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on 23 June 2017
What a joy it has been to 'rediscover' Moorcock in response to a video from Neil Gaiman. Neil is interviewed (YouTube) on what were the three books that changed his life. In characteristically brilliant Gaimanese, he says, "...everything concatenated and spread out from Moorcock..." He was talking not about this novel but rather one later in the series, namely, "Stormbringer." I, however, wanted to start with the first novel, and I was not disappointed. Those of us, acquainted with Moorcock's works, know his authority and compelling style as a writer. My only question (to myself) is why I haven't taken time over the years to dive deeper into his works - a mistake I mean to rectify with a vengeance!

My thanks go, of course, to Neil Gaiman, who, once again, has acted as a catalyst for positive change in my life.
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on 18 July 2017
as expected
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on 25 March 2014
Moorcocks best character, brought together in this masterworks special. My only complaint is that it's not available on Kindle... Yet!
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on 15 May 1999
I have actually read most of the stories in this collection before, the first story, Elric of Melnibone, I was reading for the third time. It is not your usual "Tolkien" style fantasy, although unlike Michael Moorcock I loved "The Lord of Rings", but I do dislike most of Tolkien's imitators intensely. The 1st story must be one the best fantasy stories ever written, it is quite short but it contains a lot of action, and Michael Moorcock's world is far more original than your typical pseudo medieval Europe setting, I just wish that he would flesh it out a bit more. On the other hand that might be part of the fun, I wasted many hours as a teenager imagining the world of Melnibone, and drawing the various characters. I did notice that Elric's earlier stories are far more fun than the later ones, they are straightforward fantasy adventures, although with a much harder "edge" to them than anything currently available, his newer stories i'm not really sure about, they are somewhat (dare i say it) tedious, and they seem to repeat ideas from other stories. But overall this book is brilliant, for those of you who are wasting their time with books by inferior writers like Terry brooks and David Eddings, drop them, and go out and buy this one.
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on 2 October 2002
This collection captures the REAL Elric - it reprints the 5 original stories and Stormbringer - exactly the way a new reader should be introduced to Elric. Reading the stories in the order they were first published is a MUCH better way to get a real feel for the character and his world. This collection captures the real "core" of the character - kudos to the publisher for eschewing a larger collection and returning to the basics. Too bad it doesnt come in hardcover.
Forget the larger collections - the writing of those later stories is very uneven. IF YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT ELRIC, BUY THIS BOOK!
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on 21 December 2000
When Moorcock was writing his first fantasy stories he was consciously borrowing from the vitality of the science fantasy pulps and that shows in the shorter stories here. But as Moorcock began to write in book form, the writing became more sophisticated and ambitious. Which makes for a bit of a roller coaster here, since the stories aren't published in the order they were written but in chronological order. All that said, you aren't going to get this stuff any better. If Hendrix is the king of guitar heroes, Moorcock is the king of supernatural adventure stories. The stories gallop along. They are packed with more invention on every page than you find in most fantasy trilogies, and they are full of wit, ironic humour, memorable characters. The most memorable, of course, is Elric -- the acknowledged grand-daddy of every brooding Dark Fantasy hero-villain from The Crow to Angel. Imagine a time before such characters as Elric existed and you'll realise just how much Moorcock gave to the genre with Elric alone. He and Tolkien are the tops. Modern fantasy would be nothing like the same without them. It's fair to say there might not be a modern fantasy genre without them. It seems stupid to argue who is best, even though Moorcock doesn't like LOTR (but says Prof. T was encouraging to him as a boy). They are the poles, the level to which the rest aspire. After that we have Peake, who is probably the best of all but did not give birth, like Tolkien and Moorcock, to an entire genre. If you are curious about the origins of modern fantasy, worldwide, you have to read Moorcock and Tolkien. KO
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on 16 August 2010
A long time ago, someone put me off reading Michael Moorcock - someone who had a pretty negative view of him as a writer. Bizarrely, I have absolutely no recollection who this was. Because of this person, I spent the first 37 years of my life not having read any Michael Moorcock. And I'm now thinking that was a mistake.

The four short stories that form the first half of this volume are the first Elric stories, dating back to 1961 and 1962, which puts them pretty early in terms of modern fantasy - six or seven years after Lord of the Rings. They are very different to LotR, but curiously quite similar to other parts of Tolkien's work that at that time were unpublished - notably the stories of Turin. Apparently both Moorcock and Tolkien's stories were influenced by the same tale from Finnish mythology, as indeed was Poul Anderson, but more on him in another review. A genuine coincidence it would seem.

Of course I knew about Elric before reading the books - If you've been exposed to as much fantasy role-playing as I have, he's hard to avoid. In a Games Workshop Q&A session at an RPG convention in the 80s, I once asked why GW seemed to be so obsessed with the concept of 'chaos' and the panel replied simply because they were all Michael Moorcock fans. Anyway, Elric - angst-ridden albino anti-hero with demonic super-sword. But for some reason I had it in my head that Moorcock wrote pulpy rubbish.

I was completely wrong. Even in these early books, I would say he stands above most fantasy authors in terms of his writing style. These stories are thrilling and exciting. I can see why they made a stir and why fantasy readers who gave up on LotR after Tom Bombadil would have got on rather better with Elric, exiled last Emperor of Melnibone and his evil soul-eating sword Stormbringer. Of course, it is possible to like both. It's probably true that angst-ridden anti-heroes have become more common in fantasy literature since the early 60s, but few can have been done as well as Elric.

The Elric stories also form part of Moorcock's 'Eternal Champion' cycle which features characters in different settings who are more-or-less incarnations of a central 'Eternal Champion'. I love this idea. After reading these first four Elric short stories, I went out and bought a lot of Moorcock works (mostly second-hand - some of them are difficult to get hold of new). Many of these books were Eternal Champion books. More reviews to follow!
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on 29 March 2009
A brilliant piece if Fantasy Fiction by Moorcock. Elric is by far one of the best characters ever written in any genre, his dark broody presence fills each page and with his Chaos filled sword Stormbringer brings countless mayhem to all he meets. All of Moorcock's novels follow a similar line, a war against Chaos and light, good and evil, sometimes this can be monotonous but with Elric it really works. His writing style is great, you can really get a scene not only for each different character but for each backdrop, whether is be the ancient woods or the city of Karlaak. For me this is how you can tell the difference between a good author and a great one and Moorcock is definitely the latter.

Erlic has hired mercenary war bands to raid his old city and to gain revenge on his cousin for taking the Ruby Throne and putting the women he loves into an endless sleep. After the battle is won and his home city is burning and blood running down it's streets Erlic heads back into the world in search of knowledge and plunder. He meets friends and from there they go from one place to another causing death and mayhem, but Elric senses doom coming over the horizon. Will he and his friends survive? Only the cursed sword Stormbringer can decide.

If you're a lover of Fantasy then this and Moorcock's work are a must, they truly are a classic worth reading.
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on 17 August 2011
Now I've bought the book! Back in the early eightees a mate tried to persuade me to try an Elric story but being sixteen and still knowing everything I sneered at him and carried on reading Wilbur Smith. I thought all that fairy and magic stuff all a bit daft at that stage and Elric being co-opted into the whole prog-rock scene made him even more un-cool in my eyes.

Now some years later as a complete fantasy anorak I have felt the need to go back and fill in this gap and boy I wish I had got into them then as I would have loved them if I had allowed myself to! Moorcock sort of picked up the ball from Tolkien and Anderson, ran with it for quite a while and then passed onto the likes of Erikson, Martin and Fiest. I probably should mention The Thomas Covenant chronicles too, but on the grounds I may slash my own wrists before the end of the review I won't!

Back to the book. It is a work very much of it's time, a giant ruby throne, alternative planes of existance and of course magic swords! All maybe a bit old hat and naff now but at the time this was written.. very happening.

Also Elric himself completely breaks the mold of a seventies hero. This was also the era of Howard's Conan. A muscle bound, loincloth clad barbarian. Wheres as Elric is a slender albino sapling who must make himself a warrior to fear.

This the first in the series sees Elric lose his throne, win it back and then more or less give it away again. There are battles at sea, visits to weird cities in other dimensions and of course the discovery and mastery of a magic sword! The book was fairly fast moving and shortbut of course runs into a huge series.

Readers unaware of it's historical importance will of course compare it to the modern writers of today where it will lose points on it's lack of grit and gore, but if read those same writers acknowledgments and influences you will see many a word of praise from them to Moorcock.

A fantasy classic!
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on 27 October 2003
When all the other fashionable fantasy of our time is forgotten three writers will be remembered and read -- Tolkien, Peake and Moorcock. And perhaps the most interesting of these is Moorcock, since he has written such a wide variety of fiction, including some of the best literary fiction of our time. If you want to find out about his fantasy, this is probably the best collection to begin with. It is about as fat as the average first volume of a Tolkien-clone but contains an amazing amount of substance. Read with the second volume (Stormbringer) it forms an epic which knocks all others out of the ring (and I'm
including LOTR). Elric's father, Sadric, has already begun the rot before the series opens, finding himself unable to sacrifice the usual number of brides and bridegrooms to bring good luck to his own wedding. This, many at court believe, has meant that his wife not only gave birth to a feeble albino, but died herself. Now that albino sits on the Ruby Throne of Melnibone and his subjects wonder whether he will restore the old customs or continue the rot. In particular his cousin Yyrkoon and Yyrkoon's sister (Elric's betrothed) are curious about this,
for Cymoril, the sister, loves Elric while Yyrkoon not only hates him, he covets the throne of Melnibone, pledged to return the Empire to its former glory, through sorcery, cruelty and compacts with the forces of evil. So the saga begins, with Elric forever ambiguous, yet still having many of the traits of the unhuman Melniboneans, not least a penchant for cruel slaughter. This trait will be emphasised when he at last discovers Stormbringer, the black runesword which drinks souls and passes their vitality on to Elric himself, allowing him to sustain himself without drugs or charms.
My advice is to dive in with this book and then read Stormbringer. When you've done with the two omnibuses there are still two fine Elric novels to be read, which develop the ideas both dramatically and intellectually (for Moorcock is that rare thing, an intellectual fantast working in a popular mode). In
my humble opinion The Dreamthief's Daughter is one of the finest Elric novels, yet only written a couple of years ago, while The
Skrayling Tree is its worthy companion. If you are not familiar with Elric, now's the time to start. Moorcock has been called the Boss fantasy writer by many greater critics than me. I assure you, you won't be disappointed.
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