Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How Elric grew up from an emo teen

My Elric phase took place back in the eighties. Which meant that I read the Elric books after the short stories were collected into fix-up novels but before Michael Moorcock went back and wrote a bunch more books. In other words, about half the books were written after I finished the series.

For me, the most striking (not necessarily the best) parts of the series are the earliest written, which hilariously includes Elric’s death. (Spoiler, he dies at the end) They were some of Moorcock’s earliest writing and you can tell it was written by someone who was under thirty :D

Not because they’re badly written. Oh, quite the contrary. Moorcock being one of those writers who helps redefine a genre was already clear. 

No, it’s because Elric, in the earliest stories, is basically a whiny emo-teen. He is the scion of one of the most advanced civilizations in his world, one of the most powerful sorcerers in his world and something of a manslut, not to mention he has a God-killing sword. But he is still driven by angst. He’s kind of a weird wish fulfillment character, able to beat whoever he wants and still engage in self-pity.

It really says something about how good an author Moorcock is that those first stories are so compelling and interesting.

Amusingly, at the time when I read the books, the first chronological book was the last one written. By then, Elric was more melancholy and thoughtful than angsty. When I reached the first written stories in Weird of the White Wolf, the third book, the change in his personality was quite shocking. 

I just found out that there are at least three Elric books I didn’t know existed. I have a stack of books to read but I’m going to have to look into that.

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