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4.1 out of 5 stars
Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe
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on 20 February 2018
This anthology re-prints the swords trilogy, the first three Michael Moorcock books based on his character Corum. In these, Moorcock attempted to present a deeper characterisation than in some of his fantasy novels (for example Corum) but unfortunately they continue to be episodic and break little new ground.

The first book, The Knight of swords, represents a straight forward revenge story where a peaceful character, Corum, is driven to seek revenge and accept this as his destiny. It includes some imaginative bits involving chaos. While it is entertaining and worth reading if you are a fan of fantasy, it does nothing to justify Moorcocks reputation for groundbreaking and imaginative fantasy fiction.

The next book in the anthology, 'The Queen of Swords', continues the story. It does at times seem as if it is repeating the story of the previous book with slightly bigger special effects. If you enjoyed the first book, then you will probably enjoy this but it doesn't have anything to recommend it to someone who is not already a Moorcock fan.

The final book is 'The King of Swords'. This is the best in the trilogy because it dares to break away from the established pattern of the previous novels, breaking down the multiverse and introducing characters (namely Elric and Erekose) from his wider universe. The problem is, while Moorcock comes up with a clever plot, he does it at the expense of his previous character building in the previous two novels. This means that Corum could be any nameless Moorcock hero, acting as the plot requires, rather than his character requires.

So in all, 3/5. Buy if your a fan of Moorcock but not if you want something new.
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on 10 February 2015
I love 'Elric' but my brother's always gone on about Corum so I thought I'd jump in with these. They start off excellently well but then get a bit formulaic and 'meh'. I recently read Mr. Moorcock's 'write a book in three days' article and you can kind of see the techniques at work here. I will plod through it eventually but I keep finding other things to read and I'm only halfway through the second book...
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on 5 May 2013
Moorcock changed the face of fantasy fiction when he wrote the original Elric saga.
(Also in the process of a definitive re-issue by Gollancz right now (as of May 2013 that is) along with almost Moorcock's whole oeuvre.)
Unable to rest on his laurels, and with bills to pay (not least for the experimental and brilliant New Worlds magazine) he then almost casually tossed off this fabulous trilogy, tinged with the feel of the Celtic myths but without directly ripping off their plots or subject matter. As usual with Moorcock, his work stands head & shoulders above the legion of imitators who followed in his wake.
In saying this I do not wish to be accused of dissing the likes of Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, titans both, who were influenced by Moorcock without any risk of being labelled "imitators".
I know for some this is Mike's greatest fantasy series and Corum his crowning achievement. It seems the Prince in the Scarlet Robe appeals particularly to the ladies, who perhaps find Elric's addiction to a huge throbbing phallic symbol a tad too transparent.
(And everyone finds Hawkmoon a bit of a miserable git, of course ;O)
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on 29 March 2016
The trouble with dipping into Moorcock's vast interlinked oeuvre is not knowing where the hell to begin. I did try to read one of the Jerry Cornelius short story collections many years ago, but going into that straight from Eddings & Feist wasn't such a good idea - Moorcock bounced straight off me.

Now, I like my epic fantasies, and from what I could gather this particular volume, the first of two Corum collections, seemed to be a good place to try again. And it works both as an introduction to Moorcock's simultaneously blunt and poetic style, Corum as a character and as a facet of the Eternal Champion, and to the concept of Moorcock's multiverse itself.

Corum himself is a bit of an archetypal questing hero, just as the stories themselves are archetypal quests replete with increasingly powerful "end-of-level" bosses which must be defeated for him to achieve some degree of peace (the final boss is defeated by a literal deus ex machina, albeit one flagged up as early as the grafting-on of Corum's new hand). He dooms and glooms across the unpronounceable lands of the world in search of his plot coupons as all heroes must, but the quests themselves are secondary to Corum's internal struggles and - from the second book in - the construction and introduction of the multiverse.

The conflicts become ever more existential and philosophical after the arrival of "Jhary a-Conel", flying across dimensions and ages, and Moorcock even introduces Elric and Erekose for cameos, but his literary style - here at least - is blunt enough to absorb all this without bogging down the pace of the story.

Definitely a good place to start if you're considering exploring Moorcock's worlds - and these Gollancz editions are very handsome indeed.
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on 29 January 2014
The single novel and omnibus editions in the Gollancz 2013 "Definitive" set have changes ranging from as little as a word or two, the odd spelling & syntax correction, or just a name (to now blatantly spell out or newly link existing novels- sales!?), or even a little bit of each of these, to actual restoration of text. Here are the titles and dates of the LAST SIGNIFICANT REVISIONS: Elric,1977 (Stormbringer, restored & revised); Eternal Champion,1978; Cornelius Quartet,1979; Ice Schooner,1985; Hawkmoon quadrilogy,1992; Count Brass trilogy, The Nomad of Time trilogy, The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming,1993; The Wrecks of Time, The Winds of Limbo and The Shores of Death,1996 (all in "The Roads Between the Worlds" omnibus, U.S., with new linking material); The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius,2003. The rest of this Gollancz edition should be O.K., with the only exceptions occuring, so far, and irrespective of the addition of illustrations, in Gloriana, with full text restored (11/04/13) and, we are promised, The Nomad of Time, with 7 pages of text restored (April,2014). So check your publication dates before purchasing!! The other single and omnibus edtions i haven't named would not seem to be changed and i don't think we really needed the descendants of Von Beck to suddenly appear and help us make connections between the various incarnations of the Eternal Champion (the name-changing i mentioned earlier). Wikiverse has a comprehensive M.M. bibliography and "Revised Works" page, accessable directly or linked from Moorcock's Miscellany. This information is as accurate as i can make it at time of writing (there is no helpful info to be gleaned from the actual Gollancz 2013 editions themselves!), but may well need updating as time flows. Hope this helps both new chrononauts and the more mature journeyers of the time streams.
N.B. This omnibus in not based on Celtic material- that's the other set, Corum: The Prince with the Silver Hand.
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on 31 December 2014
Aged 14 The Knight of the Swords was the first Moorcock I ever read and the Corum series remain one of my favorite fantasy series.
Corum is not human, he belongs to an ancient Elf like people called the Vadhagh. So old and cultured are the Vadhagh that at first they ignore the rise of the Mabden or men. This proves their undoing as the Mabden grow to dominate the world and destroy the older races including the Vadhagh. Corum must destroy the three Lords of Chaos (Gods or Demons depending on your viewpiont) in order to restore order to his world.

What Moorcock never forgets is that Fantasy is meant to be fantastic. Here is a world full of Gods, demons, magic and violence and the story moves along at a swift pace. Don't expect great truths about the world but do expect to be taken to strange and magical land, indeed to lands and an very enjoyable read.
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on 30 March 2013
Please excuse my possible ignorance, but in what way exactly are these 'definite' editions going to be more definitive than the previous 'definitive' editions? For example, I've already got the Moonbeams trilogy (ie, THE DREAMTHIEF'S DAUGHTER/THE SKRAYLING TREE/THE WHITE WOLF'S SOON) and the Corum books (ie, THE PRINCE WITH THE SILVER HAND & CORUM omnibus trade-size paperbacks ' The Tale of the Eternal Champion' editions). Ditto with the Second Ether sequence, Hawkmoon, Count Brass, etc.

I know that with the new series the Elric books will be in the 'right order' for the first time - with a little bit of obscure, hard to find, material bunged-in. But is it just essentially the same books albeit - hopefully! - with fewer typos, lay-out mistakes, etc? I ask because I have limited financial means, therefore do not want to fork out for the same stuff yet again?

Best regards,
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