Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute

One of my all time favorite literary characters is back! Johannes Cabal, notorious necromancer, reluctant private detective, and generally disdainful fop visits the dreamlands. Almost halfway through, and I have to admit, it's a bit of a slog. Cabal is still at his snarky best, dealing with morons (to him, that covers 98% of the human population) and invoking Nyarlothotep to do his somewhere just south of evil biddings (but well north of morally ambiguous let alone actual good). I think I'm having a hard time adjusting to the setting, which is an expansive dreamland, where the terrestrial characters seemingly act as if they are just on an adventure to Zanzibar rather than IN THE FUCKING MIDDLE OF THE DREAMLANDS! There's a Gaiman-esque quality to it, though that's probably because of my limited frame of reference. But, whereas Gaiman delights in his odd curiosities and characters from the ethereal and borderline mythic lands that he creates, Howard seems to despise them. Makes sense, I suppose, as Cabal hasn't met a person worthy of his scorn, but it gets difficult to really enjoy. Plus, the dreamlands themselves, which make no sense on the surface, don't really make any sense. On one hand, they are the ephemeral landscapes one would sort of suspect, but on the other, the people and places are also a bit too, well, logical. Again, I think this is the intent, but it's a little disconcerting and most of all distracting. I'll probably shift my thoughts fairly quickly as Cabal finds more ways of artfully dodging any serious harm.

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