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Elric of Melniboné

(The Elric Saga #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  23,614 ratings  ·  1,032 reviews
Elric of Melniboné is a requisite title in the hard fantasy canon, a book no fantasy fan should leave unread. Author Michael Moorcock, already a major player in science fiction, cemented his position in the fantasy pantheon with the five-book Elric saga, of which Elric of Melniboné is the first installment. The book's namesake, the brooding albino emperor of the dying nati ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 181 pages
Published July 15th 1987 by Ace Books (first published 1972)
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Jose Brox You should read the series in its final, edited format, starting with Elric of Melnibone (that is, in chronological order, at least for the first six …moreYou should read the series in its final, edited format, starting with Elric of Melnibone (that is, in chronological order, at least for the first six books; the last trilogy was written long after the previous books). Moorcock wrote many of its Elric stories as short stories and novelettes to be published in magazines. First he got a nice idea which serves as a magnificent ending for the series, which he published as Stormbringer, then worked on what had happened before in his invented world, jumping backwards and forwards as he pleased. Then he revised and expanded the material to be published as books (and there have been several revisions, the definitive one by Gollancz published a few years ago). I strongly advise against reading Stormbringer first, as it would spoil a big plot twist too soon and without proper preparation.(less)
Saul the Heir of Isauldur Gollancz is doing a reprint of most of Moorcock's works. You can find it on Amazon under "Elric of Melnibone and Other Stories."…moreGollancz is doing a reprint of most of Moorcock's works. You can find it on Amazon under "Elric of Melnibone and Other Stories."(less)

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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
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
And the moral of this reread is: Elric's, um, beloved cousin Yyrkoon The Gentle and Magnanimous is one of the most underrated villains in the history of Most Underrated Villains (MUV™). Because I said so and stuff.

Why of course you do, my darling Yyrkie. That's why you're such a scrumptiously delicious villain and stuff. Now be a dear and ditch the Skeletor costume post haste, will you? You don't want to ruin your street cred, do you now? That's a good boy!

P.S. Pigs, Snake and Thing FTW!

Bill Kerwin
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 sword with a consciousness and will all its own.

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
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
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
Dirk Grobbelaar
It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white.

Here is a funny piece of random information: my first introduction to the doomed albino and his demonic sword was not through literature but through music, namely the songs “Black Blade” (Blue Oyster Cult) and “Song Of The Swords” (Hawkwind). As someone who has always enjoyed pulp fiction and old school fantasy, I was very aware of Elric of Melniboné. He is, after all, one of the more
Signed edition is limited to 300 copies, each signed by Michael Moorcock, Piotr Jablonski, and Holly Black.

This copy is numbered 40 of 300 produced.

Bound in full black cloth, stamped in three colors.
Color illustrations hand-tipped into the book with translucent overlays.
Introduction by Holly Black.
Oversize at 6½ × 9½ inches.

Head and tail bands, ribbon marker.
Top-edge stain.


007 - Introduction - Holly Black
011 - "Master of Chaos"
029 - "And So The Great Emperor Received His Education"
035 -
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 fortunate
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
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
Aug 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Oh Elric, Elric Elric.
You have been sitting on my shelf for years, waiting patiently for me to take you down. All this time I ignored you, biased that you were old school and no longer relevant. Finally, because my book buddies brought up your name, I endeavored to give you my valuable reading time. Oh, how you engaged and enthralled me. Half a book in the first sitting, I could not put you down. Yes, you are old school fantasy and utterly cliched in parts, but the saying "they don't make em lik
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
"We are victims cousin, of a conspiracy, a game played by gods, demons and sentient swords."

Although not a frequent reader of high or epic fantasy, this turned out to be an unexpected surprise. In fact, I will generally drop any book at the first sign of dragons. And while dragons are mentioned on several occasions in Elric of Melniboné, they never actually make an appearance. Apparently, they are too exhausted from a previous battle to be bothered with events here. Suits me just fine.

First and
May 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 i
Caro the Helmet Lady
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
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I’ll always prefer Corum (his temperament, melancholy and preference for love and peace being more similar to mine), I have to admit Elric just has that something special which draws you in and captivates your imagination; no matter how alien his customs and general outlook on life strikes you. And so if we had half stars this would have been 4.5 stars.

Why not 5 stars, you ask?

Simply put I’m stingy with stars, and while I love Elric’s story, I don’t love him — yet.
Michael Sorbello
Synopsis: Elric is a cynical and melancholy king, heir to a nation whose 100,000-year rule of the world ended less than 500 years hence. Born as a crippled albino do to inbreeding, he's kept alive only by powerful drugs and potions. Elric is a reluctant ruler, but he also realizes that no other worthy successor exists and the survival of his once-powerful nation depends on him alone. Elric's cousin Yyrkoon has no patience for his physically weak kinsman, and he plots constantly to seize Elric's ...more
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
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
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this about 20 years ago and decided to pick it up again. I think I liked it a bit better this time because I can better see all of the neat elements that Moorcock put into the world of Elric. Elemental lords, Chaos gods, and the war between Law and Chaos are just a few of the worldbuilding elements that really made this work shine. I still can't give it five stars, however, because Elric has got to be one of the dumbest protagonists in fantasy literature. I mean, how many times do you let ...more
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elric is Moorcock's best known character and one of the cornerstones of his famous multiverse series of interlocked stories. My 1976 DAW edition has a lovely Michael Whelan cover and is the first volume of the six generally considered to be the core Elric books. Moorcock began writing Elric stories in the early 1960's, and a shorter version of this book appeared in 1972 under the title of The Dreaming City. It does a good job of introducing the character and his home world, and sets up the actio ...more
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
The Multiverse vs. Middle Earth

Michael Moorcock has been dubbed the "anti-Tolkien," a label he has embraced. From aesthetics to ideology to literary methodology, his oeuvre can be easily seen as a total inversion of Tolkien's. The one important similarity is that they both wrote fantasy stories.

Tolkien's outlook is Eurocentric. Moorcock's is cosmopolitan.

Tolkien is conservative to the point of reaction. Moorcock is a self-declared radical.

Tolkien found Anglicanism too forward thinking, and co
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
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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,

Other books in the series

The Elric Saga (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Elric of Melniboné and Other Stories (Elric Chronological Order, #1)
  • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (The Elric Saga, #2)
  • The Weird of the White Wolf (The Elric Saga, #3)
  • The Vanishing Tower (The Elric Saga, #4)
  • The Bane of the Black Sword (The Elric Saga, #5)
  • Stormbringer (The Elric Saga, #6)
  • Elric at the End of Time (The Elric Saga #7)
  • The Fortress of the Pearl (The Elric Saga, #8)
  • The Revenge of the Rose (The Elric Saga, #9)
  • The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino (Elric & Oona Von Bek, #1)

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“Legends are best left as legends and attempts to make them real are rarely successful” 41 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?” 10 likes
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