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

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  239 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Newly revised and expanded by the author, this 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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Bill  Kerwin
Oct 27, 2011 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy

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
Feb 14, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Sep 19, 2011 Sffgeek rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: study_left
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...
R.M.F Brown
Apr 26, 2013 R.M.F Brown rated it really liked it
A writing masterclass from a fantasy master

When it comes to Fantasy writing, there are few better than Moorcock, and its often been pointed out, that Moorcock has written most of it!

So there are few more qualified than Moorcock to guide us through literary labyrinth.

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's critique of Tolkien's works
May 26, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
Recommended for all fantasy genre lovers.
This edition features an introduction by China Mieville, a foreword by Moorcock, 6 essays, various book reviews done by Moorcock including a very good forward about Peake, and an afterword by Jeff VanderMeer.

5 stars for Moorcock's anti-tolkien essay, "Epic Pooh." - An argument about everything that is wrong with The Rings, which I whole-heartedly agree with.

The essays are good, as well as his book reviews; he would be a good GR friend to have as I have al
Mar 28, 2009 AT rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 18, 2008 Charles rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Douglas Koehne
Mar 13, 2017 Douglas Koehne rated it liked it
Michael Moorcock isn't your typical fantasy writer, turning genre-based fiction and elevating it to something more. More than a few fantasy readers would say they get a feeling that he is someone who looks down on the genre as a whole and to those readers who just want to enjoy a good hack and slash trip to an alternative world.

Literary criticism usually has more of a nose-up-in-the-air attitude, so the combination of a seemingly snooty Moorcock writing a literary analysis of epic fantasy seems
May 12, 2012 Phil rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, fantasy
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
Feb 28, 2012 Jaime rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 09, 2011 Cynthia Ravinski rated it it was amazing
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
Philip Gomez
Sep 26, 2008 Philip Gomez rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 20, 2009 Simon rated it it was amazing
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.
May 18, 2011 Colin rated it liked it
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.
Steve Haynes
Jul 03, 2012 Steve Haynes rated it it was amazing
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.
Stuart Young
Jul 03, 2009 Stuart Young rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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.
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!
Margaret Killjoy
Sep 30, 2009 Margaret Killjoy rated it really liked it
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.
Chuckie Palmer-Patel
Funny at times, oddly misogynist at others. His loathing for Tolkien makes me laugh.
'Anyone who hates hobbits can't be all bad'
reverend dak
Jun 19, 2011 reverend dak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Walt O'Hara
Walt O'Hara rated it really liked it
May 05, 2011
Kime rated it it was ok
Nov 03, 2010
Bruce rated it it was ok
May 31, 2009
Charles Dee Mitchell
Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Dec 10, 2016
Michael rated it liked it
Jun 02, 2014
Hyun Rutkowski
Hyun Rutkowski rated it liked it
Nov 17, 2013
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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...

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