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Gloriana

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,267 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A fable satirizing Spenser's "The Fairie Queen" and reflecting the real life of Elizabeth I, tells of a woman who ascends to the throne upon the death of her debauched and corrupted father, King Hern. Gloriana's reign brings the Empire of Albion into a Golden Age, but her oppressive responsibilities choke her, prohibiting any form of sexual satisfaction, no matter what fet ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Aspect (first published 1977)
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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkePerfume by Patrick SüskindLittle, Big by John CrowleyThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
World Fantasy Award Winners
21st out of 47 books — 223 voters
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. TolkienThe Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Sword of Shannara by Terry BrooksDragonsong by Anne McCaffreyA Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony
Best Fantasy of the 70s
40th out of 116 books — 108 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,713)
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Dan Schwent
Queen Gloriana rules Albion, an alternate reality British Empire, with the help of her Chancellor, Montfallcon, and his dirty deeds in the name of the throne. Gloriana, as the title indicates, gets no release from sex and grows increasingly distraut. Montfallcon's main henchman, Quire, doesn't like how he's being treated and finds a new patron. His goal: the toppling of Albion...

Like a lot of people, the first thing that drew me to Michael Moorcock was the Elric saga. In my old age, the Moorcock
...more
Keely
Moorcock has posited himself as the rebel of fantasy, sapping the high walls built by Howard and Tolkien. He is a well-spoken and thoughtful critic of the complete lack of romance in either of these would-be romances, but the love in Gloriana's court is anything but courtly.

There is a delightful Quentin Crisp quote about how innovation is not 'seeing your neighbor to the left has a straight walk and your neighbor to the right a curved and thence making your own diagonal', suffice it to say that
...more
Adam
Jan 02, 2009 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Peake,Spenser, and Shakespeare
Another flamboyant cast of decadents from Moorcock. A tribute to Peake’s Titus Groan and tribute/critique of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, this is more of reworking of assumptions and symbols that the myth of the British Empire rests on then an alternative history(though it’s a good one). A fantasy construct, not hinging on an adventure or a quest, filled with madness, political intrigue, travelers from other realms, automatons. Doctor Dee, court rituals, court poetry, and lots of sex. Captain Arctur ...more
♆ BookAddict ♨ ✒ La Crimson Femme❇ ♐
Apr 04, 2011 ♆ BookAddict ♨ ✒ La Crimson Femme❇ ♐ rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scifi fans
Recommended to ♆ BookAddict ♨ by: Senior High School AP Lit Teacher
Shelves: sci-fi, erotica
This was the first rather deviant science fiction book I'd read as a MINOR. My AP lit teacher senior year gave those of us who survived four years of "enriched" English a gift. Only 15 of us made it through to her class. She wasn't kidding when we started as freshmen and she told us to look left, right, front and back. Only one of us would remain and qualify to see her again senior year.

As a gift for making it through, she gave us each a book she felt best represented us. She gave me this book.
...more
Nikki
When I started reading Gloriana -- maybe even before that, when I read about the premise -- I was very doubtful about whether I'd like it. The way the plot revolves around the fact that Gloriana can't have an orgasm just baffled me: it made it sound like that was the most important thing in life, which... it isn't. Still, actually reading the book, and especially the ending, made me think that aspect of it is actually a metaphor. I understand people who find the ending abhorrent: there's a rape ...more
Simon
Michael Moorcock is well known for having strong views on what type of fantasy he likes and what he doesn't. For instance, he doesn't like Tolkien but does like Peake, to whose memory he dedicated this book. It's a long time since I read the Gormenghast trilogy but there are some obvious parallels although I didn't dwell on these; I wanted it to stand up as a story in it's own right. And it certainly did.

The events of this story take place in some kind of alternative version of our history at wh
...more
Tim Pendry
Mar 23, 2008 Tim Pendry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
A book that shows that Moorcock can really write and think.

This Gothic Elizabethan fantasy shows an alternate world (in which Moorcock specialises) which clearly, consciously or not in his successors' cases, is part of the same fantasy complexes of Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and the American Tim Powers. This is not steam-punk perhaps but sail-punk.

Hidden within the folds of the story (and Moorcock folds his stories in time and space like the folds of a rose) are some serious ruminations on po
...more
Lani
I slogged through the first half of this book with little interest. There was so much exposition with so little action, and characters were piled on. An interesting setting - within the walls of the palace - was introduced, but it didn't really go anywhere.

Finally, almost two-thirds of the way through, plots started to thicken, irrelevant characters started to show up, THINGS HAPPENED.

So the book went from a total loss to a 'meh'. Looking back on the book, I'm mostly disappointed by what could h
...more
Besha
Michael Moorcock dislikes British imperialism so he writes a Faerie Queene parody/Peake pastiche where the Queen can't get off so she isn't a Real Woman but then she gets raped and finally has an orgasm.

Someone publishes this book.

Then Andrea Dworkin yells at Michael Moorcock because apparently it takes Andrea Dworkin to flag plot device rape as a bad idea and then Michael Moorcock writes an alternate ending with less rape that is somehow worse than the original.

He also includes a note that you
...more
James
This has what we could call *highly problematic* sexual themes. The conceit is that an alternate fantasy Queen Elizabeth runs a world-spanning and semi-Utopian Empire, and has only one problem -- she can't find sexual satisfaction. Well, it's Mr. Moorcock, and he wrote it in the 70s, so what can you do. Worth reading, but incoherent, and with a pretty appalling ending, even given the conceit.
Chris
I have tried reading this blasted book three times. I know it's me. Moorcock does a wonderful job of creating an alternate England. But, for me, something is missing. I'm not sure. Maybe its the whole take on Elizabeth. I don't know. Moorcock does write an excellent Dr. Dee, however.
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in June 2001.

Gloriana marks something of a new departure for Moorcock. It is more removed from the swqord-and-sorcery epics which were the inspiration for (say) the Runestaff series and is a longer novel not part of a series. It shows clear traces of its influences, but these are in the most part more literary than before.

It is possible that one of the immediate influences on Moorcock was Queen ELizabeth's Silver Jubilee, but I find it difficult to see him be
...more
Neale
‘Gloriana’ is Michael Moorcock’s tribute to the incomparable Mervyn Peake. The young Moorcock was a great admirer of Peake’s work when it was little known, became a friend in his tragic last illness and assisted in the publication of ‘Titus Alone’.

Structurally, Moorcock’s book has many similarities to the Gormenghast books: the sprawling castle with its worlds-within-worlds, the large and quirky cast of fancifully named characters, the elaborate and ceremonial descriptions – although it is all
...more
Michelle
in a far more lush and gothic olde england, a decidedly NOT virgin queen rules over a golden age of expansion, exploration, and harmony. a secret population of those who have slipped into disfavor or diminished in fame live in between the walls of her sprawling palace. her gorgeous reign of peace and prosperity is built upon the blood and misery of her unlamented insane father. she keeps a seraglio of willing creatures of every sort because she loves them too much to ever turn anyone out of her ...more
Carol Storm
I first read this book as a teenager some thirty five years ago. At that time, I found the haunting atmosphere of Elizabethan sensuality to be extremely arousing and stimulating. Moorcock serves up a rich pageant of decadence, luxury and pleasure, with every variety of sex either shown explicitly or hinted at.

The problem is that Moorcock is the kind of guy who gets all the little things right -- but can't create a big picture story-line to save his life! Tiny episodes are scorchingly erotic, lik
...more
Phil
This is an incredibly lush story about an idealized England. Albion has emerged from tyranny and into a Golden Age, brought about by its perfect queen, the titular Gloriana. As with most empires, there's corruption behind the scenes, however: the queen's advisor, Montfalcon, breaks quite a few eggs making the omelets necessary to keep Albion running while protecting her from his scheming. A careless mistake leads to hurt feelings and a growing sense of enmity that threatens to topple the whole k ...more
Fantasy Literature
2.5 stars

Gloriana (1979) is Moorcock's homage to Mervyn Peake (author of the Gormenghast saga), and fittingly, is a lush tale of intrigue told in thoroughly British prose. At times brilliant (especially in the descriptions of the seasonal festivities), often captivating and humorous, often sluggish and overly subtle, ultimately unfulfilling, it's a book I recommend borrowing from the library before buying. Not everyone will enjoy such decadence.

Speaking of decadence, the tale takes place in Rena
...more
Jayne Lamb
I read this becuase my husband's a devoted Moorcock fan (they're on first name terms- isn't this internet thing amazing?) I'll diplomatically say it's just not my cup of tea - there are just too many lists of fabrics, metals, walls that makes the prose unwieldy. I did love the fact that the most powerful character was a woman - exaggerated, but still human and I can't actively dislike a book that concludes that a really good orgasm is good for queen and country. So much SF/ fantasy (especially b ...more
Barry
This review contains spoilers.

Gloriana cannot be described as historical fiction or even an alternate history. However, the Albion that Gloriana rules will be very familiar to most readers.

Gloriana is a fantasy novel, set in a fantasy world during a Golden Age of chivalry, prosperity, science, culture and art. Gloriana presides over Albion and it's colonies / protectorates with a rule that solves difference amicably, that does not permit execution or violence and promotes justice. Of course, the
...more
Zachary Latif
What turns out to be a comical almost farcical theme (a Queen, modelling on the Virgin Queen, struggling for "release") turns out to be deftly spun and extraordinarily written novel, marking it as one of Fantasy's most searing triumphs.
James Debruicker
This is, without question, the best pornographic deconstruction of The Faerie Queene I've ever read.
Cams
Well, finally I've got to the end of Gloriana, the now fulfill'd Queen.

I've read through the reviews already posted and agree with much of what has been said, but I'll start my review by saying that I really enjoyed it.

I'll also point out from the outset that I have read Gormenghast but that my memory retention is so bad that my reading of that didn't really affect my enjoyment of Gloriana.

There was something about the book that I can't put my finger on, but shall nevertheless try.

The whole no
...more
Henry
This Alternate-Reality Elizabethan Age Fantasy is as gloriously subversive as you'd imagine, given its author. Gloriana, the heroine, is more than just the perfect Queen of Albion - she is Albion, made into a figure of chivalry and romance by the underhand machinations of her Chancellor Montfallcon. It's hard, though, being a living Goddess, and this manifests itself in physical form: Gloriana simply cannot find sexual and physical satisfaction.

The Chancellor, for his part, suffered cruelly unde
...more
Nicolas
Dans une espèce de période historique fantasmée, la reine Gloriana dont le règne est un âge d'Or pour Albion souffre d'être littéralement inassouvie (eh ouais, elle est frustrée sexuellement). Suite à un complot perfide organisé par son premier ministre, le règne de Gloriana pourra être mis à mal et/ou régénéré par un ... fieffé coquin.
Je vais le dire tout de suite, je n'ai pas du tout aimé la langue ampoulée que l'auteur utilise dans ce roman. Ses accumulations de description, ses envolées lyri
...more
Raymond Walker
I loved this from the very start. Moorcock was obviously enjoying playing with the style of Mervyn Peake with over the top descriptions echoing Gormenghast before the story takes over introducing the queen Gloriana based I am sure on Elizabeth the first and captain quire the rogue of the piece. Never has better anti-hero been created in my opinion and from the very first that you are introduced to him you become curious and are seduced by his casual cruelty and intellectual pomposity. Many other ...more
Isabel
I read this for a book club, but it's the kind of book I like anyway.

Moorcock dedicated this book to the memory of Mervyn Peake, and it is indeed very Ghormanghastly. The huge palace with its complex of interlinked buildings and roofed-in alleyways, hidden rooms and secret passages behind the walls is a perfect setting for a tale of courtly intrigue, spying and seduction. I was glad to find that it has a straight-forward narrative, unlike some of his other books such as the Jerry Cornelius nove
...more
Wayne
I well and truly enjoyed Moorcock's romance, a phrase to be relished when read aloud or quietly alone, the book as is, brimming with court intrigue and the fates, various and imaginative, of dreamers, louts and connivers. My head is nagged, even so; haunted. What this story could have been palimpsests the one that is, built like Gloriana's palaces new upon old. The old galleries and halls of her father's violent regime are a hidden, dust-darkened skeleton underlying the golden skin stretched ove ...more
Kathryn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caroline Mersey
This is a frustrating book. There is much to recommend it, but it also has its flaws. There is some interesting exploration of the psyche, and the integration of conscious and subconscious minds, but the text is unbalanced. The version I read was slow to begin and lacked any compelling dramatisation of Quire's seduction of Gloriana. Montfallcon's descent into paranoia is too sudden. I found the ending incredibly problematic as well. Not that the alternative ending at the back of the book was muc ...more
Steve
Nov 11, 2011 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Keith
Very well done. The standard palace intrigue/empire themes from a Moorcock perspective.

Albion, the western empire, is at the peak of a cycle, a golden age. Gloriana, the beloved queen with a fatal flaw only Moorcock could imagine, is at a critical phase of reign. The story follows an inevitable progression of events at a turning point. There are many hints of classic Moorcock philosophy; travel between the planes, debauchery of a stagnant ruling elite, etc., however the plot mainly stays true to
...more
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Michael John Moorcock is an English writer primarily of science fiction and fantasy who has also published a number of literary novels.
Moorcock has mentioned The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Apple Cart by George Bernard Shaw and The Constable of St. Nicholas by Edward Lester Arnold as the first three books which captured his imagination. He became editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1956,
...more
More about Michael Moorcock...
Elric of Melniboné (Elric, #1) Stormbringer (Elric, #6) The Vanishing Tower (Elric, #4) The Weird of the White Wolf (The Elric Saga, #3) The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric, #2)

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“She yawned. If the Lords of Entropy were to manifest themselves on Earth again as they had in the legendary past she felt she might welcome them as a relief, at least, to her boredom. Not, of course, that she believed in those terrible prehistoric fables, though sometimes she could not help wishing that they had really existed and that she had lived in them, for they must surely have been more colourful and stimulating than this present age, where dull Reason drove bright Romance away: granite scattering mercury.” 4 likes
“Unsettled by the sudden appearance of Captain Quire within her court, Gloriana resolved to forego all frivolous entertainments and shun the more unnecessary pleasures. Yet, the queen reasoned, this surely did not apply to healthful exercise, such as riding in the royal park. Nor could she refuse to spend the remainder of the afternoon in quiet seclusion, lying face down upon a cushioned bench in her private dressing room while gentle Lady Mary rubbed all the soreness from her muscles. Such occupations were safe, and harmless. It was only afterwards, when she was sleeping deeply, that Captain Quire came to her in a dream.” 1 likes
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