Monthly Archives: September 2021

The Worm Ouroboros

The Worm Ouroboros is a proto-fantasy (the in the genre sense) novel by E. R. Eddison, originally published in 1922. It is an amalgam of mythological traditions, Greco-Roman epic poetry, and invented fantasy worlds. A historian of fantasy literature could probably draw a line of influence that ran from Dunsany, through Eddison, and to Tolkien. I am not going to talk much more about the story here, though if you are curious Patrick wrote a lengthy post over at False Machine that is worth a read.

The pacing and characterization are occasionally rough going for someone used to contemporary fantasy novels, or even contemporary novels of any kind, but the overall effect is something like if Homer wrote an adventure epic in the early 20th century adventure novel vernacular based on the fever dreams of a five year old.

The real point of this post though is to spotlight a recently released edition of this book by Easton Press, one of the publisher’s 2021 “Reader’s Choice” titles. I do not usually care for the Easton Press house style, which involves aggressively conventional leather binding, extensive gilding, and overly literal cover designs. In this case, however, the style fits the title reasonably well, and Easton Press does at least put out durable products (real leather, stitched bindings, acid-free paper, and so forth). The interior is a facsimile of an earlier (perhaps the first) edition, and includes all the original illustrations by Keith Henderson, which, as black and white line art, also come out tolerably well in reproduction. Given the strangeness of the story, this might end up being the only game in town for someone that wants a more substantial edition. I lack much experience buying from Easton Press directly (this is actually the only book from them I own at the moment), but my understanding is that the Reader’s Choice titles are only available for some unspecified but limited period, and then rarely reprinted.