Elric: The Sailor on the Seas of Fate Paperback – 12 September 2013
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About the Author
Michael Moorcock (1939-)
Michael Moorcock is one of the most important figures in British SF and Fantasy literature. The author of many literary novels and stories in practically every genre, his novels have won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Whitbread and Guardian Fiction Prize. In 1999, he was given the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award; in 2001, he was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame; and in 2007, he was named a SFWA Grandmaster. Michael Moorcock is also a musician who has performed since the seventies with his own band, the Deep Fix; and, as a member of the prog rock band, Hawkwind, won a gold disc. His tenure as editor of New Worlds magazine in the sixties and seventies is seen as the high watermark of SF editorship in the UK, and was crucial in the development of the SF New Wave. Michael Moorcock's literary creations include Hawkmoon, Corum, Von Bek, Jerry Cornelius and, of course, his most famous character, Elric. He has been compared to, among others, Balzac, Dumas, Dickens, James Joyce, Ian Fleming, J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard. Although born in London, he now splits his time between homes in Texas and Paris.
- Publisher : Gollancz (12 September 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 057511360X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0575113602
- Dimensions : 20 x 2.3 x 13.1 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #46,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
However starting with "The Dreaming City" The book feels... different. This short story feels like it starts at Chapter 3 and one and two were omitted for what ever reason. Now I know these stories about Elric were not written in a linear fashion and take place here and there in his life; much how Howard wrote his Conan stories 30 years earlier. This release of novels does collect Elric in chronological order of his life and when it comes to the Dreaming City something is missing before hand, clearly.
When Howard wrote his Conan novels, each written at a different point in the Cimmerians life, they are were written with a base and understanding of what is going on. Dreaming City comes across jarring because of the exposition missing explaining why we are at that moment at the start of the story. The story on its own is decent, even if it is a touch contrived. However the missing information made it hard for me to be truly engaged.
Even with the second half of the book being much weaker than the first I still enjoyed Elric's character. He has a sense of weight and a duality to him that is compelling. And his relationship with his runic blade Stormbringer is fascinating. (I would of loved more detail on the swords hold; but it is what it is)
I have the rest of the series arriving from Amazon.au within days of my writing of this review and I still look forward to reading thru the saga of Elric, I just hope there are less jarring moments going forward...
Some were partial to Robert E. Howard's archetypal Conan the Cimmerian. My favorites by far were Fritz Leiber's witty and comical duo, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. (Here's the first book: Swords and Deviltry .) And there was one in the group who discovered Michael Moorcock's dark and twisted Elric and his sword Stormbringer.
I read a little Elric back in the day, and was not impressed. But recently I have been reading Moorcock's Colonel Pyat Quartet, historical fiction set in the early Twentieth Century, which is quite astonishing. I also learned that Moorcock was honored with the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 2008, a lifetime achievement award bestowed by the SFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), which places him in the exalted company of some of the greatest science fiction authors. So I decided to give Elric another try -- after all the character is one of Moorcock's best known and most popular.
I am sorry to say that my reaction is much the same as it was four decades ago. I just don't find the stories compelling. I know this isn't much of a review so far, so I can tell you that this is Volume Three in the definitive new seven-volume Elric edition from Gollancz. The title story, the longest, was published in 1976. There are three others, though, that were the first Elric stories that Moorcock published. The new edition organizes the stories chronologically, and so as it turns out there are over two books' worth of stories that precede "The Dreaming City" (June 1961), "While the Gods Laugh" (October 1961), and "The Singing Citadel" (1967).
I can't recommend one Elric book over another, but this Volume Three is certainly noteworthy for containing the first Elric stories. Personally, I recommend Fritz Leiber's sword-and-sorcery. It was Leiber who came up with that name for the genre!
[Amazon apparently has this book linked to an Elric graphic novel, and so the reviews for both are displayed together. I have not seen the graphic novel.]
On the upside, we learn a great deal about Elric here, and his complexities make him even more appealing. Many of literature’s anti-heroes are such jerks, it’s easy to lose interest in them. But Elric is different, because Moorcock has made him thoroughly relatable—no small feat, given that Elric is a sorcerer-warrior from an alien race with a not-so-hidden cruel streak.
And as always, Moorcock’s writing is broken up into manageable chunks (probably because much of it was serialized). It’s easy to knock out a chapter or two before bed, then pick up the next day.
On the downside, I find some of the work in this book to be pretty fragmented, which makes it hard to maintain a grip on the thread of the story. The experience of reading it is a little like dozing off during a Michael Bay film and waking up every so often: oh, another fight scene. Oh, another sex scene. Oh, another fight scene.
In particular, the centerpiece of the book, the novella “The Sailor on the Seas of Fate”, reads like three largely unrelated stories jammed together simply because they take place at sea. Oddly, I think I’d feel differently if the three were framed as individual works.
That said, “The Dreaming City” is hugely important for any Elric fan. That alone is reason enough to pick up this book.
Must, must get.