The Averoigne Chronicles

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The Averoigne Chronicles: The Complete Averoigne Stories of Clark Ashton Smith edited by Ronald S. Hilger

Trade paperback – Hippocampus Press – Jan 2021 – 249 pages

The California poet and fantaisiste Clark Ashton Smith (1893–1961) created many imaginary worlds, but none so imbued with terror and strangeness as the realm of Averoigne, set in medieval France. In the dozen tales of this cycle, Smith found a convenient means to indulge his taste for some of the venerable motifs of supernatural fiction—the witch, the sorcerer, the lamia, the quest for eternal life—while also incorporating elements of anti-religious satire and eroticism.

“A Night in Malnéant” introduces the cycle, where a traveler to Averoigne finds himself falling under the sway of the dead Lady Mariel. “The Holiness of Azedarac” features the Bishop of Nimes, who in spite of his impiety becomes a saint. “The Maker of Gargoyles” tells of gargoyles that may come to life and wreak havoc on the populace.

“The Disinterment of Venus” is a pungent satire on the sexually inexperienced monks of Périgon. “Mother of Toads” exhibits the loathsome Mère Antoinette, a witch who commands legions of toads. “The Beast of Averoigne” and other tales incorporate elements of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos in ingenious and innovative ways.

This volume also includes Smith’s poems and prose poems relating to Averoigne. All the texts have been corrected from previous editions, and the striking artwork of David Ho is also included. Introduced by Gahan Wilson, and with an afterword by Donald Sidney-Fryer, The Averoigne Chronicles is a rich feast of terror and seduction for all devotees of weird fantasy.

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