Literature: Titus Crow

Titus Crow is the main character in the eponymous series of horror fiction books by Brian Lumley. The books are based on HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

In a departure from many Cthulhu Mythos stories, Lumley's characters are not helpless victims of unimaginable forces which can drive humans mad by merely manifesting themselves. Instead, Titus Crow, his friend Henri-Laurent de Marigny, and other Lumley characters confront Cthulhu's minions in a series of increasingly large-scale encounters, in which humans, although outmatched, try to fight back. In a letter to the journal Crypt of Cthulhu,

Lumley wrote:

"I have trouble relating to people who faint at the hint of a bad smell. A meep or glibber doesn't cut it with me. (I love meeps and glibbers, don't get me wrong, but I go looking for what made them!) That's the main difference between my stories...and HPL's. My guys fight back. Also, they like to have a laugh along the way."

Crow has been known to survive any number of encounters with monsters, although he may not always be able to defeat the creatures. For instance, he may fall unconscious upon running into a monster that kills anything that moves. Eventually, his series falls to his sidekick Henri-Laurent de Marigny when he Ascends to a Higher Plane of Existence.

    Novels and collections by Brian Lumley 
  • The Burrowers Beneath (1974)
  • The Transition of Titus Crow (1975)
  • The Clock of Dreams (1978)
  • Spawn of the Winds (1978)
  • In the Moons of Borea (1979)
  • The Compleat Crow (1987). Omnibus collection, which collected the various short stories featuring Crow.
    • "An Item of Supporting Evidence" (1970)
    • "Billy's Oak" (1970)
    • "The Caller of the Black" (1971)
    • "De Marigny's Clock" (1971)
    • "The Mirror of Nitocris" (1971)
    • "Darghud's Doll" (1977)
    • "The Viking's Stone" (1977)
    • "Name and Number" (1982)
    • "The Black Recalled" (1983)
    • "Lord of the Worms" (1983)
  • Elysia (1989). Crossover with the Dreamlands and Primal Land, two other series by Lumley.

Not to be confused with the common object of the AVGN's wrath.
These books contain the following tropes:

  • Apocalyptic Log: Used extensively in The Burrowers Beneath.
  • Ancient Tradition: Not much of an ancient one but the Wilmarth Foundation was founded after the events of The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
  • Artifact of Doom: Inverted with the Clock of Dreams. It's an Artifact of Doom which turns out to be the heroes' best weapon against the Great Old Ones.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Titus Crow goes to live on Elysia with his bride for all eternity.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Horned Men.
    • The Chthonians too.
  • Badass Bookworm: Titus and Henri. The entire Wilmarth Foundation. All of them are extremely well-learned occult scholars.
  • Big Bad: Cthulhu. Notable for the fact that Cthulhu is presented as the Lord of All Great Old Ones rather than just his race.
    • More often, the reigning evil doer in the Titus Crow novels is Ithaqua.
  • Big Good: Kthanid is pretty much the universe's guardian of nobility and justice, being a hyper-friendly Cthulhu. No, seriously.
    • The Wilmarth Foundation's head holds this role before Kthanid's appearance.
  • Black and White Morality: Like Derleth, Lumley's Great Old Ones are a great deal more human than Lovecraft intended. They're all malevolent jerkasses opposed by the saintly Elder Gods.
    • Lumley mixes it up a bit by having "good" examples of the Great Old Ones' races too.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The Wilmarth Foundation's fight takes a heavy toll. By the end of the first novel, Crow and De Marigny almost die when Crow's house is destroyed.
    • One example is five psychics who drive themselves brain dead soothing Sleeping Cthulhu's mind when he threatens to destroy the world.
    • The Great Old Ones are truly immortal so they can only be imprisoned, not killed. Which the Foundation finds out to it's horror when they try to kill Shubb-Miell
    • Miskatonic University is destroyed in a flood in revenge for their interference in the second book.
  • Captain Ersatz: Early on Titus Crow acquires a time clock just about the size of a coffin (or maybe a police telephone box) that allows him to travel anywhere in time and space, controlled by his thoughts, and is Bigger on the Inside. He crashes it, dies and then is given a new, ageless body by an advanced race of robotic life (you could almost say he regenerated). He returns home in the time clock and tells all of this to a companion. He then goes on to have adventures in time and space, combating evil aliens and gods. Does this remind you of someone?
  • Continuity Porn: The Burrowers Beneath is an example of this. Every single Lovecraft story he could even vaguely reference was done so.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Titus Crow is actually something of an example of this as he is rapidly replaced by Henri-Lauren de Marigny.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Averted in the short stories. Prior to the events of The Burrowers Beneath, Crow has no direct contact with the Mythos, save for human sorcerers or agents of the Great Old Ones.
    • Played straight when an organization of human psychic researchers are able to get into a psychic battle with the minds of the Great Old Ones, and not only hold their own against them, but also tire them out.
  • Expy: A lot of them, basically it's every Pulp Hero ever made teaming up against the Mythos.
    • Titus Crow himself seems halfway between Abraham Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, and Doctor Who's Doctor. He even has a Tardis equivalent.
    • Henri-Laurent de Marigny is later the Doctor himself, though he starts off as something equivalent to Watson.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Henri's bride-to-be.
  • Good Counterpart: Kthanid is essentially a good (?!) Cthulhu. Even more than that, he's actually Cthulhu's brother (?!?!?!).
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: A lot of them. One of them is the ultra-hot wind sorceress daughter of a Great Old One (who ISN'T a deformed horror like Lovecraft would state such unions produce but quite the opposite).
    • The 'girl goddess' Tianna is another example.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Very common. Unusually, the main ones are extremely attractive.
  • The Hero: Titus Crow.
  • Killed Off for Real: Peasley in the second book.
  • La Résistance: Against Ithaqua.
  • Lighter and Softer: Odd for a Brian Lumley work, but the humans are remarkably well off despite living in the Mythos-run universe.
  • Lovecraft Lite: One of the big examples of this.
  • May-December Romance: How relationships with Dream people go on the humans side, reversed with Elysians.
  • Occult Detective: Titus Crow, being a scholar of the mystical arts. Henri-Laurent de Marigny is another.
    • All of the heroes have some degree of this.
  • Psychic Powers: Almost all of the protagonists have this.
  • Retcon: Azathoth is the Big Bang and not a monster. Nyarlathotep doesn't exist save as a telepathic network between the Great Old Ones. Shub-Niggurath is just the Great Old Ones ability to have offspring with anything.
  • Shout-Out: Natural for a Mythos work, Lumley includes references to other Mythos tales, including to fellow British Mythos author Ramsey Campbell.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: By The Burrowers Beneath, Crow deduces that the Great Old Ones / Elder Gods are really advanced aliens, and their “magic” simply a higher science.
  • The Watson: Henri-Laurent de Marigny serves as this to Titus Crow. He eventually becomes the lead protagonist.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Chthonians are vulnerable to water.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: The Wilmarth Foundation, a secret society devoted to the destruction of the Cthulhu Cycle.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: Henri-Laurent has a huge case of this.