Monday, 16 December 2013

Book review: The Sleeping Sorceress

3 out of 5 stars
"Elric of Melniboné. Traitor. Savior. Lover. Thief. Last king of a fallen empire whose cruelty was surpassed only by its beauty. Sustained by drugs and the vampiric powers of his black sword, Stormbringer, haunted by visions of a tragic past and a doomed future, Elric wanders the world in quest of oblivion."

I know that a lot of folk adore Elric. I've read 4 or 5 of these novels now, and I am finding them rather repetitive. There is only so much moody brooding that I can handle from a main character.

Written in the days before political correctness, Elric is an albino ruler of a mythical kingdom. He is naturally weak and has to use herbs and eventually a magical/demonic sword to perform the feats of heroism required of him. And of course, he is also a powerful sorcerer in his own right. However, it seems whenever anything untoward gets started, he needs another dose of herb, has misplaced his sword or has a sudden memory loss regarding useful spells. But he digs deep and finds what he needs in order to triumph. Over and over again.

The Sleeping Sorceress does not deviate from this pattern. In fact, she joins in, just managing to regain enough consciousness to tell Elric what he needs to do to free her, before sinking back into the sleeping spell again.

I was interested to read in the author's afterword that Elric is based on El Cid. It has been long years since I read that classic tale, so I hope to revisit it before tackling another Elric novel.

I keep thinking that I'm missing something--why don't I adore this series as so many fans do? I appreciate the dreamy, other-worldly atmosphere of Elric's world to some extent, I could enjoy the plot formula for a book or two, but I can't understand the demand for more of the same. Any one have any insights into Moorcock's work to help me appreciate it more?

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