Short Story #382: The Other Gods by H. P. Lovecraft
Title: The Other Gods
Author: H. P. Lovecraft
Summary:The story begins by describing how the gods love to gather on mountain tops but that man has continually chased them away in an attempt to see them. Finally, they have found the last and highest mountain, Kadath, far removed so they can gather. But Barzai the Wise, a prophet of Ulthar has finally determined not only where the gods gather but the best time to approach the mountain to witness the gods. With the help of Atal, the high priest, they journey forward to the mountain and set to scale mountain. The climb is treacherous but the elderly Barzai climbs it with energy and excitement. Atal follows but the distance increasingly lengthens. As they get above the cloud line, Atal can only hear Barzai and his fervor as he gets closer to the peak. At one point, the orientation of the mountain changes and it feels almost as if they are no longer scaling up but going down. It's at this point that Barzai proclaims he is close to seeing the gods gather and dance. However, his hysteria turns to horror as he encounters the Other Gods, the gods of hell who protect the gods of earth in the mountain. He cries in terror as he claims to be falling into the sky. He is never heard from again and Atal returns. Later, when there is no eclipse and it is a clear day, the men of Ulthar and elsewhere scale the mountain looking for Barzai and find nothing but a large stone symbol that also appears in the Pnakotic Manuscripts.
ReflectionIt's a curious but simple tale warning to beware of the gods. We never fully get attached to Barzai or Atal and therefore, their loss is interesting but not meaningful. It feels a bit short and underdeveloped as tales go. Lovecraft seems too interested in weaving a mythology for his readers--which is important and useful across his texts but in this one, the lack of real emotional pull toward the two men means what they experience seems less compelling.
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Source: I read this version of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too). However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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