Like I said, some people take their Necronomicon's very seriously.

For those of you who don’t know The Necronomicon is not a book of witchcraft (although there are many people out there who will claim that it is), but is a fictional book invented by H.P. Lovecraft for his story “The Hound” which was published in the February 1924 edition of Weird Tales.  This fictional book has since been written, edited, or published by Owlswick Press in 1973, ‘Simon’ in the late 1970s, George Hay in 1978, ‘Petrus de Dacia’ in 1994, and Donald Tyson in 2004.  There has been much controversy over the book because some of the earlier version(espeically the Simon Necronomicon) claim to be actual historical texts and have relatively little to do with Lovecraft’s work.  However, The Necronomicon Files (originally published in 1998 and later revised and expanded in 2003) prove fairly conclusively that, The Necronomicon is a work of fiction invented by Lovecraft for use in his fiction.  This being said, Tyson’s Necronomicon is by far the closest to Lovecraft’s original fiction, and is an interesting read in and of itself.

Alhazred: Author of the Necronomicon is a novel by Tyson portraying the life of the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, the fictional writer of The Necronomicon first introduced in Lovecraft’s story “The Nameless City” published in the November 1921 issue of The Wolverine.  The book follows Alhazred from his life in an Arabian court through his banishment and discovery of the dark Cthulian gods, his death and resurrection, and his eventual mastery of the black arts.  Let it be said at the beginning that this is not a book for children.  Tyson, while not on Lovecraft’s level as an author, grasps the horror of Lovecraft’s Cthulian fiction with great aplomb.

Overall: 5.0/10

Alhazred is long for non-epic fantasy (almost 700 pages) and has several slow points.  If the book were shorter then I would give it a higher rating, but as its length it tends to outweigh its worth.

Writing: 5.5/10

Tyson’s writing in his version of The Necronomicon is very different from his writing in Alhazred.  While his Necronomicon contains an odd mixture of technical and narrative writing it is interesting, informative, and often surprisingly humorous.  On the other hand Alhazred tends to be overly dry and serious.  While is sentence structure is decent, it is not stellar, and his paragraph structure ranges from good to poor and back again through the course of the book.  In Alhazred Tyson tends to be overly wordy.  However, unlike Erikson with whom wordiness feels natural (if annoying at times), Tyson’s wordiness feels forced – as if he is trying to reach a minimum word count and not quite succeeding.

Fictional languages anyone? It was actually common practice in the middle ages for Grimiore authors to insert made up versions of Latin, Hebrew, or Norse letter/words to give their grimiores authenticity.

Characters: 7.0/10

Alhazred is the main character of the book, which should be obvious, and tends to be very dark and brooding (although given what happens to him at the beginning this is understandable).  There are a number of minor character, some of whom lighten the mood of the book, while others push it further into the dismal.  While most of his characters are well-built, and show strong character growth, they also tend to be annoying or unbelievable at times.

World: 9.0/10

This is where Tyson shines.  Both in The Necronomicon and in Alhazred Tyson take Lovecraft’s Cthulian mythos and weaves it into the real world almost seamlessly.    Tyson’s understanding of Lovecraft’s world and gods is phenomenal, and he shows a great ability to make that mythos his own.

Plot: 6.0/10

Alhazred presents itself as a fictional biography.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of real biographies, so fictional ones seem kind of pointless.  The plot of the book follows Alhazred’s life through its many twists and turns, including dying and coming back to life, and while it never feels jumpy, sometimes you can easily see that Alhazred didn’t earn the name ‘the Mad Arab’ because he was an evil genius.

Pacing: 4.0/10

Just because it felt right.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several points in the book where it becomes unnecessarily slow.  In fact there were times when I felt like I was slogging my way through.  This pacing trouble makes the book difficult to read.

Commentary: 3.0/10

Alhazred has some commentary on the necessity of pain and the nature of evil, but all in all this is not a book that you read for the incredible insights.

Conclusion:

If you are a big fan of Lovecraft’s Cthulian mythos, or if you like some of Tyson’s other work, then Alhazred is probably worth reading just for the fun of it.  However, if you’re not already a fan, then Alhazred definitely isn’t the place to start.

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