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Revenge of the Rose, by Michael Moorcock Book Review | SFReader.com
Revenge of the Rose, by Michael Moorcock Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Penguin Published: 1991 Review Posted: 9/30/2005 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
Revenge of the Rose, by Michael Moorcock
Book Review by S C Bryce
Have you read this book?
The Revenge of the Rose, a recent Elric novel by Michael Moorcock, is difficult to place within timeline of the original Elric series.
Taking a break from the peace of Tanelorn, Elric encounters the dragon Scarsnout, who returns him to Melniboni. As he expects, he finds the capital city in ruins. It is, however, not Imrryr but rather its predecessor, H'hui'shan, which stood upon the same site before the Melnibonians made their pact with Chaos, destroyed H'hui'shan in civil war, and began the Bright Empire's 10,000 year rule.
In the smoky ruins of H'hui'shan, Elric meets his father's ghost. Sadric made too many bargains during his life and, in death, his soul is claimed by both Arioch and Mashabak of Chaos. While the gods bicker between themselves, Sadric has hidden his soul within a black rosewood box. Yet the box has been lost. Without it, Sadric cannot release his soul into the Forest of Souls where it would be safe from the gods. Sadric and Elric bear no love for each other and, thus, to ensure Elric complies with his wish, Sadric binds the two together -- if Elric doesn't complete the quest (or dies trying) then his soul will forever be entwined with his father's. Such would be punishment enough for anyone, but given Sadric and Elric's strong feelings about each other, the punishment is all the crueler.
Thus begins an adventure through time and space in which Elric gains the aid of an odd assortment of companions including: Ernest Wheldrake (a fictional poet borrowed from real-life Victorian poet and critic Algernon Charles Swinburne, known for flowery and erotic works), a small, red-headed, time-traveling bard whose half-remembered rhymes are often prophetic; the Rose, a superior fighter and sorceress whose quest dovetails with Elric's own; and the Phatts, a clairvoyant family of gypsies. Together, they search for three sisters, who they learn have the soulbox, along with other artifacts of power. They also learn that they have competition in their quest to find the sisters and the artifacts: Prince Gaynor the Damned races for the artifacts, the sisters, and to bring whole worlds under the rule of Chaos.
The Revenge of the Rose is full of all the action of the original Elric series without yet the full-blown philosophy of the Tales of the Ablino, which follow it. Like "The Fortress of the Pearl," it both benefits and suffers from the longer form offered by novels rather than serials. Moorcock has more room to explore the fantastic landscapes and cultures for which he is acclaimed and those readers who felt such elements got short shrift in the serials may be gratified for a chance to linger. References to history, philosophy, and metaphysics are more prominent; rather than left to simple allegory, they are reflected upon by the characters. This reflection, however, significantly slows down the movement of the work. Other distractions include the author shifting between present and past tense and between normal print and italics, without clear reason. Lastly, the plot twists can seem like convolutions for convolutions' sake; rather than increase tension, they result in plot and behavioral inconsistencies. This reader concluded that, while a satisfying read, The Revenge of the Rose would have benefited from being shorter.
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