of success.I found MANY, MANY life lessons woven into this narrative I love it.