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"The Quest of Iranon" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft. It was written on February 28, 1921,[1] and was first published in the July/August 1935 issue of the magazine Galleon. It was later reprinted in Weird Tales in 1939.

Plot summaryEdit

The story is about a golden-haired youth who wanders into the city of Teloth, telling tales of the great city of Aira, where he was prince. While Iranon enjoys singing and telling his tales of wonder, few appreciate it. When a disenfranchised boy named Romnod suggests leaving Teloth to go to the famed city of Oonai (which he thinks may be Aira, now under a different name), Iranon takes him up on his offer.

Iranon and Romnod spend years on their journey to Oonai. Along the way, Romnod grows up while Iranon remains exactly the same. Eventually they reach Oonai, which Iranon is disappointed (although not surprised) to discover is not Aira. Iranon is loved by the people in Oonai, however, so he stays there even though he still desires to return to Aira. As the years pass, people appreciate him less and less, and he is eventually upstaged by dancers from the desert. By this point, Romnod has grown old and has become a drunkard. After Romnod's death, Iranon decides to leave Oonai and continue his search for Aira.

Eventually Iranon comes across an old shepherd and asks him if he knows of Aira. The shepherd tells him that he has indeed heard of it, for in his youth there was a beggar's boy who had always talked about it. The boy, who thought he was a prince, was laughed at by everyone and ran away.

With the truth revealed, that Aira was merely a figment of his imagination, Iranon loses his eternal youth. Now aged significantly, Iranon wanders into the quicksands to his death.

CharactersEdit

  • Iranon - A vine-crowned, yellow haired wanderer dressed in a purple robe. Though he believed himself to be an eciled prince from Aira he in fact grew up poor in the countryside.
  • Athok the cobbler - A resident of Teloth.
  • Romnod - A young man from Teloth who left the city to travel with Iranon. Growing old over the course of their journey he fell prey to the excesses of Oonai and died red and fattened, writhing in a banquet-couch.
  • The King of Oonai
  • The old shepherd

LocationsEdit

The following places are listed in the order of Iranon's travels rather than their appearance in the story.

  • Aira - A beautiful city of veined and tinted marble and beryl with golden domed palaces and painted walls, surrounded by green gardens with cerulean pools and crystal fountains. The city and perhaps its surrounding geography was imagined by Iranon.
    • Nithra - A river that curves by the groves of Aira.
    • Kra - A tiny stream with a small waterfall in the valley by Aira.
  • The Xari - A long frigid river
    • The valley of Narthos
    • Sinara - A city on the southern slope of the river occupied by dromedary-men in the market-place. Iranon claims that the people of Sinara were all drunken and ribald.
    • Jaren - A city surronded with onyx-walls.
  • Stethelos - A place below the great cataract
  • Sarnath - Once a great city that has long since been reduced to a marsh.
  • The Ai - A winding river
    • Thraa
    • Ilarnek
    • Kadatheron
  • Olathoë - A city in the land of Lomar.
  • Teloth - A dull granite city run by archons where unemployment is outlawed by order of the gods. According to their beliefs a life of toil will be rewarded with an eternity of cold calm.
    • Tower of Mlin- A structure standing over the square in Teloth.
    • Zuro - A sluggish river that runs through the city.
  • Karthian hills - The land between Teloth and Oonai that takes years to cross.
  • Oonai - The city of lutes and dancing lit in the evenings by glaring lights. In the daylight it and its people are grey and worn out.
    • The Halls of the Monarch - A palace with the frescoed rooms and a crystal dais raised over a mirrored floor.
  • Cydathria - A land with several cities.
  • The Bnazic desert

Places not visited by Iranon

  • The Liranian desert - Home to the dancers who replaced Iranon in Oonai.
  • Drinen - The eastern home of the flute players who replaced Iranon in Oonai.

ContinuityEdit

Iranon has "dwelt long in Olathoë in the land of Lomar." (HPL: "Polaris") This suggests that "The Quest of Iranon" takes place in the same world and era as "Polaris", that is, in a prehistoric Earth c. 24,000 BC.[2] Iranon also declared "I...have gazed on the marsh where Sarnath once stood," a reference to "The Doom That Came to Sarnath".

Critical reactionEdit

An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia calls "Iranon" "among the best of HPL's Dunsanian imitations."

NotesEdit

  1. "Lovecraft's Fiction (chronological order)", The H. P. Lovecraft Archive.
  2. S. T. Joshi, "The Real World and the Dream World in Lovecraft", The Horror of It All, p. 18-31.


ReferencesEdit

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