Friday, June 17, 2011


By E.R. Eddison

One might think there would be a revival of interest in epic fantasy written by scholarly Englishmen in the early 20th century. There might and it ought to include The Worm Ouroboros. Eric Rucker Eddison penned the tale of the Great War of the Witches and Demons back in 1922 and it is just as good today.

Unlike the reluctant and self-conscious heroes of Lord of the Rings, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, or even Harry Potter, the Lords Juss, Goldry Bluszco, Spitfire, and Brandoch Daha are bona fide sword-swinging adventurers. They are Conans who’ve been to Eton. They need every bit of their mighty sword arms and their wits to defeat the evil king Gorice of Witchland in his drive to build an empire.

As befits and epic, minor characters are not wanting. There is Corund, the witch nobleman who steers a course of loyalty to his king and self-defense against his rivals. We meet Lord Gro the Goblin who has betrayed so many masters he can’t remember which side he is on. Eddison’s idiosyncrasies lend the tale an off-kilter charm, kingdoms have names straight from fairy tales and characters write letters in Elizabethan English. The scene where Gorice performs black magic is truly bizarre and creepy. If you like high adventure in a fantasy world, read The Worm Ouroboros.
-Dave Hardy


Derek said...

Makes me think of the place Great Orme.

Dave Hardy said...

What a cool name for a place. There's all kinds of interesting dragon lore in Europe. There were legends of dragons living below Prague. Of course the alchemists who set up shop there were very conversant with the mystic meanings of Ouroboros.