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The Worm Ouroboros

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison (1922)
This is a pre-Tolkien fantasy classic that I read recently as an e-book. I’m not going to attempt a full review, as plenty of others have done that (notably Georges T Dodds at the SF Site), merely point you in its direction. Classic Fantasy novels were written in the 19th and early 20th century by Eddison, Morris, Donaldson and others, but their works have mostly fallen into relative obscurity. I’d heard of Ouroboros and Eddison from time to time but recently realised that I’d never actually read this book, so downloaded a pdf version (it’s out of copyright).
It’s the sort of book that you’ll either think is great, or dismiss as unreadable. It does have its faults: the prose is very ornate, written in an archaic style, and includes occasional quotations, it’s set on Mercury for no good reason other than having it not set on 20th century Earth, the nations are called Demons, Witches, Goblins etc for no good reason, since they’re all essentially human, and the book starts with a framing narration which the author then seems to forget about. (There is also an invasion fleet which the author seems to have forgotten about.) The uncritical glorification of warfare may offend some readers. On the other hand, the story of intrepid adventure and valiant deeds is just brilliant, and has rarely been equalled anywhere.
So if you are intrigued by the idea of reading a fantasy book that isn’t influenced by Tolkien, isn’t a trilogy, and isn’t 7000 pages long, and has a great story, check this out.

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