Book Review: The Fortress of Pearl

Fortress of Pearl

After re-reading Elric of Melnibone a few months ago, I was still in the mood to read some trippy, psychedelic Fantasy.  So I returned to the Young Kingdoms and the battle between Chaos and Law.  Alas, this adventure of the cursed albino was a bit of a rough slog.

There were several core problems with the book.  First, it gives Elric a redundant curse.  Essentially, he’s poisoned by a substance that affects him in much the same way Stormbringer does.  It gives him temporary, illusory strength, but sucks the life from his core.  OK.  So, it’s like there’s this guy who’s addicted to coke, but now he’s also addicted to speed.  So what?  The second major problem is what I sometimes think of as the Voyager Effect.  The story takes Elric away from the Young Kingdoms and off into some distant wasteland.  This doesn’t feel like exploring the greater world, just a change of venue where nothing that happens or that we learn means anything or has any lasting effect on the greater setting; much like what happened with Star Trek: Voyager.  A third problem is the third act, a journey through various levels of dream-reality, where once again, nothing that happens seems to matter.  There are other problems, like a cast of supporting characters that never rise above cardboard cut-outs.

Michael Moorcock is always a bit hit and miss, and this one is a definite miss.  Perhaps, if it turns out that anything in this book has an effect on anything that happens in other stories, I might look back on it as a worthy read.  Not sure when I’ll dip my toes back into this particular pool, though.

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


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