on March 10, 2004
Michael Moorcock created the character of Elric, a doomed albino prince of a dying race who carries a cursed sword called Stormbringer in his wanderings throughout the Young Kingdoms of the humans, in the mid-sixties for "Science Fantasy Magazine." Elric starred in a series of novellas, the last four of which were gathered together to create this single novel, "Stormbringer." Although Moorcock has gone on to write many more novels featuring Elric, "Stormbringer is chronologically the last of the series; the albino prince meets his destiny and the world faces its fate in the eternal battle of law and chaos.
And the saga ends on its highest note; without a doubt, "Stormbringer" is one of the best of Michael Moorcock novels. Most fans consider this finale the best in the series. Even though it was originally published as four novellas, the parts flow together in one concentrated epic of sorcerery, horror, and war. The storyline has the the Theocrat of Pan Tang, Jagreed Lern, ally himself with the Dukes of Hell to spread Chaos across the Earth, warping it in nightmarish ways. Leading the seemingly hopeless struggle against the conquerors, Elric comes to understand finally the destiny appointed him, and that the fate of the entire world -- and the one that will follow it -- rests on his own, hideous sacrifice.
Moorcock's imagination here is feverish and grotesque, the battles sequences are epic and thrilling, and the language is poetic and deeply tragic. Everything that has come before in the saga of Elric (principally in the five earlier novellas that make up "The Werid of the White Wolf" and "The Bane of the Black Sword," as well as the 1972 prequel novel "Elric of Melniboné") crashes together for the cosmic, cathartic conclusion. This stands easily amongst the best fantasy novels ever written, and fine example of dark, philosophic fantasy filled with imagery that you will never forget.
on November 6, 1999
I think the ending brings out so much character and depth in Elric. It reminded me of the first book...thus reminding me of what Elric is and where he came from. Everything that you've read about Elric's history comes into focus on the last few pages. If you are trying to pick up a Moorcock book, read Elric of Melnibone' first. If you think the book says too much that the sword "drinks souls"...think about the title for one second, then think about the whole premise for Elric. I was amazed at that comment in one of the summaries, but hey, everybody is entitled to their own opinions. My two cents is this: this is one of the best series I have ever read, and it won't disappoint you. If you like fantasy and sword play, this is definitely for you. Elric helped to reconstruct all of fantasy...isn't that enough to want to make you read these books? It was for me! Enjoy.
on July 27, 2004
Elric, Crimson-Eyed Albino, Last Emperor of Melnibon?, Kinslayer (and many more unflattering titles), is still closely bound to his sword, Stormbringer. It being a product of Chaos, much like himself, makes it the perfect weapon against his former Masters.
In this book, the last of the Elric Saga, Elric will at long last learn his Fate. More yet, he will have to blow the Horn of Fate, thrice, before the World can be reborn. But of course, the Lords of Chaos aren't just going to let him destroy everything they own, everything they are.
It's an all out Battle against the Dukes of Hell themselves, and Elric is running out of Allies. The Sourcerer-Albino still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and the Horn of Fate is able to help him rouse the Dragons of Melnibon? from their slumber on the Dragon Isle.
But it will take more than the Mighty Melnibonean Dragons to overcome these forces of Chaos.
While his enemies are numerous and the most powerful forces in all of the Multiverse, Elric is aided by The Servants of Fate. And that is help one cannot overlook.
Of course, that's all I can say, I can't spoil the entire book for you, wouldn't be nice.
Michael Moorcock's characters are somewhat unique. Elric most of all. He is in some ways a typical anti-hero, though so much more. The characters, and particularly Elric, are very well thought out, and as Moorcock would say "They're everything Tolkien's characters aren't".
Moonglum is in many ways (still) the exact opposite of Elric. Though they are both part of a greater being, and serve a common purpose, they are entirely different.
Dyvim Slorm again is completely different. Whereas Elric lacked certain Melnibon?an traits (among other things due his albinism), he is the perfect example of a True Melnibon?an. What that means, you will have see for yourself.
Still, you will have to read the book to get better acquainted with all the characters. Who knows, you might just like some of them .
The only downside to this book is that it is the last one in the Saga. After this there is nothing more for Elric. Once you read the Final Chapter you know that it's time to let go of what is in my opinion the most amazing character in the history of Fantasy! You might just shed a tear, though that's not really a bad thing.
The best part of the book is that despite its being Fantasy, very dark and gloomy Fantasy, you can still relate to it. Of course, you can't relate to going up against the Lords of Chaos, but Elric is a very emotional character in some ways, and that is something everyone can relate to.
I'm not going to lie to you, not many people will like this book. Fantasy is already a somewhat 'despised' genre among many, and Moorcock is possibly one of the more despised writers ever, but that alone is a great proof of his awesome talent.
If you like a very exciting book, of which you know the end will be sad; if you like Moorcock's Multiverse, his Champion Eternal, his struggle for the Balance; then you will love this book. If not, then you won't.
The best 'pro' however is this one: Elric can kick some serious ass with that bad ass sword of his! Go Stormbringer!
To put in the word those silly kids nowadays use "OMFG IT PWNZ!11!!".
Erhm, I mean, yes, the book rocks.
In all seriousness, this is my favourite book in my favourite Saga by my favourite author. Before I read Moorcock's books I thought nothing could get better than The Lord of the Rings, boy, was I wrong.
on May 12, 2000
When Stealer of Souls and Stormbringer were first published in the 1960s, there wasn't much fantasy around. William Morris, Lord Dunsany and others of that generation were long out of print; Robert E. Howard's Conan stories were tied up in probate. The Lord of the Rings had just come out, and had turned our heads. Previously the world of science fiction was dominated by hard science fiction -- tales of space exploration, and aliens. Those of us who discovered we liked the fantasy also craved more. If we were lucky, we discovered Joy Chant's Red Moon and Black Mountain, a clever British tale of English schoolchildren whisked into a epic adventure in an alternate world. And then Stealer of Souls arrived (now called Sailer on the Seas of Fate I believe), a series of short stories about Elric, the tortured albino, wielder of the first great runesword, Stormbringer, and Moonglum, his faithful companion. It was so different from Tolkien and Chant, so energetic, it was an instant favorite. It was followed quickly by Stormbringer. I still remember my reaction when I finished it -- an anguished cry of "You can't do that!" But Moorcock could, and did, giving us one the first great unexpected endings. Thirty-plus years later, I reread Stormbringer for a book discussion group. It creaks a bit, but it still holds its place in history. Strongly influenced by the raw style of Robert E. Howard (I learned later once I read the Conan books which were -- finally -- reprinted in the 70s for a whole new generation), Elric remains a unique hero, not a mighty-thewed physical barbarian like Conan, but a mighty sorceror from an ancient race, with a past he's trying to run away from and/or forget. And, because the fans demanded more, Moorcock went back later and filled in the back story. But Stormbringer remains a strong story, with elements that weave through many fantasy tales now (C.S. Friedman's Coldfire trilogy comes instantly to mind), whether or not the authors themselves recognize it. Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone, like Lieber's Grey Mouser and Fafhred, Howard's Conan, and Tolkien's Strider, is a character that made an influence on the fantasy that followed it, and should be read by all lovers of the genre.
Michael Moorcock, Stormbringer (DAW, 1977)
Moorcock, in his acknowledgements, calls Stormbringer the first novel he ever wrote. (Much of what has come before in this series, in truth, is collections of shorter works.) It makes sense, in that Stormbringer, the last of the classic Elric novels, is a more coherent piece of work than those that have come before it, and is thus an easier read despite its being forty to seventy pages long than the other books in the series.
As the novel opens, Elric, Moonglum, and Zarozinia, with some other old friends and a large delegation from the southern and eastern continents, are trying to figure out what to do about Jagreen Lern, the sorceror king of the island nation of Pan Tang. Lern has allied himself with Elric's old masters, the Lords of Chaos, and Lern and his army are taking over the planet, piece by piece, with Chaos reshaping the planet into formless mass wherever it goes. The Lords of Law are stuck behind barriers raised by Chaos, and unable to communicate with earthbound folk; is the fate of the world sealed?
Of course not, this is fantasy literature.
Much of the pleasure of reading Stormbringer comes from seeing all the elements of the previous five books wrapped up into one neat package. I have mentioned before Moorcock's inability to foreshadow without hitting one in the face with a week-old herring with "FORESHADOWING" writ large in purple gothic script, but the effect of that is lessened greatly when the payoff is so much fun.
There are, once again, two factors which keep Stormbringer from a leap from the world of good, solid fantasy into the world of immortal literature. The first is the final battle between Elric and Jagreen Lern, which takes place over, essentially, the whole novel. The ability to draw such a thing out to almost two hundred pages is a rare quality in itself, but one cannot read of war on such an epic scale in a fantasy setting and not compare it to the final battle in Tolkein's The Return of the King; whereas much writing in any genre would be found wanting when compared to that scene, it seems more so when the subject matter is so parallel. Second, after it's all over, there is the inevitable denouement (as there must be in any classic tragedy). Again, Moorcock has set it up well, and with slight modifications it would have stood up to the rest of the novel; in fact, the rest of the series (and one of the tests of a truly great series is whether its last scene is a fitting, and well-scripted, ending to the whole schlemiel). Unfortunately, the last line of dialogue in the novel is unforgivably cheesy. All the more so because it's followed up with a perfect last sentence.
But the series ends, all is right with the world, and the reader must sit back and marvel at how well executed the whole thing is. Astounding, to say the least. ****
on July 14, 2001
Moorcock says he wrote these because he was disappointed with Tolkien (who had been supportive of him in his boyhood) because Lord of the Rings didn't have the acceptance of death of the Eddas, Beowulf and so on. Stormbringer very closely echoes the Norse myths where heroes have to die in order to renew the world and while Moorcock lacks the sophisticated Anglo Saxon scholarship of Tolkien, he responds better to the raw subject matter of myth and legend. That is why Elric, while not as consistently written as Lord of the Rings, has its power and why all Moorcock's books have their power. He never avoids the fundamental realities of life. Indeed, they are his subject matter. As a result he can't provide the levels of escape Tolkien and his imitators offer. It is why Hamlet is at every level a superior work to Lord of the Rings. It is why Dickens was greater than his imitators and it is why Robert Louis Stevenson, H. Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doyle continue to last where there more favoured literary contemporaries have disappeared -- those writers rooted their adventure fiction in a solid acceptance of the real world, the harshness as well as the romance. Stormbringer is a fine, vivid read and it works, in spite of its origins almost. It is a significant book because it was Moorcock's first full-length novel and it contains most of the obsessions which he develops both through his Eternal Champion series and his mainstream literary novels like King of the City. In Moorcock there is no difference between fantasy and reality because his fantasy actually addresses the realities we all have to deal with and his realistic fiction frequently addresses our common fantasies. Above all, however, Stormbringer is a fast, furious, emotionally engaging and wildly exhilerating Good Read!
on March 10, 2015
Not the best of the series. The first book, Elric of Melnibone, is a masterpiece, an easily the best of the 6 book Elric Series.
"Stormbringer" I would probably place second. It is huge in scope, and has Elric facing off against a huge assortment of
Chaos Lords introduced in the earlier books.
** SPOILER ALERT ** One thing that annoyed me about this book was I was REALLY looking forward to a showdown between
Elric and his patron deity, Arioch, and you never get it. Well, actually, you do get it, but it is a VERY quick skirmish, and Elric
doesn't actually get to kill Arioch, only banishes him to planes of Hell. Moorcock would have better been served by bringing Arioch
in towards the end of the story, like he does with a bunch of other Lord of Chaos, like Paray and Xiombarg.
on June 25, 2015
The Elric saga is what so many modern day fantasy Hollywood blockbusters are based on...this is the one and only original by Michael Moorcock with beautiful artwork by Michael Whelan (reminiscent of Frank Frazetta) if you are lucky enough to find one of the "pulp trash" paperbacks from days of yore.
on March 10, 2004
I'm moved to write this review after finishing "Stormbringer" again for the nth time. Actually, I read Stormbringer again after slogging through one of the Robert Jordan books, and it was like a bucket of cold water over my head. I realized just how bored and uninterested I have become with the Wheel of Time series.
Stormbringer and the other books about the brooding albino anti-hero Elric of Melnibone are full of apocalyptic energy, epic plots, and immense creativity.
Stormbringer is of course the demonic sword carried by Elric of Melnibone, the last of the Dragon Emperors. Elric is an aspect of the Eternal Champion (a character found in nost of Moorcock's fantasy work) doomed, in this world, to bring its destruction and in the process, restore the balance between Law and Chaos.
Stormbringer was written before a lot of the other stories in the Elric saga, so Moorcock really glories in the character he has created. In a series of short stories, Elric discovers his fate and seeks to carry it out.
I've had the Stormbringer book for years, and read it from time to time. After finishing it (in about a day) I started on again with another Elric omnibus edition and I'm halfway through it already. Moorcock's prose is fast and deadly and moves like greased lightning. Each scene pushes things further and faster ahead and there is no wandering around, looking at the flowers.
I've given up on Jordan and many of his contemporaries. There's just too much navel-gazing going on in current fantasy novels.
But Moorcock is one of the best there is and was. If you're stuck in the fantasy doldrums, tired of slogging through 700 pages with no payoff, all it will take is for you to read "Stormbringer" to be whipped away in its gale force winds.
on October 22, 2002
Wow! That was what I thought when I had read the final page of "Stormbringer" the last of the 6-books-long Elric saga. Moorcock keeps up his powerful writingstyle to the very end in this novel where we finally discover the amazing destiny of the white faced albino Elric of Melniboné. I really didn't see it coming and was pleasently surprised, even filled with strong emotion when I realized what the fate of this Doom-driven Hero was...
The story: There is a new antagonist Jagreen Lern, a Pan tangian sorcerer which Elric has sworn to destroy, with the help of his three friends, Moonglum, Rackhir and his kinsman D. Slorm.
Chaos and Law play an important part in this act of vengeance, read for yourself how. The pace of the book is fast and filled with action and unbearable emotion (e.g. Elric and his love for Zarozinia). Why it is so paradoxal, I cannot say, then I would reveal too much, but it has all to do with the the Destiny of Elric and his hell-forged runeblade Stormbringer.
Not like Tolkien for example, Moorcock always surprises with bold, powerful descriptions and fresh ideas around every corner. You will be gasping for breath when this "Stormbringer" bends the incredible Saga of Elric into its final twist. After a month or so you will be reading it again. Astonishing stuff!!