10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Wizardry and Wild Romance, 21 Jan 2008
If you're at all familiar with Moorcock's divergent take on fantasy literature, then there will be little in this book that will take you by surprise. The book is a collection of essays about various aspects of high/epic fantasy writing, culminating in the infamous 'Epic Pooh' essay in which Moorcock accuses J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis of producing a form of 'corrupted romanticism' that is nostalgic for a rural past that can't be regained (and probably never actually existed). Moorcock cites the likes of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series as an admirable counterpoint, and essentially this is the aim of the book: to call on both authors and readers to maintain a level of artistic and intellectual integrity in reading and writing fantasy literature. It is by no means a new argument, but it never hurts to be reminded, and Moorcock substantiates his arguments with comprehensive examples that are a result of being widely read and immersed in the genre for quite a number of years.
The major flaw in Moorcock's writing is a frustrating tendency to quote enormous chunks of his source novels at the expense of digging deeper into his arguments. One could argue that the texts speak for themselves and little extrapolation on Moorcock's part isn't required, but I paid for his interpretation and perspective. It's great that he has so much material to substantiate his claims, but it has the frustrating effect of breaking up his writing in places. Despite this, Moorcock remains an influential figure and his arguments in this book shouldn't be ignored.