The Worm Ouroboros

The Worm Ouroboros

by Eric Rucker Eddison

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The Worm Ouroboros (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A few days ago I picked up this new edition of 'The Worm Ouroboros' at the local Barnes & Noble. I had read the novel three times before, having first read it about thirty years ago. I began just by reading the introduction, but soon I was rereading the book itself--and I am enjoying it immensely, even more than I have enjoyed it before. Eddison's style is amazingly rich and powerful. Overall, the novel is the quintessence of High Romanticism, with larger-than-life characters, a world-sweeping plot, and (again) language that recalls Shakespeare's and Marlowe's windy periods. There are a host of magnificent scenes: for example, the chapter concerning the three armies chasing one another in a charmed circle through the wastes of Impland the siege of Eshgrar Ogo the ascent of Koshtra Pivrarcha. But every passage has delightful, sinewy turns of language. This is one of the great works of the twentieth century, and it's unfortunate that it is not better known. I congratulate Barnes & Noble for republishing it in this handsome edition.
The_Searcher More than 1 year ago
This is touted as the book that created the literary genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I believe it was written in the 1920's by British author E.R. Eddison. It is a fine story but a bit hard to follow at times because of the combined use of heroic Norse and Elizabethan language which is to say the choice is an attempt to place the story in an ancient setting but somewhere in the far reaches of the cosmos. It was hard to read at first and tires one easily by trying to understand if one understood. Once accustomed to the language the story was well told about ancient warriors both good and bad. It relates the tale of their quarrels and the reason thereof. The men were brave, strong and honest if they were the good guys of Demonland, and the bad guys were also brave and strong but followed the evil King Gorice of Witchland. All the women were lovely and key to the story. When a woman becomes central in the narrative something interesting is about to unfold. In this mythical land of Goblinland versus Witchland and other realms the description of the setting adds to the drama by painting a very interesting visualization. The narrator speaks of wondrous jewels used freely in every instance of interiors, clothing and jewelry but all are gems of this world. The actual landscape is somewhat disappointing as it is strategically designed for battle and defense; not for prosaic beauty or sweet whimsy. Caught in the middle are all the other kingdoms taking sides and tilting the battle this way then that so it was never clear which side would eventually be victorious. I liked the unpredictability, the cunning, and the surprises along the way. The author did not dwell in great detail in the escapes and solutions but moves quickly on to the next scenario so the pace was quick. Sure, good versus evil and good always wins. Or does it? The ending sure surprised me and I have not yet read a story that ended thus. While a bit hard to follow in the beginning it is a good read, and I miss the language that was so much a part of the story.
Joel_M More than 1 year ago
This novel by one of the "grandfathers of fantasy" feels rather like a Scandinavian saga written in faux Elizabethan English with occasional bits of Greek mythology thrown in for good measure. The plot follows the conflict between the noble military-superpower nation of Demonland and the treacherous, imperialistic Witchland. The world is alternately stated to be either "the planet Mercury" or "Middle Earth" and has a definite "swords and sorcery" feel to it with the emphasis on swords. Both Tolkien and Lewis admired Eddison's world-building, but were less than thrilled with the morality/worldview embraced in this story: a bloody Norse warrior code with a cyclical view of history rather than a Judeo-Christian ethic/worldview. There are definitely some quirks in Eddison's writing. The strangest is the invisible, intangible dreamer/observer and his avian spirit-guide who serve as a sort of narrator for the first three chapters and then randomly disappear never to be heard of again (save one fleeting mention toward the middle of the book). Another oddity is that the settings, wardrobes, etc. are described in the lushest terms imaginable, but all the characters are flat and static in the extreme. Despite the quirks, this is an enjoyable read for its lush descriptions, grand prose, and historical value as one of the first modern fantasy novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
E.R. Eddison has written an epic in praise of glory and greatness. His characters are great warriors performing majestic deeds, although there's not quite the moral and emotional depth of (for example)Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' or Lord Dunsany's 'Charwoman's Shadow' - Eddison writes for admirers of the heroic, a fantasy in rich prose to delight lovers of medieval romances and Nordic legends, in a pseudo-medieval/European setting. Although one side of the conflict is portrayed as more 'good' than the other, the overall theme is of the great deeds done in the conflict, rather than the end of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I+am+currently+on+page+22+and+there+are+SO+MANY+spacing+issues%21++Re-do+time%21
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read.
mr.mcox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, but it was definitely not a page turner and I'm not sure whether its a story I will want to read over and over again. The language took some getting used to and while the author's style forced me to read more slowly, it also helped me appreciate the cinematic imagery.
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a 'classic'. A lot of high-powered writers liked it. I tried several times to make it through it before I managed it. The language is almost constructed - it doesn't flow for me as much as writhe around before I finally pin it down. It's in an odd style (Elizabethan?) with a story that reminds me of the Iliad or the Odyssey. Great story, sucky style. Why he writes such long, convoluted sentences with archaic words in such a stilted style is beyond me. All the critics like it, but I doubt it will ever be popular with the masses.Once I got past the style, the story was a lot of fun. It's an imaginative world where the inhabitants are demons, witches & the politics are as bad as those of the Iliad. Heroes abound & they journey about committing deeds of bravery.
nlaurent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book for my husband after reading the author was one of J.K. Tolkein's favorite descriptive writers. I thought who in he world would J.K. Tolkein look up to? But I can see why! My gosh this is the most rich, enormous, decadent tapestry of descriptive prose and mythical plot I have ever drooled over in bed. Whenever someone is sick in this house and wants to be distracted from the flu or some other misery, out comes this book, which must be read slowly as the sentences are complex and beg to be savored. I would be so bold as to say that I had only thought I had read amazing fantasy and science fiction books, until I read this one. This is what they all really aspired to write, but fell short. This is no Harry Potter or Goldenn Compass series, while those are nothing to sneeze at, I'll give you all that. But it surpasses the Lord of the Rings somehow not in plot, but in world building. Have your notecards or notbooks out to keep track of the lineage of deamons you'll start to obsess about, and plan on staying up late. But whatever you do, don't sleep in Lotus Room! ;)
rnsulentic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sort of the Ur-novel for 'high' fantasy. The language takes getting used to. But the story has a great hook.
caracabe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To enjoy The Worm Ouroboros, one must accept the glorification of war, just as one must accept magic spells and E.R. Eddison's invented, pseudo-archaic language. Once you get used to the style, it is mostly unobtrusive and occasionally delightful.Eddison's heroes are not very clearly drawn. The one exception is the dandy and berserker Brandoch Daha -- and now I've told you everything about him. Eddison often does a better job with the villains, such as King Gorice the nth (take your pick) and the aptly-named Corsus. The most nuanced and interesting character is the principled traitor Lord Gro.As you might expect from a tale weak on characterization, events are plot-driven. The plot concerns the invasion of Demonland by the forces of Witchland under King Gorice, which includes the supernatural kidnapping and rescue of Goldry Bluszco, one of the lords of demonland. Despite the carefully constructed, symmetrical plot -- or maybe because of it -- the tale seems episodic. Actions are driven by a scheme external to the story, rather than growing from character.At the end of the novel, the glorification of war becomes explicit. This -- and the nature of the ending itself -- rather broke the spell for me. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book, and plan to read Eddison's Zimiamvia trilogy.
humdog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this book is said to have inspired Tolkein to write Lord of the Rings. Lord of the Rings has inspired the structure of most synthetic worlds to date.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Long, but once get interested you won't mind. The story moves at a good pace. The language used is archaic but easy enough to read. If you like epic fantasy you'll love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sodium23 More than 1 year ago
I was taken by the archaic language, which can be understood from context. Great words I had never seen before. The author was a scholar of the Norse sagas and myths and early language. Descriptions of landscape and battles are exceptional. Not much character development, but you will recognize parallels to various Norse gods.
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