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10 thoughts on “Worms of the Earth

  1. F.R. F.R. says:

    The very same day that my lovely wife picked up a copy of Z for Zachariah at the free bookshelves of our local train station, I picked up this Robert E Howard is of course a writer I knew of, but one I d never actually read Obviously I d seen the complete Conan in the bookshops, but at 850 pages, the whole thing just looked far too daunting Worms of the Earth is similarly fantasy, but it s much shorter, looksmanageable and of course was mine for nothing Therefore it seemed a wo The very same day that my lovely wife picked up a copy of Z for Zachariah at the free bookshelves of our local train station, I picked up this Robert E Howard is of course a writer I knew of, but one I d never actually read Obviously I d seen the complete Conan in the bookshops, but at 850 pages, the whole thing just looked far too daunting Worms of the Earth is similarly fantasy, but it s much shorter, looksmanageable and of course was mine for nothing Therefore it seemed a wonderful place to start.As usual I ve reviewed each story as I ve come to it The Lost RaceAre there mountains in Cornwall Were there ever panthers in Cornwall The details are a bit jarring, but they don t really matter as this isn t a story striving for accuracy, it s goingfor atmosphere And as an atmospheric work it definitely delivers It s not the best written tale I ve ever read the prose is a bit clunky and the plot is somewhat simplistic, but in conjuring a world of fog, magic and mysticism it definitely succeeds I guess its position in this collection makes this the prologue, and it does a good job of opening up this fantasy version of Britain, but it would also be quite missable if you re reading whilst pressed for time.Men of the ShadowsDefinitely weird fiction, just not in the way that phrase is normally meant The first half is fantastic A Roman soldier finds himself out in the wilds of Britain, cut off and facing enemy after enemy It s taut, atmospheric and damned scary A story for anyone interested in horror or fantasy However the second half is a long, tedious and frankly incredibly dubious history of mankind It tries to swap the scary and intimate for the vast an epic, but manages to disappoint at every level.King of the NightThe best story thus far in the collection Perfectly brilliant as a stand alone piece, but also a continuation of the previous two tales in terms of character, setting and theme But Howard now has the fantasy prose style nailed down and he can do what he likes with it and he also understands that epic is not achieved by flights of fantasy alone This is the story of war the build up to a battle, problems within camp, magic from a warrior magician, and then the vicious battle itself The tale does its best to balance the bloody with the gory, and that s even before the battle starts We open with a Roman soldier presumably the same one from Men of Shadows having his heart cut out, and we end with literally thousands slaughtered Yes, it s not for the faint hearted, but in the sweep of its narrative and the ferociousness of its ending, this is a story that aims for and achieves epic status.Worms of the EarthSo we have here the star attraction The story which gives its name to the whole collection the one which the back cover blurb tells me isregarded by many as Howard s finest weird taleThe hype is justified.I m not in a position to say whether this is actually Howard s finest weird tale, but without a doubt it s brilliant Worms of the Earth is an innovative piece of sword and sorcery atmospheric, mysterious, strangely sexy and damned scary Our warrior king hero makes a deal with an ancient race let s call them the old ones , for sake of argument to take revenge on a Roman who has earned his wrath Obviously this decision is not going to end well for anyone We ve all read enough of these type of stories to know that But what impressed me most about Worms of the Earth is that even though it s coming from the same direction as a H.P Lovecraft story, this is no mere Lovecraftian pastiche There are similar themes and ideas, but Howard uses them in a way which is very much his own This very much stands alongside the best of Lovecraft s work, never in its shadow A fantastic piece of fantasy which is blowing open its own path.FragmentMuch like the title suggests, this is merely a sketch, an idea Maybe if Howard had lived he would have fitted it in to a grander piece As it is, it won t live long in the memory.The Dark ManIt makes sense that this is the last story, as rather than following our warrior king, Bran Mak Morn, and the world of the Picts, here they are the stuff of legend and myth Although really it s not that simple Yes, the story follows a lone warrior, and he is helped by Bran Mak Morn and those warriors who went before, but this man is an outcast of a dying race and he s taking on another dying race So, the power of the warrior remains, but those who care are dwindling in number or simply being brutally slain every day.It s an elegiac tale then The world of these stories is coming to end, and soon there will be no warriors to carry on their traditions, and the only people who will remotely care are people who pick up strange and battered paperbacks at train stations.The warriors are gone, and the stories only survive on yellowed and cheap paper


  2. Michael Sorbello Michael Sorbello says:

    King Bran Mak Morn seeks vengeance against the Roman governor Titus Sulla after witnessing the crucifixion of one of his comrades He seeks aid from a race of grotesque monsters lurking in the dark depths of an ancient cave called the Worms of the Earth He offers them a holy relic as a bargain, only to realize that these creatures are muchhorrifying than he could ve possibly imagined.So horrifying in fact, that Bran revokes his offering in fear It s shocking to think that there s somethi King Bran Mak Morn seeks vengeance against the Roman governor Titus Sulla after witnessing the crucifixion of one of his comrades He seeks aid from a race of grotesque monsters lurking in the dark depths of an ancient cave called the Worms of the Earth He offers them a holy relic as a bargain, only to realize that these creatures are muchhorrifying than he could ve possibly imagined.So horrifying in fact, that Bran revokes his offering in fear It s shocking to think that there s something so horrifying lurking in the darkest depths of the world that you wouldn t even wish for the evilest man on the planet to be subjected to their cruelty In the end, Bran chooses to show mercy to the man that he once swore to kill The fantasy and horror aspects of this story were very well done


  3. Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk says:

    I chose to read this book because many years ago I read the first part in a Conan the Barbarian Comic and always wanted to know how it progressed and ended How disappointing It would appear that I read the best bit whilst the rest just sped by Oh well.


  4. Jason Darrell Jason Darrell says:

    Know Thine Enemy would have made a fantastic subtitle for this excellent short story which I read in its inclusion in the The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack 40 Modern and Classic Lovecraftian Stories , and richly deserving its place therein.Disguised as emissary, King Bran Mak Morn of the Picts witnesses the unjust crucifixion of one of his kinsmen under the watch of Titus Sulla, a Roman answerable only to the Roman Emperor himself, during the Romans crusade to and occupation of Albion.Little d Know Thine Enemy would have made a fantastic subtitle for this excellent short story which I read in its inclusion in the The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack 40 Modern and Classic Lovecraftian Stories , and richly deserving its place therein.Disguised as emissary, King Bran Mak Morn of the Picts witnesses the unjust crucifixion of one of his kinsmen under the watch of Titus Sulla, a Roman answerable only to the Roman Emperor himself, during the Romans crusade to and occupation of Albion.Little did Titus Sulla know that not only was Bran the King of the Picts, but also that the Pict tribe themselves were of a race that had occupied Britain even before the Celts settled here Moreover, long before any invaders from Europe ever set foot on British soil, the Picts had defeated a race of star born creatures aspiring to be human and driven them deep underground.Seeking to avenge the slaughter of his kinsman, Bran set off in search of the talisman that would unlock the portal between the British Isles of now and the realm to where the Picts had driven that erstwhile star born race thousands of years ago.Upon meeting a werewoman on the fen, Bran makes his promises and his vows and, asking only for the love of a man for one night in return, she delivers him to a Barrow that will eventually lead him to that long lost ethereal race.But will the exiled race forgive Bran for his ancestors tribe s unmerciful treatment of their own ancestors so long ago Will they do his bidding in return for a chance to walk the Earth onceAnd what exactly are these creatures, who ve lived without the light of the sun for so many, many thousands of years In this fast paced novella, questions arise quickly, but the author skilfully answers those queries even before they ve fully formed in the reader s mind.A quite unique setting and wholly original story that will leave lovers of the Eldritch and the Cthulhu Mythos as well as those of history and myth based fantasy expressly satisfied


  5. Graham Graham says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here WORMS OF THE EARTH is an anthology collection of stories featuring Robert E Howard s Pictish hero, Bran Mak Morn Morn s sworn enemies were the Romans, so these seven stories typically feature Pict vs Roman action in ancient Britain.THE LOST RACE is an introductory story that tells of a Celtic warrior kidnapped by an underground race The forbidding landscape plays an important role here, but the rest of the tale is heavy on the exposition and light on the action, making it a background piece WORMS OF THE EARTH is an anthology collection of stories featuring Robert E Howard s Pictish hero, Bran Mak Morn Morn s sworn enemies were the Romans, so these seven stories typically feature Pict vs Roman action in ancient Britain.THE LOST RACE is an introductory story that tells of a Celtic warrior kidnapped by an underground race The forbidding landscape plays an important role here, but the rest of the tale is heavy on the exposition and light on the action, making it a background piecethan anything else MEN OF THE SHADOWS is by contrast a battle piece in which a Roman brigade is attacked by masses of Pictish warriors Halfway through the action ends and the rest is all songs and history, which is a bit unusual and makes itphilosophical than expected KINGS OF THE NIGHT is much better and involves Morn bringing together the tribes to fight the hated Romans Bizarrely, Howard s ancient hero Kull is brought into the story s present via magic, and it all ends in an incredibly violent battle full of bloodshed from every angle The whole tale brims with power.Next up is A SONG OF THE RACE, a stirring poem and a nice tribute to heroic fantasy in itself WORMS OF THE EARTH is the best story in the collection, and sees Morn on a personal mission of revenge against his enemies Lovecraftian conventions are used throughout in a story that explores monstrous horrors beneath the moors of ancient Britain It s great stuff and a treat for this Cthulhu fan FRAGMENT is exactly that, telling of the meeting between Morn and some Viking warriors, and it s only a pity it was never finished The final story is THE DARK MAN and set a few centuries after the Picts were wiped out An Irish outcast seeks revenge against a Viking warband and discovers a statue to Morn en route Graphic and gory bloodletting is the order of the day, and Morn s supernatural presence is the icing on the cake


  6. Stephen Brooke Stephen Brooke says:

    Worms of the Earth is pretty much Robert E Howard at his best It doesn t have the action of the Conan tales, to be sure, though there is action He creeps closer to the world of Lovecraft and Smith here their work is referenced , with a bit of barbarism thrown in to create his own distinct flavor The language ispoetic than is Howard s norm, and rather well crafted.The story itself does not have a particularly compelling plot The king of the Picts wants revenge on the Roman governor Worms of the Earth is pretty much Robert E Howard at his best It doesn t have the action of the Conan tales, to be sure, though there is action He creeps closer to the world of Lovecraft and Smith here their work is referenced , with a bit of barbarism thrown in to create his own distinct flavor The language ispoetic than is Howard s norm, and rather well crafted.The story itself does not have a particularly compelling plot The king of the Picts wants revenge on the Roman governor and gets it It is the road there, through ancient horrors and hidden abominations well, that is how Howard would probably describe them that makes the tale what it is We are given glimpses of things that were driven into the dark millennia earlier, things best forgotten The contrast between such and the straightforward barbarian was pretty much Howard s stock in trade, of course, a theme that often appears in his fiction But here there is a little less barbarian and a littlehorror It works well.Note this is a review only of the novelette and not of any collections that might bear its name It can be downloaded free from the Canadian version of Project Gutenberg


  7. Mark Mark says:

    The Picts were the people that occupied Caledonia before the coming of the Gaelic Scots Worms Of The Earth collects Howard s short stories of the mysterious Picts and their war with the Roman Empire, led by the warrior king Bran Mak Morn Two of the highlights are the story that gives the book its title full of magic and creepiness, Bran meets with a strange underground race to destroy the Roman leader Another great one is Kings Of The Night where Bran unites his Picts with the Britons of The Picts were the people that occupied Caledonia before the coming of the Gaelic Scots Worms Of The Earth collects Howard s short stories of the mysterious Picts and their war with the Roman Empire, led by the warrior king Bran Mak Morn Two of the highlights are the story that gives the book its title full of magic and creepiness, Bran meets with a strange underground race to destroy the Roman leader Another great one is Kings Of The Night where Bran unites his Picts with the Britons of the south and the Gaels of Ireland along with a handful of Norsemen in an epic battle against the Roman legions The wizard Gonar summons King Kull of Atlantis from the distant past to aid in the struggle.A great little collection and one of Howard s most memorable heroes


  8. Duane Gosser Duane Gosser says:

    Robert Howard is an underappreciated American writer His ability to create the feel of an ancient crypt or dark jungle is amazing His cast of iconic heroes is ridiculous, Conan, Bron Mak Morn, Solomon Kane.This was an fun short story which would make a great movie, hint hint Hollywood.


  9. Carlos Santiago Carlos Santiago says:

    La primera novela de ficcion historica que leo Muy interesante y se huele a leguas el rollo de Conan el Cimmerio que tiene su autor Las batallas son pocas pero intensas, el protagonista es maravilloso, la ambientacion es magistral en especial en el capitulo que da nombre a la novela y el cameo de Kul el Atlante es delicia para viejos fans de Howard Esos si, el final es realmente flojo en comparaci n con el resto Al menos a mi me falt una gran conclusi n final, la ltima gran batalla de Br La primera novela de ficcion historica que leo Muy interesante y se huele a leguas el rollo de Conan el Cimmerio que tiene su autor Las batallas son pocas pero intensas, el protagonista es maravilloso, la ambientacion es magistral en especial en el capitulo que da nombre a la novela y el cameo de Kul el Atlante es delicia para viejos fans de Howard Esos si, el final es realmente flojo en comparaci n con el resto Al menos a mi me falt una gran conclusi n final, la ltima gran batalla de Brann, donde pereciera Adem s, como aditivo, he de a adir que el rigor historico a veces chusquea en pos de la ficcion, si bien no creo que esto sea un aspecto realmente negativo en esta obra VIVA EL PUEBLO PICTIO


  10. John John says:

    I feel like the author is a kindred spirit, though I hope I am less racist and sexist I am also fascinated by the origins of humanity, but well, you ll see.Howard is fascinated by the idea of prehistoric tribes, and he explores this by describing them inaccurately and then making them fight.This book is all about the Picts, or at least his version of the Picts who are Mediterranean in origin and are the eldest extent human group in the British Isles, at least among those that live above I feel like the author is a kindred spirit, though I hope I am less racist and sexist I am also fascinated by the origins of humanity, but well, you ll see.Howard is fascinated by the idea of prehistoric tribes, and he explores this by describing them inaccurately and then making them fight.This book is all about the Picts, or at least his version of the Picts who are Mediterranean in origin and are the eldest extent human group in the British Isles, at least among those that live above ground and are still considered human uh, spoiler But he has a foreword which pretty openly lays out that he s just fascinated with the beginnings of civilization, and he s excited about the Picts less for their own historical nature which he hasn t seriously researched andbecause of what the first humans in the British Isles symbolize to him.The stories are like novelizations of _Diablo_ levels, with the protagonist a different person in every story killing lots of enemies and often marveling at how awesome whichever weapon he s carrying is Sample text Now the superiority of the light Irish ax was proved, for before the Saxon could shift his heavy weapon, the Dalcassian ax lit out like a striking cobra and Athelstane reeled as the edge bit through the corselet into the ribs beneath The stories are extremely preoccupied by race, as the Lord of the Rings is, except that instead of a bunch of fictional races elves, orcs, dwarves, trolls whose good or evil was supernaturally predetermined, Howard s stories have races that actually come out of the history books Romans, Celts, Picts, Vikings , and no one is good everyone is at best an amoral antihero, and they all spend their time grimacing wolfishly, performing various acts in ways that remind the narrator of predatory animals, and then savagely betraying one another while lecturing about how one race descended from another race and how they all hate each other.All the races in the book are white, so the characters spend a lot of time thinking discriminatory thoughts about other races whom they distinguish from themselves by the color of their hair and eyes.I don t know what it says about me that I enjoyed this book a lot


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Worms of the Earth Contents Foreward by Robert E Howard The Lost Race Men of the Shadows Kings of the Night A Song of the Race poem Worms of the Earth Untitled A gray sky arched The Dark Man Cover Illustration Jeff Jones