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Elric Of Melnibone (The Elric Saga #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  19,747 Ratings  ·  706 Reviews

It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair that flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody....

He is Elric, Emperor of Melnibone, cursed with a keen and cynical intelligence, schooled in the art of sorcery -- the hero of Michael Moorcock's remarkable epic of conflict and adven

Mass Market Paperback, 181 pages
Published July 1st 1983 by Berkley (first published 1972)
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Saul Gollancz is doing a reprint of most of Moorcock's works. You can find it on Amazon under "Elric of Melnibone and Other Stories."

Community Reviews

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J.G. Keely
I have spent a long time searching for a modern fantastical epic which is worth reading. It seems like there should be one, out there, somewhere. I have so enjoyed the battlefields of Troy, the dank cavern of Grendel's dam, Dido's lament, Ovid's hundred wild-spun tales, perfidious Odysseus, the madness of Orlando, Satan's twisted rhetoric, and Gilgamesh's sea-voyage to the forgotten lands of death. And so I seek some modern author to reinvent these tales with some sense of scholarship, poetry, c ...more
After reading and having my hair blown back by The Swords Trilogy (The Knight of the Swords,The Queen of the Swords and The King of the Swords), I decided to dive into the adventures of Moorcock's most famous avatar of the Eternal Champion, Elric of Melnibone.

This first installment serves as a nice introduction to the contemplative albino sorcerer, who rules the ancient, powerful land of Melnibone. It was a nice surprise to learn that in the never ending, multi-dimensional cosmic dust up between
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always detested Michael Moorcock.

As a fantasy reader whose passion for Tolkien’s writing knows no boundaries, I have always had a hard time swallowing the venomous spite and blind arrogance with which he’s been denouncing the champion of my fantasy dreams.

Generally speaking, I never felt anything against authors who attempted to step out of Tolkien’s shadow. These separatists, as I enjoy calling them, count shining stars like Mervyn Peake and China Mieville among their ranks, both men I
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elric of FREAKIN’ Melnibone.

A supersized but colorless everlasting gobstopper of fantasy have-at-you.

If he were a mongoose, he’d be Elrici-tiki-tavi.

If he were a professional wrestler (pronounced RASTLER in Memphis) he’d be Elric Flair - Wooooooooooooo!

If he were an amateur bowler in California and part time brother Shamus he’d be El Ricerino (and only if we were not into the whole brevity thing.)

If he were anything other than Michael Moorcock’s magnificent Man of Melnibone he’d be a calorie def
This is some epic awesomeness.

I'm an absolute sucker for the grand sweeping personal quests to gain more and yet more magical power in the service of rescuing your one true love, casting aside morals, the greater good, your own health, and possibly your own sanity.

This tale holds up perfectly after all this time. All the best aspects of modern fantasy are encapsulated and written with such spartan clarity and diamond sharpness within Moorcock's classic. I only needed this one taste and I'm now
Bill  Kerwin
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction

It pleases me to return, after many years, to the saga of Elric VIII, Emperor of Melnibone, the doomed albino with the icy demeanor and imperious nature whose constant companion is Stormbringer, a bloodthirsty talking sword.

Elric is the sickly descendant of a haughty alien race, a long line of amoral conquerors and wielders of magic. Many of his nobles—including his cousin, the accomplished magician Yrkoon—do not think the young emperor is fit for his high task. He is soon challenged by a pirat
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015


This is the tale of Elric before he was called Woman-slayer, before the final collapse of Melnibone. This is the tale of his rivalry with his cousin Yirkoon and his love for his cousin Cymoril, before that rivalry and that love brought Imrryr, the Dreaming City, crashing in flames, raped by the reavers from the Young Kingdoms. This is the tale of the two black swords, Stormbringer and Mournblade, and how they were discovered and what part they played in the destiny of Elric and Melnibone - a de
This is THE classic sword and sorcery tale that came about in the early 1960s. Note that I am referencing when Elric first appeared which was in Moorcock’s novella, "The Dreaming City" (Science Fantasy #47, June 1961 (Wiki).

Note that this is one of my early reviews so the format is different.

CONCEPT: Very interesting. This one was done in the 60s before there were a lot of Sci fi/Fantasy writers. Moorcock is definitely one of the older writers and his works range in quality though fortunately
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You know, I kept seeing Moorcock's Elric stories referred to by authors I enjoyed greatly as being totally inspirational and important to the beginnings of "New Weird" fiction (which is what people who write Urban Fantasy but want to be taken seriously call their work). So I'm going on vacation and I think to myself "This'll be the perfect thing to read on the beach or in transit; fun, surprisingly good, etc etc etc".

As it turns out I'm just not seeing it. I know that issue may be that I'm read
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is the first book of a classic fantasy series with an iconic anti-hero. From what I understand the author tried to create something different from The Lord of the Rings; at the time this book was published the majority of fantasy genre consisted of The Lord of the Rings clones. Considering that the series now has a status of genre classics, the author succeeded.

The main hero Elric is an albino who happened to be the Emperor of Melniboné and who must use potions to maintain his strength. He
Kat  Hooper
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Elric, emperor of Melniboné, is not your typical fantasy hero. He’s an albino with white skin, long white hair, and slanting red eyes. He’s weak and has to take drugs every few hours just to maintain the strength of a normal man. He’s a brooding and contemplative scholar, which makes him dull at parties.

Some people think Elric is a demon — he sure looks like one — and many of his subjects would prefer to have the throne of Melniboné occupied by Elric’s cha
Mike (the Paladin)
I read this edition years ago. I loved it. I have also reviewed the omnibus volumes that came out recently. While I like some Elric stories better than others I believe "he" (this character, you know "Elric") holds a special place in the annals of fantasy characters. Or maybe I should say tragic fantasy characters.

I just noted this review and thought I'd add this to my earlier comments. There was a time when (back in the '70s and '80s) when the Eternal Champion books were a "must read" among fa
Aug 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book and I . . . disagreed. I tend to dislike fantasy books whose language is flowery, whose characters are coarse and papery, and whose plots are obviously constructions of the authors to be used with appropriately puppet-like characters. But my friend liked this story, so I said I'd read it. :) I don't understand how this stuff got popular. Not at all. I read some of it out loud to a discerning friend of mine, sometimes in disbelief and unable to stop from laughing, and to this day we mak ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-top20

I have this feeling that my luck is none too good. This sword here at my side don’t act the way it should. Keeps calling me it’s master, but I feel like it’s slave.
Hauling me faster and faster to an early, early grave.
And it howls! It howls like hell!

"Black Blade" by Blue Öyster Cult, lyrics by Michael Moorcock

How many authors do you know who gets to write lyrics for a song based on his book to be record by a legendary metal band? Elric has to be just about the coolest most bad ass mofo in th
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want something different from their fantasy
Recommended to David by: A girl named Ally
Shelves: fantasy
A sickly emperor with a demon possessed sword
14 April 2011

This was one of the earlier fantasy books that does not fall into what I consider the fantasy genre I term as 'Lord of the Rings wannabe's'. Elric is not a hero nor is he on a quest to save the world. In fact, while not going out of his way to destroy the world, the character of Elric would be more at home as a villain than as the central character of a fantasy series. But this is what Elric is, and these stories, originally published as
Fantasy Review Barn

In the style of an oral storyteller, bringing to mind the Greek classics in its deeds, I admit I was quite surprised by how good Elric of Melniboné was. It is not a question of an old book holding up in this case, rather Elric is obviously a pace setter that countless that follow can only hope to keep up with. If anything I have proven to myself that some of the classics of the genre are considered so for a reason; I will drop a minor heresy in that given a choice I would rer
Kaustubh Dudhane
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"...the happiness cannot last unless we know completely what we are."

There are two kinds of good books. One is that book which will make one feel warm and hopeful. There is other type which will make one gloomy and depressive. And Elric of Melnibone belongs to the other kind.

Wow! I really am impressed from the work of so called Anti-Tolkien writer. Most of the people agree that J.R.R. Tolkien was the father of epic-fantasy and many of the novels (e.g. Eragon, since many of my good friends on G
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very charming book in its own morbid way. Elric is the singularly badass Emperor of Melniboné--a debauched, weird island nation that used to be a sprawling, powerful empire. Apparently it's considered completely uncool to be anything but self-possessed, icy and callous on Melniboné but Elric seems to be of a different stock than most of his pale kin--a bit more introspective and even moralistic. This alone presents him with several problems, and compounding things is his cousin Yyrkoo ...more
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
In which Elric fights off his cousin's usurpation, first strikes a deal with Arioch and other higher powers, meets Rackhir the Red Archer, acquires the sword Stormbringer, and makes a lot of terrible choices in the name of defying Fate and the Powers That Be.

Overwrought and amateurish, and yet still a classic of fantastic literature: wonderfully dry (you can almost picture him writing these books with one eyebrow continuously cocked at his typewriter), compelling, a quick read, and full of the g
Dying empire presented with two means of resuscitation: irredentist aggression or contemplative isolationism, each represented, somewhat reductively, by the principal antagonist and protagonist. Their agon includes a series of coups and counter-coups, and results in a bizarre duel with sentient nuclear-swords on the wrong side of the last sphincter in hell's colon.

The protagonist has the repuation of being an anti-hero, and he lives up to it, as "his desire was not to reform Melnibone but to re
May 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I realy wanted to like this book.


I was hearing the usual things that everyone hears about Elric : it's supposed to be the birth of dark fantasy, its hero is complex and morally ambiguous, there are adult themes, and so on, and so forth.

And I found almost nothing to like about this book.

The characters were worse than two dimensional : the fragile princess that gets to be rescued, the evil moustache-twirling cousin, the noble right-hand man, and Elric himself, a brooding, relentlessly e
Caro M.
I picked this for my reading challenge and I was not disappointed, but rather pissed at myself that I was putting it away for so long. I was surprised how fresh it felt, considering that Elric was born somewhere between years 1960 and 1970.

Quite a fast paced story, rather short and not overly detailed, it takes us into the decadent and violent land of Melniboné, where sorcerers live side by side with dragons and demons of higher and lower planes. Melnibonéans drown their days in cruel rituals a
jackalope Mack
Jul 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People disappointed with Harry Potter
Shelves: sciencefiction
I'll never forget the first time I heard about Elric. It was at the high school graduation party of my friend, Denyse Byrd. Denyse was an intriguing figure to me. I never had the courage to ask her out. While she did not look like Morticia Addams, she had a certain dark allure about her, like Morticia. If she ever reads this, I hope she takes this in a good way.

Anyway, at the party, Denyse mentioned that she'd read Elric and found something in the books that she never got out of "The Lord of the
Mike (the Paladin)
I read this one years ago. When I ran across this audio version I picked it up. Having not read any of the Eternal Champion volumes for a long time it sort of "reminded me" how much I liked many of them.

This short book serves as a sort of "intro" to the entire Elric saga and we get a look at much of the character Mr. Moorcock was building for Elric (and I'd forgotten how annoying Elric could be).

This (these actually as it applies to the Elric series) is a book I'd recommend for anyone who likes
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peccati eburnei

Una scrittura efficace, dai tratti quasi lisergici, fa da cornice ad Elric di Melniboné, tra i massimi personaggi di cui il genere fantasy può fregiarsi.
Il protagonista acquisisce sfaccettature non banali con l'incedere dei racconti; meno efficace la miriade di personaggi che orbitano attorno all'antieroe, dipinti alla stregua di macchiette.
L'abuso di deus ex machina - spesso con la sgradevole controindicazione di stritolare il libero arbitrio - non vanno ad intaccare, almeno pe
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy and Dark fiction fans
Shelves: fantasy
Michael Moorcock created a new kind of hero in Elric of Melnibone. Elric first appeared in several novelettes in the early 1960's (later collected as sequels to this volume).

Here, the brooding wizard prince of the ancient and powerful kingdom fights his male cousin, Yrkoon, for a seat on the Ruby Throne, and the love of his female cousin, Cymoril.

As a physically frail, well educated, wizard Elric is the opposite of the traditional warrior hero. This book stands the test of time and remains a exc
Kevin Xu
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
this is how great fantasy should be done
Logan Aube
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't put this one down. The prose is gorgeous, the pace is swift, and Elric is fascinating as a sort of anti-Conan protagonist. Can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series.
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the classics of the genre. It has aged well.

Odd circumstances and fanciful worlds, as with other Moorcock works. It would pair well with some Pink Floyd or Blue Öyster Cult playing in the background. Readers of Moorcock would not be surprised to learn that he wrote lyrics for a few BÖC songs.
Mattia Ravasi
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Video review
Featured in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2017

As elegant and pleasurable as a Melnibonean banquet, thanks both to its subtle delicacies and to all the crazy shit going on. Easily one of the best fantasy novel I've ever read.
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Around the Year i...: Elric of Melniboné, by Michael Moorcock 5 27 Sep 22, 2016 10:04AM  
Sword & Sorcery: ...: Elric: The Eternal Exception? 8 41 Aug 24, 2016 08:08AM  
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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

The Elric Saga (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Elric of Melniboné and Other Stories (Elric Chronological Order, #1)
  • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric, #2)
  • The Weird of the White Wolf (The Elric Saga, #3)
  • The Vanishing Tower (Elric, #4)
  • The Bane of the Black Sword (The Elric Saga, #5)
  • Stormbringer (Elric, #6)
  • Elric at the End of Time (The Elric Saga #7)
  • The Fortress of the Pearl (Elric #8)
  • The Revenge of the Rose (Elric, #9)
  • The Dreamthief's Daughter

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“Legends are best left as legends and attempts to make them real are rarely successful” 36 likes
“Why should their pain produce such marvelous beauty? he wonders. Or is all beauty created through pain? Is that the secret of great art, both human and Melnibonen?” 5 likes
More quotes…