Friday, July 06, 2007

By Michael Moorcock

This is volume one of the epic saga of Elric, the albino emperor of the Dragon Isle. Elric rules the island empire of Melniboné, the homeland of his strange semi-human race, from the Ruby Throne in dreaming Imrryr. The Melniboneans ruled the world with massive battle fleets, fighting dragons, and sorcery from the pits of hell. Now they are confined to their island, living in decayed splendor.

Into this comes the young emperor Elric, seeking to revitalize Melniboné, evan as his frail body fails him. But he has the love of a good woman, Cymoril. He also has the hate and jealousy of Cymoril’s brother, Yrkoon. He regards Elric’s abhorrence of needless sociopathic violence as a most un-Melnibonéan deviation. Thus the stage is set.

As Elric grapples with foreign invaders and Yrkoon’s hostility he finds support in the most unlikely places. He forges an alliance with Arioch, the most bloodthirsty of the Chaos gods (or are they demons?) and the ancient patron of Elric’s race. The Albino emperor also finds the black Runesword, Stormbringer. A weapon of awesome potential, it literally steals the soul of its victims and feeds them to its wielder.

This is sword & sorcery on a grand scale. There is magic, swordplay, dragons, dungeons, gods, demons, love, hate, ancient curses, and the fall of mighty kingdoms. And all this is just the opener. Moorcock ran the series to six volumes and not a bit of it is excess. If you are a sword & sorcery fan this is essential reading.
-Dave Hardy


Charles Gramlich said...

I enjoyed the Elric saga, but I think I liked the Count Brass books better by Moorcock. One of the main things I didn't like so much about Elric is that, because of the rune sword, he seems much less in charge of his own fate than say a Conan or a Kane. I know that's how Moorcock wrote him but I prefer a character with more independence. I've always had a problem with magic swords too. They turn the character too much into a superman for me. But you're certainly right, anyone intersted in heroic fantasy should definetely check out the Elric books.

Dave Hardy said...

The Count Brass stuff is great, but Elric has a special feel for me as it was some of the earliest Sword & Sorcery I read (after Conan & Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser).

Nostalgia aside, while Elric is pretty much invincible in battle, I am fascinated by the way Moorcock lets him win amzing victories in battle, then drops him into hell. Elric is the impotence of power. he can kick ANYBODY's butt, but he will screw up what he was really trying to acheive.

It can be painful. Elric is part hero, part bug wriggling on a pin. That's not a pretty combination, but Moorcock carries it off so very well.