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The Gods of Pegana, by Lord Dunsany, is an imaginative book of fantasy and one of the most important collections compiled of short stories from the early part of the 20th century. Dunsany, as the second writer to fully exploit the fantasy and adventure of imaginary lands, which include gods, witches, magic and spirits, The God of Pegana is both an important science fiction The Gods of Pegana, by Lord Dunsany, is an imaginative book of fantasy and one of the most important collections compiled of short stories from the early part of the 20th century. Dunsany, as the second writer to fully exploit the fantasy and adventure of imaginary lands, which include gods, witches, magic and spirits, The God of Pegana is both an important science fiction work which is both for its ability to be an excellent collection children's fairy tales as well as sophistcated enough to work well at an adult level.


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The Gods of Pegana, by Lord Dunsany, is an imaginative book of fantasy and one of the most important collections compiled of short stories from the early part of the 20th century. Dunsany, as the second writer to fully exploit the fantasy and adventure of imaginary lands, which include gods, witches, magic and spirits, The God of Pegana is both an important science fiction The Gods of Pegana, by Lord Dunsany, is an imaginative book of fantasy and one of the most important collections compiled of short stories from the early part of the 20th century. Dunsany, as the second writer to fully exploit the fantasy and adventure of imaginary lands, which include gods, witches, magic and spirits, The God of Pegana is both an important science fiction work which is both for its ability to be an excellent collection children's fairy tales as well as sophistcated enough to work well at an adult level.

30 review for The Gods of Pegana

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    A short but ambitious book that attempts to create an entire mythology. Its style, rooted in the fin de siècle', and filled with faux archaism, is charmingly quaint, and its metaphors evoke meditations upon the nature of time and death, dream and creation. This was a favorite book of H.P. Lovecraft, and it is easy to see Dunsany's influence in the names and histories of his gods. A short but ambitious book that attempts to create an entire mythology. Its style, rooted in the fin de siècle', and filled with faux archaism, is charmingly quaint, and its metaphors evoke meditations upon the nature of time and death, dream and creation. This was a favorite book of H.P. Lovecraft, and it is easy to see Dunsany's influence in the names and histories of his gods.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    The Gods of Pegana is an invented pantheon. This slim book by Lord Dunsany has been tremendously influential, having inspired illustrious personages such as H.P.Lovecraft and J.R.R.Tolkien. And the original illustrations by Sidney Sime are classics by themselves. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time, but the actual reading left me a wee bit disappointed; as this is not a story, rather an idea for one. Dunsany has done a tremendous job of world-building. The Gods are all imagined The Gods of Pegana is an invented pantheon. This slim book by Lord Dunsany has been tremendously influential, having inspired illustrious personages such as H.P.Lovecraft and J.R.R.Tolkien. And the original illustrations by Sidney Sime are classics by themselves. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time, but the actual reading left me a wee bit disappointed; as this is not a story, rather an idea for one. Dunsany has done a tremendous job of world-building. The Gods are all imagined in detail and exquisitely developed as characters: the language is appropriately archaic and elliptical: and the events described are sufficiently awe-inspiring. However, the book stops there. No story is developed, other than bits and pieces of legends and myths here and there. The Pegana Gods are loosely modelled on the Celtic Pantheon, as the names indicate. However, MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI who sleeps and dreams up the universe could be a stand-in for Vishnu, the Hindu preserver God, who does the same thing. And there are also gods for dreams and sleep, and even for stroking cats and dogs! The Gods of Pegana has done a wonderful job in providing inspiration for The Silimarillion and the Cthulu mythos. That alone should mark it for immortality. A short and enjoyable read for fantasy/ mythology fans. PS: This book is available for download on the internet archive. Make sure you download the one with the Sidney Sime illustrations... they are magnificent!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny

    Arguably the first book that can be qualified as a fantasy book (not fairy tales). The author influenced a lot of fantasy writers, so if you do not like something in the modern fantasy he is the guy to blame - and the other way around: he is the person to praise for the state of genre. The most direct influence of this book can be seen in The Silmarillion, especially in the part of world creation. So, the plot is fairly simple. A supergod (for the lack of better term) created gods and went to sle Arguably the first book that can be qualified as a fantasy book (not fairy tales). The author influenced a lot of fantasy writers, so if you do not like something in the modern fantasy he is the guy to blame - and the other way around: he is the person to praise for the state of genre. The most direct influence of this book can be seen in The Silmarillion, especially in the part of world creation. So, the plot is fairly simple. A supergod (for the lack of better term) created gods and went to sleep. While he slept, the gods played around creating the world, land, seas, animals, people, etc. The book is a collection of stories of these creations. The book is slightly outdated and fairly difficult to read with 3 solid star rating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nenče

    Om nom nom. I ate this one up - the language is gorgeous and controlled, the myths archetypally resonant yet fresh and original... yummy fantasy tales. My favorite tale is the myth of the Trogool: Also, Sidney Sime's pictures are gorgeous; get a version with his art (or at least look it up online). Om nom nom. I ate this one up - the language is gorgeous and controlled, the myths archetypally resonant yet fresh and original... yummy fantasy tales. My favorite tale is the myth of the Trogool: Also, Sidney Sime's pictures are gorgeous; get a version with his art (or at least look it up online).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Brooke

    The quite short stories that make up ‘The Gods of Pegana’ border on being prose poems. If one expects action and plots, one will be largely disappointed. If one reads for the beauty of the language, for the images and ideas, one may just fall in love with the book. I did, many years ago. The romance has not ended with the latest read. These short, witty, and often insightful tales are as delightful as when I first discovered them. The little stories and the world they create were Dunsany’s first The quite short stories that make up ‘The Gods of Pegana’ border on being prose poems. If one expects action and plots, one will be largely disappointed. If one reads for the beauty of the language, for the images and ideas, one may just fall in love with the book. I did, many years ago. The romance has not ended with the latest read. These short, witty, and often insightful tales are as delightful as when I first discovered them. The little stories and the world they create were Dunsany’s first published collection. One can certainly see the influences – direct or indirect — he had on fantasy writers who followed: H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jack Vance, and, well, just about everybody. But the work has an intrinsic worth well beyond just its inspiration of those who followed. There is a unique vocabulary here, by which I mean not only words and turns of phrase but also a vocabulary of ideas, of metaphors. All of the elements that make up ones 'style' (or lack thereof). There is a beauty to them and an ache for all the beauty of a world beyond our horizons.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    An excellent merge of fantasy and mythology from the man who wrote The King of Elfland's Daughter, Gods of Pegana is a very short and thoroughly enjoyable piece of fantasy fiction from the early days of the modern genre. It's easy to see this book as the predecessor to The Silmarillion, and in many ways Lord Dunsany is the one author prior to Tolkien that's the most similar to him in style. And that, of course, also makes Dunsany the best of the early fantasy writers in my eyes. The tales of the c An excellent merge of fantasy and mythology from the man who wrote The King of Elfland's Daughter, Gods of Pegana is a very short and thoroughly enjoyable piece of fantasy fiction from the early days of the modern genre. It's easy to see this book as the predecessor to The Silmarillion, and in many ways Lord Dunsany is the one author prior to Tolkien that's the most similar to him in style. And that, of course, also makes Dunsany the best of the early fantasy writers in my eyes. The tales of the creation of the worlds and the Gods of Pegana, of Skarl tirelessly beating his drum and of the secrets hidden in the heart of the Seven Deserts beyond Bodrahan, managed to fill up a bunch of pages with an intriguing piece of worldbuilding. And of course, one cannot complain about Dunsany's writing... But ere the day comes back to her own again, and all the conquering armies of the dawn hurl their red lances in the face of the night, Yoharneth-Lahai leaves the sleeping Worlds, and rows back up the River of Silence, that flows from Pegana into the Sea of Silence that lies beyond the Worlds.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Not for everyone, but definitely for me. This isn't so much a collection of short stories as a collection of vignettes and prose poems that, taken together, create a kind of artificial mythology -- kind of a precursor to The Silmarillion but without as much narrative linkage and structure. But the episodes are told in a kind of rich King James Bible-influenced prose that I find almost impossible to resist. Not a recommended jumping-on point for Dunsany -- if you're new to his work, I think you'd Not for everyone, but definitely for me. This isn't so much a collection of short stories as a collection of vignettes and prose poems that, taken together, create a kind of artificial mythology -- kind of a precursor to The Silmarillion but without as much narrative linkage and structure. But the episodes are told in a kind of rich King James Bible-influenced prose that I find almost impossible to resist. Not a recommended jumping-on point for Dunsany -- if you're new to his work, I think you'd be better served with Gods, Men and Ghosts: The Best Supernatural Fiction of Lord Dunsany. But a jewel and a treasure nonetheless.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pallavi Gambhire

    Clearly, this was sort of an inspiration for 'The Silmarillion'. Do not look for a story because there is none ( except if the slumber and awakening of Mana-Yood-Sushai is considered one). Instead look at the brilliant word-play, the ease with which worldly concepts are described and the scope of the world created and it will amaze you. The Gods of Pegana have a voice, unlike the gods in 'The Silmarillion' and they can be unforgiving, unwavering and at times cruel. They are the heroes of the b Clearly, this was sort of an inspiration for 'The Silmarillion'. Do not look for a story because there is none ( except if the slumber and awakening of Mana-Yood-Sushai is considered one). Instead look at the brilliant word-play, the ease with which worldly concepts are described and the scope of the world created and it will amaze you. The Gods of Pegana have a voice, unlike the gods in 'The Silmarillion' and they can be unforgiving, unwavering and at times cruel. They are the heroes of the book, not the innumerable earthlings they create, for not much is spoken about them. I really enjoyed this book and luckily my fondness for Dunsany's language has only increased. Onto his other works now! ( In case you are wondering,'The Worm Ouroboros' is not gripping enough for me yet)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    Pure world building. Before Tolkien wrote The Silmarillion, Lord Dunsany also created his own mythology. It tells of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, who created the gods and now sleeps. At THE END, he will awake and unmake the gods and the worlds. And it tells of the many gods: Of Sish, the destroyer of hours and guardian of Time, that hound of the gods who at THE END shall turn on his masters; of Mung the god of death who makes the sign of Mung before all men; and of the home gods, such as Gribaun, who sits Pure world building. Before Tolkien wrote The Silmarillion, Lord Dunsany also created his own mythology. It tells of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, who created the gods and now sleeps. At THE END, he will awake and unmake the gods and the worlds. And it tells of the many gods: Of Sish, the destroyer of hours and guardian of Time, that hound of the gods who at THE END shall turn on his masters; of Mung the god of death who makes the sign of Mung before all men; and of the home gods, such as Gribaun, who sits in the heart of the fire to turn the wood to ash, and Pitsu, who stroketh the cat. There are also beings who are not gods, such as Trogool, the Thing who sits behind the gods and reads from the book of the Scheme of Things; and Skarl the drummer who sits at the feet of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI and beats his drum. When Skarl stops drumming, MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI shall awaken and unmake the gods and the worlds.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolina

    Ma man's must have been high as hell to create all this stuff!! Not my thing to be honest but respect nonetheless. Ma man's must have been high as hell to create all this stuff!! Not my thing to be honest but respect nonetheless.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Para (wanderer)

    I don't even know how to rate this. It's one of the books that defy simple quantifications. Perhaps because it's not a story, as such. It's pure worldbuilding, a wonderfully inventive mythology written in the style of a religious text, made more authentic by the archaic language and repetition. It's divided roughly into two parts - at the beginning, it deals with the gods themselves, then mostly with their prophets. I found the parts about the gods to be more interesting overall (among the norma I don't even know how to rate this. It's one of the books that defy simple quantifications. Perhaps because it's not a story, as such. It's pure worldbuilding, a wonderfully inventive mythology written in the style of a religious text, made more authentic by the archaic language and repetition. It's divided roughly into two parts - at the beginning, it deals with the gods themselves, then mostly with their prophets. I found the parts about the gods to be more interesting overall (among the normal death, sea, fate, etc. gods, there's are also gods for stroking cats, calming dogs, dust, broken things...), but it's good all the way through. My favourite chapters were probably The Sayings of Slid (water/sea god) and The Deeds of Mung (death god) - they're especially heavy on repetition and parallelism, plus their names are fun to say. I also liked the take on Hell (view spoiler)[ Then said the people to the prophet: "Shall not black hills draw round in some forsaken land, to make a vale-wide cauldron wherein the molten rock shall seethe and roar, and where the crags of mountains shall be hurled upward to the surface and bubble and go down again, that there our enemies may boil for ever?" And the prophet answered: "It is writ large about the bases of Pegana's mountains, upon which sit the gods: 'Thine Enemies Are Forgiven.'" (hide spoiler)] As per recommendation, I listened to it as an audiobook (public domain, librivox), which is divided into seven episodes, twelve minutes each, about the length I can handle. This is one of the books that works better listened to than read, I think. Even though the narrator wasn't perfect. Normally, I find archaic language insufferable and reading it would likely drive me bonkers - but it has a nice cadence to it, like poetry, so listening works very very well. I still kept the ebook open in the background, but I didn't need it too much. More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    A short-story collection with a unified theme: the pantheon of the world of Pegana. The style is reminiscent to that of the King James Bible (one of Dunsany's influences), and also similar to JRR Tolkien's Silmarillion (which was likely influenced by this book). Recommended if you enjoy reading that kind of thing. One of the finest examples, to my knowledge, of mythopoeia (invented mythology) for its own sake, The Gods of Pegana features a lofty and mystical style befitting its subject matter. Th A short-story collection with a unified theme: the pantheon of the world of Pegana. The style is reminiscent to that of the King James Bible (one of Dunsany's influences), and also similar to JRR Tolkien's Silmarillion (which was likely influenced by this book). Recommended if you enjoy reading that kind of thing. One of the finest examples, to my knowledge, of mythopoeia (invented mythology) for its own sake, The Gods of Pegana features a lofty and mystical style befitting its subject matter. The pantheon fits together in an interesting way, with individual gods and beings filling unique roles, like Skarl the Drummer, who drums to preserve the slumber of the all-powerful creative and destructive god MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI. There isn't much plot; it's very focused on the setting Even the characterizations feel more like parts of the setting as opposed to concrete individuals. The book probably would have benefited from the inclusion of a stronger heroic cycle element.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    When a work, that should be accurately described as unadulterated pompous b*****t, gets practically worshipped as one of the most influential writings in English, it's time to realise that either Sir Terry Pratchett has succeeded in moving all of us into the Discworld (possibly some unfathomable pool of stupidity created by those wizards of Unseen University), or else the so-called evaluators (or auditors) of literature have gone ape. Regrettably, the later appears to be more probable. Therefore When a work, that should be accurately described as unadulterated pompous b*****t, gets practically worshipped as one of the most influential writings in English, it's time to realise that either Sir Terry Pratchett has succeeded in moving all of us into the Discworld (possibly some unfathomable pool of stupidity created by those wizards of Unseen University), or else the so-called evaluators (or auditors) of literature have gone ape. Regrettably, the later appears to be more probable. Therefore, please stay away from this awful piece of ****, unless you too wish to act weird. NOT RECOMEENDED.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    The Gods of Pegana is one of those books that I want to like a whole lot more than I actually do. I understand that Dunsany was to some degree using this volume to establish a pantheon that he would re-visit in later works, but by itself The Gods of Pegana is just a little bit too slight, and even when considered as prose poetry, the individual chapters feel under-developed, even if the language itself is indeed beautiful at times. I still intend to read more of Dunsany's work, since he was admir The Gods of Pegana is one of those books that I want to like a whole lot more than I actually do. I understand that Dunsany was to some degree using this volume to establish a pantheon that he would re-visit in later works, but by itself The Gods of Pegana is just a little bit too slight, and even when considered as prose poetry, the individual chapters feel under-developed, even if the language itself is indeed beautiful at times. I still intend to read more of Dunsany's work, since he was admired by a number of writers that I also admire. But here's hoping that his later books have less of a superficial shape and impact!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    I read this book in a stripped-down Kindle edition, so much of the charm from illustrations was lost. As a text, this book is not very exciting nor interesting, save as a study in the development of the Fantasy genre. I didn't feel that I got anything significant out of it. Lacking in narrative, The Gods of Pegana is more a loose collection of fables and writings about a fictional pantheon. I read this book in a stripped-down Kindle edition, so much of the charm from illustrations was lost. As a text, this book is not very exciting nor interesting, save as a study in the development of the Fantasy genre. I didn't feel that I got anything significant out of it. Lacking in narrative, The Gods of Pegana is more a loose collection of fables and writings about a fictional pantheon.

  16. 4 out of 5

    M.

    I really, really enjoyed this work. It is short enough to read in two sittings but deep enough for your imagination to run with. I will read it again because like The Silmarillion, it is not a straight forward narrative but a mythos so you need time to process and imagine everything. You can see it's influence on Tolkien very clearly from it's style and and Lovecraft through the pantheon of gods. Put simply, it's better than the bible. I really, really enjoyed this work. It is short enough to read in two sittings but deep enough for your imagination to run with. I will read it again because like The Silmarillion, it is not a straight forward narrative but a mythos so you need time to process and imagine everything. You can see it's influence on Tolkien very clearly from it's style and and Lovecraft through the pantheon of gods. Put simply, it's better than the bible.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amber Scaife

    In this slim volume, Dunsany created his own pantheon and a bare-bones mythology to go with it. It reads like poorly written Hesiod-inspired fan fiction. And I'll just leave it at that. In this slim volume, Dunsany created his own pantheon and a bare-bones mythology to go with it. It reads like poorly written Hesiod-inspired fan fiction. And I'll just leave it at that.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joshum Harpy

    A seminal work in fantasy, this book exerted an influence on a slew of legendary 20th century fantasy and horror writers including H.P. Lovecraft, Ursula K. Leguin and J.R.R. Tolkien. That, in and of itself, is pretty unfuckwithable, but what drew me to this was my obsession with the illustrations of Sidney Sime. Contemporary with Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, and Arthur Rackham; Sidney Sime took a delicate blend of the popular gothic, fairy tale aesthetic and gave it a brilliantly executed ps A seminal work in fantasy, this book exerted an influence on a slew of legendary 20th century fantasy and horror writers including H.P. Lovecraft, Ursula K. Leguin and J.R.R. Tolkien. That, in and of itself, is pretty unfuckwithable, but what drew me to this was my obsession with the illustrations of Sidney Sime. Contemporary with Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, and Arthur Rackham; Sidney Sime took a delicate blend of the popular gothic, fairy tale aesthetic and gave it a brilliantly executed psychedelic twist. The text is interesting with some satisfying delivery of classic mythological blood and thunder, quite novel in it's unapologetic delivery, but at times falls short of the lofty, spiritual grandeur of it's prose. In form, the book takes a tone of classic mythologies exerting influence from greek tragedy to Hindu Vedas, and maintaining a metered delivery jam packed with epic concepts and subtle poetry, at times stiff, but unwavering in it's commitment to style. The illustrations courtesy of Sidney Sime, in my opinion, elevate this book and mythos to a more engaging level and quite possibly created the stylistic push it took to cement this collaboration in the minds of so many talented writers. All in all, it was a short, easy read that not only gave some satisfying depth and context to many of Sime's illustrations that I love so dearly, but also a compelling glance into a source of inspiration that sparked the imaginations of some of my most beloved writers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alexia Cambaling

    I told myself I want to read some old, classic fantasy and get a feel for how it was written in the late 19th century to the the early 20th century. Turns out, it suffers from something that I really dislike about a lot of classics: the writing feels really dry. As such, what should be a short read took what seemed to be forever. Nevertheless, The Gods of Pegana presented a really interesting mythos with the creator being a sleeping god who will destroy the world when he wakes up. It is a pretty I told myself I want to read some old, classic fantasy and get a feel for how it was written in the late 19th century to the the early 20th century. Turns out, it suffers from something that I really dislike about a lot of classics: the writing feels really dry. As such, what should be a short read took what seemed to be forever. Nevertheless, The Gods of Pegana presented a really interesting mythos with the creator being a sleeping god who will destroy the world when he wakes up. It is a pretty imaginative pantheon of deities with quirks and prophets and interesting stories. Unfortunately, it reads like one of my law books. I read somewhere that Lord Dunsany influenced a lot of later writers and fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien included. I’ll have to read the Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion first to see that but I honestly won’t be surprised if I do see it. I would love to see more stories in Lord Dunsany’s mythos, maybe even read more of his short stories. I’m just hoping I’ll get over the writing style soon because I still have a lot of old fantasy on my TBR and I’d hate to be turned off by something very good because I don’t like how it was written. Still, modern stories in the mythos would be something I’d like to see. I really want to know if there are other writers who wrote about this characters and/or in this setting. Please comment if you know any!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason Mills

    This short book is a sequence of made-up myths (as I suppose all myths are!) about gods and their prophets. Written in Dunsany's elegant prose, the tales are intriguing little thought-provokers. (Calvino's Invisible Cities came to mind as a comparison.) They avoid saying anything very definite or polemical - Dunsany's stuff often has a feel of a gentleman's parlour game, a poetic affectation - but the yarns are lyrical and melancholy, even fatalistic. Here a prophet craves death: And every day an This short book is a sequence of made-up myths (as I suppose all myths are!) about gods and their prophets. Written in Dunsany's elegant prose, the tales are intriguing little thought-provokers. (Calvino's Invisible Cities came to mind as a comparison.) They avoid saying anything very definite or polemical - Dunsany's stuff often has a feel of a gentleman's parlour game, a poetic affectation - but the yarns are lyrical and melancholy, even fatalistic. Here a prophet craves death: And every day and all night long did Yun-Ilara cry aloud: "Ah, now for the hour of the mourning of many, and the pleasant garlands of flowers and the tears, and the moist, dark earth. Ah, for repose down underneath the grass, where the firm feet of the trees grip hold upon the world, where never shall come the wind that now blows through my bones, and the rain shall come warm and trickling, not driven by storm, where is the easeful falling asunder of bone from bone in the dark." Prose cup-cakes that won't change your life, but if you're like me they might sometimes direct your brain down paths less trodden...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    It's interesting to see the roots of fantasy that inspired renowned authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien. Lord Dunsany created an entire pantheon that seeks to explain many mysteries of life such as creation, death, and time. Despite the outdated language and time period that this was written, it was an extremely quick read that can be started and finished in one sitting. There was an overall lack of plot, at least in my perception, hence the two-star rating. I'm also simply not a fa It's interesting to see the roots of fantasy that inspired renowned authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien. Lord Dunsany created an entire pantheon that seeks to explain many mysteries of life such as creation, death, and time. Despite the outdated language and time period that this was written, it was an extremely quick read that can be started and finished in one sitting. There was an overall lack of plot, at least in my perception, hence the two-star rating. I'm also simply not a fan of stories that focus solely on gods and their doings. While I may not have been fully appreciative of the piece, others will enjoy it much more. It helps if classics appeal to you. There was certainly an abundance of metaphor to be found within the somewhat archaic language.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    A short little work of created mythology. The prose in this book is written in an antiquated style which I found perfect. The imagery leaves you filled with a sense of wonder and otherness. This book is not big on plot or characters. Lots of things do happen and there are many characters but the author does not take much time to focus on individuals or events. It reads much like mythology in the sense of being a fantastic history of a place that never was. This is a book that one reads for the pr A short little work of created mythology. The prose in this book is written in an antiquated style which I found perfect. The imagery leaves you filled with a sense of wonder and otherness. This book is not big on plot or characters. Lots of things do happen and there are many characters but the author does not take much time to focus on individuals or events. It reads much like mythology in the sense of being a fantastic history of a place that never was. This is a book that one reads for the prose and the imagery, not for plot and character development. But for anyone who loves the fantastic coupled with beautiful language I would definitely recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    I realize that this is a work of fiction, but it felt like a white man relaying the stories of gods from some South Pacific island. This method of storytelling made for very clunky reading. To make matters worse, I found the content itself to be very unenjoyable.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alma

    The creation of the god "who stroketh the cat" would have earned my adoration for this book, but there is so much more in it. The creation of the god "who stroketh the cat" would have earned my adoration for this book, but there is so much more in it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shalini Nemo

    What a weird book. Intriguing, but weird. I'm glad to have had it as part of my reading life. What a weird book. Intriguing, but weird. I'm glad to have had it as part of my reading life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester Olson

    This is a book that I've reread time and again, usually every year or two. It's a strange one, and there's not much else to compare it to. Ya know the "dramatis personae" section that's included with many books of mythology, prefacing the stories that make up the bulk of those books? The Gods of Pegana has that, too... except that this is, essentially, all that it consists of. Lord Dunsany took the concept of "dramatis personae" and raised it to the level of poetry. Each invented god is beautifu This is a book that I've reread time and again, usually every year or two. It's a strange one, and there's not much else to compare it to. Ya know the "dramatis personae" section that's included with many books of mythology, prefacing the stories that make up the bulk of those books? The Gods of Pegana has that, too... except that this is, essentially, all that it consists of. Lord Dunsany took the concept of "dramatis personae" and raised it to the level of poetry. Each invented god is beautifully described and given its own set of quirks. It actually gets really funny in a bleak kind of way. "Seinfeld" and the "Road Runner" cartoons taught us that nihilism is funny, right? The most notable case is that of Mung, Pegana's god of death. Every time Mung shows up to claim some stupid, arrogant human's life, he "makes the sign of Mung." The repetition involved renders it absurd to the point where I can't help but chuckle. One day as a man trod upon the road that Kib had given him to tread he came suddenly upon Mung. And when Mung said: "I am Mung!" the man cried out: "Alas, that I took this road, for had I gone by any other way then had I not met with Mung." The reader can see where both Lovecraft and Tolkien were inspired by this. Lovecraft, of course, took reign of the nihilistic aspects of indifferent supernatural beings and accelerated that indifference into misanthropy in order to turn them into horrific alien powers that have every interest in enslaving or destroying humanity. Tolkien, on the other hand, took the idea of an invented mythology and tamed it to give it a more traditional flavor that would allow him to capture the essence of old Europe. There's something of Dunsany's Kib in Tolkien's Yavanna, and something of Mana-Yood-Sushai in Illuvatar. It's unfortunate that these influences are mostly what come to mind when The Gods of Pegana is mentioned, because Dunsany's work is a remarkable work of art on its own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I found my way to this book through ExtraCredits' great series, ExtraSciFi. And after reading this, I do see it as a sort of nexus of inspiration. It's always strange to read something that was so obviously formative of the tropes you've taken for granted. I found it dry, but less so than many of the legendariums it inspired, and as someone who spent much of his youth reading mythology, I find it has a verisimilitude its descendants often lack. It reminds me of the Edith Hamilton mythology paperba I found my way to this book through ExtraCredits' great series, ExtraSciFi. And after reading this, I do see it as a sort of nexus of inspiration. It's always strange to read something that was so obviously formative of the tropes you've taken for granted. I found it dry, but less so than many of the legendariums it inspired, and as someone who spent much of his youth reading mythology, I find it has a verisimilitude its descendants often lack. It reminds me of the Edith Hamilton mythology paperback, or the abridged, highly editorialized version of the Eddas that I read back then. It feels like it could be based on what people might have once believed. It is convincing because it tells very simple stories, but hints at the virtues, concerns, and world views of the people who might have believed in it. Four Stars - Perhaps more for its importance and influence than for my enjoyment. (Although, I did enjoy it.) Its brevity keeps it from being too dry to slog through. It is often simple and deliberate, but it is that way by design. And when it's pretty, it's very pretty: "Thy life is long, Eternity is short. "So short that, shouldst thou die and Eternity should pass, and after the passing of Eternity thou shouldst live again, thou wouldst say: 'I closed mine eyes but for an instant.' "There is an eternity behind thee as well as one before. Hast thou bewailed the aeons that passed without thee, who art so much afraid of the aeons that shall pass?"

  28. 4 out of 5

    Seth Kenlon

    An interesting little book. On one hand, its tone is grandiose and important, as you might expect from a book about gods. But on the other hand, the stories themselves aren't, for instance, quite as entertaining as all the wacky drama the Olympians or other pantheons are famous for. So, as a mimicry of an origin story you might find in "modern" holy books, this does really well. This is a pretty small pantheon, and since the stories about the gods themselves are a little bland, it's the structure An interesting little book. On one hand, its tone is grandiose and important, as you might expect from a book about gods. But on the other hand, the stories themselves aren't, for instance, quite as entertaining as all the wacky drama the Olympians or other pantheons are famous for. So, as a mimicry of an origin story you might find in "modern" holy books, this does really well. This is a pretty small pantheon, and since the stories about the gods themselves are a little bland, it's the structure of divinity that stands out. For instance, the prime entity, Mana-Yood-Sushai, was instructed by either Fate or Chance (it is not for us to know which) to create gods. And Mana-Yood-Sushai is so powerful and important that we may not pray to Mana-Yood-Sushai (and besides, if we did, Mana-Yood-Sushai might awaken and destroy all reality). Of the six or seven major gods that are mentioned, whether they're kind to humans or ruthless, none of them allow humans to pray to them, either. The gods meant for humans to pray to are Home Gods. There are thousands of home gods, and they have micro-domains - there's a god for the hearth, a god of petting the cat, a god of silence, and so on. A fascinating relationship is built, and it's an engaging read. Not terribly long, so worth an afternoon. Just don't expect an Olympian soap opera.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    Interesting collection. It starts with some very weird fantasy, and the final few stories are rather prosaic, almost bland. This author is said to have been an important influence on both H. P. Lovecraft and J. R. R. Tolkien. Time is a theme in several of these stories. One of the gods in the creation myth story at the beginning is essentially Time personified. In Carcassonne, a prophet tells the king that he will never conquer Carcassonne. (Here Carcassonne being a sort of fairyland and not the r Interesting collection. It starts with some very weird fantasy, and the final few stories are rather prosaic, almost bland. This author is said to have been an important influence on both H. P. Lovecraft and J. R. R. Tolkien. Time is a theme in several of these stories. One of the gods in the creation myth story at the beginning is essentially Time personified. In Carcassonne, a prophet tells the king that he will never conquer Carcassonne. (Here Carcassonne being a sort of fairyland and not the real city in France "To Carcassonne the elf-kings with their fairies had first retreated from men, and had built it on an evening late in May by blowing their elfin horns"). In spite of that, the king and his army set out to do that very thing. They wander for a long time like the Israelites, their bodies falling in the wilderness. Only the king and his general, now an old man, finally arrive in Carcassonne, too old and frail to do anything. Available for free at Project Gutenburg: The Gods of Pegana by Lord Dunsany

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Nease

    ...What in the holy actual bloody Protestant fuck did I just read? I'll say one thing for this book: it's short. And I'll say another: it's definitely an original concept for a fantasy work. Now I'll say a few other things for it. I now see where H.P. Lovecraft got some of his fuckeduppedness from. It's not as nihilistic or scary as most of his stuff, but it's pretty weird, and these gods are neither as admirable and genuinely likeable as the Norse equivalent nor as lovably, cartoonishly amoral ...What in the holy actual bloody Protestant fuck did I just read? I'll say one thing for this book: it's short. And I'll say another: it's definitely an original concept for a fantasy work. Now I'll say a few other things for it. I now see where H.P. Lovecraft got some of his fuckeduppedness from. It's not as nihilistic or scary as most of his stuff, but it's pretty weird, and these gods are neither as admirable and genuinely likeable as the Norse equivalent nor as lovably, cartoonishly amoral as the Greeks...and Dunsany is not clear on whether they're humanoid or not, which is more unsettling than if he just said they weren't. That uncanniness, if your head is deep enough into the weirder kind of fantasy, is one of the most endearing things about it, and gets into its very cosmology: this sort of feels like a real-world mythology, but you can't quite put your finger on which culture. And even though these gods are hedonistic, they don't seem to have any desires or pleasures outside of their provinces as gods: no carousing with nymphs or getting drunk on new wine, here; visiting mortals with death or old age is all the fun you need. Recommended for anyone who likes Lovecraft or, weirdly, Tolkien: it's a different kind of invented mythology.

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