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Elric of Melnibone 1 Mass Market Paperback – July 15, 1987
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Elric of Melniboné is a requisite title in the hard fantasy canon, a book no fantasy fan should leave unread. Author Michael Moorcock, already a major player in science fiction, cemented his position in the fantasy pantheon with the five-book Elric saga, of which Elric of Melniboné is the first installment. The book's namesake, the brooding albino emperor of the dying nation of Melniboné, is a sort of Superman for Goths, truly an archetype of the genre.
The youthful Elric is a cynical and melancholy king, heir to a nation whose 100,000-year rule of the world ended less than 500 years hence. More interested in brooding contemplation than holding the throne, Elric is a reluctant ruler, but he also realizes that no other worthy successor exists and the survival of his once-powerful, decadent nation depends on him alone. Elric's nefarious, brutish cousin Yrkoon has no patience for his physically weak kinsman, and he plots constantly to seize Elric's throne, usually over his dead body. Elric of Melniboné follows Yrkoon's scheming, reaching its climax in a battle between Elric and Yrkoon with the demonic runeblades Stormbringer and Mournblade. In this battle, Elric gains control of the soul-stealing Stormbringer, an event that proves pivotal to the Elric saga. --Paul Hughes
I was so impressed with this audiobook that I wrote and thanked the director. -- SFFAudio.com
Jeffrey West brings this fantasy tale to life with such force, you can feel the swords clashing in his narration. -- Bennet Pomerantz, Audioworld
a time-proven fantasy classic, and a top notch technician, culminating in one of this years stellar releases. --CJ Henderson, AudioBooksToday --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The earliest Elric material were short stories serialized in the pulps during the 60s. These stories, beginning with "The Dreaming City", were published in mass market paperback form in the US under the title "Stealer of Souls". "The Dreaming City" itself, still one of the greatest Elric stories, has been published under the title "Stormbringer" and "Stealer of Souls", as a stand alone story! Later, in response to the Elric mania which ensued, Moorcock wrote a "conclusion" of the Elric Saga in the form of four short novellas, which were later published in book form under the title "Stormbringer" in the US. These two compilations, "Stealer of Souls" and "Stormbringer" are the earliest and best of the Elric series. These compilations are what are referred to in the Appendix N list of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide and what Fantasy Masterworks has published in this volume under the title "Elric". So, you see, this is the best place to begin.
Subsequently, Moorcock published a further series of Elric books which are set in the time periods prior to and between the first two volumes. These include "The Singing Citadel"(1970), "The Sleeping Sorceress"(1971), "Elric of Melnibone"(1972), and "The Sailor on the Seas of Fate"(1976). From what I've experienced--and I haven't read much--these are inferior to the first two books and only for Elric addicts. A good source has told me that Sailor on the Seas of Fate is unreadably boring.
Reading the Elric saga as it should be read leaves little doubt that Michael Moorcock is in the top tier of fantasy authors. It's hard to convey how truly original and innovative the stories are. The first sequence of short stories in "Stealer of Souls" is probably the best of Elric. Tolkien seems to have been influenced by this sequence in the published version of the Silmarillion. The kin slaying by the Noldor must owe something to Elric's kin-slaying in the "Dreaming City". Elric is even once called "kin slayer" in a subsequent story. The story of Turin Turambar is a forceful homage to Elric, which also points out that Elric is a retelling of the story of Kullervo from the Finnish Kalevala. What other living writer can say "I influenced the Master"?!
Now, looking at these negative reviews. I read these and what I hear by their reviews is basically that most of these people didn't grow up when these were written, they use current writing as a basis to not see these books for what they are, or, they've read one or part of the first book and make an opinion.
To each there own, you don't like it? fine, that's cool, but to come up with serious personal issues of why it wasn't liked because it comes off as this or that, well, these were written BEFORE most of the books that can compare to it. Sure, if I am 15 and my first book is a dragonlance in 1994 or if I was 16 in 2010 when Hunger Games was written and released and found out about Elric now, sure, I would probably have a different opinion. However, it doesn't excuse someone from downing it because they don't understand the timeframe it was written in.
With all that said, please take into account that you may or may not like this series, however, please don't compare these books to modern day fiction. Also, if you ARE going to read these, at least read all six books of the original series and remember that they were written long ago. If you do that, your possibly dislike of these books may be tempered to just what they are, good stories.
Sorry if this sounds almost like a rant, but I believe that a negative review from limited insight is a bad thing and not doing anyone any justice. Although, some will love these books and others will not.
Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone also benefits from interesting plot twists and some very creative ideas. Further,Moorcock is technically an elegant writer. His prose borders on the poetic, at times. Elric, however, was a boor in my opinion. He is "cynical and melancholy" and riddled with self-doubt. He hardly ever makes a move without second-guessing himself. Some will argue that this makes him more real that the typical fantasy hero, but this IS fantasy, after all. I don't read fantasy to get "real life" thrown back in my face.
Elric, along with the rest of his people, is cruel. They think nothing of drugging galley slaves so that they give a super-human effort in battle, then drop dead afterward. They use sadistic forms of torture routinely, both to punish and to extract evidence from prisoners. This isn't very heroic,and heroes should understand that torture doesn't elicit evidence, only whatever the torturer wants to hear. A torture victim will say anything, whether it's true or not. A sorceror king shouldn't need to resort to physical torture.
Then there is Elric's evil cousin, Yyrkoon. Elric must repeatedly defend himself against Yyrkoon's treacherous betrayal, yet every time he defeats Yyrkoon, he lets him off the hook. In the end, we are to believe that Yyrkoon has changed his stripes, and Elric goes off seeking adventures leaving Yyrkoon to rule in his stead. Right! Farmer catches fox in coop eating chicken. Farmer puts fox in charge of chicken coop while he goes on vacation. Seems stupid to me.
Finally, there is no humor in this book. At all. Elric ponders. He doubts. He regrets. His kingdom is in decline. All is dark and humorless. Outside of Imrryr, Elric's capitol, all is shabby and dreary. And, ultimately, all are pawns of greater powers that care nothing for humans, anyway.
This is an imaginative, well-written, dreary story that is ultimately not very satisfying. The hero is foolish and unsympathetic. When all is said and done, you find it hard to really care what happens to him. I already have the next two books in the series, so I will read them. Perhaps Elric will become more sympathetic, but I'm not counting on it.