The second book of Corum’s adventures finds our marred hero rousted out of his peace by the forces of Chaos. An army is on the march and it wants Corum’s blood. In the meantime, the (cosmic) sea spits up a strange and foppish character, Jhary-a-Conel (the Eternal Companion for our Eternal Champion). When everyone realizes waiting around to get killed isn’t a great idea, Corum and Co. go on a quest into another realm, that which is dominated by the Queen of the Swords, Xiombarg. And that’s when things get really weird.
These books are extremely fast paced. A bunch of stuff happens, but it flies by very quickly. Consequently, there’s not a ton of character development or deep complexities. Some is hinted at, but it’s left to the reader to fill in. There’s plenty of action and lots of strange environments and weird creatures. That’s the sort of thing that brings me back to Moorcock’s works. I don’t know that I love the take on Chaos in this book, particularly. Granted, it’s in-world characters talking about it, but this feels a bit more like the Warhammer universe Chaos=Evil thing that I don’t like.
Not that the Knight of the Swords had all that much to do, but I did feel like Queen Xiombarg got the short end of the stick. She basically showed up to shake her fists a couple times and then some crazy magic happened and things were wrapped up. As confrontations go, it was somewhat lackluster. The other conflicts in the book were more interesting, especially the weird stuff with the warrior cursed by Balance.
I can’t imagine this book would make a ton of sense or be especially engaging if you hadn’t already read The Knight of the Swords, so you know. Do that. It’s the second book in a trilogy and that’s how it should be read, even though it’s essentially a complete adventure.