A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Men will have cause to tremble and flee when they hear the names of Elric of Melniboné and Stormbringer, his sword. We are two of a kind—produced by an age which has deserted us. Let us give this age cause to hate us!
Elric, last king of Melniboné, returns to the dreaming city of Imrryr after years wandering away from his kingdom. He intends to slay his cousin, the usurper Yyrkoon, and reclaim his love Cymoril using a fleet of mercenary ships, the black magic passed down to him by his ancestors, and his rune-forged, soul-devouring sword Stormbringer.
If you rolled your eyes five words into that plot synopsis you’re probably not alone. Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories are stone cold SF&F classics, but they don’t really appeal to the casual fantasy reader. If you’ve only got a few fantasy authors on your shelves, Michael Moorcock probably isn’t one of them.
But I implore you to give Elric a chance. There’s a couple dozen novels, novellas, and stories in his saga, of which “The Dreaming City” was the first written. They tend to take the form of fast paced adventure tales in the Conan mode, with a key difference: Elric is the antithesis of the hyper-masculine Conan. Moorcock’s protagonist is actually a frail albino whose only strength comes from black magic, demonic gods, and an evil sword. His morals are not just un-hobbit-like, I bet they’d even abash Conan occasionally. It’s a different take on high fantasy, one that’s still unique today, more than 50 years after “The Dreaming City” was first published.
Review by Matthew