'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Black God's Shadow by CL Moore.

Jirel of Joiry returns in this direct sequel to CL Moore's the Black God's Kiss. This time she must return to that same place she retrieved her weapon and earn her redemption. Is she worthy of redemption or will the dark claim her as one of their own?

The Black God's Shadow was published in Weird Tales in December of 1934, this time CL Moore didn't get the cover, which was given to Robert E Howard's Conan story, "A Witch Shall be Born".

One of the first things that strikes me about this story is that it is a direct sequel. In my other explorations of pulp literature, being mainly Robert E Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and some HP Lovecraft, this is not really done. Certainly Robert E Howard also has numerous characters that span stories, and in the case of Solomon Kane we have stories following each other in a very specific chronology and we see character development along that chronology. As a direct sequel, this story is dealing with events and ideas raised in the first, and revisits some of the same settings. It is not just another story dealing with the same character later in her life.

Overall I again enjoyed CL Moore's Jirel character, and again I found her journey to pull me along with her and want to join her at it's conclusion, whatever that might be. It again strikes me that over the years more has not been done with Jirel of Joiry.

Within this story are several chase scenes. Although these scenes introduce interesting aspects to the environment she is in and do help to build on the in earthly creepy factor, there were times I felt they were a little drawn out. This flight across the same dark landscape as the first Jirel story also made me feel like more of the same at times. However even with these thoughts, I don't think these possible negatives were strong enough to take away from the story.

Despite the slightly drawn out chases and more of the same dark landscape the story moves well and has good pacing. The writing is excellent and I felt it was little more descriptive than the first Jirel story. Aspects of those chases and the descriptions of the things she faces are awesome and terrifying. I also enjoyed the overarching themes of light and dark, clearly not something new, but cool to see in early fantasy literature.

Jirel is again shown as a powerful and fiery warrior. She again seems to give little thought, or at the very least, little care to venturing from our reality to another to accomplish a task she views as correct. In "The Black God's Kiss" she is tormented by another's action and knows she must strike out and gain her vengeance. In "The Black God's Shadow" knowing her error and haunted by it she knows she must return and undo as much of her error as she can. In both of these she is willing to risk her very soul. To me she is an incredibly engaging character.

If you want to check out some of CL Moore for yourself why not click through to my Amazon affiliate link either through the sidebar or by clicking here?

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