This was possibly a 70s/80s fantasy novel, with the sort of airbrushed/oil-painted realist fantasy landscape covers that were popular at the time. The cover art I think was a large green plain with purple hazy sunrise and some alien pterodactyls flying in the distance.

The novel is about a young boy whose father is kidnapped by yeti-like creatures at the beginning. He doesn't seem to have much sympathy for the father, feeling embarrased that he was not a warrior who went down fighting. The technological level seems to be early human (bows and swords.)

He later joins a cave community which is quite religious and prohibits travel through the interior tunnels because of a giant worm that is known to traverse these tunnels. He disobeys and takes some others on a journey through them. That's as far as I got.

Sadly, when I got back to reading this book one Christmas, my folks had sold all their sci fi books off and I haven't found it again since.


1 Answer 1


This sounds a lot like the beginning of Helliconia Spring by Brian Aldiss, published in 1982.

The Yeti-like antagonist creatures are called phagors. They are humanoid creatures with white fur and horns and they often fight and enslave humans. The book opens with young boy named Yuli going on a hunt with his father Alehaw. They get ambushed by a group of phagors and Yuli’s father is captured. Yuli is frustrated that his father does not fight back:

He could not understand why Alehaw did not break from his captors and run back downhill; then he could grasp his spear again, and together the two of them would stand side by side and kill all the shaggy phagors.

Eventually, Yuli is found by other humans and goes to live in an underground city called Pannoval, which is built inside a large cave:

Never would he forget his entry into Pannoval, and his passing from the world under the sky. (...) Everywhere was stone, stone carved into walls and divisions, stalls, houses, pens, and flights of steps—for this great mysterious cave tipped away up towards the interior of the mountain, and had been hewn over the centuries into small level squares, each separated from the next by step and flanking walls.

The Pannoval society is religious and very repressive. Later, Yuli decides to escape the city. He gathers a group of people and they escape through the underground tunnels out of the city. But on their way, they encounter a giant worm creature called Wutra’s worm.

Legend said Wutra’s worm was silent, but now it approached with a roar, whatever it might be. Moved more by terror than courage, Yuli peered from their lair. There it was, coming fast. Its features could hardly be discerned behind the bank of green luminescence it pushed along in front of it. Four eyes, banked two and two, whiskers and fangs gigantic.

Yuli’s story is just the first section of the book. The book has long time jumps between sections, which feature different characters and stories on the planet Helliconia.

As for the book cover, perhaps you may have read this edition:


  • 2
    Yes! That's it! Thank you so much @vogrick, I can hunt out a copy now.
    – Arkiruthis
    Sep 15, 2022 at 18:05
  • 1
    You're welcome, @Arkiruthis. I liked the whole Helliconia trilogy, by the way. Really interesting worldbuilding.
    – vogrick
    Sep 15, 2022 at 19:38

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