Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of "Stormbringer" by Michael Moorcock

For those who enjoy reading Greek myth for its style, Michael Moorcock’s Elric may be for you.  Event-based rather than dialogue- or emotion-based, these stories of the albino warrior Elric and his soul-stealing sword Stormbringer are written in terse, quickly paced prose that is action packed.  Like Theseus killing the minotaur, escaping the labyrinth, and losing/leaving Ariadne within a few scant sentences, so too does Elric have a host of adventures in each of the interconnected novellas of this collection.  Chaos in an eternal fight against Law, he meets all manner of friends and enemies, magic and the fantastic.  There is no shortage of demons, mages, and monsters to be swallowed by the unquenchable thirst of his Stormbringer—the sword with a mind of its own—accompanying Elric to the end.   

Certainly not classic literature, Moorcock’s Elric stories can nonetheless be credited as an artistic statement that consistently embody the same themes of honor, duty, virtue, heroism, human flaw, etc. which make Greek mythology classic.  The result is one of the most uniquely human characters of epic fantasy: Elric, a man torn by fate.  That it’s written in the same style as Greek myth, however, should come as a warning for those seeking sword and sorcery with a narrative more lush and evocative.  

(See also my review of The Stealer of Souls for more info on Elric.)

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