The Knight of Swords, by Michael Moorcock is a book that I actually have read before. Sometime during my early years of high school, I got my hands on it. In fact it was one of the first strings of books I read for pleasure and not because I had too for some school assignment.
I grew up with profound dyslexia. I had to attend special 'Learning Center' classes and was always years behind in writing and reading. What helped me overcome this limitation... well, Dungeons and Dragons. I loved the game and wanted to be as good a player as I could. So I figured one way to improve would be the read all the books Gary Gygax said helped influence his creation of the game. I started with Lord of the Rings (not an easy choice for a guy that can barely read). Then I moved on to Jack Vance. But then Elric filled my head with blood, chaos, and doom. I couldn't get enough, so I quickly moved on to another Eternal Champion series, Corum the Prince in the Scarlet Robe.
So when I received Titan's reprinting of these novels, part of me thought, I have read these before, I should focus more of this backlog of things I have not read. But then I thought, screw that, these books are beyond fantastic and it will give me an excuse to be able to enjoy them again. Boy, I like it when I make smart choices!
Let me back up a little. Corum is a Vadhagh, which is more than a bit like a mildly magic-using Elf. However his race is ancient. Gone are the wars his ancestors knew. Now this long-lived race lingers in its castles creating art and music and little else. Over time most of their magical skills have faded.
Corum has set out to contact the other isolated castles of the Vadhagh on a whim from his father. Instead of his people, he finds hordes of brutal Mabden (men) that are systematically destroying all Vadhagh keeps and killing off his whole race. He discovers this too late to save his own family and is soon the last of his race.
In a misguided search for vengeance, he loses an eye and his left hand to the vicious warriors of the Mabden. He escapes, falls in love, and then after a series of adventures makes a deal with the mad god Skool. Skool attaches the Hand of Kwill and the Eye of Rhynn onto Corum's body. These are the remaining body parts of very ancient and powerful elder gods. It is his hope that these archaic body parts will give Corum the strength to go up against the Knight of Swords, the Chaos God Arioch.
Yes, it is an awesome premise and a fabulous story. This series is a must for anyone who is even slightly into fantasy. Moorcock takes an often clichéd genre and tears it apart and recreates it in an image that would make Lovecraft proud. I could never praise Moorcock highly enough. I frankly barely feel worthy of even reviewing his work.
Nothing bad to say about this book. The only think that bugged me is the cover. It is a picture of the hand, but it had five fingers and not six like it should.
Yeah I guess this is the summer of the five star reviews from me, but this was a no brainer. Bear in mind though, that Moorcock is my favorite author of all time so... well, the five stars is just going to happen.My attempt to create a world similar to Moorcock