Have you ever seen two people so enamored 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. 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. View all 9 comments. Feb 04, Sara rated it liked it Shelves: science-fiction , 20th-century-fiction , horror. 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 , the ghost story was alive and well at that time, perhaps already starting to Critics have repeatedly pointed out the imperfections of this novel.
When it was published, in , 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.
The Night Land
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 many more. But 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. View 2 comments. Jun 03, Julenew rated it it was amazing. I read this book based on a review by C. Lewis, who commented that the best fiction adds a new dimension to your life for having read it. It is one of the most incredible love stories, combined with a truly Epic tale of Good vs Evil -- in a genuinely Classic sense.
A NIGHT LAND Review | william hope hodgson
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 I read this book based on a review by C. 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. 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 love it. Mar 13, A.
Preston rated it it was amazing. It honestly blows my mind that this book has been virtually forgotten since its original publication in One thing many readers will find jarring - but I found beautifully evocative - is its unique framing device. The entire book is narrated in the first person perspective of a 17th-century English nobleman and written in language to match the character. This protagonist, mourning the recent death of a beloved spouse, experiences an extended vision of a time hundreds of thousands of years It honestly blows my mind that this book has been virtually forgotten since its original publication in This protagonist, mourning the recent death of a beloved spouse, experiences an extended vision of a time hundreds of thousands of years into the future.
The sun has died and 'the last millions' of humanity live in a pyramid arcology the "Last Redoubt" surrounded by an electrified "Earth Current" to protect them from the monsters and forces of evil roaming a world of perpetual darkness. What follows is a dark, riveting, and profoundly moving epic of the protagonist's quest to find his true love from the former age, now reincarnated with himself in a future just a few steps removed from Hell. This book in many ways anticipates the 'cosmic horror' genre pioneered by H.
Lovecraft, but is the furthest thing removed from his nihilistic worldview. The "reincarnation" element was something I found very difficult to suspend disbelief towards as someone with a Christian outlook, but the story's basic theme is a powerful portrayal of light in the midst of darkness, with explicit reference to angelic "powers of holiness" and a brief reference to God aiding a beleaguered humanity against the otherworldly horrors of the Night Land.
This book provides examples of:
Combined with the Old English language, the book feels like something that could have been written by John Milton or even John Bunyan - not to say that it's theology mirrors their own. Though this book is a confirmed influence on Lovecraft, I almost have to believe that J. Tolkien read it at least once. The descriptions and imagery are remarkably similar to Frodo and Sam's journey through Mordor. Success - or the lack of it - is in the hands of a power far greater than any one of us or than the evils we face in this darkened world. HOW we face those evils - not whether we defeated them - is what will ultimately judge us in the end.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys not only science fiction but classical literature in the tradition of Milton, Dante, and Homer. I would call it an epic to stand among the greatest of them.
May 31, Charles rated it did not like it Recommends it for: masochists. Shelves: classics. Man this book was long and repetitive. And that's a shame because there was incredible imagination at work here and there were some lovely passages of writing. But every moment of the story seemed to take a week to describe, and there was so much repitition that I felt like screaming. When it came to the end, I thought Hodgson was going to pull off a beautiful ending, but, as with most of the rest of the book, he had to write on and on past what would have been the true moment to end the story.
I understand that the uncut version of this book is about , words long and it could 'easily' have been cut in half to make it a much stronger work. I also hear there is a short, 20, word version called: "The Dream of X. How do I rate this thing?
This book has such incredible strengths and incredible flaws that they cancel each other out.