Having abandoned his throne in the previous books, this volume starts a year later, with a wandering Elric, now devoted to the gods of chaos, seeking only to find what fate throws in his path. As he travels, his black sword Stormbringer whispers in his ear, begging to be fed human souls.
It doesn’t take long for destiny to find Elric a suitably difficult path, though he picks up followers who can help guide him to his rendezvous with fate. He ends up facing an ancient but immensely powerful and embittered wizard, more dangerous and deadly than Elric himself.
As ever, the writing is intense, rattling through Moorcock’s story at a blistering pace. The art is beautiful, capturing the dark fantasy with more than a nod to the adult themes it encompasses. It’s not as resplendent with blood and breasts as the previous books but they crop up every now and then, as has ever been the way in fantasy but more recently normalised in the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones.
This is more of a self contained adventure, and is less dynamic and sweepingly epic than the previous two books. However, unlike many fantasy stories, here there’s a real feeling that Elric is fighting an adversary who appears more than capable of taking him down, adding the genuine thrill that Elric’s decision-making process of letting fate rule his life could, just maybe, land him in the kind of fix that he can’t escape from.
More books in the Elric series: