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Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock
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Elric of Melniboné (1972)

by Michael Moorcock (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Elric Saga (1), The Eternal Champion (Elric 1)

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English (30)  French (3)  Swedish (1)  All languages (34)
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Somehow this glorious gem escaped me all these years. Vintage fantasy, written in an old-world style reminiscent of Norse saga; swords-and-sorcery in a beautifully described, intriguing world. The hero, Elric, is quintessential. Strange even in his own realm of Melniboné—which to the rest of the mortal world is strange enough—he is tormented and full of insecurities. Yet he is brilliant, and through power and courage drawn from an ancient lineage, he overcomes his shortcomings in revolutionary, scandalous, and dangerous ways. While unnerving to most, he has honor and in the end, he risks all for the woman he loves. A powerful start to a cool series. ( )
  ftmckinstry | Apr 22, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Elric, emperor of Melniboné, is not your typical fantasy hero. He’s an albino with white skin, long white hair, and slanting red eyes. He’s weak and has to take drugs every few hours just to maintain the strength of a normal man. He’s a brooding and contemplative scholar, which makes him dull at parties.

Some people think Elric is a demon — he sure looks like one — and many of his subjects would prefer to have the throne of Melniboné occupied by Elric’s charismatic cousin Yyrkoon who looks and acts like a leader should. He’s strong, agile, and nationalistic, and he wants to restore Melniboné to its former greatness.

While Yyrkoon is dancing, acting like a proper nobleman, and plotting to kill Elric, Elric spends his time thinking about tradition, social justice, and his duty to his country. Is it Elric’s job to give the people of Melniboné what they want — tradition, a powerful leader, war, and dominance over smaller states — or is it better to be universally humanistic and to try to lead Melniboné, against its wishes, into cooperation and peace with its neighbors? Should Elric sacrifice his personal ideals in order to be the leader his people demand? Is his responsibility to his country or to the world at large?

Elric of Melniboné, by Michael Moorcock, is a thought-provoking work but, at the same time, it’s appealing to those who just want to read a good sword & sorcery story — sea battles in grottos, ships that sail on land or sea, magic mirrors that wipe out memory, and fights with demons in the underworld. Many of the Elric stories were originally published in pulp magazines or as novellas, so they are fast-paced with sketchy scene and character development. This is likely to be unsatisfying to some readers, but I enjoyed the quick pace and appreciated Elric’s introspective concerns about his duties.

I listened to Audio Realms’ production of Elric of Melniboné. Jeff West was an excellent narrator, but I was annoyed by the music which plays behind the entire book’s text — not just at the beginning of chapters or scenes (listen to sample). It is soft and doesn’t cause any trouble with hearing the narration, but it’s clearly designed to add drama and emotion to the story and I prefer to let Moorcock do that himself. I would have enjoyed Elric of Melniboné more if there had been no music at all and I’ll be careful about Audio Realms’ productions in the future. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Read this series ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
Although it's the first book in the series, it's not the first one written, and it shows. In my opinion, the earlier stories were the more original of the lot (which I'm currently reading, collected in the 'Stormbringer' volume). This one reads more like the outline of a story, with some very good ideas, but not a lot of development of them. ( )
  Don.A | Apr 1, 2013 |
When he had meditated for more than five hours Elric took a brush and a jar of ink and began to paint both walls and floor with complicated symbols, some of which were so intricate that they seemed to disappear at an angle to the surface on which they had been laid. At last this was done and Elric spreadeagled himself in the very centre of his huge rune, face down, one hand upon his grimoire, the other (with the Actorios upon it) stretched palm down. The moon was full. A shaft of its light fell directly upon Elric's head, turning the hair to silver. And then the Summoning began.

The first book in the ELric series turned up at the local BookCrossing meet, and I decided to take it because although I've read "Elric at the end of Time" and a few of the short stories over the years, I have never read this one before.

Elric, the young Emporor of Melnibone, the Dragon isle, faces competition at home (from his ruthless and treacherous cousin Prince Yyrkoon) and abroad (due tot he rise of the human-rules Young Kingdoms). In the past his ancestors were powerful sorcerors who called upon the demon lord Duke Arioch for help, but Elric is trying to rule in another way until his cousin forces his hand.

I think I would have prefered this when I was younger; I am probably too old for sword and sorcery tales nowadays. ( )
  isabelx | Jul 3, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moorcock, MichaelAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gould, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabaté, HernánTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Poul Anderson for "The Broken Sword" and "Three Hearts and Three Lions". To the late Fletcher Pratt for "The Well of the Unicorn". To the late Bertolt Brecht for "The Threepenny Opera" which, for obscure reasons, I link with the other books as being one of the chief influences on the first Elric series.
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It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The first book in the Elric sequence (by its internal chronology). (Not to be confused with the Millennium omnibus of the same name!)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441203981, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

FANTASY FICTION. Elric of Melnibone, the haunted, treacherous and doomed albino sorcerer-prince, is one of the great creations of modern fantasy. An introspective weakling in thrall to his soul-eating sword, Stormbringer, he is yet a hero whose bloody adventures and wanderings lead inexorably to his decisive intervention in the war between the forces of Law and Chaos. A fantasy classic, Elric of Melnibone is an exceptional fantasy icon of violence, power, politics and war and his tales make up a fantasy masterpiece.… (more)

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