On Holy Images continues, with more interesting stuff — including a spirited defense of tradition.
The Worm Ouroboros continues as Lessingham the dreamer and his guide, the martlet, come to Lord Juss’ court at Galing. (You’ll find this part very reminiscent of Dunsany. Feel free to skip this portion of the chapter if you’re not a big fan of framing devices — but you might want the martlet’s introductions, so you’ll know who the main characters are.)
At this point, let me explain a couple of quirks. When Eddison sets the story on the planet Mercury, he’s not talking the actual planet. Rather, he’s using it for its symbolic associations with mercuriality. (C.S. Lewis later did similar things in his space series, and so did his bud Williams.) The inhabitants of Demonland, Witchland, and Goblinland are all pretty much humans; they apparently bear these names as remnants of Eddison’s juvenilia about this world. He was too stubborn to change the names he came up with as a little kid, or he’d lived with them too long for them to seem strange. (In other words, don’t give up on Eddison before he’s even started, just because the man has some odd naming quirks. Eddison has quirks much weirder than this, as you will soon see!)
This I will promise you: The Worm Ouroboros is absolutely nothing like the Extruded Fantasy Products we constantly see released today. It’s not influenced by J.R.R., D&D, WoW, or any other acronym; so it will surprise you. And that is why I like pre-Tolkien fantasy.
The Worm Ouroboros begins with “The Induction”. Lessingham the dreamer is also the framing device of other Eddison novels. You can skip him, if you like, as he disappears within the first couple of chapters. (I rather like him now, but he used to annoy me mightily.)
“Les Barricades Mysterieuses” by Couperin can be heard here.
The Worm Ouroboros, originally published in 1922, has risen into the public domain under US copyright law. Since nobody else is reading an audiobook of it, I guess it’s up to me.
What I’m calling the opening credits include the book’s dedication, the opening quote from “Thomas the Rhymer”, and the table of contents.