Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More Elric

I've been reading Elric again. Del Rey books has issued a 6 volume set with wonderful illustrations and great intros by such people as Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Michael Moorcock also has added a new intro to each edition which describes both his history as well as that of his most famous character. One thing he states is that he still finds Elric interesting, as opposed to Conan Doyle who came to hate writing the later Sherlock Holmes stories. I just finished "Black Petals" which came out in 2007 and it is a real thriller. Scary. Filled with the Elric mood. We all wait for the action with Stormbringer, Elric's sentient black runesword. And though at the end ,it does not disappoint at all.

My earlier view was that my favorite stories were in "The Stealer of Souls" and "Stormbringer", the first 2 Elric books. I initially found the later books to lack what I considered the punch of the earliest works. But I am revising my opinion. Having just re-read both "The Revenge of the Rose" and "The Fortress of the Pearl", I find I really enjoy these later works. Since Elric dies at the end of "Stormbringer" virtually all the Elric stories are prequels. So even though stories are set very early in Elric's history, Moorcock when he writes them is a much more mature and developped writer. I am appreciating this more as I am on my current re-read. One thing that jumps out at me is that the Elric books are much more mature and complex than the Tolkien books when it comes to dark themes. And there is a lot of dark in the Elric stories. He is an albino, lacking natural energy and vitality. He relies on Stormbringer, his black runesword, for energy. Stormbringer drains the life force or soul from a victim, feeding this to Elric. Really the sword and the man are one. Elric is described as being much more rational and human than his ancestors, who ruled from the dreaming city for ten thousand years. Stormbringer can only be wielded by one of Elric's line, so the sword needs Elric as much as Elric needs it. The sword has a personality of its own. During battle it sings a wild song and emits a black radiance which can be noticed even in the dark. It is constantly pushing Elric on to take more souls. Elric is often wary of his dependence on the blade and on the addictive quality of the power and energy that it feeds him. Yet both sword and man have a connected destiny that is very vital to the universe going into a new cycle. Often times change needs a motive force or energy that can be perceived as dark or even evil. Yet the change requires it.

One of my main reasons for re-reading the Elric books at this point is that it deals with the end of one universal cycle and the beginning of a new one. Elric is the agent of this change. He must fight and defeat his own gods, the Chaos lords. This will enable the new era of law or science to come into being. And he is literally pulled along his destiny by Stormbringer. There is some evidence that we are currently experiencing a major re-balancing of the dimensions of the unverse. The recent Japan earthquake and tsunamis are a symtom of this. When the universe re-orders itself it is felt from the finer dimensions all the way to our matter dimensions. So re-reading the books gets me personally in the mood.

This is an excerpt from the end of "Fortress of the Pearl":

They would speak of a white-faced creature from hell whose sword poured with unnatural radiance, whose crimson eyes blazed with hideous rage, who seemed possessed, himself, of some supernatural force, who was no more master of it than were his victims. He killed without mercy, without distinction, without cruelty. He killed as a mad wolf kills. And as he killed, he laughed.

Of course all those in Stormbringer's path were evil, evil, despicable.......And they all had generations of heavy karma they had to face. Elric's foes are usually beings intoxicated with power given to them by the Chaos lords who totally abuse this power especially over the helpless and innocent. The sword also, however, has a liking for lovers and friends......

Moorcock first began writing about Elric in 1961. I discovered him probably in late '69. It is amazing to realize in retrospect how much you can be effected by a character in popular culture or literature. There is a reference to him in my Mrs Peel adventure. I went as the Melnibonean prince last Halloween. The newer novels though prequels give a much deeper sense of his psychological make up and battles. If you have never read him please take the opportunity to check out the new del Rey editions. I am sure you will enjoy them.

Last Saturday was the last of about 2 weeks of rain. Dennis and I came up with this piece.


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