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Elric of Melniboné

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Elric

Portrait of Elric by James Cawthorn used for the original edition of Stormbringer

Elric of Melniboné is another icon of fantasy fiction, the protagonist of Michael Moorcock’s epic sword-and-sorcery tales. Elric is another hero of the Hyborian age just like Conan. However Elric and Conan have major differences. Elric is an intentional inversion of Conan: instead of a mighty Brawny barbarian warrior who fights his way to the top and gains the throne of Aquilonia (which is a country about a hundred miles north of Elric's kingdom), Elric is a weak and sickly but highly cultured emperor who throws the throne of Melniboné away. He slays his true love, is himself a wizard in league with the demon lord Arioch, and leads invaders to lay waste to Melniboné.

Elric first appeared in print in 1961 in Michael Moorcock’s novelette, "The Dreaming City" (Science Fantasy #47 June 1961). A further four novelettes and four novellas followed, the last of these terminating the sequence with the close of Elric's angst-ridden life. Moorcock subsequently enlarged Elric's Saga, which now runs to several volumes including the original Conan comics. Elric Melniboné's first appearance in the original Conan Comics was in Conan the Barbarian issues #14–15 (March–May 1972) about 11 years after the character of Elric was first invented by Michael Moorcock. The comics were written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Windsor-Smith, based on a story plotted by Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn.

Biographical sketch Edit

Elric is the tool of his evil, sentient sword Stormbringer, which is itself a parody of the normal sword-and-sorcery weapon. In Stormbringer, Elric finds the energy he needs, but at a terrible price – Stormbringer drains the souls of those it slays and gives part of their life force to sustain Elric.

Physical appearance Edit

Elric is an albino and, while Moorcock might be criticised for erroneously conflating Elric’s albinism with his physically frailty, it creates a vivid dramatic image:

It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bone, resting on each arm of a seat which has been carved from a single, massive ruby. [Elric of Melniboné (1972)]

Traits and skills Edit

He could sing sand into pearls
So the saying goes
Some said he was a sorcerer
Or a warrior chief
But he was the stealer of souls
The lord of Chaos reaps
["Elric the Enchanter" • Hawkwind]

Stories featuring Elric of Melniboné Edit

Elric has the distinction among Conan homages and parodies of appearing in a Conan story (in two parts):

Non-Conan stories Edit

  • "The First Dream: Bargains in Blades" • Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer #1 • Michael Moorcock • Walter Simonson (art), Steve Oliff (colors), John Workman (letters) • DC 2004
  • "The Second Dream" • Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer #2 • Michael Moorcock • Walter Simonson (art), Steve Oliff (colors), John Workman (letters) • DC 2004
  • "The Third Dream" • Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer #3 • Michael Moorcock • Walter Simonson (art), Steve Oliff (colors), John Workman (letters) • DC forthcoming
  • "The Fourth Dream" • Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer #4 • Michael Moorcock • Walter Simonson (art), Steve Oliff (colors), John Workman (letters) • DC forthcoming
  • Elric of Melniboné (novel) • Michael Moorcock • Hutchinson 1972 • cut vt The Dreaming City 1972 US
  • The Fortress of the Pearl (novel) • Michael Moorcock • Gollancz 1989
  • "The White Wolf’s Song" (ss; vt "The Black Blade’s Summoning") • Michael Moorcock • Tales of the White Wolf
  • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate • Michael Moorcock • Quartet 1976
  • "Elric at the End of Time" (novelette) • Michael MoorcockElsewhere volume 1 • ed. Teri Windling & Mark Alan Arnold • Ace 1981
  • "The Dreaming City" (novelette) • Michael Moorcock • Science Fantasy #47 February 1961
  • "While the Gods Laugh" (novelette) • Michael Moorcock • Science Fantasy #39 April 1961
  • "The Singing Citadel" (novelette) • Michael Moorcock • The Fantastic Swordsmen • ed. L. Sprague de Camp • 1967
  • The Sleeping Sorceress • Michael Moorcock • NEL 1971 • Ace 1971 as The Vanishing Tower
  • The Revenge of the Rose • Michael Moorcock • Grafton 1991
  • "The Stealer of Souls" (novelette) • Michael Moorcock • Science Fantasy February 1962
  • "The Last Enchantment" (ss; vt "Jesting with Chaos") • Michael Moorcock • Ariel v3 • 1978
  • "Kings in Darkness" (novelette) • Michael Moorcock and James CawthornScience Fantasy #54 August 1962
  • "The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams" (novelette) • Michael Moorcock • Science Fantasy October 1962 • as "The Flame Bringers"
  • Dead God’s Homecoming (novella) • Michael Moorcock • Science Fantasy June 1963
  • Black Sword’s Brothers (novella) • Michael Moorcock • Science Fantasy October 1963
  • Sad Giant’s Shield (novella) • Michael MoorcockScience Fantasy February 1964
  • Doomed Lord’s Passing (novella) • Michael Moorcock • Science Fantasy April 1964 • as "Dead Lord’s Passing"

External links Edit

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