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

TV Review: Berserk (2016-2017)

Original Run: July 1st, 2016 – June 23rd, 2017
Directed by: Shin Itagaki
Written by: Makoto Fukami
Based on: Berserk by Kintaro Miura
Music by: Shiro Sagisu

Liden Films, GEMBA, Millepensee, Universal, Sony, Wowow, MBS, TBS, CBC, 26 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

So I’ve heard people rave about the manga Berserk for years. I’ve wanted to read it for awhile now but there’s like 40 volumes and it’s going to be a real undertaking. However, I figured that I’d check out the anime, as it’s streaming on HBO Max.

I found out, after being a half dozen episodes deep, that this actually takes place after a trilogy of anime films and an earlier anime series from the ’90s. So I guess I started at the end but even then, I found this pretty easy to get into and never felt like there was a lot of context or knowledge missing.

For the most part, I dug the hell out of this, especially the first of the two seasons. I guess some people found the animation style to be off-putting but I actually liked it.

I’m also not a big fan of the mixture of CGI with traditional hand-drawn animation but for whatever reason, I liked how they blended together, here. I think that has to do with the style of shading in the art, which looks like thin-lined pencil shading.

I think most of all, I really liked the character designs. Everyone was distinct and pretty damn cool in their own unique way.

I also found the stories to be pretty solid and interesting. However, it really just left me wanting more, so I’ll probably try and check out the previous anime releases and then start reading the original manga, at some point.

All in all, this was dark, twisted, really fun and pretty damn entertaining.

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

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Frost Giant’s Fury

Published: November 22nd, 2017
Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Netho Diaz
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR

IDW Publishing, 124 Pages

Review:

This is the fourth story of the Baldur’s Gate crew and it’s also written by Jim Zub, who has done a solid job with these characters, thus far.

I thought that this might be the last of these released but I saw that there are two more stories on Comixology, so I’ll probably read and review those, as well, in the future.

Being that we’re four deep, I kind of expected this to settle in and be more of the same. However, I was surprised to discover that this one was a step up and maybe the best of the lot, up to this point.

The crew, after crossing paths with a powerful vampire in the previous story, were teleported to a snowy ice region in blizzard-like conditions.

There, they must convince a dragon to stop killing humans in a pact that will benefit both parties, as they have a common enemy, the frost giants.

I’ve always been a fan of frost giant stories in fantasy fiction. While they’ve generally just become a trope and are typically presented as one-dimensional, Zub did a pretty decent job of making them actual characters, specifically their leader.

All in all, these Jim Zub Dungeons & Dragons comics are just great fun. They also feature some of the best art IDW has created in recent years.

Rating: 7.75/10

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

Film Review: The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (2021)

Release Date: August 23rd, 2021
Directed by: Kwang Il Han
Written by: Beau DeMayo
Based on: The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
Music by: Brian D’Oliveira
Cast: Theo James, Lara Pulver, Graham McTavish, Mary McDonnell

Platige Image, Hivemind, Studio Mir, Netflix, 83 Minutes

Review:

“This is the last time I allow any of you to ever hesitate.” – Vesemir

I assumed that after The Witcher show on Netflix did exceptionally well, that they’d milk it for everything it’s worth. While that’s not initially a bad thing, it probably won’t take long for them to water down the IP and make it just another franchise fans get fatigued on.

So the first next Witcher thing is this anime film, which I guess is the first of a series. If they want to keep my interest, they’ll have to do better than this, though.

That’s not to say it was bad, it was just okay. Honestly, it felt like a fairly half-assed effort and even though it focuses on the backstory for Vesemir, Geralt’s father figure, I don’t feel like it really gave anything meaningful to the mythos. Honestly, this felt more like fan fiction and nothing like what Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski would have intended.

Granted, the Netflix show takes tremendous liberties and this is just an expansion of that version of the property.

I thought that the character designs were okay but the animation didn’t blow me away. This, like a long line of modern anime by Netflix, is bogged down by a weird mixture of what appears to be traditional animation and CGI. To me, the two never blend together that well and it’s an issue I had with those shitty Netflix Godzilla animes and their original flagship anime series, Knights of Sidonia.

After seeing this, I’m not too enthused about future anime features based on The Witcher. I guess it just depends on what the premise of those future released will be.

Rating: 6.25/10

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