Review: Elric of Melnibone

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Elric of MelniboneElric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At this point, I feel like I’ve read a pretty good deal of fantasy, but I’ve come to realize that my experience with the genre does not extend back very far. Yes, I’ve read The Lord of the Rings, A Wizard of Earthsea, and most of the Amber series, but other than those, most of the novels I’ve read have been pretty recent.

As such, I’ve wanted to dip my toes into some older works for awhile now and a chance stop at a local bookshop gave me the perfect opportunity. I found a used copy of the first of the Elric saga for a couple bucks and in great, if yellowed, condition and I couldn’t resist.

Overall, I really liked this novel. After reading so many bulky epic fantasy tomes, it was nice to pick up a book that was a bit shorter. The first Elric novel harkens back to the early 1970s when sword and sorcery novels were short, pulpy, and at the height of their reign. These were the novels, as much as Tolkien’s, that inspired Dungeons and Dragons which, in turn, inspired generations of authors. And that’s exactly how it felt, like I was reading a foundational novel.

Elric of Melnibone is a tightly written story that is short and to the point, but does not lack for adventure. It truly was a fantastic tale that was full of magic and heroism. I really enjoyed how imaginative the story was.

Elric is an interesting character too. He is the leader of his people, a race seemly beyond its golden age. Elric understands that they must change or be swept away with time and they resent him for it. He sees and feels things that his people cannot and he is alone because of it.

Eventually, the resentment leads to a feud and a rollicking adventure ensues filled with magic ships, magic swords, a journey into the netherworld, and damsels in distress. What’s not to like? I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series.