Book Review: ‘Stormbringer’: Book Six of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

While this isn’t the last of the Elric of Melniboné novels, it is the final one in the six-part Elric Saga. And with that, this is a pretty intense and satisfying finale.

I’ve enjoyed these books pretty f’n thoroughly. After spending the better part of a year reading through everything by Robert E. Howard I could get my hands on, switching over to Michael Moorcock’s stories of a hero that is essentially, Conan in reverse, was also a great experience. I do plan on reading more Elric books, as well as other non-Elric works by Moorcock.

As for this tale, I thought that it was the best since the first book. This is also the thickest of the series. But this is also because a lot happens here and this is the culmination of everything that has happened before it. Because it’s the last in the series, I don’t want to spoil any of the key details.

I will say that it packs a punch, wraps some things up pretty well and ultimately, leaves you sad that the “saga” is over while being very hungry for more.

Moorcock’s prose, as I’ve mentioned before, is just incredible and there’s almost this extra layer of confidence and familiarity in his writing, here, that it takes this to another level.

In the end, all I can do is hope that more people check out Moorcock’s work, especially the books in the Elric Saga.

Rating: 8.75/10

Book Review: ‘The Bane of the Black Sword: Book Five of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

This, the fifth of the six books in the Elric Saga was a step up from the previous couple for me. While I’ve enjoyed all the books, up to this point, this one had more energy to it and Michael Moorcock seemed like he was really hitting his stride, here.

The Bane of the Black Sword introduces us to, Zarozinia, the woman who would become the real love of Elric’s life, despite his intense feelings for the deceased Cymoril. 

Also, Moorcock continues to expand his universe while building off of many of the things he’s established, thus far.

There are some bits in this that are slow but the good stuff makes up for that and the action and adventure are pretty solid, all around.

My only real gripe about this book, and the others as well, is that there always seems to be magical assistance that is too readily available to Elric. This has always been my issues with magic in fiction, in general. It should never be used as a “fix all”, as it diminishes the hero’s journey and their struggle.

However, this book has one hell of a payoff at the end, and it’s certainly full of a lot more positives than negatives.

Rating: 8.25/10

Book Review: ‘The Vanishing Tower: Book Four of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

I have to say, I liked this one a bit more than the previous volume. However, it still falls below the first two books.

Moorcock writes this one in his patented style and I’ve stated how much I love his prose, previously. In this one, he just feels like he really found his grove with this character and the universe Elric inhabits.

I liked seeing Elric have Moonglum as his companion. I also liked that this featured Elric seeking vengeance against Theleb K’aarna, a villain worthy of Elric’s and the reader’s disdain.

Like the previous books, this has three parts that have been collected into one larger body. Also like the previous books, it does a fine job at fleshing out the series’ mythos and making it richer for future stories.

This is simply good old fashioned sword and sorcery and while Moorcock didn’t invent the genre, he certainly deserves to be alongside the best writers that have added to it for nearly a century.

The Vanishing Tower is just a really cool book and a solid volume in this solid series.

Rating: 7.75/10

Book Review: ‘The Weird of the White Wolf: Book Three of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

Where the second book in The Elric Saga was a trio of side quests through time and space, this one was more of a return to form of the first book.

The tales here expanded on the mythos of the lived in world of Elric.

The biggest takeaway from this is the section that deals with Elric finally taking down his cousin, who is ruling in his place. In doing so, however, he also takes down what is left of the civilization he should be ruling over. Additionally, the woman he loves is killed by his own sword.

What’s interesting about this book, even though it’s the third in the saga, is that it is comprised of Michael Moorcock’s earliest Elric writings. Chronologically, however, this is where they fit into the big scheme of things. Well, not until Moorcock wrote additional works after releasing the original six-part saga.

The other two stories are, honestly, almost forgetful. That’s not to say that they weren’t enjoyable in their own way but, by this point in the series, I’m realizing that these books don’t seem to be going anywhere specific and they feel more like small little peeks into portions of the character’s life.

While I love the hell out of Moorcock’s prose, as stated in earlier reviews, I found this to be a bit repetitive. I can somewhat excuse that based off of these being the earliest Elric stories written but I really hope that the fourth book doesn’t just feel like more of the same.

I don’t want these to just be small dose experiments with this cool character, I want there to be some sort of larger narrative and purpose that makes these tales come together in a worthwhile way.

Rating: 7.25/10

Book Review: ‘The Sailor On the Seas of Fate: Book Two of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

This book was very different than the first one. On one hand, I didn’t expect it to be a vastly different sort of tale (or trio of tales), while on the other hand, it was kind of neat and refreshing and showed that Moorcock’s Elric stories were not going to be formulaic or just mirror what was typical in the sword and sorcery genre.

The three stories here revolve around Elric being on a magical ship that travels through time and space. One story takes place in the future, one in the present and one in the past. However, these tales are all very important to the development of this character and the grander mythos of the universe he inhabits.

The first tale is where Moorcock debuts his concept of the Eternal Champion. It’s a really cool story that sees different versions of Elric become one.

The second tale features Elric and an ally, as they are pursued by a mysterious riderless horse.

The third, also features Elric with the same ally where they meet another character and go on a journey with him to find two mysterious gems.

I don’t want to spoil too much, as all these stories are rather short and deserve to be experienced for those interested in delving into the Elric series.

Overall, this was a quick, thoroughly entertaining read with three very different adventures.

Like I said with the previous book, you just become captivated with Moorcock’s prose and how he says things and paints the world around his characters.

Rating: 8.5/10

Book Review: ‘Elric of Melniboné: Book One of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

Holy shit, I was pretty blown away by this from the get go!

Now, after all these years, I know why my Elric homies have pushed Michael Moorcock’s top character on me so damn hard.

Due to how many feel that The Witcher, among other things, have plagiarized Moorcock’s beloved Elric character and his stories, I wanted to finally check his books out after I got through the mountain of Robert E. Howard collections that I worked through over the past year.

However, let’s be honest, Elric, as a character, also isn’t wholly original and all sword and sorcery tales really owe their existence to Robert E. Howard’s work, specifically his character Conan, and even more so, his character Kull, which served as a template for what the more popular Conan would become.

All I really care about, though, is whether or not a story is good and entertaining and the first Elric novel definitely is.

Elric of Melniboné starts off with a bang and by the end of the first act, I found myself glued to the book and ended up reading it in under 24 hours. Although, I also love the novella size, as this was under 200 pages, was fast-paced and flew by. This also solidified my desire to make my upcoming sword and sorcery story in the same format, making more of a quick, fast-paced pulp novella than some epic, over-bloated brick like a Game of Thrones book.

One thing that really struck me with this book was Moorcock’s prose. He just writes things in such and interesting and fresh way, compared to all the other fantasy books I’ve read over the years.

All in all, this series is off to a great start and I look forward to reading the other five original novels.

Rating: 9/10

Comic Review: Conan the Barbarian: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus, Vol. 1

Published: January 29th, 2019
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Barry Windsor-Smith, Gil Kane, John Buscema
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 776 Pages

Review:

I read this collection of the first 26 issues of Marvel’s original Conan the Barbarian run because I had just read Roy Thomas’ book where he gives in-depth commentary on the first 51 issues.

Also, I’m a big Conan fan but I hadn’t read most of these issues yet, as some of the earliest ones are really expensive now and because I didn’t start collecting Conan comics until this series was well over a hundred issues. I wasn’t born until the very end of ’78 and didn’t really get into buying and collecting comics until ’89.

Anyway, this was really cool to read and just about every issue was a great story with superb art, whether it was the illustration work of Barry Smith, Gil Kane or John Buscema. The book is mostly dominated by the work of Smith and I found his art here to be some of his absolute best.

What’s especially neat about these stories is that some of them are actually adapted from the works of Robert E. Howard and some are original stories made to fit within Howard’s already established universe that predates the comics by about forty years.

Not all of the Howard material that was adapted was actually Conan stories, specifically. Some of them were taken from other characters like Howard’s Kull and then retrofitted into Conan tales.

This collection of issues includes some first appearances and a crossover as well. This is where we see evil sorcerer Thoth-Amon debut, as well as the most popular female sword and sorcery hero of all-time, Red Sonja. As for the crossover, in this book Conan meets Elric of Melniboné, a popular fantasy character that was created by Michael Moorcock in 1961. Elric has gone on to have his own multimedia franchise in the same vein as Conan.

The price tag on this omnibus is pretty hefty but it’s a 700-plus page hardcover and it still costs less than trying to round up all these issues, individually.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other Conan and sword and sorcery comics penned by Roy Thomas.