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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of the Devil's Party!
The first novel in this omnibus was published over twenty years ago but it is still a brilliant idea -- Lucifer yearning to be reconciled with God commissions the human von Bek to search for the Holy Grail. Von Bek isn't exactly Galahad, but the Holy Grail isn't exactly what he was expecting, either. Lucifer is about as charming as he can get and this book oddly...
Published on 30 Jan. 2002

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A low-key start to Moorcock's Eternal Champion series
This is the first of fourteen volumes (each with three or more novels or collections of short stories!). The series recounts the adventures of a group of characters destined forever to be instruments in the war between Law and Chaos in the multiverse (essentially the many differnet versions of reality that occur simultanously).
This first volume deals with three...
Published on 1 Sept. 1999


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of the Devil's Party!, 30 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
The first novel in this omnibus was published over twenty years ago but it is still a brilliant idea -- Lucifer yearning to be reconciled with God commissions the human von Bek to search for the Holy Grail. Von Bek isn't exactly Galahad, but the Holy Grail isn't exactly what he was expecting, either. Lucifer is about as charming as he can get and this book oddly prefigures Moorcock's more ambitious, but more challenging, The War Amongst the Angels, which mirrors the Hundred Years War described here -- i.e. people have long since lost sight of their original principles and loyalties and the angels, fighting for Law or Chaos, have equally lost touch with the ideals which first inspired them to fight. Like Philip Pullman, clearly Moorcock's admirer, we are dealing not with a model of a perfect Edwardian world as imagined by an Oxford don, but a model of our actual world, with all its complications, confusions and injustices. Later Lucifer's own ambitions and needs begin to change, but he still seeks reconciliation with God. The alchemical stuff in Autumn Stars is very neatly worked in! And The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius was probably the first story ever to use the idea of modern historical figures having very different roles in a parallel world. This idea was picked up again in Warlord of the Air.
Lovely stuff. Nothing to touch it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three great fantasy stories with some social comment, 11 Mar. 2002
Von Bek (Tale of the Eternal Champion, No 2) is a reunion of 3 books by Michael Moorcock: "The War Hound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", and "The Dragon in the Sword". It has also bonus short story, "The Pleasure Garden of Filipe Saggitarius". All these stories are related by the Von Bek family, that is entrusted with the task of protecting the Holy Grail.
The hero of each of the (somewhat) related books is someone belonging to the Von Bek family, and the stories talk about the eternal struggle between the forces of Chaos and Order. Not all is what it seems, and not always the greatest evil comes from the usual suspects (Lucifer, the fallen angel plays an important, if suprising, part on this saga).
The first book, "The War Hound and the World's Pain", is perhaps the one i enjoyed best, in part because it is more intimate. The lead character's pessimistic view of the world sounds very real and makes him the perfect romantic hero. Even so, the book has adventure of great scale, be it fighting armies, scary creatures or magic dimensions.
The two other books are also quite good, but something is lost when the extravagant settings and characters take greater part of the story. The short story, on the other hand, seemed useless, and was quickly forgotten...
This Hardcover edition is a beauty and has a beautiful presentation. Careful lettering and a few pictures help create your own mental vision of the magical tales presented by this master of the fantasy/sci-fi literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A low-key start to Moorcock's Eternal Champion series, 1 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
This is the first of fourteen volumes (each with three or more novels or collections of short stories!). The series recounts the adventures of a group of characters destined forever to be instruments in the war between Law and Chaos in the multiverse (essentially the many differnet versions of reality that occur simultanously).
This first volume deals with three generations of the Von Bek family, and their compacts with the devil. Of the two novels and one short story included, the first lacks the complexities and layering of the second novel and the short story, but is the better for that in my opinion.
If, like me, you are keen enough to read all fourteen volumes cover to cover, then by all means begin with this one (Von Bek crops up frequently as a character in later volumes). If, however, you are just looking for a taster, then I'd recommend starting with Volume 2: The Eternal Champion, which explains the premise of the series, or, for Moorcock at his cleverest (and his most inscrutable), try Volume 7: The Dancers at the End of Time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Von Bek is the Champion's best incarnation, 9 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
There's a more literary tone to Moorcock's von Bek stories than you find in the earlier Hawkmoon books, but the same old gusto is there for sheer, engaging story-telling. He grabs you with the opening line and there's no looking back! Von Bek makes a deal with the Devil -- to restore the Holy Grail to the world and so release the world from pain. Thereafter it is his family fate to serve both Lucifer and the Grail. Read this before you read the new Elric The Dreamthief's Daughter and it will give your pleasure an extra dimension. I'm not sure what the old fox is up to, but there's no doubt the Von Bek books showed a gearing up of his ambitions in fantasy. These also show Moorcock's fine sense of history which has been praised many times by Peter Ackroyd and with whom he shares similar enthusiasms and obsessions. Viva von Bek,
I say!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine, intelligent fantasy, 27 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
Moorcock's love for The Pilgrim's Progress is well-known and he mentions the book often. In a sense Warhound is his Pilgrim's Progress. It deals much more directly with Christian imagery both in its depiction of Satan and the Holy Grail and is reminiscent of Milton who was said by Blake to be doing the devil's work, he drew Satan so convincingly and attractively. This is a very convincing and attractive Satan, who already has the hero's soul but wants the hero to help him affect a reconciliation with God. How he sets about trying to achieve that is, of course, the main story. It is also the story of City in the Autumn Stars, which has a larger fantasy element, although much of it is set in the late 18th century and opens with a straightforward account of the hero having to flee Paris, having been a deputy in the first revolutionary parliament. The books also relate to specific periods of history -- the first is set in the Age of Religion (Hundred Years War), the second in the Age of Reason (French Revolution, American Revolution etc.) and the third was going to be set at the time of Hitler which is, as I understand it, the setting for the first of the new Elric series, which is also a von Bek book! Sometimes those strands disappear into the tapestry for miles before re-emerging as a main theme. A bit like Wagner, even if much of it plays more like Mozart. The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius is a fairly early short tale about the Metatemporal Detective, who appears in the Multiverse graphic novel as Sir Seaton Begg. It's an excellent 'what if' story, with Hitler as the Berlin Chief of Police and Lionel Himmler the proprietor of a sleazy club. All the stories have considerable substance and, as usual, play with moral ideas in a way you don't often find in as entertaining a fantasy series as this! Recommended to all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag, 1 April 1998
By A Customer
This omnibus edition contains three very different stories. The first, The War Hound and the World's Pain, is possibly the best work of a superlatively accomplished author. Dark and foreboding, filled with scenes of horror and despair, yet still a facinating and captivating work of fantasy. Moorcock's use of Christian mythology as a backdrop for a fantasy story is an inspired stroke of genius, and the character he developed for the fallen angel Lucifer is so believable as to make you question your own ideas as to the nature of evil. The premise of the story is absolutely original, a rare thing in any genre today, but especially rare in fantasy, and Moorcock's masterful writing brings the story to life in your hands.
The second book in this omnibus, however, is as bad as the first one is good. The sequel to War Hound, City in the Autumn Stars is a drab, plodding, disappointing piece with all the excitement and suspense of a bad Victorian romance and all the flavor of plain tofu. Moorcock's uncanny flair for descriptive passages becomes a curse here, as he paints image after image of boredom and redundancy. Skip this one, friends.
The Dragon in the Sword, although featuring a character named Von Bek and a plot involving the Holy Grail, has very little connection to the other two novels. It is actually the third book of the Eternal Champion Trilogy, following the novels The Eternal Champion and Phoenix in Obsidian. As such, it is more action-oriented than either War Hound or City in the Autumn Stars, as well as being set, for the most part, in strange realms. It is an "average" Moorcock piece, that "average" being about five points higher than your everyday author; not exceptional when compared to Moorcock's work as a whole, but better than a full three-quarters of the fantasy written to date by other authors.
The Von Bek omnibus is worth the money, despite the low quality of the middle book (The Pleasure Garden of Filipe Saggitarius is a short story, well written, but little more than a few minutes' diversion). The War Hound and the World's Pain is, itself, worth the price of the whole book, and The Dragon in the Sword is icing on the cake. Recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get stuck in!, 11 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
This is where the series starts. It's Moorcock's attempt to give some sort of linearity to the Eternal Champion series, so you might as well start with this. Though the first book is one of his best -- fast-paced, original ideas, great
scenes and characters -- The City in the Autumn Stars is darker and better, with an understnding of the alchemical philosophy you find in very few
writers. Sagittarius is a short, but a key story in the notion of the multiverse. The only disappointment for me is that The Sundered Worlds,
included in the US series, is missing. It's a
fairly standard space opera in its plot -- but it is the book where Moorcock first introduced the
multiverse, anticipated quarks, black holes and half the ideas in modern advanced physics or
astro-physics. Still, for sheer historical
adventure, this is a great start. Go for it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If there�s a Holy Grail, this book is one of its shadows, 24 July 2001
By 
D. De Gruijter (Leiden) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
This was the first part I read of The Eternal Champion, and it was also the first Moorcock I read. And I must say I'm very impressed with both. It makes me feel like stuffing an old smelly sock into the mouths of Proust fans that are so amazed with the size of his oeuvre. They haven't seen The Eternal Champion collected on one shelf yet!
"The War Hound and the World's Pain" is quite an enjoyable action-packed adventure not without its stimulating food for thought. Von Bek is quite the enigmatic hero, and the idea that Lucifer and God are haggling (as far as we know) on coming back to terms with each other with the possible troubles that move will bring for mankind has been quite influential, I think, on the "Preacher" comics. But it's also a sort of lengthy prologue on the next tale in line, "The City in the Autumn Stars". And this is where the real fun begins.
One could regard that specific tale as a pre-write of the Elric story "The Fortress of the Pearl", yet much more involving and mature, though also a lot more slow. Indeed, Moorcock has claimed more than once that his writing is pure for the entertainment, but "Autumn Stars" well exceeds the pleasure of that! I was very taken with the alchemical and occult lore that merges seamlessly with the adventure, and I am pleased to see how Moorcock handles this often vague and confusing matter in a clear and sophisticated way. After all, hermetic and occult philosophy has a bit of a repressed niche in western philosophy today, and wholly undeserved.
Moorcock has an excellent grasp of bringing about the era's he's writing about in these two tales. Less, however, in the last tale, "The Pleasure Garden of Felippe Sagittarius". It's shorter and less involving than the first two tales, and also lacks the original kick of "Autumn Stars". Yet it is an older story, preceding "Warhound" and "Autumn Stars" and it tells. But more than once I have been impressed with Moorcock's ability to link tales that sometimes have 15 years between them into a coherent whole. It's a bit of an oddball, but pleasurable nonetheless.
Elric of Melniboné, Hawkmoon, and Corum may be Moorcock's best known heroes, Von Bek, not a consistent champion, rather a hero in generations, is one of his most human and sophisticated heroes. A gentleman's hero, one could say, to sit with by the fireside, a glass of exquisite wine in one hand, and an ancient alchemical print on the wall, and good and fair speech of mysterious realms and beings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Classic, 24 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
Warhound and the World's pain is the best of the three in terms of entertainment value and is an excellent read even though a lot of the ideas are well used and being shorter than CIAS means it is a lot truer to Moorcock's other Eternal Champion stories and better for it.

CIAS is has the feel of an adventure novel with some characters we are familar with from the previous book and although it is probably more original then WAWP it's does lose it metaphysical focus that made WAWP so thought provoking. It still has the Moorcock charm but it only takes second place.

Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius is a strange cocktail of familar characters in a perverse 'Nazi' envrionment. It is written in a very short and sharp prose and I can't say it was really that good - just a bit of filler.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 9 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Von Bek: "Warhound and the World's Pain", "City in the Autumn Stars", "Pleasure Gardens of Felipe Sagittarius" (Tale of the Eternal Champion) (Paperback)
This was my introduction to the Eternal Champion series and I love it simply because it did introduce me to that wonderful saga.
Although slow in parts, this is a wonderful collection - bettered by the later segments, which I have not finished reading yet, but still amazingly imaginative.
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