9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Not my favorite but perhaps HPL's best,
This review is from: Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath (Mass Market Paperback)
"The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" is perhaps Lovecraft's greatest piece of fiction; it certainly is a culmination of the Dunsanian fantasy pieces he wrote early in his career, several of which are also featured in this collection. While I recognize the seminal importance of "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," I must also say that I find it a particularly difficult read; if my powers of concentration are less than 100%, I simply can't make heads or tails of the story. Perhaps my trouble is a personal idiosyncrasy, but this novella is certainly complex and not well suited for the casual reader. The story describes Randolph Carter's obsessive search for the abode of earth's gods on mystical Kadath and his determination to find and abide in a glorious city he has seen in his dreams. Carter is a proficient dreamer, and his journey introduces us to important denizens and personalities in the dream world. Unafraid, Carter sets himself to brave a meeting even with Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. There are monstrous creatures and horrible vistas brought to life in these pages, but the entire dreamlike atmosphere of the story seems to rise up and cover my mind with mists that force me to reread passages in order to maintain my focus. While I don't necessarily enjoy this story in the normal sense of the word, I do regard it as a grand achievement by the author.
The other stories in the collection also take us to the dream world created by Lovecraft. "The Silver Key" and "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (written in collaboration with E. Hoffman Price) reveal much of the history of Randolph Carter and offer glimpses of other dream quests he embarked on in life. "Celephais" tells of the dream world town ruled by King Kuranes, a former earthly acquaintance of Randolph Carter, and "The Strange High House in the Mist" contains references to the dream world Carter explored. Only "The White Ship" does not relate in some way to Carter's travels.
One simply should not read "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" without first reading a number of other related stories, several of which are unfortunately not contained in this volume (such as "The Other Gods," "The Cats of Ulthar," "Pickman's Model," and most especially "The Statement of Randolph Carter"). This book requires work on the part of the reader due to its unique complexity. Lovecraft's horror stories are much more appealing to me than the fantasy stories collected here, yet Lovecraft's true genius and talent are most easily discerned by a reading of "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath."