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Grimoire of the Necronomicon
Donald Tyson
Llewellyn Publications, 194 pages

Grimoire of the Necronomicon
Donald Tyson
Donald Tyson is from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Early in life he was drawn to science by an intense fascination with astronomy, building a telescope by hand when he was eight. He began university seeking a science degree, but became disillusioned with the aridity and futility of a mechanistic view of the universe and shifted his major to English. After graduating with honors he has pursued a writing career. Now he devotes his life to the attainment of a complete gnosis of the art of magic in theory and practice.

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Donald Tyson's aim in writing the Grimoire of the Necronomicon was to create a workable system of worship and basic based around H.P Lovecraft's Cthulu Mythos stories. Or, as Tyson postulates, around H.P Lovecraft's revelations.

In the beginning there was Order, overseen by the piping God Azathoth, his daughter Barbelzoa and the thirteen gods who danced around his throne. Thirteen, a fan of Lovecraft might query, but surely there are only twelve blind and idiot gods in attendance on the Nuclear Chaos? Not to mention, the daughter? In Tyson's mythos, the Crawling Chaos, Nyarlathotep, was originally one of the dancing gods, before they were either blind or idiot -- the conjoined twin of Galila. Driven by lust for bright Barbelzoa, Nyarlathotep used his magic to cast the other gods into slumber and raped the goddess. She was consumed by shame and cast herself down from her throne, plunging through the planes of reality and drawing her essence in tighter and tighter to herself, until in time she became our earth.

When Azathoth awoke and found his daughter gone, he went mad, taking the now-twelve gods along with him, and chaos took the place of order. This suited Nyarlathotep's tastes well, but his service to Azathoth chafed more than ever and he still yearned for Barbelzoa. So he set the Old Ones to lift Barbelzoa back up from the pit of stars to her throne, only to do so all life on Earth must be destroyed or changed by hybridising with the Old Ones.

Working on the theory that Lovecraft's dreams were actually glimpses into the world of the Elder Gods, Tyson fleshes out the mythology of the gods -- using fairly familiar archetypes -- crafts a valid reason for humans to worship them and lays out a structured, formal framework for both the rituals and hierarchy in the Order of the Old Ones.

Grimoire of the Necronomicon is also a fairly enjoyable read in itself. There were a few places where it didn't ring true for me: Barbelzoa's "shame" seemed a contrived element and I felt that more alien motivations would have been truer to the Mythos and I also preferred Lovecraft's iteration of the Crawling Chaos to the Loki/Satan archetype that appears here. Still, it is a comprehensive work for anyone interested in worshipping the Elder Gods -- despite the fact that never seemed to end well in Lovecraft's stories -- or in using the Order of the Old Ones in your novel or RPG. Tyson's Grimoire of the Necromicon would certainly make an excellent primer on how to build a religion for any writers out there. He covers nearly every element required to create a cohesive and convincing religious system -- from the mythology behind it, the characteristics each god embodied and the various rites, both ceremonial and magical, required.

Copyright © 2008 Tammy Moore

Tammy Moore is a speculative fiction writer based in Belfast. She writes reviews for Verbal Magazine, Crime Scene NI and Green Man Review. Her first book The Even -- written by Tammy Moore and illustrated by Stephanie Law -- is to be published by Morrigan Books September 2008.


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