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Elric: Stealer of Souls, by Michael Moorcock Book Review | SFReader.com
Elric: Stealer of Souls, by Michael Moorcock Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Random House Published: 2008 Review Posted: 3/4/2008 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10
Elric: Stealer of Souls, by Michael Moorcock
Book Review by Adam P. Knave
Have you read this book?
So here's the thing: it's almost impossible to review the Elric books at this point. They've been around since 1961 and have had a hand in shaping the modern Fantasy landscape. There's only so much you can do with that. They're classics - certified and stamped on the way.
Of course that doesn't mean they're good. So maybe we can review them after all. Also? I have to tell you about this particular edition, which is... well we'll get there in due time. Trust me.
So Elric. Mad, drug-addicted King of Melnibone. Albino. Emo Goth before either was really cool. Dude, when you're a teenager and just getting into SF/F stuff Elric is, quite simply, the shit. There's a primal sense that Moorcock delivers, a rushed tone and urging prose that keep you reading and enjoying the stories.
Here's the thing though, and it hurts me to say this because I do personally love this stuff, I have a feeling if you came to Elric cold it might fall flat. The style of writing, while engaging, is also kind of dated by now. There's age in these bones and it shows. That hurts me, but I will be honest with you. Always. If you have no idea who Elric is and have no established love of Conan, Krull, the darker side of Tolkien or any of the old good pulp SF/F this may not be for you. What Elric has in spades, namely aggression of style, manages to also rob the stories of some delicacy in character development.
Now, if you can read these with the eyes of a teenager, or with a mind towards what Moorcock serves you then you will fall in love within these pages. I have no doubt about that. This is simply one of those books that will live or die on what the reader brings to the table. An open mind, a love of the craft and an appreciation of fantastically done pulp are what you need. If you don't have those please seek elsewhere.
The package itself is a whole different thing to discuss. This is a loving tribute to one of the oldest and strongest fantasy epics around. John Picacio offers up illustrations throughout, giving us some of the most striking images to accompany Elric that I've ever seen. The cover alone made me rush to read this tome, even though I knew the stories inside.
Also included is a forward by Alan Moore and a new introduction by Moorcock. The hits don't stop there, however, oh no. We get fanzine contributions by Moorcock from the time of the stories to help enhance the experience and really catapult readers to the right frame of mind. The original magazine notes start off each story. Then we come to a few pages of old cover reproductions and other related Elric material.
We end with another chunk of essays and letters regarding Elric from the time of the character itself, showing us how people reacted to him then, and how Moorcock himself though and explained his process and thoughts.
Oh but that isn't quite all. This volume has all of the stories from "The Stealer of Souls" and "Stormbringer," but it also manages to sneak in "Mission to Anso!" just for fun. "Asno!" was the second story of Moorcock's first serial hero, Sojan.
You see why this is a collection worthy of libraries now, I bet. And this is just the first book in a projected six book series that will collect all of Elric, with extras throughout.
So get lost in Elric's world and come sit at the table to enjoy the mad Emperor and his enchanted soul-sucking blade Stormbringer. They'll kill you as soon as buy you a beer, but it's always going to be worth the journey. Always.
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