The fast-moving, always creative story passes through three "acts" that take Elric from the weakened Emperor of dying Melniboné, a kingdom of inhuman, cruel people, to the start of his lonely sojourn in the Young Kingdoms (which will occupy the rest of his adventures). The tragic arc of the saga is established here: Elric pledges his service to the God of Chaos, Arioch, and takes possession of the treacherous sword Stormbringer. Moorcock's writing is breathlessly beautiful and intense, especially when he describes the decadent magnificence of the casually cruel Kingdom of Melniboné and the splendor of its capital city. The action is also brilliant and constantly inventive, especially the sequences involving ships trying to navigate the maze that protects the harbor of the capital of Melniboné. And through it all is the wonderful, brooding hero of Elric, one of the greatest creations in all of fantasy.
This is the place to start to experience one of the great, unusual, and philosophical fantasy series ever written.
This first book of the Elric Saga has all the elements of a great, fantasy adventure. A great setting and lore, great characters, and an ever-progressing story through creative and dangerous lands...plus it's a quick read. A nice time-filler between LORD OF THE RINGS movies.
This book is a fantastic film or PS2 role-playing game just waiting to happen.
Perhaps more than any fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings, the six "classic" Elric novels stand as the definitive fantasy novels. Not long after their original American publication in the authorized editions (with stunning Michael Whelan cover art), the TSR folks included a section on Elric in the original AD&D book Deities and Demigods, removed in subsequent printings for legal reasons. Then the gothic metal band Cirith Ungol used some of Whelan's Elric paintings for their album covers. And thus, the legendary books gained fame beyond that of normal readers...
But I digress. Given the unique nature of the growth of the Elric cult, the question needs asked: do the books themselves, the subject matter therein, stand up to all the hype? Yes, they do. Despite having some problems in the execution (clumsy handing of foreshadowing and detail introduction, overuse of exclamation points, inability to call a character by either a first or last name when a character has both [e.g., Dyvim Tvar is never referred to as "Dyvim" or "Tvar," but always "Dyvim Tvar"], etc.), Elric hands us something fantasy readers up to that point hadn't been used to: an antihero, and a sympathetic one to boot.
Elric is the eighty-eighth lord of the island kingdom of Melnibonë, once a power that ruled over the world. Its power has waned in the interim, and some see the sickly Elric as proof of this. His cousin Yyrkoon wants the throne as badly as Elric doesn't. The bulk of the first novel deals with the struggle between Elric and Yyrkoon for the throne, with Yyrkoon's sister Cymoril, who also happens to be Elric's betrothed, caught in the middle between them.Read more ›
This is a decidedly adult fantasy story; Elric's is a world of drugs and slavery, and this story is dark, violent, and full of political intrigue. Moorcock succeeds in giving the story an evocative, mythic feel. The author has created, in addition to Elric, some really memorable characters (such as Doctor Jest, the master torturer). The book is full of wonderfully cinematic scenes and skillfully realized fantasy concepts. And the melancholy Elric makes for an interestingly offbeat hero.
Ultimately, "Elric" is about such resonant issues as love, ambition, responsibilty, and the seeming pull of destiny. For a compelling companion text, try Ursula K. LeGuin's "A Wizard of Earthsea."