Monday, June 17, 2013

An Eldritch Education: "The Quest of Iranon"

Spooky Synopsis: Across the face of the wide, wide land, a youth named Iranon roams, and always he seeks the same thing, a distant city called Aira. This dwelling, which he remembers but dimly, is a place of golden domes and marble houses, of citizens radiant as the luminescent moon and soft song floating down the silvered streets. Yet try as he might, Iranon has not yet found his beloved city, though in stoic Teloth -- where the gods demand all men labor and no one yearns for the beauty so dear to Iranon -- he discovered a boy named Romnod who seeks the same sort of transcendence. Together they vow to find what their hearts desire even if the journey lasts a lifetime ...

Lovecraftian Language: "'O Aira, city of marble and beryl, how many are they beauties! How loved I the warm and fragrant groves across the hyaline Nithra, and the falls of the tiny Kra that flowed through the verdant valley! In those groves and in that vale the children wove wreaths for one another, and at dusk I dreamed strange dreams under the yath-trees on the mountain as I saw below me the lights of the city, and the curving Nithra reflecting a ribbon of stars.'"

Eerie Evaluation: "The Quest of Iranon" follows in much the same fantastic mold as "The White Ship," with lots of lush language describing newly imagined locations. Had Lovecraft given in to his usual over-expansive diction, the story would've quickly become interminable. However, he kept the pacing relatively brisk, and if Iranon gets a little wordy here and there, he's soon off to another adventure. He has to be: The tale clocks in at six pages in my edition. But it falls flat on its face -- and I mean slip-on-a-banana-peel-then-plunge-headfirst-into-rush-hour-traffic flat -- with the ending. Yes, sad conclusions are all well and good, and "The White Ship" managed one full of feeling and poignancy. "The Quest of Iranon" doesn't. Lovecraft attempts it, but he remains too committed to his nihilism to make Iranon's end feel like inevitable foolishness, a plunge into the void, seeking everything and finding nothing.

Number of Sanity-Shredding Shoggoths (out of five):

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To visit the story index for "An Eldritch Education" (my year spent reading H.P. Lovecraft's work), please click here.

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