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Elric of Melnibon (Elric, #1) by Michael


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Original Title: Elric of Melnibon (Elric, #1)

ISBN: 0441203981
ISBN13: 9780441203987
Autor: Michael Moorcock
Rating: 3.2 of 5 stars (1655) counts
Original Format: Mass Market Paperback, 181 pages
Download Format: PDF, RTF, ePub, CHM, MP3.
Published: July 15th 1987 / by Ace Books / (first published 1972)
Language: English
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It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair that flows below his shoulders is
milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody....He is
Elric, Emperor of Melnibone, cursed with a keen and cynical intelligence, schooled in the art of
sorcery -- the hero of Michael Moorcock's remarkable epic of conflict and adventure at the dawn of
human history...Included is a dramatic introduction read by Michael Moorcock over 10 mins in

About Author:

Michael John Moorcock is an English writer primarily of science fiction and fantasy who has also
published a number of literary novels.
Moorcock has mentioned The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Apple Cart by George
Bernard Shaw and The Constable of St. Nicholas by Edward Lester Arnold as the first three books
which captured his imagination. He became editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1956, at the age of
sixteen, and later moved on to edit Sexton Blake Library. As editor of the controversial British
science fiction magazine New Worlds, from May 1964 until March 1971 and then again from 1976
to 1996, Moorcock fostered the development of the science fiction "New Wave" in the UK and
indirectly in the United States. His serialization of Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron was
notorious for causing British MPs to condemn in Parliament the Arts Council's funding of the
During this time, he occasionally wrote under the pseudonym of "James Colvin," a "house
pseudonym" used by other critics on New Worlds. A spoof obituary of Colvin appeared in New
Worlds #197 (January 1970), written by "William Barclay" (another Moorcock pseudonym).
Moorcock, indeed, makes much use of the initials "JC", and not entirely coincidentally these are
also the initials of Jesus Christ, the subject of his 1967 Nebula award-winning novella Behold the
Man, which tells the story of Karl Glogauer, a time-traveller who takes on the role of Christ. They
are also the initials of various "Eternal Champion" Moorcock characters such as Jerry Cornelius,
Jerry Cornell and Jherek Carnelian. In more recent years, Moorcock has taken to using "Warwick
Colvin, Jr." as yet another pseudonym, particularly in his "Second Ether" fiction.

Other Editions:

- Elric of Melnibon (The Elric Saga #1)

- Elric of Melnibon (Mass Market Paperback)

- Elric of Melnibone (Paperback)

- Elric of Melnibon (Mass Market Paperback)

- Elric Of Melnibone (Mass Market Paperback)

Books By Author:
- Stormbringer (Elric, #6)

- The Weird of the White Wolf (The Elric Saga, #3)

- The Vanishing Tower (Elric, #4)

- The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric, #2)

- The Bane of the Black Sword (The Elric Saga, #5)

Books In The Series:

- Elric of Melnibon and Other Stories (Elric Chronological Order, #1)

- The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric, #2)

- The Weird of the White Wolf (The Elric Saga, #3)

- The Vanishing Tower (Elric, #4)

- The Bane of the Black Sword (The Elric Saga, #5)

- Stormbringer (Elric, #6)

- Elric at the End of Time (The Elric Saga #7)

- The Fortress of the Pearl (Elric #8)

- The Revenge of the Rose (Elric, #9)

- The Dreamthief's Daughter

Related Books On Our Site:

- Swords Against Death (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #2)

- Darkness Weaves
- Elric: Tales of the White Wolf

- Three Hearts and Three Lions

- Jirel of Joiry

- Conan of Cimmeria (Conan 2)

- Thieves' World (Thieves' World, #1)

- Imaro

- Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone

- The Worm Ouroboros

- Suldrun's Garden (Lyonesse #1)


Oct 10, 2015

J.G. Keely
Rated it: really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed, uk-and-ireland, sword-and-sorcery
I have spent a long time searching for a modern fantastical epic which is worth reading. It seems
like there should be one, out there, somewhere. I have so enjoyed the battlefields of Troy, the
dank cavern of Grendel's dam, Dido's lament, Ovid's hundred wild-spun tales, perfidious
Odysseus, the madness of Orlando, Satan's twisted rhetoric, and Gilgamesh's sea-voyage to the
forgotten lands of death. And so I seek some modern author to reinvent these tales with some
sense of scholarship, poetry, c
I have spent a long time searching for a modern fantastical epic which is worth reading. It seems
like there should be one, out there, somewhere. I have so enjoyed the battlefields of Troy, the
dank cavern of Grendel's dam, Dido's lament, Ovid's hundred wild-spun tales, perfidious
Odysseus, the madness of Orlando, Satan's twisted rhetoric, and Gilgamesh's sea-voyage to the
forgotten lands of death. And so I seek some modern author to reinvent these tales with some
sense of scholarship, poetry, character, and adventure.
There are many great modern fantasies, but the epic subgenre lacks luster. In reading the
offerings--Martin, Jordan, Goodkind, Paolini, even much-lauded Wolfe--I have found them all
wanting. They are all flawed in the same ways: their protagonists are dull caricatures of some
universal 'badass' ideal, plot conflicts are glossed-over with magic or convenient deaths, the magic
itself is not a mysterious force but a familiar tool, and women are made secondary or worse
(though the authors often talk about how women are strong and independent, the women never
actually act that way).
But then, they are all acolytes of Old Tolkien, who is as stodgy, unromantic, and methodical as a
fantasist can be (without being C.S. Lewis). Though I respect Tolkien's work as a well-researched
literary exercise, it is hard to forgive him for making it acceptable to write fantasy which is so dull,
aimless, and self-absorbed. It is unfortunate that so many people think that fantasy began with
Tolkien, because that is a great falsehood, and anyone who believes it does not really know
fantasy at all. It nearly died with him.
Yet there are many who do think he started it. They like to comment on reviews, especially
reviews of their favorite books--especially negative reviews of their favorite books--which have,
lamentably, become a specialty of mine. And often, they end up asking me "Well, what fantasy do
you like?" There are many I could name, numerous favorites which have shocked and overawed
me, which have shaken me to my core, which have shown me worlds and magic I dared not
dream. But none of them are epics.
I could mention Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a powerfully self-possessed
work and one of the only fantasies of the past twenty years that I consider worth reading--the other
is China Mieville's Perdido Street Station--but these are a Victorian alternate history continuation
of the British Fairy Tale tradition and a New Weird Urban Fantasy, respectively. I could mention
Mervyn Peake's Titus books, which so powerfully inhabit my five-star rating that Mieville and
Clarke must be relegated to four--but this is a work whose fantastical nature would probably not
even be apparent to most fantasy enthusiasts.
Alas they are not good counter-examples. I can (and do) mention Robert E. Howard's Conan, and
Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series, but these are fast-paced adventure stories, and though their
worlds may be vast, mysterious, and grand, the stories themselves lack the hyperopic arc at the
heart of an epic work.
But there have been many suggestions, many readers who have come to my aid, and who have
named authors I might look to next, in my quest: Guy Gavriel Kay, Ursula K. LeGuin, Jack Vance,
Poul Anderson, Jeff VanderMeer, Michael De Larrabietti, John M. Harrison, Scott Lynch, Patricia
McKillip, and John Crowley (Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss have been both suggested
and sneered at). It is my hope that, somewhere amongst them, I will find the exemplary epic
fantasy I am looking for--but I haven't found it in Moorcock.
Moorcock is good, he has scope, depth, complexity, and long, twisting plots, but at their core, his
stories are modern, metaphysical, and subversive. They are light and lilting, ironical and wry--too
quick and twisting to be 'epic'. The characters are introspective and self-aware, and it is clear that
it is they, and not the world, who will be at the forefront.
It is all so thoroughly modern, so reinvented, full of sprightly ideas and metaphysical brooding. But
it is decidedly not modern in the accidental, self-defeating ways of all those pretenders to the 'epic'
title. The characters are not merely the male-fantasy counterpart of a bodice ripper, with modern,
familiar minds dressed thinly in Medieval costume. The world is not simply our world with an
overlay of castles--dragons for jet fighters, spells for guns, with modern politics and sensibilities.
No, Moorcock's world and characters are alien and fantastical, but Moorcock does not achieve this
by ripping them whole-cloth from history, but by extrapolating them from modern philosophical
ideas. Fantasy stories have always been full of dreamscapes, of impossible places for the reader
to inhabit. These places draw us in, somehow we recognize them, like our own dreams, because
of what they represent.
Anthropomorphism is the human tendency to see people where there are none: to see smiling
faces in wood grain, to assign complex emotional motivations to cats, and to curse at the storm
that breaks our window. The 'Other World' of British Fairy Tales is based on the latter: the
assigning of our luck--good and bad--to capricious spirits. The world of fairy has rules (as do
storms), but those rules are mostly a mystery to man.
But Moorcock's world personifies the ideas of Kant and Nietzsche: his 'Other Worlds' (called
'Planes') are those of the human mind: they are places of morality, like heaven and hell, except he
has updated the concept to existential morality. There is Chaos, and there is Law; Chaos is the
selfish urge, Law the communal urge, and he arrays his magic, spirits, and dreamscapes along
this axis.
Like Milton, he has infused his epic with the latest thoughts and notions, updating it for the modern
age. Also like Milton, Moorcock's influence has been felt, far and wide, despite the fact that most
people do not recognize it.
The Dungeons & Dragons game prominently used his Law/Chaos dichotomy, among other
concepts, and his 'Wheel of Psychic Planes' is an influence on their most audacious and unusual
publication, the philosophical 'Steampunk' setting, Planescape. And many of these tropes have
filtered down into the grab-bag common to the modern voice of fantasy stories.
Reading Elric, one will invariably be reminded of a dozen other books and games, as Elric drinks
endless potions to maintain his strength and vitality, slaying twisted demons on a plane of fire in
search of a rune-sword, dressed in ornate black armor and a dragon-helm. Indeed, the central
mythology (and much of the plot) of the Elder Scrolls games--in particular Oblivion--owe a vast
debt to Elric and his world, and not simply for the land of 'Elwher'.
Clearly, Moorcock's odd vision has been transcribed onto the imaginations of fantasists, but as
with those who were inspired by Tolkien, most of his followers have failed to recreate the weight of
the original message. Except for a few outliers, like Planescape and Perdido Street Station, most
authors have copied the outward appearance of Moorcock's alien world, but were not skilled or
knowledgeable enough to take the substance along with the form--the existential ideas, the vital
core of his dreamscapes, are most often missing, or at best, faded.
But while the ideas and the overall vision are strong--even compared to the ubiquitous attempts to
recreate them--there are a number of flaws in Moorcock's presentation. The first and most
damaging is a weakness in the voice. Moorcock has a lot to say, but must sometimes resort to
explaining his ideas to us. He is not always able to deliver his world and characters through
interactions, hints, tone, and actions. He is hardly an inexperienced enough author to explain to us
that which is already self-evident, but it is a weakness in his delivery which sometimes takes us
out of the flow of the story, so that we must step back from the world and listen to Moorcock talk
about it, though he does do his best to veil it with Elric's thoughts.
Secondly, it can be difficult to get a strong impression of his characters, they are often difficult to
sympathize with or to predict. It isn't that they aren't vivid and active, but that their actions are often
based around ideas and concepts--the things Moorcock built his world on--which can create a
sense of a top-down world, where the characters are there to fulfill a purpose, to explore various
notions and philosophies.
The book is certainly not an allegory--there are no easy one-to-one correlations to be made
between characters and ideas, but the world does not revolve around personalities--except,
perhaps, for Elric's, but his thoughts and motivations are often the most difficult to reconcile. The
personalities of all the other characters are, more or less, wholly dependent on him.
To some degree, the characters seem to operate on much older fantasy rules: their capricious yet
repetitive acts becoming motifs for the larger ideas in the story, not unlike Tolkien's fantasy
forefather, E.R. Eddison, whose characters seem half-mad with heroism for its own sake (another
candidate for my favorite epic, if I didn't think his beautiful, deliberate archaism might prove too
remote for many readers).
Part of the reason for this is that Elric's personality and world were created as an exercise, and
with an explicit purpose: to portray the anti-Conan. He is sickly, weak, pale, effeminate, sorcerous,
erudite, cruel, reluctant, intellectual, and hardly promiscuous. Conan becomes king by his own
hand, while Elric begins as emperor and we witness the hardships of his downfall.
But this contrariness, while coloring the story, is hardly its center. Moorcock uses it as a
springboard--an inspiration to drive him to something greater. It is one more example of the fact
that genius is at its best when it has a lofty challenge before it. Moorcock is not interested in
making a parody, but in exploring a little-trodden path, operating on the notion that if you start with
something familiar and begin to move away from it, you are bound to end up somewhere else.
I must also mention an unbelievable incident involving a group of blind soldiers, which put dire
strain to credulity. A bit of creative myth or capricious magic could have saved it, but as it stands in
the book, it makes little sense.
But despite the subtle weaknesses in voice and characterization, Moorcock's idiomatic adventure
story is eminently enjoyable. There are few fantasy books I could name which suggest such a
playful intellect as this, and though it is not as wildly imaginative as his Gloriana, this philosophical
exploration disguised as a pulp adventure is a delightful read that never gets bogged-down in
indulging its own thoughtfulness.
My List of Suggested Fantasy Books