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Corum - The Queen of Swords: The Eternal Champion Kindle Edition
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Since "Queen of the Swords" is book 2 of the six-book Corum series I have to inform curious readers that it is essential that they read book 1 "Knight of the Sword". It is what it is - one remarkable fantasy story told in six chapters - miss a chapter and well that's a real problem.
"Queen of the Swords" picks up where "Knight of the Swords" left off: Corum had destroyed the heart of Lord Arioch of Chaos restoring the cosmic balance on Five Planes of reality. Undaunted Corum's sworn enemies seek supernatural aid while being goaded by Chaos Lord Xiombarg. Traveling to the realm of the Queen of the Swords (Xiombarg) to seek help from the City in the Pyramid Corum is assisted by a man of mystery one Jhary-a-Conel - an individual who is companion across space-time to several of Moorcock's Eternal Champions in the cosmic tug-for-war between Law and Chaos. No spoilerhs here you have to read it to see how it all shakes out - highly recommended.
Michael Moorcock is a creative master at assigning names to character, place and item names. His fantasy novels resonate with his memorable creations. In fact just the mention of a fictional name in a review or article about Moorcock brings to this readers mind stories and personalities I hold in great esteem.
In the six book Corum series these terms and names seem to fit exactly into the context of the fantasy world Moorcock created: Vadhagh and Nhadragh were the Elder Races or Old Races - ancient enemies; the Nhadragh lived in castles on islands in the sea - the Vadhagh lived in family groups on the continent Bro-an-Vadhagh; man called Mabden at first fearful of the Elder Races then jealous then began to feel malicious; Jhary-a-Conel companion to champions in many of Moorcock's series - also referred to as "you of many names" - a co-adventurer with Prince Corum starting with "Queen of the Swords"; Prince Corum Jhaelen Irsei perhaps the last of the Vadhagh race - sometimes known as Prince in the Scarlet Robe also known as Prince with the Silver Hand; Earl Glangyth-a-Krae, a mabden(man), sworn enemy of Corum and leader of the Denledhyssij (murderers); Five Planes of reality - cotangent realms ruled by Lord Arioch of Chaos and subject of Corum book 1 and Lord Arkyn of Law assist Corum in restoring the Cosmic Balance between Chaos and Law or good and evil.
Some of the characters and locations and narrative tropes used in the Corum series play significant roles in other series and novels by Moorcock. While perplexing to new readers it make marvelous sense once you become acquainted with some of his other eternal champions such as Elric of Melnibone, Duke Dorian Hawkmoon and Prince Corum Jhaelen Irsei. This aspect of his storytelling prowess has and continues to make this author a favorite of many readers.
The Queen of Swords is a solid story, but not quite as compelling as The Knight of Swords, or the third book The King of Swords. It has a bit of a slow start, but once the character Jhary-a-Conel is introduced (the companion of champions) the story picks up quite a bit. Also, having read the third book already, I can say there are some themes and characters introduced in this volume that are important to the next volume. Plus if you're a Moorcock fan, there's an appearance by Gaynor the Damned. This book is also Corum's introduction to the Multiverse, which plays heavily in the next book.
In closing, I very nearly rated this book 5 stars as it is a very good story, but when compared with 1 and 3 it's just not QUITE as good.