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Elric: The Stealer of Souls (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné #1)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,514 ratings  ·  96 reviews
A re-issue of the original Elric of Melnibone stories, but with newly added material by Moorcock about Elric's creation.
Trade Paperback, 458 pages
Published 2008 (first published March 5th 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,881)
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
I took a journey into the world of darkness, and I am surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Being me, I tend to embark on new adventures in an atypical fashion. Such is my introduction to sword and sorcery fantasy. I read one Conan story prior to reading Elric: The Stealer of Souls (written by L. Sprague de Camp in an anthology). And I started reading The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane as my first official story written by Robert E. Howard, who is probably one of the founding fathers of this genre ( ...more
So this book gets two stars - and still belongs onto my favourites & recommendations shelf. It is, objectively, not a good book. Moorcock is not always a good writer and these are among the first stories he has written - far away not only from the genius of "Behold the Man" (read it, really, read it!), but even from the fun of the later Elric stories (and the comics).

Yet ... This is where things start. This is where the Chaos symbol is seen for the first time, this is where Eternal Champion
Elric: Stealer of Souls is a chronological collection of Elric stories starting with the first, "The Dreaming City". Elric is a sword & sorcery hero, or more precisely an anti-hero, unlike any other. He is an albino not exactly up there in the strength department. He is aided by his vampiric sword named Stormbringer that not only kills with gusto but eats the souls of his victims. It is Elric's torturous relationship with his parasitic and apparently sentient weapon, often to the point of se ...more
May 14, 2013 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Genre-breaking Excellence


Elric of Melniboné – The name and the character standout in my memory in ways that so many others do not. I’m quite certain that I read the Elric stories before any of Michael Moorcock’s other “Eternal Champion” tales. Originally in used paperbacks that bore the “Lancer” imprint. Later on, I’m sure I re-read them in the DAW issues. Because the two series of books have different issue order/numbering I was always a bit confused about the “correct sequencing” of the stories.

Even then,
It's been a long time since I read the original Elric series, and I'm pleased to find that they still hold up. The writing is sometimes a bit clumsy (unsurprising given that Moorcock was in his early twenties when these were written), but the stories are fast-moving and the Doomed Albino Prince still has a sinister mesmeric effect.

Having said that, I'm a bit conflicted about this edition, at least as an introduction for someone who hasn't read Elric before. It's interesting to approach the stori
Richard Guion
I was totally blown away by this collection, featuring the early Elric stories by Moorcock and then topped off by the novel Stormbringer. Previously I had been exposed to Elric in comics and graphic novels from Marvel and First Comics. Nothing could match how inventive the character or the world that Moorcock created in prose form. In the very first story, "The Dreaming City", Elric is practically the villain of the story, leading an attack on his own homeland to rescue his beloved. After that, ...more
Tim Howard
I have been reading Michael Moorcock since I was fourteen but I have never been a fan of his Elric books. They are historically important - especially the two books collected in this volume, which were themselves originally assembled from stories Moorcock wrote for Science Fantasy magazine in the early 60s. Elric, brooding, conflicted, was a significant distortion of the heroic fantasy protagonist template, and Moorcock's anarchistic, existential worldview gave the stories a contemporary edge.

Scott Collins
Elric: The Stealer of Souls is the story of Elric, the last of his noble line, and his travels. Elric has left his kingdom behind and is exploring the outlying lands with Stormbringer, his sentient sword. Being a dark fantasy, Elric's adventures are filled with horrendous creatures, evil beings and violent encounters. Moorcock does a fabulous job developing the characters and setting his scenes. The world he creates is well thought out and planned. There were occasional scenes that didn't quite ...more
Matt Hlinak
In an essay included in this collection, Michael Moorcock offers an accurate self-assessment: “I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas, but I’d rather be that than a big writer with bad ideas.” The writing in these stories, particularly the earliest ones, is amateurish. Here’s a sampling of adverb abuse from the top half of page 13: “plucked nervously . . . said thickly . . . smiled thinly . . . petulantly urged . . . yawned impolitely.” The style draws too heavily from Robert E. Howard ...more
David Molnar
A curious twist on the fantasy genre, from another time. There are some Big Themes dealt with here, involving nothing less than the Cosmic Balance between Law and Chaos, resulting in lots of Capital Letters. The characters are interesting enough, but they're kind of dwarfed by Everything Else That's Going On. Which is sort of the point. The stories collected in this tome were originally serialized in Science Fantasy magazine, and their shoehorning into a book is not entirely seamless -- for exam ...more
"Elric, Last Lord of Melnibone, was a pure albino who drew his
power from a secret and terrible source."

It's impossible for me to re-read Moorcock without chuckling.
These days, computer games have better, subtler writing. A free e-book would seem to offer a great chance of revisiting childhood haunts, but the writing is as subtle as a sledgehammer & the laugh bug gets in the way.
Christopher Litsinger
Gag me with a spoon!
This is another book that gets one star to ensure that no one thinks I failed to rate it even thought if I could give it fewer I would.
I read some Elric books in high school after a friend recommended them; I remember vaguely liking them. But I didn't exactly go out and hunt them all down and re-read them, so I can't have loved them all that much. However, I was totally unprepared for how much I hated this book. Maybe it's just because these were the very first Elric books, b
Ted Wolf
It has been roughly 30 years since I last read Elric, but then I read the Daw series.

The anti-hero Elric and his sentient sword Stormbringer make for some very unique reading especially if you are tired of authors simply writing Tolkien derivative works. These stories are nothing like what Tolkien wrote.

Stop here if you have never read Elric stories.

I really enjoyed the stories, but in the Del-Rey reprints they follow publication date rather than the chronology of the events in Elric's life. As
I sadly couldn't finnish this book, while I enjoyed the adventures of Elric I found them to be too involved in the realms, and tropes of epic fantasy, I understand the character was a big part of what launched the dark fantasy trend, but maybe it felt a bit dated to me...don't get me wrong the stories are nice, and the intro by the author and Warren Ellis is amazing, the world building is great too, but i just couldn't finish it. To be fair I got up to page 200 before I dropped it, so this isn't ...more
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Elric is one of those characters who has been in the outer periphery of my swords and sorcery knowledge for decades now. My favorite book cover illustrator, Michael Whelan, has painted several Elric covers since the '70s, and more than a few of my friends have told me how Elric is central to their love of the fantasy genre. But aside from Asimov's Foundation series I'm not generally a fan of pulp fiction, which is what the Elric stories are (or at least that's what the earlier ones started out a ...more
I have to admit, I was a little anxious picking this book up due to Michael Moorcock's...well, there is no nice way of saying it, he's literature snobbery and intellectual bullying. Anyone who thinks people who read "Lord of the Rings" has below average intelligence sounds like an intellectual bullying. But after reading his work and his own words on that "bullying", Moorcock wasn't half as bad as I thought he would be...granted, he still comes off as an intellectual snob but he's not much of a ...more
I finished this a week or so ago, and quite liked it. It collects the first Elric stories, and though it initially seems like they are unconnected narratives, by the end of the collection, you realize that there had been an arc to all of it.

This is epic fantasy, in the tradition of Tolkien, Howard, and Leiber, but it's ethically much murkier than any of those authors. The main character is the last of his people, having killed them all in an attempt to regain the throne. In the process, he also
I find it really difficult to locate any of the original Elric books because very few book stores and libraries carry them. The only ones I can ever find are these huge omnibuses which aren’t part of the original Elric saga, but rather a continuation. They’re part of the subsequent saga called Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melnibone. It’s a shame because the Elric saga is one of the most influential fantasy series to date. The book series has become a staple in what is now known as the sword ...more
Prior to this, I read a single Elric book, oh, maybe 30 years ago. It was good fantasy, but I don't really remember much about it. This book is the first volume of a reprint of the Elric stories. I liked it and it has stood up to the winds of time. Elric is a much deeper character than I remembered, and this book deals with much more than merely hack-n-slashing, monsters, and Stormbringer. There were events in the final two stories that surprised me -- no, shocked me. (No details because that wo ...more
Jul 21, 2011 Emma rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy purists
Initially, I wasn't quite sure what to make of the tone of the first book in Elric's saga, it seemed to be heavily 'told' and I usually like a good balance of 'showing' and 'telling'. However, the anti-hero character of Elric intrigued me, drawing me into the story and I realised that the style was almost like a homage to ancient myths and the way that they are passed down orally through generation after generation, until they are eventually written down.

Elric's world, with it's multiple planes
My only real complaint about this book is that I didn't read it sooner. I suspect that the originality of it was severely lessened by reading other books that followed and to some extent imitated Elric. yes, it's pulp, and 60's pulp, so it's got some of the problems that come along with that position... the editing could have been better, it's overly dramatic, and sometimes tries to be so serious that it comes out the other side into silly. And yes, a lot of the genre conventions that were eithe ...more
Elric of Melnibone, written by Michael Moorcock, is arguably one of the most recognizable characters in 20th century fantasty literature. He's also a fascinating antihero. The Stealer Of Souls, the first volume of his adventures (in their modern Del Rey publication, anyway) collects the first two Elric cycles ever published. Ironically, these are the last adventures of Elric if you were to group them by internal chronology, but I think that they work as a good introduction to the character regar ...more
One of the reasons I'm in a book club is to read stuff I wouldn't choose on my own. These selections were book club selections and not stuff I would have picked on my own. I am not a fantasy reader--it's not a judgment on my art about fantasy, it's just not to my taste. For that matter, I struggle with mythology. With both, i actually like reading about them than I do reading the actual works themself.

So, I thought these were ok. There were aspects I thought were really interesting about them. I
Lindsay Stares
Premise: This volume collects the first stories written about Moorcock's angtsy albino anti-hero: Elric, Last Prince of Melniboné. He was hugely influential for many modern fantasy writers, and a lot of darker anti-heroes have their genesis in these tales. In this book, we follow Elric through several loosely connected adventures, then the second half of the book is four novellas that fit together into a full story that expands the sweep of the character and the world.

First off, the cover is fai
Well, it's better than Conan.


Okay, yes, that is indeed damning with faint praise. But for having heard the names "Elric" and "Moorcock" for as long as I have - and spoken with such reverence, at that - I really was expecting more. To be fair, this omnibus collects Moorcock's very earliest writings of the character, when he was just in his twenties - and I suppose it's a reflection of his budding talents that his stories at such a young age were publishable at all! Still: The writing is not wh
2.5 stars

I feel like I should apologize for not getting this book. Moorcock and the Elric stories come highly recommended from a lot of different sources, and the experience of reading this volume mostly left me wondering why.

Moorcock's style in these stories doesn't sit very well with me. He uses a kind of hyperbolic, trope-laden, fantasy-cliche speak. My first reaction to the opening paragraphs was that it was a bit, and there was some sort of parody I was missing.

Seriously, help me out - did
I like the character of Elric quite a bit. When Moorcock set out to subvert the typical fantasy hero, he came up with Elric. Contrasting Elric is pretty much the anti-Conan. Conan, the wanderer, a dark, muscly barbarian without a past. Elric, the last King of his people, an albino, sick and wasted away, knows too much about the past. Conan loves adventure, and sets out to become a king; Elric loathes his legacy and burns his kingdom to the ground. Conan hates magic; Elric relies on sorcery to li ...more
I enjoyed this on the whole but found several aspects of the storytelling or stories themselves to be quite trite or predictable. Often it felt like I was reading the stories of Conan's bratty you get brother. They both have similar conquests of transient, unnecessary female characters and a tendency to accidentally kill their allies, but only Elric seems probe to whining about it (albeit, often so briefly that it's almost comical). Thankfully this collection ended on a high note, so I am intere ...more
Tim Niland
This is a collection of fantasy writer Moorcock's earliest stories, focusing on a four-part serialized novel released in the early 1960's. Heroic fantasy has existed as long as humans have told stories, but there has never been a hero quite like Elric. An albino, Elric is weak and listless without is sword Stormbringer, which is an evil, sentient weapon that drinks the very souls of its victims and feeds their lifeforce into Elric to sustain him. But the sword smites friends as well as foes, and ...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 about Michael Moorcock...

Other Books in the Series

Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné (6 books)
  • Elric: To Rescue Tanelorn (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, #2)
  • Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, #3)
  • Duke Elric (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, #4)
  • Elric in the Dream Realms (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, #5)
  • Elric: Swords and Roses (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, #6)

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“The past is a script we are constantly rewriting.” 1 likes
“The note took long moments to fade and, when it had at last died away, there was an absolute hush over the world, the milling millions were still, there was an air of expectancy. And then the White Lords came.” 1 likes
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