The Twilight of the Grey Gods
Infobox short story
name = The Twilight of the Grey Gods
The Grey God Passes
Robert E. Howard
language = English
Turlogh Dubh O'Brien
Low Fantasy short story
published_in = "Dark Mind, Dark Heart"
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pub_date = 1962
"The Twilight of the Grey Gods", also known as "The Grey God Passes", is a
short storyby Robert E. Howardthat blends history and fantasy. Published posthumously in 1972, the first appearance of the story was in a collection titled "Dark Mind, Dark Heart", edited by August Derleth. [ [http://www.howardworks.com/storyg.htm#grey Works of Robert E. Howard] , The Grey God Passes, retrieved 16 August, 2007]
The tale is a fictionalized version of the
Battle of Clontarfrecast in Howard's views, with doomful vision and fantasy elements. While the historical facts of the battle are accurate, they are not the most important parts of the story. The main protagonist is Turlogh Dubh O'Brien, a recurring character of Howard's who is an outcast from Brian Boru's own clan.
Howard also wrote a version of this story, called "Spears of Clontarf", with the fantastic elements removed. This version first saw print in a
chapbookin 1978. [ [http://www.howardworks.com/storysm.htm#spea2 Works of Robert E. Howard] , Spears of Clontarf, retrieved 16 August, 2007]
The core of the story, as indicated by the title, is the end of the influence of supernatural beings from our world with the victory of
ChristianKing Brian over the heathen Vikings. Among the Irish dead is a fey prince whose own death will cause the death of his fairylover, a metaphor for the waning away of all the Sidhe. Odinhimself makes an impressive and doomful appearance, making the battle a Götterdämmerung. This is more Wagnerian in tone than the utter end of the world predicted for Ragnarök, though it is indeed the end of a world.
While little known, this story can be regarded as a turning point in the timeline of Howard's universe. While even in his stories that take place in incredibly ancient times, the horror, supernatural and
Cthulhu mythoselements are seen as survivals from older, more horrible epochs. It can be perceived that in stories that take place later, such elements are viewed as even more horrible and abnormal. (Compare the view of the supernatural in the Kull or Conan the Barbarianstories, with that in the Solomon Kanetales or in " The Black Stone" or " The Children of the Night" for instance.) The notable exception being " Worms of the Earth" where, in the fourth or fifth century, even a hard bitten hero like Bran Mak Mornfinds horror beyond his ability to stand.
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