Mon
Sep 2 2013 3:00pm

Advanced Readings in D&D: Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock Elric Weird of the White WolfIn “Advanced Readings in D&D,” Tor.com writers Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode take a look at Gygax’s favorite authors and reread one per week, in an effort to explore the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and see which of these sometimes-famous, sometimes-obscure authors are worth rereading today. Sometimes the posts will be conversations, while other times they will be solo reflections, but one thing is guaranteed: Appendix N will be written about, along with dungeons, and maybe dragons, and probably wizards, and sometimes robots, and, if you’re up for it, even more.

Welcome to the thirteenth post in the series, Where Mordicai and Tim dig into Michael Moorcock’s Elric series.

Tim Callahan: Other than J. R. R. Tolkien, who we haven’t yet talked about—but, oh yes, we will—I don’t have a lot of nostalgia for the writers in this Gygaxian Appendix N project. I have read many of them for the first time doing this series of conversations, and most of the ones I had read before were authors I came to late in my reading career. Although I ran into Dungeons and Dragons at a young age, and my role-playing game interests led me to some fantasy fiction, it wasn’t this stuff. It was the “Endless Quest” series or the Prydain chronicles of Lloyd Alexander or the Narnia books or Frank Herbert’s Dune or whatever was on the shelf of the nearest Waldenbooks that had “Dragon” somewhere in the title.

The big exception was Michael Moorcock. I read The Swords Trilogy and The Chronicles of Corum early, and they made an impact. They exploded inside my mind in a way I have never forgotten, even if I can’t remember many of the story details from any particular chapter.

But I somehow missed the Elric books entirely. Elric is clearly the most famous of the Moorcock characters, right? The albino champion with the black sword? He’s a big deal in the world of fantasy fiction. But I never read a single page of an Elric story in my youth, even though the Corum books were some of the most imaginative and terrifyingly evocative fantasy books I’d ever read.

I didn’t pick up any of the Elric books until a few years ago, with the Del Ray chronological reprints, a series that provides the stories in the order they were published along with some Moorcock letters and non-fiction to provide context on the development of the world of Melniboné. I appreciate the comprehensiveness of that approach to the Elric texts, but I didn’t really feel like I tuned into Elric until halfway through the first reprint volume, when we get the four novellas of Stormbringer. That’s the stuff that was first published in America, from what I understand, and I can see why.

It’s classic Moorcock, in that imaginative and terrifyingly evocative way that I loved all those years ago when I first picked up The Swords Trilogy off a spinner rack in my hometown general store. Stormbringer begins with agents of chaos abducting Elric’s wife, and it takes off into the realm of mass warfare and conflicts with not-quite-dead-gods soon enough.

Moorcock aims for the mythic.

Mordicai Knode: Elric is definitely the most famous Moorcock character, yeah, and I think easily the one most “archetypal”—I mean, I talked about God of Blades as a good example, but you can just as easily cite a big name like Raistlin Majere—but that is part of the charm, isn’t it? The idea of the Eternal Champion, that Elric and Hawkmoon and Corum and whoever else are all just different manifestations of a pan-dimensional hero, appearing in every parallel world. That idea is both central to Moorcock’s fantasy work, but paradoxically totally beside the point; you don’t need to know that all of the icons of Moorcock are all different expressions of the same meta-textual being. Until he goes into other dimensions to deal with demon princes and the cities of the undying, at least.

So we’ve been starting these reads off with your confessions lately, so here is a confession of mine: I don’t really like Elric! I get that Elric sort of defined the reaction against Tolkien, and that the grim anti-hero trope was really crystallized for fantasy as a genre by Elric—but because of that he just reads so...juvenile to me. Like what is being done with the New 52 in comics, it just seems like the Grim n’ Gritty comics of the 80s and 90s. I know that Elric predates that, but I’m still unable to separate the concepts, in my head. Other, later works have retroactively tainted it. No, for my money the best Eternal Champion is Hawkmoon.

Of course, I say all of that, but I had a nation in my last role-playing campaign that I went so far as to name “Arioch,” which was a mash-up between a lot of pulp sources, from Moorcock to Burroughs. I sort of summed it up as “Flash Gordon in Carcosa, Miskatonic Lankhmar, John Carter of Melniboné.” So yeah, it isn’t like I don’t actually find it inspiring; I obviously do.

TC: Would you say that you don’t like Elric, as a character? Or is it that you don’t like the Elric books and stories?

Because as much as I love this era of Moorcock—though I never could appreciate the Jerry Cornelius tales in practice, no matter how great they sounded in theory—I wouldn’t say I actually like Elric himself. Whenever he says or does anything, I can’t help but hear Kenneth Branagh in my mind, talking about the “delicate and tender prince” of Norway. (I taught Hamlet for a dozen years in a row, so those kinds of things pop up from time to time, I’m afraid.) He’s not a great character. His sword is way more interesting than he is, which is never a good sign.

Then again, the black blade Stormbringer is cooler than many characters in fantasy literature, so I can’t fault Moorcock for that.

But as melancholy and impetuous and kind-of-inconsistent and not-all-that-substantial as Elric can be as a character, the stories he takes part in are brimming with crazy images and feats of imaginative power. When Moorcock has a fleet of ships on the horizon, it’s not just a fleet of ships, its 40,000 undead magic-imbued ships. When Elric finally rescues his beloved, it’s not a mere victim of kidnapping he finds, but rather his wife as a bloated demonic worm monster who throws herself on his sword so as not to live such a tortured existence. When Elric dies—well, he doesn’t really, as the struggle for Eternal Balance never ends.

It’s big stuff. Massive. Expansive. And that’s what I love most about it, even if it does center around an albino guy who makes every statement a blandly bold declaration and every question a cry against the mighty forces of the universe.

MK: I would say I don’t like Elric stories, but not liking Elric is part of that. He just needs like...one more dimension. You can’t just be brooding and periodically violent, you gotta have some kind of twist, or angle, or character. That said, again, I know I’m retroactively biased; at the time Elric came out, I’m sure that whole anti-hero thing was fresh, but growing up reading about Liefeldian comic book dudes really takes the wind out of those sails. Though I will say that I really, really like Branagh’s Hamlet; I was in high school when that movie came out and we used to go to the tiny little indie theater and watch Hamlet after school pretty regularly, like a half dozen times. And not for nothing, but Hamlet is a good name to bring up, as is Macbeth; Elric is pretty rife with that tragic Shakespearean pathos. Maybe just a little over rife.

You’re right to say that Stormbringer is cooler than Elric. Stormbringer is the real star, and the part that sticks with me as a reader. Heck, that sticks with me as a Dungeon Master. I’m not alone in that—the magic sword Blackrazor in the White Plume Mountain adventure is a clear homage—but it really is just a great template for a magic item. It even has a sibling sword, Mournblade, so you can give Stormbringer to your PCs and Mournblade to their most hated NPC rival. Perfect! And you know, is the solidified will of a demon prince. As I mentioned in my Planes of 5e pitch I think that pseudo-divine evil is some of the most well developed mythology in D&D, so that fits, too.

And sure it is big, but the size of Elric’s stories just make it seem sort of un-anchored to plausibility. It is just too epic, too consistently. Oh, more demon boats made from fingernails, crewed by the dead, and everyone has guns that shoot lightning...again. I guess that might be part of why I like Hawkmoon more: the worldbuilding is more precise, and the villains are more of a problem. Conquering entire continents isn’t nearly as impressive as conquering this continent, where the story is actually happening.

TC: I absolutely agree that Moorcock’s writing overall can be so big that it becomes, as you say, “un-anchored to plausibility.” It’s not just the Elric stories that end up that way, and though that vast imaginative scope is what draws me to Moorcock, it also repels me in the end. I can only take so much of it. I love the collection of stories that was published as Stormbringer, but that’s really all I need.

And I’m glad you mentioned White Plume Mountain, because it’s a classic D&D adventure and though it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the Elric mythos, specifically, the sword Blackrazor is clearly plucked from Moorcock’s works. Module writer Lawrence Schick even admitted that it was written as a kind of calling card to TSR to get hired as a game designer, and it worked, but he never would have included such an obvious Elric homage if he thought the module were going to see print as written. It’s pretty blatant.

Then again, the gang at TSR statted up Elric and his friends for the first printing of Deities and Demigods, so they didn’t hide their Moorcock affection from the public. Until legal matters forced them into retreat and Elric was removed from their official mythology almost immediately.

As a closing note, I think it’s worth looking at what Moorcock himself has said about his writing from the Elric era. In a letter from 1963, Moorcock wrote, “I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas, but I’d rather be that than a big writer with bad ideas.”

I would too. And that’s what we get with Elric and Stormbringer: big ideas, maybe not so gracefully executed every time.

Note: For more on Moorcock and Elric, you can check out the Karin L. Kross’s ongoing Elric Reread here on Tor.com!


Tim Callahan usually writes about comics and Mordicai Knode usually writes about games. They both play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons.

37 comments
Tim Eagon
1. Tim_Eagon
Mordicai, you're right...why Elric is cool and all, Hawkmoon is the best Eternal Champion (I also enjoyed the History of the Runestaff much more than the Elric books).
Alan Brown
2. AlanBrown
I read some of the Elric tales when I was in high school, back when I regularly bought books because they had a guy with a sword on the cover, but like you guys have related as well, he didn't really grab me. Too unrelievedly grim, too dark and gloomy. To me, the series is a perfect example of how you need a bit of light to contrast the darkness with.
And the sword definitely had the bigger personality...
Walker White
3. Walker
Elric is all about the trope subversion. Not just in reaction to Tolkien, but in reaction to the pulps (of which Hawkmoon is a classic example) as well.

I have been revisiting the books again through the audiobooks. Looking back at them now, it is amazing just how emo Elric is. It is no mystery why he appeals to so many in their teenage years.
Colin Bell
4. SchuylerH
@Mordicai and Tim: The original Elric stories were, to me, decent beginner work from Moorcock. Elric as a character is very obviously the antithesis of Conan starring in a pulpy version of The Broken Sword but while Poul Anderson took his inspiration from mythology, Moorcock was taking his inspiration from Poul Anderson. It does end up feeling a little overwhelming, a little too loud for it to really come together. I would say that Elric has the iconic image; he gets the covers but Hawkmoon does most of the work (He SPOILERS! gets to enter Tanelorn and help free the universe, after all END SPOILERS!).

Perhaps relevant: As part of my Moorcock re-read, I picked up Sojan the Swordsman. Now, that is pretty weak stuff, clear Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiche. There's a surprising amount of improvement from these stories (written between 1957-58) and "The Dreaming City", thanks in part (it would appear) to the perenially underappreciated Barrington J. Bayley.

If we're picking favorite incarnations of the Eternal Champion, I feel that I ought to put in a word for Graf Ulrich von Bek, of The War Hound and the World's Pain.
Chris Palmer
5. cmpalmer
I did read the Elric books for the first time back in my teenage D&D days, so they were encountered at a perfect time. I've re-read them lately and, while I still enjoy them for their poetic and mythic qualities, they are a little shallow on their own in characterization and plot.

I always assumed that Elric was deliberately the anti-Conan: Conan has tan skin and dark hair, Elric is pale and white haired. Conan: barbarian, Elric: Well education scholar. Conan: Born a nobody, becomes king. Elric: Born to be emperor, gives it up. Conan: Strong and muscular, Elric: weak and sickly. Conan: Hates and fears magic, Elric: sorceror. Conan: basically a "good" person, even though he kills, steals, etc., Elric: basically an evil person who does good. Conan: Does what feels like, Elric: wrestles with each decision in his life. And so on...
David Levinson
6. DemetriosX
I've never really been able to get into Moorcock. Part of that may be because my first exposure was a very strange Jerry Cornelius movie, which then led to me reading The Cornelius Chronicles. I've tried other Moorcock tales, including some Elric fairly recently, but it just doesn't work for me. Although I did sort of like one of the Oswald Bastable books; can't remember which one. In general, though, I react to Moorcock about the way our intrepid reviewers do de Camp or Zelazny.

That said, the influence of Elric on ODD is unmistakeable. Most obvious is the concept of the gods of Law and Chaos, of course. But Stormbringer is also there in the rules for intelligent weapons and the danger of characters being taken over by them. Some of the other artifacts, particularly those that would today be characterized as grimdark, also seem to have clear roots in Elric.
Ornithptor33
7. Ornithptor33
Stormbringer is my favorite Elric book.
Elric is my favorite character of any series.
From a role-playing point of view, I love Dorian Hawkmoon, because I enjoy being a determined hero. His enemies were so facinating and strong that they made Hawkmoon an ever more tough and heroic character. Sometimes I love Count Brass a little more. The DM of a campaign might find it difficult to control or contain an Elric type adventurer. The players may have a hard time with characters being threatened or killed by a PC member of their party.
Respectfully, though, I find Elric an outstanding, complex, 'real' and mysterious creation. Elric is very useful to explore various ideas, ideals and
situations. Elric is fantasic fun and a superbly written character to set loose in The Multiverse.
For gamers, I recommend checking out
the graphic novels of Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer and Elric: The Balance Lost. I would also say to try all the stories that Elric is a part of, in some way. The core six DAW Elric paperbacks are a good place to start, I feel. Stormbringer is the sixth book in that sequence, before going to The Fortress off the Pearl, Revenge of the Rose (another favorite) and others. The reprints are excellent as well.
Thank you.
Mordicai Knode
8. mordicai
1. Tim_Eagon
Mordicai, you're right...
Yes, the comment I've been waiting for, at last!

2. AlanBrown

If you haven't read Hawkmoon, give them a whirl, I think they are far superior.

3. Walker

Right, & the problem with trope inversion is that it is topical; heck, people are acting like Lobo is a legitimate comic book character, instead of a parody of...well, when Marvel comics were basically the same as DC comics is now, see also my above mention of Liefeld...
Tim Eagon
9. Tim_Eagon
I actually don't have much of a problem with Elric's characterization; the primary reason why I prefer the The History of the Runestaff to the Elric Saga are the villains. Pan Tang is no Dark Empire of Granbretan and Jagreen Lern is no Baron Meliadus or even an Immortal King-Emperor Huon (however, Arioch and Stormbringer are very interesting characters, and the latter gets the best bit of final dialogue, but I'm not sure I'd characterize either of them as the series's villains). Obviously, I think this has more to do with the fact that most of the Elric novels were cobbled out of a series of short stories and novellas written over a period of time.

Now, I'm going to switch to an actual D&D topic, though I risk dragging this thread into the lowest depths of RPG forumdom...the dreaded alignment discussion! In Dieties & Demigods, Elric's alignment is listed as chaotic evil; while I wouldn't characterize him as good, I think chaotic evil is a bit of a stretch to put it mildly. I guess I would say he's neutral or chaotic neutral.
Derek Broughton
10. auspex
This is probably the best Appendix N post yet — but then, Moorcock was the core of my own D&D games, so it would be.

"No, for my money the best Eternal Champion is Hawkmoon." Yay, Mordicai! Of course, I came to Moorcock through Hawkmoon, so it's probably natural that I like him best, but ...

Corum is the most deeply embedded in mythology (the Welsh Mabinogion), and I enjoyed them for that, but I'll always have a soft spot for Hawkmoon.

And for the first time, I actually agree with both of you! I love the Branagh comparison. I love Branagh, but sometimes he can get just a little too grandiose (not to mention morose) — too … Elric-y!

And I never liked Jerry Cornelius — that's where I stopped reading the Eternal Champion stories.
Walker White
11. Walker
@9

The early usage of alignments were always questionable, particularly when they were applied to established characters from other settings. For example, that same Deities & Demigods put the entire Lovecraftian pantheon as evil, when that really does not mesh with Lovecraft's intent.

besides, the interpretations of the various alignments have changed wildly over the years as lead designers have come and gone. Just read the description of True Neutral in each of the editions.
Ornithptor33
12. Papi
In 80's, I played to a good RPG paper : Stormbringer.
Si, I decided to read the books and...
And I became a fan of Michael Moorcock.

I like Hawkmoon, but I think the best creation of Michael Moorcock is Elric.
Ornithptor33
13. Biff from Australia
Elric was my first introduction to Moorcock and just as for Tim Callahan they had a huge impact on me. As a youngster and coming from the Robert E. Howard school of sword and sorcery the anti-nature of Elric was a revelation.

As for a favourite EC, much as I love Hawkmoon and the fact he gets a relatively happy ending I must give my vote to the Prince in the Scarlet Robe.
Ornithptor33
14. Zarathustra's Shadow
Well, my first Moorcock was Warlord of the Air, then the next, quite some years later, was an anthology of Hawkmoon's first series. I never really took to Hawkmoon - I'd started reading it as a mildly fantastic "realist" novel, which it is in the first part, and had enjoyed it. After he and his friends started galavanting around the multiverse, things went rapidly downhill in my estimation. Moorcock should've stuck with it as a "mildly fantastic realist" novel IMHO. The Count Brass series is saved primarily by the other characters in it and the wonderful world they wind up on. A technological civilization that doesn't impinge on nature? Give me the ticket there, and you'll not see me ever again!

Elric is a much more varied mix of characters. I agree that the sword carries most of the characterization - which may well be Moorcock's less-than-subtle hint to other writers. Fortress of the Pearl and Revenge of the Rose are the works of the mature Moorcock, and they don't disappoint.

But what made me a fan was the first Corum series, the Dancers at the End of Time, and the first book of The Eternal Champion. If only Hawkmoon had been like that for me! But it struck me as somewhat mawkish, and after more than one re-reading, I've still not been able to shake that impression.
Mordicai Knode
15. mordicai
4. SchuylerH

You're in deeper waters than me; I've really only read the Elric & the Hawkmoon stuff, with a smattering of other stuff here & there. You mention Elric being "loud" which I get-- I feel like it is a low signal to noise ratio, though. A fresh take on Elric could be of the "it goes to 11" school of thought, just go over the top brashly, just "be more awesome."

5. cmpalmer

Yeah, it is all about inversions; maybe if I'd read it at the "right" moment, either in my lifespan or in historical context, I would have enjoyed it more; it might have "hit the spot."

7. Ornithptor33

One of the things Vampire: the Masquerade taught me as a DM & a Player is how to have antagonistic PCs. It is a tough tight rope, & the Players need to be "in" on it-- one "thief" PC in an otherwise teamwork based party is a recipe for disaster-- but if everyone "opts in" to a jerk or evil campaign, it can be fun.

9. Tim_Eagon

The bad guys with those animal masks, the emperor in a bacta tank, the cheap jokes about the Beatles, yeah, that is my style, for sure.
Mordicai Knode
16. mordicai
10. auspex

It is fun that this is the post where everyone agrees! Yeah, Hawkmoon is the best; the recent Tor reprints were what I read, on the basis of advice & their pretty covers.

9. Tim_Eagon
&
11. Walker

I've always been a fan of alignment as descriptive rather than prescriptive. I wrote a little bit about it in regards to Tolkien. Anyhow, I have to agree with "Chaotic Neutral," personally.

12. Papi

A friend of mine picked up the Corum sourcebook for that game at a garage sale for me...which is strange, because I've never read Corum...
Walker White
17. Walker
@12

In 80's, I played to a good RPG paper : Stormbringer.

Nice setting, but horrible game balance (even for the notorious imbalances of games in the 80s). Demon arrows ruled everything.
Ornithptor33
18. lach7
Hawkmoon is definitely a more developed character and I think fits much better with our expectations of "hero." And, overall, I think the Runestaff series is better written.

However, that being said, I'm still a bigger fan of Elric. I was around 13 when I read those Berkeley editions in the early 80s and they absolutely captured my imagination for quite awhile. I spent inordinate amounts of time perusing the Melnibonean Mythos section of the early Deities and Demigods. I don't know what it is, but there's just something about the ideas and imagery presented in those Elric stories.

The post talks a lot about the "bigness" of the Elric stories. Interestingly, my strongest memories of these tales are the "small" ones--the various adventures of Elric and Moonglum escaping marauders or being in the Beggar City.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
19. hoopmanjh
I was kind of peripherally aware of Elric, but I think my first real encounter with Moorcock was picking up a copy of the Swords Trilogy (the first Corum omnibus) in 8th or 9th grade, which just blew my mind. Then I borrowed the Elric books (the original 6 DAW paperbacks with Whelan covers) from a friend and I was pretty much hooked.
Matt Fimbulwinter
20. curgoth
My favourite Elric exchange, from Elric at the End of Time:
"Aye," said Elric darkly, "return me to my realm, so that I may fulfil my own doom-laden destiny."

Werther looked upon the albino with affectionate delight. "Aha! A fellow spirit! I, too, have a doom-laden destiny."

"I doubt it is as doom-laden as mine..."
Mordicai Knode
21. mordicai
13. Biff from Australia
&
14. Zarathustra's Shadow

I think Tim_Eagon hit the nail on the head when he talked about the antagonists; ultimately, the Hawkmoon books just seem more developed to me. They have better worldbuilding, better villains, better stories, even the "here there be dragons" parts of the world have colour. Corum I can't speak to, but I am led to understand they are...pretty weird.

18. lach7

That tension, between the cosmic & the personal, is a good one, but also a tough one to pull off. Dungeons & Dragons is spectacularly bad at it, in fact, because of the nature of leveling. If you are tough enough to challenge Arioch, demon prince, then you...probably aren't worried about a bunch of local bandits.
Colin Bell
22. SchuylerH
@20: That's my favorite Elric story.

Perhaps relevant: In my collection, I have The (Compleat) Traveller in Black, five stories starring John Brunner's version of the Eternal Champion. The background cosmology is probably quite derivative of Moorcock but it's decent fun, looking at how people never seem to realise the consequences of their actions.
Walker White
23. Walker
@21

Dungeons & Dragons is spectacularly bad at it, in fact, because of the nature of leveling. If you are tough enough to challenge Arioch, demon prince, then you...probably aren't worried about a bunch of local bandits.

This can be addressed with items substituting for level progression. Items serve as an extra-leveling form of advancement and equalization. Indeed, items were crucial to the post name level progression in first edition. Experience rewards grew linearly while experience requirements grew quadratically (until name level, where they plateued).

Honestly, apart from his sword , Elric is just a good swordsman who has a couple of once-per adventure favors he can pull in from elementals. There is no argument that he has to be that high a level; he just has a really good item. And Stormbringer is one of those malevolent items that DMs love to twist so that it never becomes true twinking.
Ornithptor33
24. nanotear
I first encountered Elric in Deities & Demigods and of course Appendix N. So I originally read those 6 books in the editions with the silver covers in high school--a time when I considered Evildead II to be the greatest movie of all time. Hence, I loved them. Would agree now that they're a bit half-baked (clearly Moorcock was into quantity over quality). But he also excelled at creativity, darkness, melodrama, and doom. I'm a fan of all those things.

Cornelius didn't work for me either, which bummed me out beacause I loved Illuminatus and thought I'd be prepared for the ride.

Glad someone above pointed out Warhound and the World's Pain. It's a standout.

Still, for anyone who is wishing that Moorcock was better than he seems, I encourge you to read his 1967 Nebula award-winning novella 'Behold The Man'. It's a short read, and one that will convince you that he is quite capable of laying down a truly satisifying piece of writing when he's in the right frame of mind or on the right combination of drugs or whatever makes that lunatic tick.
Ornithptor33
25. nanotear
And yes I know that 'Behold the Man' was from '66 and won the award in '67 ;) Great story.
Colin Bell
26. SchuylerH
@24: Most of Moorcock's heroic fantasy was deliberately written for quick money in an ultimately doomed attempt to keep his magazine, New Worlds, afloat. The History of the Runestaff, for example, is said to have been written in under a fortnight. It's a positive miracle that it's as good as it is. Still, when he slowed down a bit and wrote something more personal, like Behold the Man or The War Hound and the World's Pain, you could get something great.

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy Cornelius, though I'm the first to admit that the guy's an acquired taste. Have you tried The Distant Suns? It's a version of Cornelius starring in a tribute to British space operas of the 50's (John Brunner, E. C. Tubb and Ken Bulmer were all friends of Moorcock). The plotting isn't quite so innovative (some would say random) but it's probably an easier read. Another incarnation of Cornelius makes his way into Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles, which was my third Moorcock book. (The second was Behold the Man, the first was Letters from Hollywood)
Mordicai Knode
27. mordicai
23. Walker

It is true that earlier editions of the game had far fewer hit points floating around out there; I took my elf thief from 1-10 in the Temple of Elemental Evil last year & I walked away from the campaign with only 29 maximum hit points (yes, the dice hate me).
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
28. hoopmanjh
For myself, I don't know if Cornelius ever "worked" for me, but I did plow through the big omnibus more than once back in the day. I also read Distant Suns and some others of its ilk when they were included in the White Wolf Eternal Champion omnibus set, but they didn't do much for me.

I have to say that while I've read & enjoyed a lot of his work, everything from the Dancers at the End of Time to the Pyatt quartet, the original Eternal Champion stuff (Elric, Corum, Hawkmoon, Erekose) remains my favorite. Which probably says more about me than about the work.
Colin Bell
29. SchuylerH
@28: Out of interest, would you say that you typically read more fantasy than SF or vice versa?
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
30. hoopmanjh
@29: These days, mostly fantasy; I have read a fair bit of SF in the day, but not much that's been published recently.

As I look back on it, I don't think it was the SFnal elements of Distant Suns that didn't work for me so much as the New Wave feel. (Or am I misremembering? It's been years since I read the book.)
Colin Bell
31. SchuylerH
@30: That would fit my theory: my reading is typically 3/4 SF to 1/4 fantasy, while the fantasy I do read I tend to get into by the author's SF works (Vance, Leiber, Anderson &c). Consequently, I haven't really got the kind of background to fully appreciate Moorcock earlier Eternal Champion stuff, given that I didn't get round to Lankhmar, Conan, The Broken Sword or The Dying Earth until after Stormbringer, as much as I enjoyed all of these books. Indeed, it wasn't until comparatively recently that I got round to The Secret of Sinharat, though to make up for it I am now the Compleat Brackett Fan.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
32. hoopmanjh
@31: Which reminds me: I really need to add more Brackett to my queue. I do see that she was listed in Appendix N, though, so we have that column to look forward to.

And it may also be that I first encountered Moorcock's fantasy back in high school (before I had actually read Lankhmar, Conan et al.) and it just imprinted on me.
Colin Bell
33. SchuylerH
@32: If you read ebooks, then I can direct you to Baen, who have produced themed collections of much of her shorter work. If not, Paizo's much missed Planet Stories imprint brought back many of her novels (alongside works by Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Robert Silverberg, Manly Wade Wellman and others) while The Long Tomorrow (my favorite) is being reissued as an SF Masterwork next year. I hope they pick a good one for the re-read: The Sword of Rhiannon, perhaps?

EDIT: Apparently, Brackett's "The Dragon Queen of Venus" was an influence on the setting of the Elric novels.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
34. hoopmanjh
Lord, how I miss Planet Stories! And I'll have to check out the Baen collections. Thanks!
Mordicai Knode
35. mordicai
33. SchuylerH
&
34. hoopmanjh

Yup, spoiler alert, but it is not just Sword of R, but the Planet Stories edition, with the intro by Nicola Griffith!
Ornithptor33
36. Alexander Khounani
Do a post on his Warhound and the World's Pain. It's my favorite, next to the Skraeling Tree! All the Von Bek books, actually, are more sophisticated. Warhound made me cry, though.
Ornithptor33
37. Carmen_rider
Moorcock's always been my favorite ever since he churned out the Eternal Champion years ago. I started with Hawkmoon as some guys here. But Dancers at the End of Time takes the take for the best. I bet I have a lot more to catch up on, though. Maybe completing the Elric books next and more.

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