- Bile Fascination: Arguably the only reason it's so well-known.
- Genius Bonus: There really is such a thing as a "scarlet emerald", though it's more commonly known as bixbite or red beryl, and it's not clear if that was what Theis was actually going for.
- Fetish Retardant: With descriptions such as "[Carthena's] sagging nipples" and "the amorphos [sic], broad bleated [sic] female," Fetish Retardant abounds.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: For some readers, The Other Wiki's claim that Jim Theis gave up writing due to not being able to live down the humiliation (and that Theis explicitly said that his feelings had been hurt) makes the story harder to enjoy or laugh at.
- Memetic Badass: The rat Grignr fights.
- Narm: A challenge at Sci-Fi conventions is to read as far as you can in a dramatic voice without laughing. A similar challenge involves inhaling helium beforehand.
- Snark Bait: This book is possibly the worst fantasy short story ever written ever. Terrible in the extreme, only readable with the help of the MST3K crew heckling it... yet somehow, impossible not to read (at least once). In places, it has become tradition to stage competitions of how much people could read with a straight face and expressive voice. Three quarters of a page is considered doing extremely well.
- So Bad, It's Good: Some people think its hilarious. Some... think it's just awful.
(from "People of the Black Circle", to a kidnapped queen saying she has to go back to her kingdom):"Why?" he demanded angrily. "To chafe your rump on golden thrones, and listen to the plaudits of smirking, velvet-skirted fools? Where is the gain? Listen: I was born in the hills of Cimmeria where the people are all barbarians. I have been a mercenary soldier, a corsair, a kozak, and a hundred other things. What king has roamed the countries, fought the battles, loved the women, and won the plunder that I have?"
- Some fans of the genre Theis was attempting say that the concepts behind the story aren't that bad. Theis seems to have been influenced by Robert E. Howard and his Conan the Barbarian stories, particularly "The Tower of the Elephant" (an idol has an enormous jewel which Conan takes), "Queen of the Black Coast" (Conan speaks of having just witnessed an encounter almost exactly like Grignr's in the tavern); "People of the Black Circle" (the shamen), "Rogues in the House" (the hero imprisoned, later using a bone to escape; Conan also languishes in prison in The Hour of the Dragon) and "The Scarlet Citadel" (lengthy explorations in the underground passages). Grignr's declaration that his people live free and wild in the hills without need of decadent baubles is not unlike statements Conan made in several stories:
With a loud crack the rodents head parted from its squirming torso, sending out a sprinking shower of crimson gore, and trailing a slimy string of disjointed vertebrae, snapped trachea, esophagus, and jugular, disjointed hyoid bone, morose purpled stretched hide, and blood seared muscles.
YMMV tropes in Adam Cadre's Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan-MSTing presentation:
- Acceptable Targets: Bob Dornan and Alanis Morissette.
- Not to mention Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood. There's also a snappy reference to the Clinton/Mac Dougall real estate scandal, better known as Whitewatergate.
- Crowning Moment of Funny: This exchange:
...a gusty billow of mirth, he once more concealed the tiny object beneath his loin cloth;Crow: To join the other tiny object beneath his loincloth.Mike: Crow!
- Moment of Awesome: Crow in the second skit.
Mike: Wow! That was really something! Try this: "I have a dream that one day my four little children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Crow - No problem. "As Grignr sleeping, morbid notions prnacing morbidly into his oval. `The reddish orb of heat beng in the crimson sky.' Stated the terrible fetid nightmar. And his ofspring of four — or maybe forty, however it may be — will hav the dark morbid hand of blood juridicating over all of Ecordia. `Not red! Not reddish! not crimson! Not rose red! Not blood red!' Sayeth Dsipk the judge. But by the fetid entrails will the small rodents be accontd."