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

Talking Pulp Update (1/5/2022): The Book Is FINALLY Published – Introducing ‘Dan the Destructor – Barbarians of the Storm, Book I’!

For those who have been following this site for awhile, you might already know that I wrote a graphic novel script about two years ago when all the COVID stuff was kicking off.

You might also know that I wanted to expand on the ideas and stories in that script and decided to restructure it into a pulp novel format. Well, that’s finally done!

Physical copies of the book can be purchased here. The book is also on Amazon: the Kindle version is here and the physical version is here.

However, physical books are better and since this is patterned after the pulp novels of yesteryear, I think that the physical pocket book is a lot cooler.

So what’s Dan the Destructor about? Well, here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

There have been countless legends and with that, countless heroes destined to be the “chosen one”. Dan is not that person.

Sucked into an exotic, barbarous world, Dan meets a jovial warrior and finds himself on an adventure he could’ve never imagined – battling monsters, demons, armies, and evil sorcerers.

Dan the Destructor is a mixture of sword & sorcery and post-apocalyptic B-movies presented in a quick paced pulp novel format. It’s fun, badass, fantastical, and action-packed.

Beyond that, the original idea for this concept came when I was imagining what it would be like if the ’80s Italian and Spanish rip-offs of Conan the Barbarian and The Road Warrior merged into one thing. I have always loved these sort of movies and was pretty much raised on them and all the Cannon Films action flicks. So this blends all those badass things together and tries to keep that tough as nails but awesome spirit alive.

This is also very much influenced by the pulp novels and pulp heroes I’ve read since I was a kid.

Entertainment has lost itself in recent years and its generally become an uninspiring, bleak reflection of reality. Gone are the days of adventure, fun and genuine escapism. With Dan the Destructor, I tried to bring this back.

With that, this shouldn’t be taken too seriously. I just wanted to create the book that wanted to read and I hope that other people enjoy it and that it gives them a much needed break from reality.

The novel also features a short story at the end, which tells the origin of the big villain for the book series. While that is a very dark story, I thought that it was necessary in providing the proper context for that character going into the second book in the Barbarians of the Storm series.

If people like this series, I promise not to George R.R. Martin you. I will give you your ending.

Lastly, I listen to a lot of music while writing and during the creative process, I developed a playlist that has become the unofficial soundtrack of the book for me. Honestly, all badass books deserve soundtracks and I think it helps set the tone for what to expect with the story.

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