THE VALLEY OF THE WORM is a short story by Howard. While it does not namecheck any specific Mythos entities or books, it features a monstrous and extremely powerful “cosmic horror” referred to as The Worm, a creature white squamous and gigantic monster that “looked somewhat more like a worm than it did an octopus, a serpent or a dinosaur.”

Howard sold the story to Weird Tales and got $80 for it.

“The Valley of the Worm” is a vivid and richly detailed short story by Robert E. Howard that combines elements of fantasy, mythology, and horror. It narrates the tale of James Allison, who, on his deathbed, recollects a past life as Niord, a heroic figure of a bygone age.

The story is a compelling blend of action, supernatural elements, and Howard’s characteristic vivid storytelling, exploring themes of destiny, reincarnation, and the eternal struggle against dark, ancient forces.

Plot summary

The story begins with James Allison, lying on his deathbed, reminiscing about his past lives. He believes he has lived through many incarnations, always as a member of the Aryan or Nordheimer race. Allison recalls a specific life as Niord, a powerful warrior, and his encounter with a horrific, demonic entity known as the Worm.

In his past life as Niord, he was part of a tribe of Nordheimer, wandering the world. They encounter a tribe of Picts, with whom they eventually make peace. Niord befriends a Pict named Grom and has many adventures with him, including a confrontation with a massive serpent called Satha, which Niord eventually kills.

Tragedy strikes when Niord’s friend Bragi and his clan settle in the Valley of the Worm, an area feared and avoided by the Picts due to an ancient, monstrous entity. The clan is savagely massacred by the Worm, prompting Niord to seek vengeance. He uses the venom of the slain serpent Satha to poison his arrows and confronts the Worm and its bizarre, fur-covered servant in their temple. After a fierce battle, Niord mortally wounds the Worm. The temple collapses, burying the Worm and marking the end of its reign of terror. Niord, severely injured, instructs Grom to build a cairn for him in the valley to guard it eternally.


  • James Allison/Niord: The protagonist who recalls his past life as Niord, a powerful warrior of the Nordheimer race, determined to avenge the massacre of his people.
  • Grom: A Pictish warrior, friend, and hunting companion of Niord. He provides information about the Worm and assists Niord in his quest.
  • Bragi: A member of Niord’s tribe who leads a group to settle in the Valley of the Worm, ultimately leading to their destruction.
  • The Worm: An ancient, demonic entity, dwelling in the Valley of the Worm, responsible for the massacre of Bragi’s clan and the subject of Niord’s vengeance.
  • Fur-covered Servant: A bizarre creature that serves the Worm, playing demonic pipes. Killed by Niord during the final battle.


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