Donald Tyson

Llewellyn Publications
Trade Paperback; 269 pages; $17.95, 2004
Reviewed by Steve Vernon

For one such as myself who has spent a great deal of time mulling over such archaic documents as Von Junzt’s Nameless Cults and the Dusseldorf Black Book, (the original of course, not the cheap and faulty London translation), it was a pleasant surprise to come across this modern edition of a volume that has been, up to this point, quite unattainable.

I am speaking, of course, of Alhazred’s fabled tome – The Necronomicon. I am happy to announce that this hitherto unaccessible volume has been carefully translated in the obscene depths of Nova Scotia by the legendary maritime scribe, Donald Tyson. I have a few quibbles with the text in general. Why wasn’t it bound in the customary chains, locks and human skin binding, instead of the dark leather-like pasteboard cover provided by the Llewellyn monks? Why were there no sound-chips installed within the pages to add howling sounds of thrice-damned spirits when ever the book is opened?

I kid. The book is written in a kind of fictional nonfiction style. Think about Jorge Luis Borges famous The Book of Imaginary Beings and you will be close to the tone that Tyson adopts. In this volume Tyson adopts the voice of someone who has seen the darkness behind the stars and glimpsed the face of Cthulhu himself. Tyson offers a cook’s tour of the Lovecraftian universe – a tour that is authentic in tone and painstakingly researched.

This volume comes complete with a prefactory note from Olaus Wormius. That in itself must have required considerable dark magic, for the old thaumaturge has been dead these past three centuries. I also enjoyed the brief biography of the mad monk’s existence on this plane as it was recorded by Theodorus Philetas.

The translation proved sound, and the text included a map of the old Arab’s wanderings, a description and explanation of each of the fabled celestial portals, a chapter describing each and every one of the unnameable beings, (you know who they are, I don’t want to name drop), and a mass of joyous detail.

Fans of that narrow-jawed Rhode Island scribe-of-sorts Lovecraft will be pleased to recognize dozens of thinly veiled reference to the author’s various scribblings. Of course a grain of salt must be offered, because as you know he mostly wrote fiction.

More serious scholars will appreciate the infinite detail that Tyson has gone into the detailing of each and every aspect of mythophysical knowledge, detailing the lands and realms that lie beyond the known. Detailed illustrations and concise prose lend readily to the enjoyment of this weighty tome.

Llewellyn Publications and Tyson have followed this book up with a 2007 release of a genuine Necronomicon Tarot Deck that is truly a joy to behold. The images are both dark and wondrous. Some of the connections between Tarot and Lovecraft are a little strained but the deck is fun to use and absolutely gorgeous to look at. You’ll want to just sit and flip through the deck, again and again, caught up in a rare illustrated tour of Lovecraft’s mind-blowingly fathomless imagination.

I recommend both this volume and the Tarot deck for scholars of the unameable knowledge and of course to all of you scribblers who are determined to follow in the Leng-bound footsteps of that gentleman from Providence – H.P. Lovecraft.

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