Friday, May 29, 2015

Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock

(hb; 1972: first book in the Elric series)

From the back cover:

"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 Melniboné, 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."

Review:

Elric is a relatively (for the genre) short, word-lean and straightforward fantasy tale with an interesting and complex main protagonist (Elric, emperor of "Imrryr the Beautiful, the Dreaming City, capital of the Dragon Isle of Melniboné"). He is kind, philosophical and merciful, yet aloof, physically fragile and moody at other times -- he is, in a word, royalty, the 428th ruler of his land.

When Elric's cousin, the jealous and power-hungry Prince Yyrkoon, tries to usurp Elric's Ruby Throne and kidnap Elric's intended bride (and Yyrkoon's sister), Cymoril, the albino ruler pursues the incestuous- and war-minded villain across alternate worlds, catching  up with Yyrkoon in the seedy city Dhoz-Kam, where their conflict -- heavily driven and complicated by magick, as well as a demon named Arioch -- reaches a dangerous apex for not only them, but for all worlds.

This is a great set-up novel, with surrealistic and distinctive supernatural elements and beings, sequel-friendly situations and high, epic drama (without the word fat). All fantastic thriller, no filler, this -- a book worth owning.

Followed by The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.

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