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The Burrowers Beneath

Novel by Brian Lumley (England) 1974.

Following the discovery of unexplained tunnels and 'cave-pearls' in the disused Harden mine, occultist Titus Crow becomes aware that the famed Cthulhu cycle of myth is, unfortunately, not mere myth. Together with his friend Henri-Laurent de Marigny, Crow researches earth tremors and forbidden books and comes to frightening conclusions. With the arrival of Wingate Peaslee and the Wilmarth Foundation, based at the famed Miskatonic University, this turns into a search-and-destroy mission with the Cthulhu deities (notably Shudde-M'ell and his minions) as targets.

Former military policeman Brian Lumley is well read in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, including their subsequent elaboration by myriad hands (including his own), and integrates them into a superb, believable and original plot. He seems to revel in the traditional style that such stories seem to demand, but slips in one more modern device: he nukes the bad guys. There are many books that are difficult to put down, not so many that you physically have to put down in order to cope with the concepts involved, before frantically resuming reading: this is one. If you have at least a passing interest in Lovecraft and the Weird Tales sub-genre (and, by God, if you're reading this you ought to) then this is nigh on perfection. Lovecraft was a genius, Lumley is a genius, and this is essential reading about as essential as it comes.

As with much of Brian Lumley's work, the series of which this is the first part is fiendishly complicated. Its immediate sequel is The Transition of Titus Crow (1975) which is more of a weird time travel adventure novel. The Clock of Dreams (1978) continued this before heading into fantasy, which is where Spawn of the Winds (1978) lies. Fifth in the series is In the Moons of Borea (1979), an interplanetary adventure in the Edgar Rice Burroughs style. The Titus Crow short stories are collected in The Compleat Crow. Not part of this series, but interconnected, are his Hero and Eldin books (Ship of Dreams, Hero of Dreams, Mad Moon of Dreams and Iced on Aran) which are set in Lovecraft's Dreamlands, the location of much of The Clock of Dreams; and his Tales of the Primal Land series (The House of Cthulhu, Tarra Khash, Hrossak! and Sorcery in Shad), barbarian epics set in a notably Lovecraftian world. On top of all this was a final novel, Elysia (1989) which ties all three series together, and not only puts the finishing touches to those, but also to the entire Cthulhu Mythos.

Other relevant novels in a Lovecraftian vein are Beneath the Moors and The Return of the Deep Ones, and the enthusiast should also look to the poetry collection Ghoul Warning and numerous short stories in The Caller of the Black, Fruiting Bodies and Other Fungi, Dagon's Bell and Other Discords and Second Wish and Other Exhalations as well as in many modern weird fiction magazines and Arkham House anthologies. Brian Lumley's entire ï¿œuvre, and his Mythos books in particular, define the word 'scope'. The Englishman born in the year that Lovecraft died has become the perfect instrument to continue, expand and improve on (oh yes, sacrilege!) his mentor's regrettably small amount of work.

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