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The Burrowers Beneath

Narrated by: Simon Vance
Series: Titus Crow, Book 1
Length: 6 hrs and 3 mins
4 out of 5 stars (206 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For millennia men have strutted their pride over the fragile surface of the Earth, arrogantly proclaiming themselves masters of creation. But now their feeble investigations have disturbed the planet's original rulers far beneath the globe's crust.

©1974 Brian Lumley (P)2016 David N. Wilson

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Awesome Idea, Slightly Disappointing Execution

First of all, Simon Vance! I could listen to that guy read the phone book. So good.

Now, Brian Lumley. He has amazingly cool ideas in the vein of modern, weird horror, and this book is no exception. In execution, he sometimes relies to much on telling rather than showing - robbing the reader of the chilling experience in favor of a kind of intellectual recap. Sadly, this book is no different. I enjoyed the book though. And to be fair, it is no more lacking in direct-experience than Lovecraft himself!

I don't want to share any plot details for fear of spoiling too much. But the basics are that you have an occult investigator/secret agent in your protagonist, Titus Crow, who uncovers a plot 'hatched' (you'll get that pun later) by Chtonians, an ancient and evil subterranean race.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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My take on Mr Lumley's writings..

For sixty years, I have enjoyed books that were almost exclusively science fiction...hundreds of books and some few more than once. Ten, or so, years ago, I happened to purchase two of Brian's books and found them to be delightfully compelling.
I would say that few of that other not dissimilar genre have been as fun and detailed as these. I would love to thank him for the fun and interesting reads that he has provided!
The narration was beyond anything in my experience! Amazing!
I am currently rereading two other of his books and would very much enjoy hearing more of Mr Vance. Thank you for the opportunity to express my appreciation.
W Petersen

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • MagePro
  • AVON, IN, United States
  • 10-09-16

Classic Lovecraftian tales updated!

Moments after starting it, I began to feel the gravitas of the story. Even more than a "names have been changed to protect the innocent" it felt to be a true conveyance of a hidden event.

Simon Vance brings a reality to it all with his narration. What a brilliant sustained performance, one that will set the standards of what quality work both Lumley and Vance have achieved together.

Thank you gentlemen!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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My Favorite Mythos Tome

The Burrowers Beneath was the book that hooked me on the Cthulhu Mythos all those years ago. Not only is it a terrific story, it’s a great introduction to all things Cthulhu.

The Burrowers Beneath is written to more modern tastes than the work of Lovecraft and his correspondents, and offers something seriously lacking in the canon: the heroes have a chance.

I wholly recommend the audiobook. Simon Vance does an expert job conveying the distinctions between the various characters in Lumley’s masterpiece.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • C.T.
  • Ashland, Ky USA
  • 08-28-16

A classic of Mythos fiction brought to your ears

If you could sum up The Burrowers Beneath in three words, what would they be?

The adventure is Pulpish, weird, and incredibly entertaining.

What did you like best about this story?

I was a big fan of the Call of Cthulhu RPG by Chaosium, which this very much feels like an extended campaign thereof.

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is my first. I very much enjoyed it and the narration is top notch.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Simon Vance does an amazing job here by bringing to life Titus Crow, his companion Henri, and the various other characters involved in one of the greatest non-HPL Cthulhu Mythos stories. The Cthonians are one of the most terrifying monsters created for the world and are richly detailed by Lumley throughout.

Any additional comments?

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will get the most out of this story but it functions entirely on its own for newcomers. It also lacks the more troubling aspects of Lovecraft's writings, providing a rich experience which all people can enjoy. This is a great audiobook and every listener who loves horror and adventure stories should give it a try.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Burrower

I don't know why,but this book was not as good as it could have been.I liked the Letter reading ,to a point.We are supposed to be terrified of the Burrowers,but they don't seem that scarey.I liked it.Great narrator.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Terrible.

Although the narrator does a decent job, the content of the book is absolute garbage. Any fan of Lovecraft's work knows that the root of fear is the unknown, or unknowable. This is the defining trait of the Cosmic Horror genre. This is where the author fails miserably. He explains so much about The Burrowers as to make them understandable, and thus, no longer frightening. This is very unfortunate in and of itself, but worse is that he subjects many of Lovecraft's iconic terrors to the same error as well. Combine that with the typical Sherlock Holmes style of trite banter and you've got The Burrowers Beneath.

You've been warned.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Lumley Is An Insult To Eldritch Horror

Brian Lumley takes everything Lovecraft, Smith, and Chambers built and pisses upon it. He applied "good" and "evil" to the eldritch horrors. He took their cosmic mystery and turned them all into the equivalent of the Greek pantheon. And he safely locked away all the "evil" ones so that all of us can live in peace. He spits upon the founders of eldritch horror and deserves nothing from you.

The big three original eldritch horror writers created something new. The whole point of their works was to expose us to a cosmos, a mythos, far beyond our comprehension. They were so far beyond the realm of human understanding, the most we could do was ascribe motives and ideas to them that were never quite accurate.

Let me give you an example. Yog-Sothoth is so colossal in scale, we can barely comprehend it as an idea. It's mysterious because the only interaction we had with it was via proxy. We only ever learned second hand what Yog-Sothoth was. And what we learned was terrifying enough. But the idea that the machinations of the elder gods are comprehensible to us is absurd. The King in Yellow yearns to swallow every world into Carcosa. What happens when he does? How does he do it? How do the other elder gods feel about it? None of that matters. The answers to those questions are not for us tiny flecks of insignificant dust to consider. We'll never understand it and we can't understand it because the elder gods are not quite bound by the same laws of physics and time that we are. No amount of rationalization will ever be accurate. This was the key to their cosmic scale of horror.

What Brian Lumley does is take all the cosmic mythos... and turn it into a Greek pantheon. He made Cthluhu and Tsathoggua into half brothers. He turned King in Yellow into an avatar. He made Nodens a champion of humanity. Lumley gave the elder gods politics and drama. He stripped away all of their cosmic scales into a familiar trope.

If this wasn't enough, Lumley also stripped them all of their power. In this series of works, Lumley goes on to say that all the elder gods are either "good" or "evil". And all the "evil" ones have been locked safely away. LUMLEY APPLIED GOOD AND EVIL TO THE ELDRITCH GODS.

August Dereleth did a lot of damage to the Eldritch mythos. But at least Dereleth kept the genre alive after Lovecraft's death. He served a vital function, even if it came at a hefty price. But Lumley? Lumley straight ignores the work of the founders and has normalized the elder gods. His actions have led to so much misinformation among the public. Screw Brian Lumley and all he did.

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fantastic book atmospheric lovecraftian fun

fantastic book atmospheric lovecraftian fun really enjoyed it and anyone who has read lovecraft or brian lumley will love it.

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Eh

I remember this book being so much better than this. Something about how Lumley is trying to explain away the unknowable and mysterious just doesn't sit with me very well. The blasé treatment of a player of the mythos lessens the whole of the story. I liked the book when I was 13, but now 27 years later with more experience it had lost its bite.

Simon Vance was as amazing as ever. When something is boring they describe it as being akin to "watching flies f*ck*. Well I'd enjoy listening to Vance describe the act.

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  • Stephen Arnott
  • 07-14-19

Decent Lovecraftian story

A good, if somewhat rambling, tale of Lovecraftian horror. There's no single story but a series of narratives that chronicle the Titus Crow's first encounters with the 'burrowers' (together with his friend Henri-Laurent de Marigny) and his later adventures allied with the New England 'Wilmarth Foundation'. I enjoyed it enough to get the second book in the series.

Fantastic narration by Simon Vance. Very impressive.

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  • Napalmtheelf
  • 06-26-19

Loved it

While The Compleat Crow has some great moments, this one's the best in the whole Titus Crow series in my opinion. I've never got on with the Dreamland stuff, even by Lovecraft himself, so something grounded in our world is perfect. Written in the same manner as Call of Cthulhu makes it even better.

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  • Dawn Martin
  • 04-28-19

Great Cuthulu Lives.

Very enjoyable, brilliantly voiced, it's a joy to have Lovecraft's amazing mythos given new twists and angles. Hooked on the Titus Crow series!

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  • Greg
  • 08-14-18

Lumley and Crow find their feet

Of all Lumley's writing this first in the Titus Crow series echoes the style and pacing of an HP Lovecraft story the most, which is appropriate since the series is set within and expands upon the Lovecraft Cosmic Horror Mythos. Having first listened to Book 0 - The Compleat Crow, which is a collection of various short stories, I found this more of a slow start.

Characters communicate mostly by letters which we are privvy to, and when it's not a letter it's very often a Diary or Journal entry. As such there is no one central narrator which takes a little bit of getting used to. Crow himself is such an enjoyable and larger than life character but Lumley seems equally keen to put other supporting characters centre stage and let them tell huge chunks of the story.

Overall I felt like I was reading an author begin to properly get to grips with his character and the style in which this line of books was to distinguish itself from his other writings. Fans of Lovecraft who hunger for more of his particular horrors and want to hear how the modern world dealt with them will very likely enjoy this a lot.

It took me a while to warm up to it, but it won me over in the end. I'm looking forward to listening to more.

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  • ru gardner
  • 10-21-16

Lumley has mastered Cthulhu literature

Simon Vance's naration is eminently appropriate to the material. Gripping listen, finished as quick as I could and will get the others in the series.

I have always enjoyed HP Lovecraft and Brian Lumley carries on his tradition admirably.

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  • Brian
  • 10-06-16

An oldie but a goodie

I first read this book back in the 90s and was very happy to see it on Audible and read by Simon Vance who I really enjoy listening to.

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  • DarkSkies
  • 03-26-17

Great narration...awful writing.

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

The book seems to be written by a 12 year old. There is much better fan fic out there than this. Can't imagine anyone enjoying this drivel. The writer clearly has read Lovecraft but hasn't understood Lovecraft.

What was most disappointing about Brian Lumley’s story?

The terrible writing, ridiculous characters, poor story. Nothing good about it at all.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

Simon Vance is always great but even he couldn't save this one.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Burrowers Beneath?

All of it. Spend six hours on anything other than this.

Any additional comments?

I finished this book out of morbid curiosity and so that you don't have to. Try a different book. Any book.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • susan crane
  • 06-30-16

PLENTY TO CROWE ABOUT!

This is by far the best book I have read in the entire Cthulhu Mythos canon - by Lovecraft or anyone else, and the superb narration by Simon Vance makes it all the more enthralling. The fact this is being typed as I listen for the third time bears testament to that, and the more I hear the more I want to read on.

Written very much in the Lovecraft vein, but thankfully with far less archaic purple prose or swooning male heroes, this thrilling cosmic horror novel was right up my street. Being the first in the Titus Crowe series, it is written in epistolary fashion, leading off with a series of exchanges between Titus and others, before continuing into Henri de-Marigny's notebooks. Marigny is very much the Watson to Crowe's Holmes (not surprisingly, Vance has also narrated several Sherlock Holmes books) and I found the story equally captivating.

The story regards the mysterious disappearance of a noted professor and his "weird writer"nephew following strange tremors which began after said professor unearths mysterious buried globes and brings them home. The globes are actually eggs, belonging to monstrous Cthonian monsters who, not surprisingly, are a bit upset and burrow their way to the surface doing nasty things to any humans they meet - such as removing a living brain and implanting it into a globulous "thing" which then visits Crowe and Henri before dissolving into yuk. Simon Vance deserves his fifth star for this scene alone, a masterly yet poignant performance.

As the first in a series, this book introduced people and organisations which will become regulars in future stories, and I'm already looking forward to book 2. One big query - the monsters are seemingly allergic to water, which doesn't explain why one of the most exciting passages (the attempted sinking of Henri's river boat by a Cthonian) almost succeeds, the monster blithely striking out for the open sea having menacingly attacked them with all tentacles seemingly oblivious to corrosion. Maybe this repulsion doesn't apply to "big poppa"Shudde M'Ell, the leader and the largest of the Burrowers who I'm assuming this was? I'll have to read again, as I'm pretty sure Lumley wouldn't have overlooked this in light of how tightly the rest of the book is written.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Clive Byerley
  • 04-03-19

Interesting concept- but...

An early work and the first in this series. The attempt at a ‘document ‘ based approach has led to clunky and distracting vocabulary that gets in the way of the story; I was waiting for an “he opined” so clumsily nineteenth century was the writing. Ends sudden instead of concluding so rally does not stand alone. A disappointment after Lumley’s wonderful vampire series.