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30 review for The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath

  1. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    I remember thinking Lovecraft is not really my cup-of-tea when I first tried to read some of his stories. To a twelve years old curious about science and about voyages of discovery, the mystical and obscure master of horror could not compete with the likes of Jules Verne, Karl May or Alexandre Dumas. So it took almost 40 years (and a homage novella written this year by Kij Johnson) to make me come back to these nightmares realms ruled by malefic gods. At the start of the quest, Randolph Carter lo I remember thinking Lovecraft is not really my cup-of-tea when I first tried to read some of his stories. To a twelve years old curious about science and about voyages of discovery, the mystical and obscure master of horror could not compete with the likes of Jules Verne, Karl May or Alexandre Dumas. So it took almost 40 years (and a homage novella written this year by Kij Johnson) to make me come back to these nightmares realms ruled by malefic gods. At the start of the quest, Randolph Carter looks to me like a scion of John Carter of Mars : he goes to sleep and wakes up in an alternate world, where he is carving out a kingdom for himself with daring sword and unflinching courage. Lovecraft may share the starting point with Burroughs, but the focus of the story is not pulpy planetary romance (alas! no scantily clad princess of Barsoom awaits Randolph in the Dreamland) but an indepth exploration of the hidden and often scary depths of our subconscious mind. Carter resolved to go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before, and dare the icy deserts through the dark to where unknown Kadath, veiled in cloud and crowned with unimagined stars, holds secret and nocturnal the onyx castle of the Great Ones. While John Carter lies down in the desert and dreams of distant stars, Randolph Carter goes in his sleep to a magical city of indescribable beauty, a twilight wonder of marble halls, slender columns and twisting alleys by a topaz sea, a city that is locked against him by the hands of invisible Great Ones. It was a fever of the gods, a fanfare of supernatural trumpets and a clash of immortal cymbals. Mystery hung about it as clouds about a fabulous unvisited mountain. [...] Vaguely it called up glimpses of a far forgotten first youth, when wonder and pleasure lay in all the mystery of days, and dawn and dusk alike strode forth prophetic to the eager sound of lutes and song, unclosing fiery gates towards further and surprising marvels. Is Randolph on a quest to rediscover his youthful enthusiasm for the world, his thirst for adventure and for distant shores? How did the world of adults betrayed him, disappointed him? What made him reject the present day and take refuge in fantasy? A brief foray into the biography of the author, a sensitive man, alternatively passionate and depressive, tormented by life in the metropolis and yearning for a return to his home in Providence, Rhode Island, may offer an answer to these questions, but it is not a prerequisite for enjoying the journey Randolph Carter embarks on. So to Celephais he must go, far distant from the isle of Oriab, and in such parts as would take him back to Dylath-Teen and up the Skai to the bridge by Nir, and again into the enchanted wood of the Zoogs, whence the way would bend northward through the garden lands by Oukranos to the gilded spires of Thran, where he might find a galleon bound over the Cerenarian Sea. These names are resonant with promise of adventure and marvels, but right from the start the quest is threatened by the true rulers of the Dreamland, lesser and higher gods that dance to unknown tunes and bicker among themselves while turning a blind eye to the pityful affairs of human ants. To unlock the gate of the sunset city, Randolph must address his plea to the highest supernatural authority in the universe. Problem is, the higher you climb up the god's ladder, the more fickle and irrational the gods become. I am not truly familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos, but I believe there exists in the Lovecraft oeuvre a coherent vision of the things that lurk in the shadows of the waking world. The present novella is a prime example of this vision. Always upward led the terrible plunge in darkness, and never a sound, touch or glimpse broke the dense pall of mystery. A quick browse of the florid prose favoured by Lovecraft in describing these 'superior' beings can partly explain his lasting influence on readers and writers interested in the study of the supernatural: unearthly immanence tyrannous gods elder witchery cryptical sinister Cyclopean gargantuan prodigious void gigantic, blind, voiceless, mindless crawling chaos grotesque Makes you wonder what kind of nightmares haunted the dreams of Lovecraft, what existential dread sent him into despair and made him imagine that there is no ultimate answer to the question of life, nothing but a last amorphous blast of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the centre of all infinity I didn't much like this bombardment of lurid images, this insistence that we are doomed by invisible chaos, not when I was twelve, and honestly not so much now in my fifties. But I can at least appreciate the monumental struggle of the individual against the darkness waiting to engulf him every night, the heavy price paid by the artist, by the dreamer who dared to descend into Hell and bring back to us a clarion call of warning and an entreaty not to loose sight of our private sunset city, this symbol and relic of your days of wonder Lovecraft, like Randolph Carter, was constantly plagued by night-gaunts, ghouls, gugs, ghasts, zoogs, moon-beasts, shantak-birds and evil priests, but parts of the Dreamland are still reminiscent of his youthful days of wonder. The author's utopia bears witness to the less savoury things I heard about the author : a W.A.S.P. exclusive resort, male only, darkies to be used as slaves or servants or cannon-fodder. Cats are allowed favored-nation status, but that's about it as far as Lovecraft is concerned. Most of the racial insensivity is not particular to Lovecraft, but a mirror of the larger views held by his anturage and by a lot of philosophers and political leaders of the period the story was written. Same can be said about the purple prose, something most of the readership expected in their Weird Tales. I would never recommend banning an author for his private views, especially since his contribution and influence on the genre is undeniable. Since October with its Halloween themed reads is just a month away, I plan to further explore the universe of Lovecraft. I am sure there are more haunting gems to be discovered among his stories: Perched on that ledge night found the seeker; and in the blackness he might neither go down nor go up, but only stand and cling and shiver in that narrow place till the day came, praying to keep awake less sleep loose his hold and send him down the dizzy miles of air to the crags and sharp rocks of the accursed valley. The stars came out, but save from them there was only black nothingness in his eyes; nothingness leagued with death, against whose beckoning he might do no more than cling to the rocks and lean back away from an unseen brink.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gil

    I will never tire of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Randolph

    Of the "stories" in this book I would only call The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath a classic. Even so, Kadath itself meanders all over the place and parts of it vary greatly in quality. I admittedly am not a big fan of Lovecraft's "prose poem" dream-cycle stuff, preferring his horror and scifi stuff (yes, The Whisperer in Darkness is a scifi story, not a horror story). It's better than his poetry, but... Writers like Dunsany and Eddison and Machen did this sort of thing much better than Lovecraft Of the "stories" in this book I would only call The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath a classic. Even so, Kadath itself meanders all over the place and parts of it vary greatly in quality. I admittedly am not a big fan of Lovecraft's "prose poem" dream-cycle stuff, preferring his horror and scifi stuff (yes, The Whisperer in Darkness is a scifi story, not a horror story). It's better than his poetry, but... Writers like Dunsany and Eddison and Machen did this sort of thing much better than Lovecraft. One thing you can see in this collection is a working out of themes and ideas that he used again and again in his dream-cycle stories. At the same time I think way too much is made of Lovecraft's conception of his dream-cycle works as a connected whole at all. A lot of this has been tacked on by later reviewers and analyzers, August Derleth being probably the worst offender. Also, seeing the Cthulhu Mythos as an intentionally consistent and coherent whole was probably not foremost in Lovecraft's mind either. Instead you see a writer working and reworking ideas and themes (including characters and character names) until the truly classic stories evolve.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Slinkyboy

    How have I never read this before? Seriously?! I may be in the minority here, but this is by far my favorite Lovecraft work. His usually overinflated prose really, really works in this setting. The story in general maintains an otherworldly feel throughout, and there are so many cool elements and ideas mentioned that’s it’s impossible to keep track. Also, check this out... http://danial79.deviantart.com/art/Dr... This map of the Dreamlands makes a great supplement to the reading. How have I never read this before? Seriously?! I may be in the minority here, but this is by far my favorite Lovecraft work. His usually overinflated prose really, really works in this setting. The story in general maintains an otherworldly feel throughout, and there are so many cool elements and ideas mentioned that’s it’s impossible to keep track. Also, check this out... http://danial79.deviantart.com/art/Dr... This map of the Dreamlands makes a great supplement to the reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Despite the author's reputation, this is not horror. It is exotic, Orientalist phantasy, with some of the most extraordinary weird imagery in imaginative fiction. Although written while under the influence of Lord Dunsany and William Beckford's Vathek, Lovecraft synthesized his own mythos into their styling, creating a hallucinatory literary quest of unparalleled originality. Despite the author's reputation, this is not horror. It is exotic, Orientalist phantasy, with some of the most extraordinary weird imagery in imaginative fiction. Although written while under the influence of Lord Dunsany and William Beckford's Vathek, Lovecraft synthesized his own mythos into their styling, creating a hallucinatory literary quest of unparalleled originality.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Very descriptive, vivid imagery that held my attention despite its meandering nature and length (it's pretty long for Lovecraft; he was clearly pretty into it). Unfortunately, it almost completely falls apart at the ending. (view spoiler)[It's pretty much 40k or so words just to say "there's no place like home". (hide spoiler)] Very descriptive, vivid imagery that held my attention despite its meandering nature and length (it's pretty long for Lovecraft; he was clearly pretty into it). Unfortunately, it almost completely falls apart at the ending. (view spoiler)[It's pretty much 40k or so words just to say "there's no place like home". (hide spoiler)]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    I read this in bed while staying at grandmother Lajla's cottage in SW Michigan. The title story was disappointing. I expected ontological horror from Lovecraft, not swords and sorcery stuff. The weird names of all the different races sounded silly too, unlinked as most of them were to any of his constructed alternate realities/histories. I read this in bed while staying at grandmother Lajla's cottage in SW Michigan. The title story was disappointing. I expected ontological horror from Lovecraft, not swords and sorcery stuff. The weird names of all the different races sounded silly too, unlinked as most of them were to any of his constructed alternate realities/histories.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    The essence of a dreamquest. It is a true shame that although Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos caught on to a limited degree, his dreamquest fantasy never really achieved popularity. I daresay this is the best Lovecraft work I've read to date. The essence of a dreamquest. It is a true shame that although Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos caught on to a limited degree, his dreamquest fantasy never really achieved popularity. I daresay this is the best Lovecraft work I've read to date.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jesper Lie

    The only author who´s grave I have visited on purpose.... Providence, new england

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sem

    If only there hadn't been so many meeps. The meep of cosmic fear was the killer. If only there hadn't been so many meeps. The meep of cosmic fear was the killer.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Dixon

    Drawn by the slightly creepy surrealism of the cover, I bought The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, a collection of H.P. Lovecraft’s Dunsanian fantasies, when it was first published in the early Seventies by Ballantine Books. It was part of a series of republications of Adult Fantasy edited by the redoubtable Lin Carter, whose Introductions to each volume in the series were, for me, part of the attraction – I especially enjoyed the way he would usually (though sadly not in this book) mention his o Drawn by the slightly creepy surrealism of the cover, I bought The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, a collection of H.P. Lovecraft’s Dunsanian fantasies, when it was first published in the early Seventies by Ballantine Books. It was part of a series of republications of Adult Fantasy edited by the redoubtable Lin Carter, whose Introductions to each volume in the series were, for me, part of the attraction – I especially enjoyed the way he would usually (though sadly not in this book) mention his own stories which had been influenced by the author he was introducing. But, to be fair, many of these authors had been unjustly neglected and, in the wake of the success of Tolkien, Carter did a great job in rescuing them from oblivion. In the case of Lovecraft, it was only his “tales of the macabre and the gruesome” (as Carter puts it) which were becoming well-known. I had already read The Dream-Quest as part of a collection of ‘novels of terror’ where its “singing and crystalline prose” (Carter again) set it apart from the others, which were firmly rooted in the Cthulhu Mythos; and I was delighted to find several more in similar vein in the Ballantine volume. At that time, I loved these fantasies – I even enjoyed Lord Dunsany’s own stories, especially (like Lovecraft himself) the early ones, before they drowned in a sea of whimsy - although, frankly, I now find them all but unreadable. While I must agree with Lovecraft’s own assessment of the Dream-Quest that “the very plethora of weird imagery” soon palls, some of his shorter fantasies have fared better. One in particular stands out for me, not least because it fed into another enduring interest of mine, Celtic myths and their relation to Arthurian legends. The story in question is entitled ‘The Strange High House in the Mist,’ and it features a dramatic appearance by “the grey and awful form of primal Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss.” Nodens would also be mentioned in Dream-Quest, as the lord of the night-gaunts, “those mindless guardians of the Great Abyss” – and Lovecraft probably drew the name Nodens from his reading of the Welsh writer Arthur Machen, whom he hailed as one of the "modern masters" of supernatural horror. An avatar of Nodens turns up in the Arthurian legends as the father of a Knight of the Round Table. The unhappily named Nut is the father of Yder, a knight who appears in several romances and even has one of his own (The Romance of Yder). In the Welsh medieval romances, he is called Edern son of Nudd, which has been taken to mean the Eternal One, son of Night. Edern has a brother, Gwyn, who is remembered as the King of Faerie: one entrance to his Otherworld kingdom is believed to be found on Glastonbury Tor. But fascinating as these intertextual digressions are for myth lovers like myself, they cannot really rescue this volume from being one of Lovecraft's least satisfying. Unless you're a psychoanalyst, listening to other people's dreams is not usually very interesting after awhile. It is precisely because it moves closer to the SF/horror that HPL does so well, that the other stand-out story for me is 'Through the Gates of the Silver Key,' in which we discover something of the truth about the mysterious disappearance of Randolph Carter, the hero of the Dream-Quest. A collaboration with a pulp fiction writer, it includes one of my favourite lines: This face is a mask, and what it covers is not human. At one point the down-to-earth, materialist lawyer Aspinwall, growing impatient with the multi-cultural flights of fancy of a Hindu swami, a Creole student of the mysteries and a Providence mystic, declares: 'We've had enough of these moonings.' By the time they come to the end of this volume of dream-fantasies, readers may know how he feels.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thaddeus Whalebone

    One of my absolute favorite fantasy novellas, "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" is Lovecraft's true masterpiece. Taking place in his fictitious Dreamlands, beyond the Seven Hundred Steps to the Realm of Deeper Slumber, it follows Randolph Carter as he seeks a fabulous sunset city he saw in his own dreams. Facing many dangers, he must confront the Elder Gods in their fortress in Kadath in the Cold Waste, risking the wrath of the nefarious messenger, Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. Unlike Love One of my absolute favorite fantasy novellas, "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" is Lovecraft's true masterpiece. Taking place in his fictitious Dreamlands, beyond the Seven Hundred Steps to the Realm of Deeper Slumber, it follows Randolph Carter as he seeks a fabulous sunset city he saw in his own dreams. Facing many dangers, he must confront the Elder Gods in their fortress in Kadath in the Cold Waste, risking the wrath of the nefarious messenger, Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. Unlike Lovecraft's later works of horror, there is no cosmic evil in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, which paints a very vivid landscape of wonderful kingdoms and lands where cats are sacred and strange creatures like the rat-like Zoogs and giant Gugs dwell. A rather existential tale, Carter stops his quest ong enough to help the cats defeat an old enemy, even though it delays him finding Kadath. The ending, which I will not spoil for those who have not read it, is very reminiscent of Voltaire and Kafka. A truly unique work of fantasy on a scale with David Lyndsey's "A Voyage to Arcturus," A. Merritt's "The Ship of Ishtar" or Clarke Ashton Smith's "The City of the Singing Flame." Highest possible recommendation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Berg

    I actually enjoyed the The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath novella quite a bit - while rolling my eyes at the obvious racism and cultural appropriation bits (evil = black skin or turbans, overtones of white males are the best!, noble savages are close to the true gods, etc...). It's also interesting how no dreamers or denizens of the Dreamland are female. Even the animals mentioned are male. Aside from those obvious flaws, the imagery is great, the locations quite creative, and the cats are awesom I actually enjoyed the The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath novella quite a bit - while rolling my eyes at the obvious racism and cultural appropriation bits (evil = black skin or turbans, overtones of white males are the best!, noble savages are close to the true gods, etc...). It's also interesting how no dreamers or denizens of the Dreamland are female. Even the animals mentioned are male. Aside from those obvious flaws, the imagery is great, the locations quite creative, and the cats are awesome! The writing itself is very poetical and you can definitely tell he was influenced by Dunsany. Most of the text describing the journeying from place to place is highly evocative - so as long as no characters are mentioned, you can easily imagine such a place existing in your dreams. As for the rest of the tales included in the collection... none quite capture the tone of the first. Which is why this gets three stars and is not rated higher. Of those tales, only two added something to the collection. Celephais fleshes out a minor character mentioned in Unknown Kadath, detailing his drug addiction and eventual retreat into the Dreamlands, away from the harshness of reality. And The White Ship builds more of the Dreamlands, taking you on a tour of places not mentioned in the Unknown Kadath. It should be noted that both of those tales are fairly short. Which leaves the tales that I felt subtracted from the book. The Silver Key fleshes out more about Randolph Carter (which frankly didn't need to be fleshed out) and it includes the first reference to womenfolk in the form of a house being owned by a witch - and the first female character with Randolph's aunt. However, it mostly seems like a rant by Lovecraft about how dreamers like him get no appreciation in the "real" world. Parts of the tale come off as sounding like a small man railing against a lifetime of underappreciation, claiming to be king in some forgotten kingdom which no one else has ever visited in order to get the respect he thinks he deserves. And that the real world strips away anything creative in a person, which only the idyllic past can restore. And where can that idyllic past be found? In dreams. It's a vicious cycle. Through the Gates of the Silver Key is, in my opinion, the worst of this collection. While it weaves an interesting horror story, it is hard to get past the unsubtle message of "white males are awesome, yeah!" And then there are the racist depictions of other characters... though at least it has two major characters who aren't white. Though yes, they are still depicted poorly - but hey, one is smart and survives! No women appear in this tale either. This seems like a continuation of the rant Lovecraft started in The Silver Key taken to new extremes by coauthor E. Hoffmann Price. Dreamers are worthless? Hah reality! Jokes on you! Because only dreams are real! Which at least backfires horribly for Randolph. For Randolph suffers the worst of all fates: (view spoiler)[To be turned into a black alien! Oh no! He's no longer a white American! Or even human! Whatever will he do! (hide spoiler)] The Strange High House in the Mist fleshes out the god Nodens a bit more (who appears in mention many times in Unknown Kadath) and we get an interesting look at another point of entry into the Dreamlands. This is another tale which has a rare reference to women! The main character has a dumply little wife. The wife is described in such as way as to have no imagination and a Christian faith. So, she pretty much stands for everything Randolph railed against in The Silver Key... which paints a very interesting look into what Lovecraft believed. But honestly, it makes a pretty weak ending to the collection.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    The title story of this collection is a kaleidescope of everything H P Lovecraft was about -- cats, grotesque monsters, dreamworlds, and an innocent human adventurer caught up in a search for answers amidst the chaos. But my favorite part of this collection is the sequence of two "Silver Key" stories which together make up on e of the most chilling and typical of the Lovecraft output. Starting with an innocent man searching for answers and ending with a mind-blowing cosmology, it's Lovecraft at The title story of this collection is a kaleidescope of everything H P Lovecraft was about -- cats, grotesque monsters, dreamworlds, and an innocent human adventurer caught up in a search for answers amidst the chaos. But my favorite part of this collection is the sequence of two "Silver Key" stories which together make up on e of the most chilling and typical of the Lovecraft output. Starting with an innocent man searching for answers and ending with a mind-blowing cosmology, it's Lovecraft at his best.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Lovecraft at his most Dunsanian. And I daresay that, at novel length, he might have even been better. If all you know of HPL is stories of forbidden tomes and squidgy tentacled monstrosities that drive you mad and eat your head, then you owe it to yourself to check out some of his Dunsanian/Dreamlands stories. This particular collection includes the titular Dream-Quest (a short novel; maybe 40,000 words), Celephais and The White Ship, amongst others. A highly recommended collection.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    These stories are so weird and twisty and full of ghastly unknowables but are still somehow very readable and comprehendable. In the first one, we follow Carter through universes and worlds that somehow connect and lead us clearly, unavoidably to the greatest kingdom in all of dream. And the cats just dominate, in everyway, hence 5 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gcoritsidis

    My first HPL work. It's a fantastical novella full of cat armies, ghouls, glimmering cityscapes and old gods. The language is at times unintentionally amusing (w/ eldritch creatures "too horrible to describe"), but it's a fun read and good escapist literature. My first HPL work. It's a fantastical novella full of cat armies, ghouls, glimmering cityscapes and old gods. The language is at times unintentionally amusing (w/ eldritch creatures "too horrible to describe"), but it's a fun read and good escapist literature.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    It's a bit difficult to accurately describe this book, but I'll try my best. It's like...it's like if Edgar Allan Poe rewrote The Wizard of Oz after smoking a boat-load of weed. And that's exactly what makes it so awesome! It's a bit difficult to accurately describe this book, but I'll try my best. It's like...it's like if Edgar Allan Poe rewrote The Wizard of Oz after smoking a boat-load of weed. And that's exactly what makes it so awesome!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Title story only. Lovecraft apparently never met a modifier he didn't like. Lots of cats. Title story only. Lovecraft apparently never met a modifier he didn't like. Lots of cats.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    3.5*

  21. 4 out of 5

    Akkisuitok

    The best two things about this are dream cats and ghouls that make meeping noises. Also, it has to be the least horror-like Lovecraft work I have ever read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Singer

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence Collins

  24. 4 out of 5

    James

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Gateley

  27. 4 out of 5

    living_stone

  28. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michele

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