Book Review: Elric of Melnibone


Michael Moorcock found himself disconnected from the Sword & Sorcery of Robert E. Howard and the fairy tale Fantasy of Tolkien.  He set out to write something different, and he helped to reshape the Fantasy genre.  With the arrival of Elric, we were given something far outside of the expectations of heroics.  An albino prince kept alive by drugs and magic, a scion of a dying people.  While there are dashes of medievalism, there is also a surrealism and a hypnotic dreaminess.  And hanging over it, a mythological dread.

The book has a chaste quality that fits with the time it was written, though it still feels odd.  And it’s a bit stilted.  Though it moves with a good pace and features lots of cool ideas, it feels like what it is, an early novel, trying to forge a new path using old maps.

It’s been a long danged time since the first time I read it, and a long time since I’ve read anything by Moorcock.  I’m thinking I might have to read through some more.  It’s got a certain something.  Fantasy isn’t my genre, and getting past that, this isn’t my type of Fantasy.  But it’s good.  And a good companion to read with Fritz Leiber’s work.  If you’re a Fantasy reader, you’ve got to check out Moorcock.  He’s one of the filters through which what came before had to pass to become contemporary fantasy.

I read this as part of the collection Elric: Song of the Black Sword.


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