The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Although the plot of The Night Land can be described easily, its depth and vision are impossible to convey. The book opens in the English county of Kent, where a young squire has happily wooed and married Mirdath. Mirdath dies in childbirth. Alone and depressed, the narrator enters a dream state and tunes into the consciousness of a youth living millions of years in the future. Thereafter the narrative shifts to the perspective of this youth, who lives in the Great Redoubt, a vast pyramid protected by an Electric Circle drawn from the dying Earth Current. The Great Redoubt is the last refuge of humanity on a world where the sun has died and the land of eternal night is haunted by the most bizarre creatures ever imagined. The landscape and its monsters are described with almost biblical imagery. The House of Silence, for example, contains “many lights and no sounds,” and the Watching Thing of the south, “a living hill of watchfulness,” had first appeared a million years ago, yet “in no one year could a man perceive that it had moved.”

Occupants of the Great Redoubt believe that long ago there had been another Redoubt, far away, but none knew of its fate. The narrator receives a telepathic cry for help from Naani, a reincarnation of Mirdath who lives in the Lesser Redoubt, which is rapidly failing. First attempts to reach it meet with immediate failure, so the youth sets out alone. It is his quest across the Night Land that is the story...

(The entire section is 409 words.)