There is a lot to say about the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion but I wanted to start by highlighting my absolutely favorite piece from the book: The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan, written by Anthony Warren.
Anthony had previously written the monograph Kingdom of the Blind, which inspired me to contact him when the original writer who offered to work on our Keeper’s notes for London back in 2008. Not only did he end up writing London, he took on Shanghai, the Raid on Grey Dragon Island, a history of the Order of the Bloated Woman,and this piece, a reinvention of the Seven Cryptical Books. Let me quote a short section:
Unfortunately for readers despite some superficial similarities with traditional esoteric works, this is no mere catalog of star charts and mystic formulae. There is no apparent theme or structure. The densely packed symbols give no clue where to begin. Often multiple – even conflicting – meanings are possible depending on the direction the text is read. With time and study, however, it becomes apparent this is more of a puzzle than a text. By ignoring or adjusting rules of structure, and by picking apart twists of language and symbol, endless variations can be uncovered.
Anthony took what was a sort of second-rate Pnakotic Manuscript and turned it into a mind-shredding nightmare text worthy of being the center of the war between Jack Brady and Ho Fong. I like the Companion, I love some of its parts, but I really, deeply love this re-imaging. If you haven’t checked out the Companion yet, start on page 436.