Friday 3 April 2009


Michael Moorcock
Gollancz fantasy masterworks

I'm not a massive fantasy reader - though, I do like to dip into the genre from time to time and have read many of the classics. I tend to, when I'm in the mood, enjoy the heroic fantasy from the likes of David Gemmel, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard and others of that ilk.

I've had this Elric book for some time but never taken the plunge until now - I'd always intended too,though. Moorcock is well regarded in the genre and a known name to people like me who would not consider themselves followers of the genre.

I've never been a fan of books where character names are unpronounceable and made up of a dozen syllables, books with detailed maps that would fox a cartographer, but if there's a good story there, well written, then count me in.

This collection binds together the first six Elric stories that made up the first two books The Stealer of Souls and Stormbringer - and is a great introduction to the laconic Albino sorcerer. In fact this is one fantasy that will appeal not only to fans of the genre but casual readers wanting something that little but different.

The first story, The Dreaming City introduces us to Elric -Elric was tall, broad shouldered and slim hipped. He wore his hair long, bunched and pinned at the nape of his neck and, for some obscure reason, affected the dress of a Southern Gentleman.
His bizarre dress was tasteless and gaudy, and did not match his sensitive face and long fingered, almost delicate hands, yet he flaunted it since it emphasised the fact that he did not belong in any company - that he was an outsider and an outcast. But in reality he had little reason to wear such outlandish gear - for his eyes and skin were enough to mark him. Elric, Last Lord of Melnibone was a pure albino who drew his power from a secret and terrible source.

I like like about the Elric saga is that although they contain the usual gobbledygook it all seems logical and when Elric uses magic to free himself from a situation it all seems logical and real. But of course the man with the crimson eyes is not only a student of sorcery but a true man of action and he weilds his mystical sword, Stormbringer with true skill.

very much enjoyed the stories within this volume and was able to believe fully in the more fantastical elements, even if things do tend to get a little cosmic from time to time, but then that's to be expected since the albino anti-hero was spawned in the Sixties and was quickly adopted as a literary hero by the counter culture of the day.

Aging hippies and fans of good storytelling will be delighted with this volume which is number 17 in Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks collection.

The Masterworks collection is a great library of classic novels that have become renowned as among the best of the genre. The complete listing of titles follow:

Gene WolfeThe Book of the New Sun: Volume 1 Shadow and Claw1Lord DunsanyTime and the Gods2E. R. EddisonThe Worm Ouroboros3Jack VanceTales of the Dying Earth4John CrowleyLittle, Big5Roger ZelaznyChronicles of Amber6M. John HarrisonViriconium7Robert E. HowardThe Conan Chronicles: Volume 1 The People of the Black Circle8Jonathan CarrollThe Land of Laughs9L Sprague De Camp and Fletcher PrattThe Compleat Enchanter (out of print)10Hope MirlessLud-In-The-Mist (out of print)11Gene WolfeThe Book of the New Sun: Volume 2 Sword and Citadel12George R.R. MartinFevre Dream13Sheri S. TepperBeauty14Lord DunsanyThe King of Elfland's Daughter (out of print)15Robert E. HowardThe Conan Chronicles: Volume 2 Hour of the Dragon16Michael MoorcockElric17Fritz LeiberThe First Book of Lankhmar18Patricia A. MckillipThe Riddle-Master's Game19Jack FinneyTime and Again (out of print)20E. R. EddisonMistress of Mistresses (out of print)21Michael MoorcockGloriana22Fletcher PrattThe Well of the Unicorn (out of print)23Fritz LeiberThe Second Book of Lankhmar24Jonathan CarrollVoice of Our Shadow25Clark Ashton SmithThe Emperor of Dreams Best Fantasy Tales26Jack VanceLyonesse Suldrun's Garden27Gene WolfePeace (out of print)28John M. FordThe Dragon Waiting a Mague of History29Michael MoorcockCorum the Prince in the Scarlet Robe30C. L. MooreBlack Gods and Scarlet Dreams31Poul AndersonThe Broken Sword32William Hope HodgsonThe House on the Borderland and Other Novels33Tim PowersThe Drawing of the Dark34Jack VanceLyonesse II The Green Pearl and Madouc35Michael MoorcockThe History of the Runestaff The Jewel in the Skull, The Mad God's Amulet, The Sword of the Dawn, The Runestaff36David LindsayA Voyage to Arcturus37Jack WilliamsonDarker Than You Think38Evangeline WaltonThe Mabinogion39Poul AndersonThree Hearts & Three Lions40John GardnerGrendel41Michael SwanwickThe Iron Dragon's Daughter42Geoff RymanWas43Dan SimmonsSong of Kali44Ken GrimwoodReplay45Leigh BrackettSea-Kings of Mars and Other Worldly Stories46Tim PowersThe Anubis Gates47Patricia A. MckillipThe Forgotten Beasts of Eld48Ray BradburySomething Wicked this Way Comes49Rudyard KiplingThe Mark of the Beast and Other Fantastical Tales50


I.J. Parnham said...

Good old Elric. I did have a pretty much complete collection of all Moorcock's Sword & Sorcery books, collected at a time when it felt as if an essential part of being a teenager was reading Moorcock while listening to Hawkwind and Yes and having Roger Dean album covers on the wall.

I tried to sell the books off recently on eBay but nobody was interested and I ended up throwing them away.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Ah, yes...Elric and Hawkwind. How they spoke to my angst-ridden 15 year-old self. Throw in a dash of Zelazny's THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER for good measure.

Richard Prosch said...

Moorcock wrote some of my favorite Elric stories after the Stormbringer cycle and ret-conned them into his continuity. Most engagingly odd is "Elric at the End of Time", and the paperback of the same name offers some interesting (to fans anyway) non-fiction by MM as well.

Ben Willans said...

Try The Dancers at the End of Time.

David Cranmer said...

I'm not familiar with him but it sounds intriguing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Unlike you, fantasy is my mainstay in reading. I have this book, and all the other Elric stuff. I've probably read about 90 percent of Moorcock's work. Elric is intersting but not my favorite among Moorcock's stories. Count Brass, the Silver Warriors. Those are better. And The Ice Schooner is quite possibly my favorite among his works.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Charles -I've only really read Elric but I will most certainly check out these others you mention.

Ben - another added to my list.

Everyone - I think I'll slip some Hawkwind onto the stereo.

Anonymous said...

I met Mike Moorcock as a teenager. His departure from the staff of the Sexton Blake detective series at Fleetway House gave me my first job when I left school in 1961. Later, when he was establishing his ground-breaking version of New Worlds magazine and I was launching the Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine, we cross-advertised our publications at no charge. Somewhere, in one of my boxes in the basement, I have a copy of the issue of Science Fantasy magazine that contains the first printing of that first story, The Dreaming City, with its Elric cover by Brian Lewis. Mike Moorcock became a very big seller. Hard to believe that Ian had to throw away his books, but I guess the other side of bestseller-dom is that your books never become rare!

Cormac Brown said...

Elric and Conan were my sole comfort during my exile to suburbia in my high school years. The cover you have captured, "Sailor On The Seas of Fate" was my favorite of the first six books that Daw had out when I was a teen.

I was suprised two nights ago to learn from Wikipedia that Moorcock has done five more novels since I had pretty much given fantasy fiction up for good. I believe that I'll be taking up the swords and sorcery mantle again.

Scott D. Parker said...

Ah, serendipity. As I conceive my next book, I'm deciding if it should be straight mystery, straight western, steampunk, fantasy, or a combination of them all. Here comes a review of Elric, a character I've known for 30 years but never read. Hmmm, maybe the writing gods are trying to tell me something...

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