Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy
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Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Newly revised and expanded by the author, this seminal study of epic fantasy analyzes the genre from its earliest beginnings in Medieval romances on through practitioners like Tolkien up to today's brightest lights.
Paperback, 206 pages
Published March 16th 2004 by Monkeybrain (first published 1987)
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Steve
This is a hard book to rate. It’s a choppy read, and for good reason. Basically it’s a collection of essays, necessary essays I would argue, on Fantasy literature. Moorcock, as sure a guide as you can find, is also strong in this opinions. If you’re a big fan of Lord of the Rings, you may not want to read this book. Moorcock has problems with Tolkien, which are captured best in this quote:

Writers like Tolkien take you to the Abyss and point out the excellent tea-garden at the bottom, showing you...more
Bill  Kerwin

Moorcock, master of fantasy—and self-described pragmatist and anarchist—offers his opinionated and passionate observations on the genre and its practitioners. He derides J.R.R. Tolkien's world—and C.S.Lewis' as well—as a kind of “epic Pooh,” a privileged and nostalgic vision of England, fearful of social change, defensive in its conservative Christianity and profoundly uninterested in the subtlety and ambiguity of evil. He prefers the nuanced and and ironic works of E.R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake, F...more
Robert Beveridge
Michael Moorcock, Wizardry and Wild Romance (Gollancz, 1987)

Michel Moorcock would be, it seems, the obvious choice to produce a critical work on epic fantasy. After all, he's written more of it than jut about any living author, or he had at the time this book was commissioned, ten years before its release, after the publication of his article "Epic Pooh" in 1977. ("Epic Pooh," revised, appears as chapter five here, and is one of the true gems of this book.) Still an excellent choice, as most of...more
Mieneke
I ran across this book at work and decided to take it out to brush up a bit on the history of fantasy, in this case epic fantasy. It took me a while to finally pick it up - I think I renewed the loan about 4 times - and once I did the experience was a mixed one, to be honest. Partly, that is due to the age of the book, it was published in 1987, and partly, it was due to the tone of the author's writing. But it did give me plenty of food for thought and gave a very interesting overview of the evo...more
R.M.F Brown
A writing masterclass from a fantasy master

When it comes to Fantasy, there are few better than Moorcock. He's read the best, he's written the best, he's been the best.

In this collection of essays, Moorcock casts a critical, no holds barred, eye over the genre. The result is an insightful, and sometimes frustrating look at the evolution of the fantasy genre.

Moorcock is right to have a go at Tolkien. As much as I've enjoyed the LOTR, there are aspects of it that do not stand up to critical scrut...more
Phil
This is an interesting and erudite overview of epic fantasy by one of the genre's living masters. The breadth of Moorcock's knowledge is impressive, particularly when it comes to pre-Tolkien fantasy and it's roots in gothic literature. It's also incredibly opinionated; there's something in here to irritate any serious fantasy fan. I delighted in his notorious portrayal of Lord of the Rings as safe and bland "Epic Pooh", but I thought he gave Robert E. Howard short shrift in places, especially si...more
Jaime
A short but extensive and very idiosyncratic overview of 'heroic fantasy' fiction by a pretty able practitioner of the form hissown bad self - as a teenager I DEVOURED Moorcock's books, as can be seen by my Goodreads shelf dedicated to his work (it certainly helped that his novels were short and sharp). His flying leaps at Tolkien and, by extension A.A. Milne, seem a little unjustified but I see it as exaggeration for effect. It also doesn't hurt that he rates quite highly one of my other favori...more
Cynthia Ravinski
Check out my review at Wandering around the Words

favorite quotes:

"Writers like Tolkien take you to the edge of the Abyss and point out the excellent tea-garden at the bottom, showing you the steps carved into the cliff and reminding you to be a bit careful because the hand-rails are a trifle shaky as you go down; they haven't got the approval yet to put a new one in." (Epic Pooh, 129)

"Jokes are not Comedy and stories which contain jokes are not comic stories." (Wit and Humor, 110)
Sam Beaven
Superb. It contains Epic Pooh, which is a great little essay on Lord of the Rings, one that finally pointed out what it was about the trilogy that always bothered me, slightly out of awareness.
Aside from that it's a thoroughly good collection of essays on the history of fantasy, its roots in epic poetry, and its traits and tropes. Strongly recommended for any fan of genre.
I don't agree with Moorcock on everything (I think he's a little harsh on Lovecraft), but Moorcock's reasoning is always well...more
Simon
I read the new expanded edition for a work related project, I'm glad Mike has revised this as a lot has happened in the realm of fantasy since it was originally published. The strange thing is I still find after all these years I still agree with his opinions on Tolkien and the Inklings, Lovecraft and Lieber.

A lot of fantasy fans will have a hard time with Mike's opinion on Tolkien, but I found it quite refresing that someone was able to take a tilt at such an institution.
Sffgeek
This is the book of criticism where Moorcock slags off Tolkien, and all other fantasy writers who are not his own proteges. Reading this was when I realised that his arrogance had overtaken his critical abilities, and that he would never again write anything to match the standard of the original Elric stories.

I've only given it one star, but it is still worth a read "for a laugh" if you can pick it up second-hand...
Philip Gomez
This is an excellent place to start if you're trying to get out of the "elfish" fantasy of Tolkien and his followers and into something deeper, darker, and out of the ordinary. Tolkien and similar authors get a good beating in this, but not without justification by Moorcock. Read this book and you won't look at fantasy literature the same way again, whether or not you agree with Moorcock on all his points.
AT
A politically-tinged analysis of fantasy. Fairly disappointing as it opts to be a somewhat shallow polemic at critical moments rather than a more thoughtful piece of writing. The criticism of ironic fantasy is particularly specious; modern fantasy wishes it had an author as good as James Branch Cabell.
Colin
Moorcock's history of the fantasy genre is comprehensive and eclectic. If I have a criticism, it is that the extracts are so long that at times it's easy to lose the thrust of MM's argument. Nonetheless, worth reading if only for Moorcock's opinions on Wolfe & Harrison vs Tolkien, Lewis & Milne.
Stuart Young
Moorcock discusses the fantasy genre and offers extracts from various authors such as E Nesbit, Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber and Jack Vance. Not fully comprehensive and dealing more with opinion than cold fact but this is still an interesting overview of the genre.
Steve Haynes
An absolute MUST read for any fan or budding writer of British fantasy. You don't have to agree with him, but Moorcock both educates and entertains. I've actually lost this book over a decade ago, but many of tge passages stay in my mind.
Charles
Moorcock deserves to have his say about Heroic fantasy but there were quite a few sections of this that really irritated me. I often find myself disagreeing with Moorcock on many issues where Heroic Fantasy is concerned.
reverend dak
Everything you need to know about the Fantasy sub-genre Sword & Sorcery. I like Moorcock a lot. This book helped me understand why I like a certain type of Fantasy over others.
Margaret Killjoy
This is one of my favorite books of literary criticism. I actually particularly enjoy the attack on that sacred Lord of the Rings, even though I still like LotR.
John
In brief: Wonderful, full of great observations and a distinctive grasp of the history of Romantic and fantastic literature. He's even fun to disagree with!
Chuckie
Funny at times, oddly misogynist at others. His loathing for Tolkien makes me laugh.
Lera
'Anyone who hates hobbits can't be all bad'
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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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