The Transition of Titus Crow is the second book in the Titus Crow series by Brian Lumley. It represents a transition from the first novel's Pulpish but grounded flair to something significantly more cosmic. In a very real way, while The Burrowers Beneath was occult Sherlock Holmes vs. The Cthulhu Mythos, this is more Doctor Who.
This isn't to say the book is bad, far from it. Instead, I would go to say this is some very good classic science fiction which just so happens to be set in the Cthulhu Mythos. It also counteracts some of the more unfortunate themes which H.P. Lovecraft placed in his works. As a modern 21st century fan of his writing, I can still appreciate Lumley taking a moment to contradict what he didn't agree with.
Lovecraftian purists might want to give this one a pass while those who are capable of appreciating a variety of different takes on the Mythos will find it quite enjoyable. Certainly, I derived a great deal of enjoyment from the entirety of the Titus Crow series and its antecedents.
The premise of the book is Henri Laurent de Marginy wakes up ten years after the events of The Burrowers Beneath with no memory of how he got there or what he's been doing for the past decade. Titus Crow and his magical clock is missing as well, depriving Henri of answers until the titular character shows up one day after a harrowing psychic encounter. From there, the book discusses the fantastic journey Titus Crow has been on.
The majority of the book is told in flashback form, the events narrated to Henri by Titus Crow. What is described is a fantastical magical journey from Earth's primordial history to the dying days of the Sun. Titus Crow will have to deal with Ancient Romans, Other Gods, the dreaded Hounds of Tindalos, Yithians, and even a black hole.
The problem is the novel becomes so overtly amazing that it's difficult to really feel much in the way of horror at Titus Crow's situation. He is guided almost every step of the way by Kthanid the Elder God and Tiania the Girl Goddess. These omni-benevolent entities as well as the freakishly powerful abilities of Titus' magic clock make it difficult for us to be worried about our hero. During the novel, no less than two of Lovecraft's "gods" get punched out by its capacities. Once you've made a fool out of them, it's hard to take anything less seriously as a threat.
I'm not too fond of the character Tiania either. Titus Crow's introduced love interest has a personality which mostly consists of how much she loves the hero as well as how perfect she is. The two fall in love at first sight, before either of them has met the other, and seem to have no real interaction but how much they adore the other. As a married man who has to deal with a real woman, I have to say I'm predisposed to find this as preposterous as my wife undoubtedly would find the reverse.
Despite this, I can't be too hard on the book because it is a trippy fantastic journey. The plane of Elysia does not invoke so much cosmic weirdness as a 1970s album fantasy world cover. The sheer staggering breadth of the magnificent vistas Brian Lumley is able to conjure up in a short amount of pages is tremendous. I also enjoyed Titus Crow's awe at the alien sights he viewed, absent the horror and disgust of Lovecraft's protagonists.
In conclusion, The Transition of Titus Crow is not my favorite of the Titus Crow series but there's much to recommend the novel. While I would have preferred more novels like The Burrowers Beneath, I do not begrudge the author for going in a different direction.
Also in the Titus Crow series and reviewed by the United Federation of Charles:
The Burrowers Beneath
The Clock of Dreams
Spawn of the Winds
In the Moons of Borea