The Hollow Lands

Michael Moorcock
The Hollow Lands Cover

Hilarious and Heartfelt


The second novel in the Dancers at the End of Time series is more of the same following An Alien Heat; which is to say, it's fantastic and delightful and laugh out loud silly.

Moorcock seems even more in control of his characters this time around, and sometimes it feels as if I could read about the denizens at the End of Time cavorting, chatting, having parties, and going on grand adventures for thousands of pages without getting tired of them. After spending the last novel in their company, all the characters are crisp and funny and unpredictable.

In many ways, the story arc in The Hollow Lands follows that of An Alien Heat, except that the intensity and hilariousness of the events is further ramped up. Moorcock introduces the Lat, a troupe of boorish, juvenile alien musicians and, predictably, all hell breaks loose at the End of Time. All this, plus Jherek is reunited with Mrs. Underwood; and the road leading to their reunion made me pause at times to wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes.

I've grown quite fond of Jherek over the course of these two novels. In the hands of anyone else than Moorcock, his naivete, his obliviousness, might be grating; but here, he is never anything but sympathetic, charming, funny, and endearing. Mrs. Underwood, too, turns out to be more than a mere love interest, and she grows as a character into a strong, young woman, conflicted though she is by the appearance of an immortal in her life.

My small criticism of The Hollow Lands stems from the role of Mrs. Amelia Underwood in the story. I do feel pity for Amelia Underwood, who has very little choice in the matter of being loved by Jherek. Her life gets turned upside down without her never having a voice in whether she desires this up-ending or not. This is a point which I wished Moorcock had explored a little bit more; instead, she begrudgingly opens up to Jherek, basically giving him justification for his relentless pursuit; although, to be fair, he sounds reasonable enough, and respectful enough, that he would have stopped hounding her if Mrs. Underwood had ever stated, with certainty, that she does not love him back.

But nevertheless; what remains of The Hollow Lands is a fun, exciting, well-written adventure romp, filled with aliens, lascivious immortals, wonky time travel, and a comedy of errors in Victorian England. A real treat.