Thursday, July 12, 2007

By Michael Moorcock

There are certain places in fiction that seems to have a life of their own, that seem to exist outside of ink and paper, Rick’s Café, Yoknapatawpha County, Lankhmar, The House of the Last Lamp, or Tanelorn where weary heroes go to find peace.

Elric of Melniboné is not the average sword & sorcery hero. He springs from an ancient pre-human race, steeped in black sorcery and evil. Elric is an albino, preternaturally weak except for two things. He is allied with the foulest of all the foul deities his people once worshipped, Arioch the Lord of Chaos. Elric also wields Stormbringer the Black Runesword. It has the power to steal the very soul of its victims and pass them on to Elric. Yet Elric is a man who seeks a more balanced life, he has a conscience (unlike many action heroes). But his origins and associations always bring chaos back to his life.

This part of the saga recounts Elric’s great feud with Theleb K’aarna, the sorcerer of Pan Tang and the feud’s bearing on Kaneloon the tower at the edge of Chaos and Tanelorn, where adventurers find peace. Along the way Elric battles extra-dimensional hordes, visits Nadsokor the City of Beggars, where they will not abide any who are not broken in mind or body, and meets other incarnations of himself, the Eternal Champion.

Some of the best sword & sorcery ever written. The Vanishing Tower is a worthy installment in this saga, the action is full of surprises, yet always drives towards the ultimate goal Moorcock is aiming for. The Elric saga unites the “anything goes” freewheeling surprise of picaresque adventures (such as the Conan series or Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser) and the sense of destiny embodied in The Worm Ouroboros or Lord of the Rings (even if Moorcock wouldn’t like the latter comparison). I can honestly say that the Elric saga does not flag at any point.
-Dave Hardy

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

If you should decide to read Cook, make sure to start with the first three books in the Black Company series. As for Gemmell, I like his Drenai books best. The series starts with Legend, but that isn't the best book in that series. Some of the later one are much better.

I don't think I have any more of Moorcock's fantasy left to read. I've read it all, but some could stand a reread.