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Elric of Melnibone, by Michael Moorcock Book Review | SFReader.com
Elric of Melnibone, by Michael Moorcock Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Ace Published: 1972 Review Posted: 9/21/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
Elric of Melnibone, by Michael Moorcock
Book Review by S C Bryce
Have you read this book?
Michael Moorcock's six-book "Elric Saga" is one of the great classics of high fantasy, dark fantasy, and sword & sorcery. Its characters, environments, and obstacles are among the genre's most memorable and influential. Elric is the archetypal anti-hero and one of the most recognizable figures of the genre.
The series begins with "Elric of Melnibone." Elric is the 428th Emperor of Melnibone, an eldritch kingdom well past its prime, overshadowed by younger, hungrier, human rivals that it despises. Melniboneans ruled the world for 10,000 years, though their power has now waned. Although they take much pride in their lore and tradition, Melniboneans have lost much of both. Saturated with hallucinogenic drugs, they live in a fantastical city of multi-hued towers, dreaming of past glories and unable to see their changing place in the changing world.
This first book is, for the most part, about Elric's transformation. He begins as a brooding albino prince who prefers to philosophize than rule. His authority is challenged by his cousin Yyrkoon. Because of his love of his cousin Cymoril (Yyrkoon's sister) and the taunts and treachery of Yyrkoon, however, Elric is driven to abandon his efforts at modernizing. A central question is whether he will relinquish himself to the cruel traditions of his folk, becoming the Melnibonean Emperor of his forbearers, or whether he will be able to help his folk adjust to the status quo.
"Elric of Melnibone," like Elric himself, is a work of shifting gears. It begins with a rich and complex portrait Elric and his decaying empire, then quickly changes into desperately paced journey of war-craft and dark sorcery. As ever for Elric, just as one gruesome and brutal task is complete, he finds he has another. Each solution brings him further from the Elric he wishes to be and closer to that which he fears and despises.
The book is not without it faults: Elric's introspection will prove a bit much for some readers. Still, for its importance in the genre and creativity, I rate it a 9 out of 10.
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