Stormbringer is mine!

Elric poses with his soul-draining sword Stormbringer.

I had the chance to catch lunch with Ed earlier this week, and he was kind enough to pass an item from his game library to me: Stormbringer, the roleplaying game based on Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné novels. I’m really glad to get my hands on it; Stormbringer is one of those classic RPGs of which everyone speaks highly, but which I’ve never seen actually played. (But somebody must be playing it, as it’s in its sixth edition or thereabouts.)

In that sense, the RPG is not unlike Moorcock’s Elric novels: influential, well regarded, and yet strangely obscure. Although you might find a few Elric short story collections at the bookstore, the main Elric series that established the titular character as a pulp fantasy archetype seems to be weirdly out of print. If there’s any series screaming to be reprinted as an anthology, it’s the original Elric tales.

My own introduction to Moorcock and his angsty antihero came a few years ago when Elric of Melniboné turned up on my reading group’s list. I have since wondered how my youthful appreciation of the fantasy genre might have been different if I had gotten hooked on Moorcock instead of Tolkien 25 years ago. It’s too late now, of course; I was a Tolkien fanatic before I made it out of sixth grade.

And anyway, given my Tolkien partisanship, it’s probably just as well that I was blissfully unaware of Moorcock’s famous whinefest about Tolkien. (I like The Cimmerian’s rebuttal myself.)

But that aside, the first Elric novel is certainly worth tracking down and reading if you enjoy dark, morally edgy fantasy filled with strange and intriguing people, places, and gods. It’s sharply written and evocative, although angst-ridden Elric himself is probably one of those protagonists you either wholeheartedly love or hate from the moment you first meet him.

I hope to dig through the RPG in detail in the near future; but my initial take is that it’s an impressive piece of work.

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2 Comments

  1. Ed says:

    Glad you’re enjoying it!

    I know I’ve read, somewhere, Moorcock speaking much more respectfully and appreciatively of Tolkien and his work than he did in that piece — I think it was just a rant — today it would have been a blog post. 🙂

  2. Andy says:

    Yes, I’m definitely enjoying it–thanks again, Ed! I also have heard (anecdotally) that Moorcock’s views on Tolkien have mellowed with time. I do like the idea of viewing his essay as a blog-style rant… makes it seem less harsh. At any rate–I’ve definitely found Moorcock worth reading, regardless of his views on Tolkien.

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