Read Elric: Song of the Black Sword by Michael Moorcock Kent Williams Online


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Title : Elric: Song of the Black Sword
Author :
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ISBN : 9781565041950
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 504 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Elric: Song of the Black Sword Reviews

  • Tosh
    2019-04-01 14:53

    Overall 3.5 stars - individual stories rated below will have cause to tremble and flee when they hear the names of Elric of Melniboné and Stormbringer, his sword.Based on the fact that Elric and his demon-sword make for a pretty badass duo, and that he’s Moorcock’s most popular aspect of the Eternal Champion, I really wanted to finish this first volume and gush over how much I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy myself, more like I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. Each episode in Elric’s journey was either very good or fell flat for me, particularly when Moorcock is trying to explain some grand idea, only to come up short. Granted he’s aware of that fact, as he’s on record as stating ‘I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas.’ Despite the inconsistent writing though, I still think the saga of Elric is a rewarding read. Elric is a unique, tragic character doomed to carry the sword, Stormbringer, in a twisted sort of symbiotic relationship. He finds himself traveling the lands of the Young Kingdoms, between realms and on many a strange and fantastical mission almost by chance. But as he journeys, he begins to realize he is victim to an inescapable fate. I’ve only read Erekose and this volume of Elric, and I think having read Erekose first went a long way in understanding what the deal is with Elric. The stories in this volume don’t give much in the way of explanation, other than vague references to a broader concept. I not sure at what point in his span of series the author decided to interconnect this concept but it’s very cool and a huge undertaking. Only in this volume it seems the stories are just rather random. There are some enjoyable moments though, as Elric deals with his internal and physical struggles, discovers his broader destiny, meets with companions across realms or wields his sentient, black, soul-sucking sword. This volume includes 6 Elric episodes: Elric of Melniboné - 4 starsNice introduction to the main character, his homeland and the burdens of his health, love and feelings of inadequacy. Very enjoyable, despite Elric’s poor choices.The Fortress of the Pearl - 2.5 starsI didn't particularly enjoy the bizarre dreamscapes. The character dialogues aren't very engaging, and felt forced. The Sailor on the Seas of Fate - 3 starsMe, myself and I Trippy to say the least.Highlights the author’s creativity and his epic imagination, as well as his inability to express those ideas adequately. The Dreaming City - 4 starsOriginally published as a novella featuring Elric for the first time. Continues with companions from The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, as he returns to Melnibone only to discover he’s been usurped and his betrothed is held captive. Beginning to realize the tragic fate of Elric and his sword. I really enjoyed the novella. It had a clearer purpose than the previous story - didn't feel as aimless or contrived.While the Gods Laugh - 3 starsAnother good story. Elric is questioning who or what is guiding his fate, quests for the answer. Hopes to rid himself of his tragic destiny. The Singing Citadel - 4 starsThis is one of my favorites. Arioch, Elric’s patron god, finally appears, we discover more about the balance of Law and Chaos. There are a couple collections that cover the Elric saga, and if I could go back I’d have chosen more wisely. I don’t like the cover or the included illustrations. I much prefer the classic art of Michael Whelan or the more modern appeal of John Picacio’s portrayal of Elric. But as I had already picked up the first in The Eternal Champion series, and the collection allowed me to easily snag all the Elric stories in just 2 volumes I settled for the simpler, less attractive choice. Bad move, but what’s done is done.

  • Randolph Carter
    2019-03-27 10:10

    As much as I like the Lord of the Rings the unrelieved black and white of good and evil can become tiresome. The Orcs are always evil. Mordor is always evil. Aragorn is always good. The elves are always good, to a person. The real word isn't like this. I know this is fiction but the best fiction draws something to the world with it, good, or bad, or indifferent. I think the best that can be said beyond bloody good entertainment is that LoTR shows the value of loyalty, love, honesty, courage, and innocence. Tragically, in my mind anyway, it fosters the Us versus Them mentality that so plagues the real world. End of preface.Michael Moorcock hated LoTR and The Hobbit. He hated the sappy sentimentality and the simplicity of it. He hated Hobbits. Thus Elric was born. Elric the flawed sorcerer albino prince of Melnibone; the last denizen of Melnibone. Elric is one of the incarnations of Moorcock's Eternal Champion in the Multiverse. Other incarnations include Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon, and Von Bek; you don't want to know them all, it would take too long and make little sense. Like they say, you had to be there.This is volume 5 (of 15!) of the Eternal Campion omnibus issued by White Wolf. Sorcerer Prince Elric is probably my number three favorite incarnation of the Eternal Champion. But Moorcock has a surprise for all you LoTR fans: Elric is an antihero. He's not really that nice a guy beyond his loyalty to his friends, who are few, and he makes a whole lot of mistakes and takes a whole lot of the innocent with him in the process. Oh and he has a sword that literally loves souls and isn't real picky about whether they are friend or foe when it gets going. It isn't even clear if Elric possess the sword or it possesses him. This definitely isn't a world of black and white, it's more of a rainbow and nobody is sinless but a few are purely evil. Also in typical Moorcock fashion, the "sidekicks" are often more interesting than the hero himself.As with most of Moorcock's writing, the longer pieces are the best. The novellas are only so-so. They have the feel of "making it up as you go." Moorcock was known for bashing out gobs of writing in very little time. The good news here is that these are almost all longer pieces and even the shorter ones are more like stories so by necessity they are tighter plotted than the novellas.This volume collects six of the best extant Elric pieces at the time of the omnibus publishing. Moorcock has actually resurrected his "retired" alter ego for yet another set of novels that of course aren't included in this White Wolf set.These are out of print and rather hard to find now (2013) and Elric was one of the more coveted volumes so you are going to pay a lot for this in really good condition, even the trade pb. White Wolf went out of the book publishing business. It took me years to get the entire set and more money than I wanted to spend, since I kept putting off buying the volumes as they were published. Never again! Yeah, right...

  • Dan Choquette
    2019-04-04 15:03

    This is one of the more recent re-releases of the adventures of Moorcock's classic brooding anti-hero. This volume collects the first three Elric books (Elric of Melnibone, the Sailor on the Seas of Fate, and the Weird of the White Wolf) as well as the Fortress of the Pearl, written in the early 90's. The Elric saga is just as influential on modern fantasy as Tolkien was, bringing a darker, edgier and more realistic kind of hero. When I was a teen, I devoured these books. When I read them again a few weeks ago, I discovered the same sense of wonder at Moorcock's colorful descriptions and characterizations as I did 20 years ago. Maybe this series is not as literary as Tolkien, or Moorcock's hero Mervyn Peake, but it is every bit as enjoyable. I'd recommend this series to fantasy fans of all ages, from people just turned onto the genre by Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings movies to those who have been into it for a while. A true modern classic.

  • Jeremy Preacher
    2019-04-15 10:12

    It's a classic for a reason. Moorcock's wild inventiveness and somewhat scattershot approach to storytelling all cohere into a compelling universe with interesting characters. Elric's weakness and introspection give him more actual weight as a hero than most of the strapping swordsmen of the genre, and his moral quandaries are genuinely affecting.There are some downsides - Moorcock is... not exactly a feminist writer, and his female characters are basically quest objectives. That's probably more true in Elric's stories than in some of the others - the main love interest is the classic helpless female who the alpha males fight over, kidnap, quite possibly rape (although it's never stated) and then... well, I won't spoil that bit.Elric also has an intermittent case of the stupids that's annoying - his "I know, I'll leave my kingdom in the hands of the person who just tried to murder me for it so I can go on walkabout for a year. Oh, he can hang on to my fiance, too. It'll be fine!" is just totally unbelievable and detracts quite a bit from the emotional punch of the finale.That said, this volume has some great adventures, some excellent characters, and is a coherent collection - there's a second volume of Elric stuff later on that I admit I'm looking forward to.

  • John Devlin
    2019-04-15 09:21

    The evil, doom-shrouded hero. A nice break from all those upbeat fantasy books. Tragedy stalks Elric's life, and when you have a sword that sucks people's souls, sometimes your friends souls, you can see why.

  • I.A. Ashcroft
    2019-04-14 12:07

    This omnibus was my first exposure to both Michael Moorcock's writing and his character Elric, which a friend has talked about for years. I looked forward to reading it very much. It actually was easy to jump into, despite it not being book #1 in the Eternal Champion story set.TL;DR: A real mixed bag for me. I'd happily read Moorcock's other writing - there is certainly skill here, and wonderful world-building - but these tales haven't aged well in some areas. Still, there are some real fantasy gems I'm glad to have read!Long version, by story:Elric of Melniboné - Excellent "prequel" work. The descriptions were vivid and Moorcock drops small bits of lore everywhere that stir the curiosity in ways that I kept praying would be answered later. Cymoril, Elric's love interest, I thought I liked at first, but by the end, she really didn't do much for me. She became a "sad female character bingo card" of getting the vapors, being a kidnapped damsel in distress with sexual assault undertones, etc. BUT! That said, not even Cymoril's handling could sour the fact that I got lost in this fantasy world, and I wanted to know more about this doomed city and its gloomy ruler. Elric's philosophy both astounded and impressed me by the end, and I truly wanted to know if his idealism in putting his "reformed" cousin on the throne temporarily would pay off. The Fortress of the Pearl - Elric is poisoned, the lord of a dying city blackmailing him for the antidote only if he can steal a fabled pearl from the land of dreams. It's a great setup, and hooked me along every step of the way. Given Cymoril in the last book, I was pleased to see characters of all genders come out of this both competent and well-rounded. Moorcock won me over with this story, even if it took me far from what I wanted to know from the first tale.The Sailor on the Seas of Fate - Annnnd... good feelings are gone. This feels like three different, dreamlike adventures bundled into one overall storyline, with mixed results. The first tale feels, in all respects, like an inexpert D&D campaign, where a party is thrown together to fight some ill-explained menace because reasons, and they don't care too much to question it. I feel as if this story would have much greater significance to readers of Moorcock's other works, but I haven't read those yet, so I don't care at all about the characters making cameos here, never fully fleshed out. Then, the adventure ends, and Elric never thinks of it again. The second and third sections make much better use of existing Elric lore to ground them in this universe, and the third story has some wonderful moments - especially when Elric finally loses control and learns he's not his sword's master at all! - but I wouldn't re-read, I don't think. The Dreaming City - God. Damn. It. I was so angry at this story when I first read it! One thing I wasn't aware of when I started was that "The Dreaming City", which is presented as the fourth story here, was actually Elric's first appearance, and the preceding three stories were written later. This was an "Aha!" moment for me and made me a little less vengeful. When read after those stories, it does not work at all. It presents a ton of information the other tales elaborated to death. It goes for really big plot points that make you want to scream, "WHY? HOW?" if you've read the other stories, but it won't answer those questions, and left me feeling robbed of emotional payoff for the plotlines started in "Elric of Melniboné". I wanted to slap Elric several times for seeming to have suddenly forgotten things he should have had knowledge of prior. All of that in mind, it probably reads much better taking in this story BEFORE reading anything else, then coming back to page one to see how things get to that point! You can really see how Moorcock grew as a writer between this and the other stories presented in this set.While the Gods Laugh - Once upon a time, a sexy lady wanders up to Elric in a tavern and gives him a quest to help her obtain an arcane book. "No woman can own it," she says. The lore hasn't really said why that's so, so I'm just going to say it's because 1960s fantasy. They of course have lots of sex at night on their quest. At one point he falls into a slime pit, and they forgot to bring rope (Elric, stop forgetting your necessary supplies, man! Did you at least bring enough medicine this time?), so his pretty companion must hilariously tear off her shirt and rip it up into strips of cloth to save him. You can tell right away the audience and the time period this was written for, but it's a bit of an eye-roller now. That said, it's short, and there's some good monsters and swordplay here, like any Elric book, and the futility of their quest sets the story apart from some of its contemporaries. The Singing Citadel - Like the last tale, a mini-adventure when standing next to the first ones in this collection. A queen enlists Elric's aid to stop a wayward Lord of Chaos from warping the land and kidnapping the folk there. Good action sequences, and even better banter from the Lords of Chaos, including a better look behind the curtain of the concerns of these higher beings. I enjoyed reading these moments quite a bit. Hilariously, the queen, who was said to be well-liked and competent, offers to giver up her whole kingdom to Elric so she can be his consort. But, of course, he moves on once the problem is dealt with, paving the way for another adventure......and so help me, I'd follow. Elric is interesting. Elric has the potential for many more great adventures. His world is also fascinating and well-built, even if his companions come and go and are often only memorable by name.But if you only picked two stories to read here, the first two are where the good stuff really is. I'm moving on to Moorcock's later works. I look forward to seeing Elric again someday, though, despite my mixed reaction to this omnibus in particular. Perhaps that is testament to why these stories have lasted in the imaginations of my friends as long as they have, despite their faults.

  • Jared Millet
    2019-04-04 13:11

    Omnibus time! I bought this entire set of "Eternal Champion" hardbacks when they were published, but it's been over a decade since I made a stab at reading them. Picking up where I left off with the first Elric volume - since this will take me a while, I'll review each section as I get to it.Elric of MelnibonéWayyy back when I read the SF Book Club's "Elric Saga" editions, I had no clue that I was starting with the prequel. Knowing that now explains why the character and world of Elric are so well fleshed out from the beginning. For Elric's "origin story" Moorcock doesn't assume the reader has any prior knowledge of the character, so the novel works perfectly well on its own merits (though I'm sure people who were already Elric fans when this came out got to smile as they watched the character they loved piece himself together).The Elric of this first novel is very much an idealistic young man learning some hard lessons - first as he tries to be a just, moral ruler in a decadent, hedonistic country, and next as he deals with treachery and betrayal, resulting in his need to make a dark pact with Arioch, Lord of Chaos, to save his crown and the life of his beloved cousin Cymoril.Elric was created in direct response to the fantasies of both Tolkien and Robert E. Howard, though of the two I suspect that Moorcock appreciates Howard more. Elric is very much the anti-Conan: born to rule instead of earning his crown in battle, physically weak yet intellectually strong, and steeped in the powers of sorcery rather than averse to them. Both characters share the same inner nobility and scorn for decadence, and both authors create worlds rife with lush imagery.The Fortress of the PearlThis one I remember reading when it first came out ("Holy crap, a new Elric novel!"). Though a later novel, this is still early days for Elric himself, who swings between "idealistic, callow youth" and "scary-ass Emperor" mode. For a good part of the novel, Elric is actually a sidekick to a more effective hero - namely, a dreamthief on a quest through the realms of Dream to rescue a desert nomad princess.Now, normally there's nothing I hate more than a dream sequence, but that's just because no one writes dreams like Michael Moorcock (and Neil Gaiman, of course). Elric's odyssey through the dreamworld follows both the story logic of the Quest and the "logic" of dreams, but you never get the feeling (as you do in most dream stories) that nothing really matters. This quest has actual stakes, and it takes a trippy writer like Moorcock to make that work from a literary sense.The Sailor on the Seas of FateOf all the Elric books, this is the one that stuck in my memory the most over the last thirty years. It's structured as three novellas that follow Elric's continued walkabout as he avoids his responsibilities as Emperor. In "Sailing to the Future," he leaves his world entirely for the uncharted depths of the Multiverse, meets several other incarnations of himself as the Eternal Champion, and fights one of the weirdest battles ever depicted in fantasy. "Sailing to the Present" is a little more pedestrian, in which Elric finds himself marooned in a grey limbo-dimension where he has to protect a woman being stalked by one of Elric's ancestors. "Sailing to the Past" brings Elric back to his own world and a quest for the ancient lost city from which his own race sprang 10,000 years prior. This book contains some of Moorcock's most evocative writing, in a style like Robert Howard if he'd ever lived long enough to mature as a writer."The Dreaming City" / "While the Gods Laugh" / "The Singing Citadel"a.k.a. The Weird of the White Wolf minus "The Dream of Earl Aubec" which was never really an Elric story anyway.So for the conclusion of this omnibus, we leave Moorcock's prequels behind and finally get to the actual start of the Elric Saga with the first two Elric stories ever written, then a third that came several years later and was inserted chronologically here in the sequence. The transition is jarring, first in style from the older, more mature Moorcock to the early 60's blood-and-souls-for-Arioch Moorcock. It's even more jarring because of the narrative leap that takes place between Seas of Fate, in which Elric is still traveling the world in order to be a better king in his homeland to "The Dreaming City" in which he's coming back with the intent to destroy his homeland and wipe his people from the earth. I remember Neil Gaiman making the comment somewhere that short stories are like the final chapters of novels never written. That's never more true than in this case. There is a lot of story missing in the lead-up to "Dreaming City." But, for good or ill, that's where the story actually starts and the Last Melnibonéan version of Elric is born. "While the Gods Laugh" explicitly introduces the concepts of Law and Chaos as opposing forces in Elric's world, and "The Singing Citadel" fleshes out the nature of Chaos and Elric's relationship to it while introducing an antagonist whom I believe plays some important role later in the story, but Holy Crom it's been since high school that I read these. So glad to have come back to them.I'm going to work through these omnibus editions in omnibus order, probably one per year, so it'll be a while until I get to the second half of the saga. That doesn't bother me; the Elric stories only seem to get better with time.

  • Collin
    2019-04-01 15:55

    Ah Elric. He's the biggest rock star in swords-and-sorcery fantasy, a genre that is at its most comfortable on the cover of a Heavy Metal album. I have to give this Thin White Duke the devil-horns and say, "Rock on, Elric, you Silver Stallion!"I think to some extent the idea of this character is much better than the actual stories about him. He conjures up such vivid images -- all morose and haunted, slinging a black sword as big as he is over his back, tossing back drugs and black magic to deal with the pain of living. He is the residual self-image that every teenage D&D geek cultivates in the dice-cluttered corridors of their dreams.His adventures are kind of in the vein of the old Conan stories. Elric cruises around getting into various kinds of trouble, usually wearing out his welcome at a place in about 90 pages. He swordalizes folks with his soul-hungry bastard sword Stormbringer like a record company exec slamming back lines. After summoning a demon or three and trading barbs with Chaos Gods, he stalks out into the dusty horizon to go rustle up new danger somewhere else. Once you get beyond the first (and best) story detailing Elric's exodus from Melnibone (his Kingdom) you are treated to a series of small tales that read a bit like a fantasy Man With No Name. I appreciate this Western flourish in particular.Anyway, he's one of the most imitated characters in fantasy lit, so you would do well to at least be passing familiar with him. He's Elric, try not to harsh his buzz.

  • Joel Mitchell
    2019-04-26 14:21

    Elric, the drug-dependant albino sorceror-emperor of a decadent amoral empire in decline and wielder of the black soul-sucking sword Stormbringer, is probably Michael Moorcock's best known hero/anti-hero. The novels and short stories that make up this volume are fairly typical offerings from Moorcock: slightly trippy swords and sorcery mixed with a lot of philosophizing and soul-searching.Unlike the rest of his race, Elric has some concept of morality and conscience. This leads to a few interesting moral dilemmas and way too many brooding pity parties of self-loathing. At the start his adventures are pretty interesting in an escapist fantasy kind of way, but after a while I thought they start sounding a bit repetitive.Having a protagonist who desires to improve himself and his people despite being dedicated to the lords of chaos and linked to an evil weapon was definitely an interesting concept (even if not all the stories were that great and I generally disagreed with the author's underlying philosophy). It was worth reading if for no other reason then to gain an acquaintance with a frequently imitated character.

  • Tamcamry
    2019-04-14 14:07

    • I remember reading this book about eight years ago, and I think I liked it better the first time I read it. Elric seems a little too sulky. He seems to brood an unrealistic amount of time. This book, much like Hawkmoon, makes only passing reference to the Eternal Champion. Some of the later stories also seem to end a bit abruptly. I understand that they are short stories, but it would be nice to flesh out some of the smaller characters. Overall, this isn’t the worst of the first five books in the Eternal Champion saga, but it’s no where near the best. We’ll see what happens as the series goes on

  • Justin Achilli
    2019-04-14 16:10

    I'm torn on this one. It's a classic, sure, but it's not one that I particularly enjoyed. The sequencing is simple: Elric goes to a place and fights a dude or thing. Then he does it again. Then he does it again. Then he pouts a while then goes and kills another fruity thing. Parts of the tale are quite resonant, as with how he deals with his treacherous cousin Yrkoon and his wife-to-be Cymoril, but then it dips back into the ersatz picaresque that reminds me of D&D games with an unprincipled gamemaster.I want to like this, but really, I'd rather listen to the Sword or Motorhead, you know?

  • Christian Herro
    2019-03-31 12:08

    Re-read this, and it still holds up. Elric turns fantasy on its head...he is neither the anti-hero he is frequently alluded to in lazy genre shorthand, but neither is he truly a hero. More a disillusioned protagonist, he is sometimes charming, sometimes grating & whiny, and always entertaining. By playing with the genre conventions (such as they were at the time), Moorcock carves out his own niche in the fantasy landscape that has yet to be matched.

  • Richard Houchin
    2019-04-22 08:09

    Very cool. Written back before moody elves with soul-drinking swords were cliched. Moorcock is the first, and last, person to make this character-type cool ^^I'd compare it to the Odyssey or Iliad, updated for modern fantasy aesthetics.

  • Heather Carter
    2019-04-13 10:22

    I absolutely cannot finish this book. I've started it three times and I keep re-shelving it. I find the writing stale and the characters all too whiny or otherwise annoying to bother putting up with them for more than a few chapters.

  • Dave
    2019-04-20 13:05

    Moorcock wanted to create the anti-Conan in Elric and he did so using an albino prince who relies on a black sword for power. Moorcock's writing verges on poetry and Elric stands next to Conan as being my two favorite Sword & Sorcery heroes.

  • Ben Santana
    2019-04-18 13:54

    Moorcock at his best. The White Wolf Moorcock Collection is one of the best ever.

  • Squire
    2019-04-13 10:19

    The Elric saga part 1. Great. A cornerstone of dark fantasy.

  • [redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.]
    2019-03-26 14:00


  • Patrik Sahlstrøm
    2019-04-18 15:13

    While the individual stories are good, this epic tale really shines when read together. Not for those looking for rainbows and unicorns in their fantasy ;-)

  • Steve Williams
    2019-03-28 09:05

    More 3.5 stars. Great prose, colourful description and imaginative setting. And yet. And yet something was missing that was evident in the Hawkmoon / End of time sagas.Tbc