Elric of Melniboné PDF/EPUB ✓ Elric of ePUB

Elric of Melniboné is a requisite title in the hard fantasy canon a book no fantasy fan should leave unread Author Michael Moorcock already a major player in science fiction cemented his position in the fantasy pantheon with the five book Elric saga of which Elric of Melniboné is the first installment The book's namesake the brooding albino emperor of the dying nation of Melniboné is a sort of Superman for Goths truly an archetype of the genreThe youthful Elric is a cynical and melancholy king heir to a nation whose 100000 year rule of the world ended less than 500 years hence More interested in brooding contemplation than holding the throne Elric is a reluctant ruler but he also realizes that no other worthy successor exists and the survival of his once powerful decadent nation depends on him alone Elric's nefarious brutish cousin Yrkoon has no patience for his physically weak kinsman and he plots constantly to seize Elric's throne usually over his dead body Elric of Melniboné follows Yrkoon's scheming reaching its climax in a battle between Elric and Yrkoon with the demonic runeblades Stormbringer and Mournblade In this battle Elric gains control of the soul stealing Stormbringer an event that proves pivotal to the Elric saga Paul Hughes


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    I have spent a long time searching for a modern fantastical epic which is worth reading It seems like there should be one out there somewhere I have so enjoyed the battlefields of Troy the dank cavern of Grendel's dam Dido's lament Ovid's hundred wild spun tales perfidious Odysseus the madness of Orlando Satan's twisted rhetoric and Gilgamesh's sea voyage to the forgotten lands of death And so I seek some modern author to reinvent these tales with some sense of scholarship poetry character and adventureThere are many great modern fantasies but the epic subgenre lacks luster In reading the offerings Martin Jordan Goodkind Paolini even much lauded Wolfe I have found them all wanting They are all flawed in the same ways their protagonists are dull caricatures of some universal 'badass' ideal plot conflicts are glossed over with magic or convenient deaths the magic itself is not a mysterious force but a familiar tool and women are made secondary or worse though the authors often talk about how women are strong and independent the women never actually act that wayBut then they are all acolytes of Old Tolkien who is as stodgy unromantic and methodical as a fantasist can be without being CS Lewis Though I respect Tolkien's work as a well researched literary exercise it is hard to forgive him for making it acceptable to write fantasy which is so dull aimless and self absorbed It is unfortunate that so many people think that fantasy began with Tolkien because that is a great falsehood and anyone who believes it does not really know fantasy at all It nearly died with himYet there are many who do think he started it They like to comment on reviews especially reviews of their favorite books especially negative reviews of their favorite books which have lamentably become a specialty of mine And often they end up asking me Well what fantasy do you like? There are many I could name numerous favorites which have shocked and overawed me which have shaken me to my core which have shown me worlds and magic I dared not dream But none of them are epicsI could mention Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell a powerfully self possessed work and one of the only fantasies of the past twenty years that I consider worth reading the other is China Mieville's Perdido Street Station but these are a Victorian alternate history continuation of the British Fairy Tale tradition and a New Weird Urban Fantasy respectively I could mention Mervyn Peake's Titus books which so powerfully inhabit my five star rating that Mieville and Clarke must be relegated to four but this is a work whose fantastical nature would probably not even be apparent to most fantasy enthusiastsAlas they are not good counter examples I can and do mention Robert E Howard's Conan and Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series but these are fast paced adventure stories and though their worlds may be vast mysterious and grand the stories themselves lack the hyperopic arc at the heart of an epic workBut there have been many suggestions many readers who have come to my aid and who have named authors I might look to next in my quest Guy Gavriel Kay Ursula K LeGuin Jack Vance Poul Anderson Jeff VanderMeer Michael De Larrabietti John M Harrison Scott Lynch Patricia McKillip and John Crowley Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss have been both suggested and sneered at It is my hope that somewhere amongst them I will find the exemplary epic fantasy I am looking for but I haven't found it in MoorcockMoorcock is good he has scope depth complexity and long twisting plots but at their core his stories are modern metaphysical and subversive They are light and lilting ironical and wry too quick and twisting to be 'epic' The characters are introspective and self aware and it is clear that it is they and not the world who will be at the forefrontIt is all so thoroughly modern so reinvented full of sprightly ideas and metaphysical brooding But it is decidedly not modern in the accidental self defeating ways of all those pretenders to the 'epic' title The characters are not merely the male fantasy counterpart of a bodice ripper with modern familiar minds dressed thinly in Medieval costume The world is not simply our world with an overlay of castles dragons for jet fighters spells for guns with modern politics and sensibilitiesNo Moorcock's world and characters are alien and fantastical but Moorcock does not achieve this by ripping them whole cloth from history but by extrapolating them from modern philosophical ideas Fantasy stories have always been full of dreamscapes of impossible places for the reader to inhabit These places draw us in somehow we recognize them like our own dreams because of what they representAnthropomorphism is the human tendency to see people where there are none to see smiling faces in wood grain to assign complex emotional motivations to cats and to curse at the storm that breaks our window The 'Other World' of British Fairy Tales is based on the latter the assigning of our luck good and bad to capricious spirits The world of fairy has rules as do storms but those rules are mostly a mystery to manBut Moorcock's world personifies the ideas of Kant and Nietzsche his 'Other Worlds' called 'Planes' are those of the human mind they are places of morality like heaven and hell except he has updated the concept to existential morality There is Chaos and there is Law Chaos is the selfish urge Law the communal urge and he arrays his magic spirits and dreamscapes along this axisLike Milton he has infused his epic with the latest thoughts and notions updating it for the modern age Also like Milton Moorcock's influence has been felt far and wide despite the fact that most people do not recognize itThe Dungeons Dragons game prominently used his LawChaos dichotomy among other concepts and his 'Wheel of Psychic Planes' is an influence on their most audacious and unusual publication the philosophical 'Steampunk' setting Planescape And many of these tropes have filtered down into the grab bag common to the modern voice of fantasy storiesReading Elric one will invariably be reminded of a dozen other books and games as Elric drinks endless potions to maintain his strength and vitality slaying twisted demons on a plane of fire in search of a rune sword dressed in ornate black armor and a dragon helm Indeed the central mythology and much of the plot of the Elder Scrolls games in particular Oblivion owe a vast debt to Elric and his world and not simply for the land of 'Elwher'Clearly Moorcock's odd vision has been transcribed onto the imaginations of fantasists but as with those who were inspired by Tolkien most of his followers have failed to recreate the weight of the original message Except for a few outliers like Planescape and Perdido Street Station most authors have copied the outward appearance of Moorcock's alien world but were not skilled or knowledgeable enough to take the substance along with the form the existential ideas the vital core of his dreamscapes are most often missing or at best fadedBut while the ideas and the overall vision are strong even compared to the ubiquitous attempts to recreate them there are a number of flaws in Moorcock's presentation The first and most damaging is a weakness in the voice Moorcock has a lot to say but must sometimes resort to explaining his ideas to us He is not always able to deliver his world and characters through interactions hints tone and actions He is hardly an inexperienced enough author to explain to us that which is already self evident but it is a weakness in his delivery which sometimes takes us out of the flow of the story so that we must step back from the world and listen to Moorcock talk about it though he does do his best to veil it with Elric's thoughtsSecondly it can be difficult to get a strong impression of his characters they are often difficult to sympathize with or to predict It isn't that they aren't vivid and active but that their actions are often based around ideas and concepts the things Moorcock built his world on which can create a sense of a top down world where the characters are there to fulfill a purpose to explore various notions and philosophies The book is certainly not an allegory there are no easy one to one correlations to be made between characters and ideas but the world does not revolve around personalities except perhaps for Elric's but his thoughts and motivations are often the most difficult to reconcile The personalities of all the other characters are or less wholly dependent on himTo some degree the characters seem to operate on much older fantasy rules their capricious yet repetitive acts becoming motifs for the larger ideas in the story not unlike Tolkien's fantasy forefather ER Eddison whose characters seem half mad with heroism for its own sake another candidate for my favorite epic if I didn't think his beautiful deliberate archaism might prove too remote for many readersPart of the reason for this is that Elric's personality and world were created as an exercise and with an explicit purpose to portray the anti Conan He is sickly weak pale effeminate sorcerous erudite cruel reluctant intellectual and hardly promiscuous Conan becomes king by his own hand while Elric begins as emperor and we witness the hardships of his downfallBut this contrariness while coloring the story is hardly its center Moorcock uses it as a springboard an inspiration to drive him to something greater It is one example of the fact that genius is at its best when it has a lofty challenge before it Moorcock is not interested in making a parody but in exploring a little trodden path operating on the notion that if you start with something familiar and begin to move away from it you are bound to end up somewhere elseI must also mention an unbelievable incident involving a group of blind soldiers which put dire strain to credulity A bit of creative myth or capricious magic could have saved it but as it stands in the book it makes little senseBut despite the subtle weaknesses in voice and characterization Moorcock's idiomatic adventure story is eminently enjoyable There are few fantasy books I could name which suggest such a playful intellect as this and though it is not as wildly imaginative as his Gloriana this philosophical exploration disguised as a pulp adventure is a delightful read that never gets bogged down in indulging its own thoughtfulnessMy List of Suggested Fantasy Books