titus crow volume twoBrian Lumley
Tor
1998

Titus Crow and his faithful companion and record-keeper, Henri-Laurent de Marigny, fight the gathering forces of darkness–the infamous and deadly Elder Gods of the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Cthulhu and his dark minions are bent on ruling the Earth. A few puny humans cannot possibly stand against these otherworldly evil gods, yet time after time Titus Crow drives the monsters back into the dark from whence they came.

Volume Two of a series of collections that were released in the later part of the 1990s, containing the novels featuring Brian Lumley’s Cthulhu Mythos investigator Titus Crow–well, kind of. See, that blurb from the back of the book that I included up there? The paragraph in italics? Yeah, that one. Greatly misleading, I’m afraid. You read just that, and one expects a slam-bang couple of adventures where Crow and Marigny throw down with Cthulhu and his minions for severely cheesing off the Old One in the last collection. Nope. Sorry. Though, if you bought this for the cover art itself…I don’t blame you. It’s pretty cool looking.

The first of the two novels contained herein–The Clock of Dreams–picks up where the previous story left off, with Henri-Laurent de Marigny climbing inside the TARDIS…er, I mean the bigger-on-the-inside coffin-shaped clock device that is also a space/time/dimension hopping ship that is totally not a TARDIS, to join his friend Titus Crow and his Elder God girlfriend in Elder Gods Paradise. Only, he takes an unexpected detour when Kthanid–Cthulhu’s benevolent cousin–recruits him to take a trip into the Land of Dreams to rescue Crow and his girlfriend from the clutches of the henchmen of Nyarlathotep (gesundheit). And while Nyarlathotep (gesundheit) and his minions factor into Cthuhlu’s nefarious plans on infiltrating the Land of Dreams, ol’ Tentacle Face doesn’t really make an appearance.

The second story in the collection–Spawn of the Winds–not only does not mention, let alone feature Cthulhu, it doesn’t even mention a very much absent Titus Crow and Friends. Instead, this is a story written from a bunch of psychic transmissions from an agent of the Wilmarth Foundation whose expedition to find the dreaded Walker of the Winds led to being kidnapped by said Old One and taken to a far-off wintry planet, where they join the resistance that’s led by none other than the half-human daughter of said pseudo-deity. Again, I reiterate: there was a serious lack of Titus Crow in a story included in a Titus Crow collection. But I digress.

All pedantism aside, the two Lovecraft Mythos-inspired novels by Brian Lumley are earlier works by the British author, and are entertaining enough as dark fantasy works that plays gleefully in the Cthulhu Cycle sandbox. Mind you, the prose is an interesting shade of purple, especially in The Clock of Dreams. I don’t know if this was deliberate, keeping in the spirit of the original Lovecraft stories that inspired these, or if this just was how Lumley wrote back in the day. Regardless, I’ve read much worse, and the two novels contained were entertaining yarns and flowed pretty well with the faux-Romantic era style, deliberate or not.

And of an item of mere curiosity, it seems that, prior to finding this copy of Titus Crow Volume Two at the 1/2 Price Books, I discovered that I do actually own a 1978 first edition mass paperback copy of Spawn of the Winds that I remember picking up at another used book store in Kansas five years ago. The cover’s a bit worse for wear, but it’s to be expected. And now I realize I sound like a complete book nerd. In any case, Titus Crow Volume Two was a nice detour into Lovecraftian dark fantasy, heavy on the fantasy elements. If you can get past the false advertising of the back cover blurb, this makes for some good bedtime reading.

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