The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In The Worm Ouroboros, E. R. Eddison tells the tale of Lord Juss and his quests as well as of the battles between the lords of Demonland and King Gorice and his minions from Witchland. The novel begins somewhat awkwardly, in an idyllic English country home of a man named Lessingham. Within the house is the Lotus Room, a magical place that allows the sleeper access to faraway lands. One evening, Lessingham journeys to the planet Mercury and to Juss’s castle in Demonland.

Lessingham’s Mercury has nothing to do with the real planet. It is populated by many peoples, and it has numerous kingdoms, including Demonland, Goblinland, Witchland, Impland, and Pixeyland. The horrible Ghouls have recently been destroyed by the Demons. Juss is lord of Demonland. He and his brothers, Goldry Bluszco and Spitfire, are noble aristocrats, along with Brandoch Daha. Their calling in life is that of glorious battle. Witchland is the opponent, ruled by a line of kings all named Gorice. Gorice XI and Gorice XII are the foils in The Worm Ouroboros.

In this fantasy world, which echoes medieval feudalism, the plot turns on the demand of the kings of Witchland for recognition by the rulers of Demonland and the other lands as their overlord or high king. A delegation has been sent by Gorice XI to Lord Juss’s court, demanding homage. Juss refuses, and Goldry Bluszco subsequently defeats and kills Gorice XI in single combat. In his castle keep at...

(The entire section is 527 words.)