Mon
Mar 15 2010 2:00pm

Can you do that in a fantasy novel?

I remember when found my first Moorcock sighting.  It was at the library, and I was fifteen.  Even at a distance, that copy of Elric stood out from the books around it.  It was the version with the white and red cover, put out by Ace, I believe.

I looked through it, and I remember thinking to myself “This isn’t like the others.  It’s different.”  I had no idea.  After just a few years reading fantasy, I already had in my head what a fantasy novel ‘should’ be.  Elric was to teach me that I still had a lot to learn.

One of the oddities of getting into the genre as I did—by way of pure accident, without friends or coaches to guide me toward the best books—was that I got to ‘discover’ many authors for myself that were already famous in the field.  I suspect this isn’t uncommon among those of my generation, who didn’t have Amazon suggesting similar books to us or internet forums extolling the best books of the year.  (Life got a lot easier for me when I discovered there was a sf/fantasy independent bookstore in town.)

And so, I feel a certain satisfaction for having pulled Moorcock out of the pile without any knowledge of how important his books had been to many of the other authors I’d been reading.  I actually remember reading the first one and being amazed.  “Can you do this in a fantasy novel?” Elric was unlike anyone else I’d read about, a character I both disliked and loved at the same time.

I’ll fully admit that the books (much like those by Donaldson, which I discovered around the same time) were way over my head.  But I knew it, and that excited me, thrilled me, and drove me to expand my understanding of the genre and writing itself.  I’ll admit to being a Moorcock fanboy—my friends and I even had a love of the old Stormbringer pen and paper RPG.

His Eternal Champion motif is part of what drove me to build a shadowed connection between the various worlds of my epic fantasy stories. Warbreaker includes a sentient black sword, an homage to Stormbringer that I’ve been waiting to work into one of my books for many years.  I owe a lot to Moorcock, as does fantasy at large.  If you haven’t read his books, you’re missing something grand.

8 comments
Sean Banawnie
1. Seanie
Thank you ,appreciate the tip.I don't think I've read him before.....~Herid Fel flashback~ *scratches head and stares off at horizon*
Alfvaen
2. Alfvaen
I got into Moorcock for the same reason that I'm sure a lot of kids my age did (back in the early 80's)--the old Deities & Demigods book with the Melnibonéan Mythos. (Same thing for Fritz Leiber.) It was a long time before I found all the Elric books, but I read tons of his Elric/Hawkmoon/Corum stuff back then.

Then I hit Jerry Cornelius and slammed on the brakes. The End of Time books were okay, I suppose. Rereading the Elric series recently, though, I found myself struggling to get through them. Not sure why.

I suppose my tastes have just shifted. I don't enjoy Tanith Lee as much as I used to, either (let alone Piers Anthony)--these days it's Robert Jordan, Steven Brust, Lois McMaster Bujold, Steven Erikson, Glen Cook, Jim Butcher... Maybe I need to try some later Moorcock; maybe it's an improvement as much as Donaldson's Gap series improved on Thomas Covenant.
Tasneem Gould
3. Latecomer
He still goes over my head! I find it really hard to get into his characters, and I find that I lose interest in a story very quickly if I don't love the charaters. Also, the one story of his I started jumped very quickly from Crusades and Witch hunts to Castle in the underworld with trapped beauty to quest in the mountains ....

I kept thinking I was missing the detail of WHY the protagonist was doing these things, and as they got more and more illogical I just gave up.

PS: I love Lightsong!
Theresa M. Moore
4. TheresaMMoore
I said the same things to myself when I tried to get through "The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers" and put it down. One day my head could not wrap around the futility and waste of war. Yet I could take it when the trilogy of films came out. I think part of it was because the character interaction was "cleaned up" in the editing process. The last really long book I read was "The Viscount de Bragellone". Right now I am staring at a thick paperback copy of "The Last Cavalier" and dreading it. If the "Elric of Melnibone" saga was translated into film I think I would enjoy it. But I don't think it has ever been done. I will tell you what did grab my attention: "The 13th Warrior", a sleeper which somehow slipped past the reviewers. It was based on a book whose title slips my mind, but it has all the amazing sword and sorcery elements a fantasy writer would love.
Alfvaen
5. HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
Alright Sanderson, let me just say what others are thinking -- you are allowed 3 bathroom breaks per day, 2 meal breaks plus 2 snacks, but other than that you must at all times be working to get me ToM!

That aside, for some reason Moorcock is the one author I never took on advice from my brother. Starting with Tolkien and, coincidentally, continuing through Jordan (with plenty of Weis/Hickman, Eddings, and Salvatore in the middle), he's been that guy for me you say you didn't grow up with. I always mean to look into Moorcock and Martin, but never have.
T C
6. Freelancer
Brandon,

It's great to see you offering your background and opinion here at the source, so to speak. ::Turns the evil eye on HWCWTN::

My entree into fantasy was through Salvatore's Dark Elf Trilogy, and I was easily hooked. I seem to gravitate toward the authors who produce extended, elaborate, multi-segmented sagas such as Brooks and Feist, but I read whatever I can, and nowadays when I scan the SF/F section of a Barnes and Noble it seems that fewer than half of the authors are unfamiliar to me.

That said, it was on your advice that I picked up The Name of the Wind, and now you're two-for-two in my book. Thanks to you becoming the WoT co-author, I've read you and Patrick Rothfuss, and you are both winners. With that track record, Moorcock, previously unknown to me, will rise near the top of the to-read list.
Maggie M
7. Eswana
Give the man a break, HWCWTN. Has a new baby at home and alla that. :-)

Sounds like a great read Brandon! Now, get thee back to ToM. Or changing diapers. Or something.
Brian Vrolyk
8. vyskol
I "discovered" fantasy/sci-fi the same way. For me it was Weiss and Hickman's Darksword trilogy that paved the way for Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, Stephen Donaldson, and countless others; including at least one book by Michael Moorcock.

You, and the very vague recollection of that Moorcock novel so very long ago have just reminded me it's time to dig up some more.

Cheers!

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