Wednesday, July 11, 2007

By Michael Moorcock

The White Wolf in question is Elric of Meniboné, the doomed and magnificent emperor of the Dragon Isle (not the White Wolf worshipped by Lt. Othman in “Son of the White Wolf” by Robert E. Howard, though Elric does have a rapport with mythic animals). Elric is the albino sorcerer who wields Stormbringer, the sword of great power and awful doom.

This is the part of the Elric sage where things begin to turn. Elric has his final, fateful confrontation with Yrkoon, in a hellishly dramatic battle that wrenches the story loose from all your comfortable assumptions.

It’s also the part where Elric is free to be a picaresque hero, albeit a doomed and tormented one, His sidekick, Moonglum, appears. Moonglum plays a knowing Sancho Panza to Elric’s Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance, perhaps deliberately, for Moorcock’s heroes are echoes of all the other heroes that have lived. Free (as in having nothing left to lose), Elric journeys on a quest for a mystic tome of great power and skirmishes with an arrogant sorcerer and a renegade deity on behalf of a lovely human princess (never forget, Elric is not human).

The third book of the Elric saga carries this fantastic epic into the middle reaches where anything is possible. What emerges is the flowering of one of the all-time greats of sword and sorcery.

-Dave Hardy


Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't realize you were such a Moorcock fan, Dave. Have you ever met him? He lives in Texas. I met him once many years ago at World Fantasy con. He seems a nice guy.

I like the Elric tales but am not sure I can put Moorcock, or Leiber at a level with Howard. I'd put Karl Wagner, David Gemmell, and Glen Cook ahead of both. But that's just my bias.

I appreciate the reviews. It's good to see discussion of heroic fantasy around.

Dave Hardy said...

I've spoken to Moorcock at various book siginings, panels and what not,though he's hardly likely to remember me.

I guess my big three of Sword & Sorcery may be a bit idiosyncratic. I've never read anything by Cook or Gemmell and very little by Wagner. I do intend to make up that lack!