It may be worth noting that the author considers the protagonist to be a sort of "Eternal Victim" aspect of the Eternal Champion, though I find that to be a stretch. The sequel, Breakfast in the Ruins seems from its description to fit still less well; there are those who argue that, despite the Karl Glogauer of each book having substantially the same background, they may not be the same person, and perhaps "sequel" isn't quite the right word. Given the multiverse concept Moorcock pioneered, could they be parallel Karl Glogauers living on slightly variant Earths? Who knows? And for these stories, even asking is a sign that one is thinking too hard (or writing a dissertation).
In any case, I enjoyed this book despite its minor flaws and blasphemies and the rather ridiculous twist that makes it clear the author was not shooting for the same territory as Kazantzakis. But if what draws you to Moorcock is solely the sword-and-sorcery fare, then be forewarned: this is not that.(less)
**spoiler alert** This edition is strictly for the scholars. The prose is of the difficult late-Medieval sort, with lots of interminable run-on senten...more**spoiler alert** This edition is strictly for the scholars. The prose is of the difficult late-Medieval sort, with lots of interminable run-on sentences, archaic terminology, and (by modern standards) distorted grammar that is hard to follow. That said, it clearly shows the origin of the Faust tale later adapted more masterfully by Marlowe in Elizabethan theatrical English and Goethe in poetic German.
The Wagner section, however, I felt to be an even bigger disappointment. The first half picks up the story from the death of his master Faustus, but the Wagner character seems decided flatter than even the bit-role he had in the previous work, despite his ostensible position here as protagonist. In fact, he hardly counts at all. The latter half is given over almost entirely to a description of the Saracens siege of Vienna, in which Wagner, Faustus, Mephistopheles and Ackercoke all have minor mostly comedic roles and which almost certainly never happened. It certainly has little to do with the grander themes of Faust.
So, unless you are making a particular study of the Faust myth, I believe you can safely give this one a miss.(less)
It may have been revolutionary (so to speak) for it's time, but I found it a bit of a tedious pot-boiler. Not to mention that, so far as I can tell, t...moreIt may have been revolutionary (so to speak) for it's time, but I found it a bit of a tedious pot-boiler. Not to mention that, so far as I can tell, this particular translation (that by Horace Samuel) is execrable, which may well explain having found dozens of copies in the dollar cut-out bin. If I can stand to do so, I may come back to this review later with some particularly perplexing turns of phrase. Nevertheless, I will most likely attempt the Moncrieff translation of The Charterhouse of Parma, and hope thereby to get a better sense of my real opinion of Stendhal, and in the process perhaps better prepare myself for the eventual assault on Proust.(less)
I read it because my girlfriend did, and because I really enjoyed Harris's Fatherland. The latter was by far the better. While Harris clearly knows th...moreI read it because my girlfriend did, and because I really enjoyed Harris's Fatherland. The latter was by far the better. While Harris clearly knows the era, and convincingly creates the WWII atmosphere, the characterization is a bit thin here. It's rather a stock noir mystery novel set in and around Bletchley Park. It's entertaining enough, but Neal Stephenson creates a far more compelling use of the setting, among others, in his Cryptonomicon.(less)
Rather a potboiler, plus nautical language. Not nearly as good as Shōgun in my opinion—I'm reading them in historical order, rather than publication...moreRather a potboiler, plus nautical language. Not nearly as good as Shōgun in my opinion—I'm reading them in historical order, rather than publication order—even though in a sense one could see it as "Shōgun in Hong Kong," or as a first attempt to tell basically the same story, since this one was written earlier. Maybe it's that Struan wasn't as interesting to me as Anjin-san, or that the non-Europeans played so small a part in this one aside from the love interest. Also, while I finished the other, I came away feeling like I learned a few useful bits of Japanese, here I learned no Chinese aside from "joss," which factors into the story almost identically to karma in the other. Still, it was amusing enough to keep plowing on. (less)