Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book report: Quest for Cthulhu by August Derleth

Linky: The Quest for Cthulhu (Carroll & Graf Science Fiction)

This was a homework assignment, for me, for the short story I recently finished. The volume contains both Mask of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu. I had been reading Robert Bloch's Mysteries of the Worm when this book arrived, and the first few stories were more of the "my friend/relative got himself into trouble and by trying to help I got sucked in" variety (very prevalent in Bloch's stories too) so I cut straight to the second half where the info I was looking for (on byakhee) was.

Some people don't like the direction that Derleth took the Mythos in. I don't know what their exact objections are, but I think I can guess a few. He puts the struggle of the Great Old Ones and the Elder gods on a direct parallel to Satan and God, which is... simple. Kinda obvious. The idea of infighting among the Great Old Ones and their followers works, though I'm not clear on why Hastur would be preferable over Cthulhu.

And then there's all the work his characters put into destroying various portals and otherwise thwarting plans. I'm generally in favor of fighting back rather than lying around in the grips of despair, but is any of this supposed to seriously impede a being like Cthulhu?

Although it's grouped into two "books" this is really a single anthology of short stories. And because they were written and published as shorts, there is a lot of reiteration of exposition in each story. A lot. The stories also are generally short on characterization and coming up with new things to do.

That being said, I think "The Keeper of the Key" was the best of the lot, insofar as going to new places and doing new things. It's a book to eat in small bites, with a long break between stories.

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