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Stormbringer, by Michael Moorcock
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Ace
Published: 1965
Review Posted: 9/21/2006
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Stormbringer, by Michael Moorcock

Book Review by S C Bryce

Have you read this book?

"Stormbringer" is the final (and longest) installment of Michael Moorcock's classic saga. Although broken into sections, "Stormbringer" reads much more like a novel than the other books because the serials are far more tightly connected.

After years of self-pitying violence and emotional instability, Elric has found true happiness with his wife, Zarozinia. But she is kidnapped, and Elric must resort to his old ways of sorcery and the sword in order to find her. Zarozinia's capture, of course, is part of a larger scheme. The Cosmic Balance has turned; Chaos gains ground on the earth through the aid of the sorcerer Jagreen Lern.

Elric must decide whether to save Zarozinia (by aiding the kidnappers to destroy the world), or to forsake Zarozinia and save the world. The state of affairs rapidly deteriorates from here. Through "Dead God's Homecoming," "Black Sword's Brothers," "Sad Giant's Shield," and "Doomed Lord's Passing," Elric hacks his way through adventures and finally learns his destiny.

Stormbringer also more thoroughly returns Elric to the philosophical themes of the series. What does it mean to be true to one's nature? Can Elric be true to his twin natures of his Melnibonean heritage (along with its allegiance to Chaos) and still be a tool and ally of good and Law? Can Elric take the best of both natures, or must he accept the difficulties along with the benefits? Is the natural evil of the MelnibonTans somehow less evil because of its purity and innocence than the corrupted evil of humans like Jagreen Lern, who had the possibility of good within themselves but rejected it? Is evil the only means to destroy evil? Can good spring from evil?

What is the relationship between good and evil, Chaos and Law? Can either exist without the other? In "The Elric Saga," their pure forms are equally deadly to life, for neither the warping of pure Chaos or the sterility of pure Law can support life. Is Elric, after all, nothing more than a tool of Fate? Can Fate be altered or subverted? Can the ultimate good that Elric and Stormbringer have the power to achieve erase or excuse all their malicious and evil deeds? Is the value of any good thus achieved lessened because of the manner of its birth?

At the heart of all these questions is Elric's intense desire to be free of them. In Stormbringer, Elric shows the worst of his betrayals and Elric shows the best of his self-sacrifice, cleverness, and loyalty -- traits for the most part lost in his adventures since leaving Imrryr. In a many ways, Elric becomes the great hero that the reader always sensed he could be. And, ironically, causes the greatest destruction in so doing. One of the many characteristics that makes "The Elric Saga" so memorable is its bold and poignant ending. For the well-deserved magnitude of its influence, "Stormbringer" is a must-read for fantasy fans. I rate it a 10 out of 10.
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