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Elric of Melniboné

Elric of Melniboné, pronounced mɛlˈnɪbɔˌne, (mel-nib-on-ay) is a fictional character created by Michael Moorcock. He first appeared in print in 1961 in Michael Moorcock’s novella, "The Dreaming City" (Science Fantasy #47 June 1961); his first appearance in a novel was in Stormbringer (1965). His proper name and title is Elric VIII, 428th Emperor of Melniboné.

Characters in the Elric series

Deities and elementals

See also: Deities in the Elric series

Arioch, Lord of the Seven Darks, Lord of the Higher Hell, The Knight of Swords: One of the mightiest Dukes of Hell and a Chaos Lord. He is the perennial patron of the Melnibonéan emperors and is responsible for much of their sorcerous power and long rule. He finds Elric to be one of his sweetest servants, as Elric's moral dilemmas provide him with much sport.

King Straasha: King of the sea elementals and bound by age old pacts of service to the Emperors of Melniboné. His aid is sought and given on several occasions to Elric. He helped create The Ship which Sails over Land and Sea, providing the necessary magic for ocean travel, and disputes its ownership with King Grome.

King Grome: King of the earth elementals. He is very selfish with both his aid and what he considers his ship: The Ship which Sails over Land and Sea. Grome is responsible for the magics that allow the ship to move over land as if it were in water. He viciously disputes the ownership of the ship with King Straasha.

Vezhan: The King with Wings. A Lord of Chaos, once served by Rackhir.

Donblas, the Justice Maker: A Lord of Law, the only one named in the saga. He aids Elric in his ultimate struggles against Chaos.

Misha and Graoll, the Lasshaar (Wind Giants, Lords of the Winds, Kings of the Winds): Powerful air elementals. They aid Elric in his final revenge on the troublesome sorcerer Theleb K'aarna. (Some third-party role-playing game material claims that Misha and Graoll are the sons of an elemental Queen Lassa, but there is no support for this in the original stories.)

Kakatal, the Fire Lord: A powerful fire elemental. (Described as the ruler of the fire elementals in third-party role-playing game material; this is neither directly supported nor contradicted by the original stories.)

Chardros, the Reaper (sometimes spelled 'Chardhros'): One of the most powerful Chaos Lords, similar to the Grim Reaper. He appears in the battle between Law and Chaos at the end of the saga.

Mabelode, the King of Swords (sometimes spelled 'Mabelrode'): A Lord of Chaos, Mabelode is described as being "faceless". He appears in the great battle at the end of the saga.

Mortals

Cymoril: A Melnibonéan, Elric's cousin and consort. He hopes to one day make her his wife and empress. She tries to understand and help Elric, but like his subjects she has difficulty understanding Elric's motivations and would have him rule as the emperors of old, with no concern for any but himself.

Doctor Jest: the Chief Interrogator of Melniboné, expert in the art of drawing secrets from those who keep them. He is described as tall and very thin, almost like a skeleton in white garments stained with the blood of those who are unlucky enough to be questioned by him.

Dyvim Slorm: A Melnibonéan, Elric's cousin, son of Dyvim Tvar. He fights alongside Elric in the final war against Chaos, wielding the black sword Mournblade.

Dyvim Tvar: A Melnibonéan, Lord of the Dragon Caves. He is Elric's main ally and advisor. A true Melnibonéan, he lends no weight to any thought of deposing Elric, as it is the emperor's prerogative to act and do as he pleases. His main responsibility and personal love is the care of Melniboné's most destructive weapon, the dragons. It was on the backs of these beasts that Melniboné carved out its empire and they are the most feared and respected weapons on earth.

Jagreen Lern: The Theocrat of Pan Tang. He is the leader and mighty sorcerer of Pan Tang and is chosen by Chaos to lead their armies in conquering Elric's plane. He is ultimately given all of the Chaos Lords' powers in his fight against Elric and the minions of Law and Balance.

Moonglum of Elwher: A short, red-haired human with a cheerfully ugly face, adventuring companion to Elric. He and Elric share many dangers and rewards together. The most steadfast and loyal companion of all the Young Kingdom humans Elric encounters. He assists Elric in completing his fated purpose.

Myshella, The Dark Lady: A great sorceress. She fulfills the task set to her by the Lords of Law, which is to tend the Castle Kaneloon as its mistress. She must also find heroes strong enough to withstand the forces of Chaos and thus create new lands on Elric's plane. She plays a part in several of Elric's adventures using her mighty sorcery and mechanical flying steed.

Queen Yishana: A human, ruler of Jharkor. She presents Elric with several problems/adventures and openly covets his company and power. Her selfish desires are the root of several of Elric's problems, but she also aids him from time to time and ultimately becomes an important ally in his fight against Chaos.

Rackhir, the Red Archer: A human, once a Warrior Priest of Phum but cast out of his order. He and Elric travel and adventure together several times throughout the series.

Sepiriz: Captain of the Fates. He and his nine brothers are representatives of Fate (servants of the Cosmic Balance) and are tasked with bringing about the will of the Fates in preparation for the end of an age.

Tanglebones: Elric's servant. He is very old and much taller than Elric, though his back is stooped and his limbs are knotted like those of a strong, old tree.

Terarn Gashtek, Flame Bringer: An eastern barbarian ruler. His sudden attack upon the west from across the Weeping Wastes takes them completely by surprise. He vows to rule the whole world but fails.

Theleb K'aarna: A human sorcerer of the Pan Tang isles. After being displaced as Queen Yishana's advisor and chief sorcerer by Elric, he seeks revenge and uses sorcery to hinder several of Elric's plans.

Yyrkoon: Prince of Melniboné, Elric's cousin. He is next in line for the throne, as Elric has no male heir. He is greatly concerned at Elric's behavior and takes all of Elric's brooding and philosophical talk as a sign of weakness. He yearns for a return to more traditional emperors and secretly plots Elric's demise. Yyrkoon is a great sorcerer who has made many pacts with unholy forces to obtain his sorcerous strength. As further evidence of his decadent ways, he openly desires his sister Cymoril and intends to make her his wife and Empress if his plans ever reach fruition.

Zarozinia: A human of the Young Kingdoms. She falls in love with Elric and eventually marries him, for a time allowing him to experience true love and companionship. For her sake, Elric also gives up his blade Stormbringer and reverts to taking sorcerous herbs to sustain his life.

Novels

Original series

  • Elric of Melniboné (novel, Hutchinson 1972, cut vt The Dreaming City 1972 US; DAW 1977) ISBN 042508843X
  • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (collection, Quartet 1976; DAW 1977) ISBN 0441748635
  • The Weird of the White Wolf (collection, DAW 1977) ISBN 0441888054
  • The Sleeping Sorceress (novel, NEL 1971; Ace 1971 as The Vanishing Tower; DAW 1977) ISBN 0441860397
  • The Bane of the Black Sword (collection, DAW 1977) ISBN 0441048854
  • Stormbringer (novel, fix-up, cut, Herbet Jenkins 1965; restored, DAW 1977, Berkeley 1984) ISBN 0425065596

Later novels

  • Fortress of the Pearl (novel, Gollancz 1989) ISBN 0441248667
  • Revenge of the Rose (novel, Grafton 1991 as The Revenge of the Rose: A Tale of the Albino Prince in the Years of his Wandering) ISBN 0441001068

Later trilogy

  • The Dreamthief's Daughter (2001) ISBN 0446611204
  • The Skrayling Tree (2003) ISBN 0446531049
  • The White Wolf's Son (2005) ISBN 0446617458

Collections

  • Elric at the End of Time (1984) ISBN 1850280320
  • Michael Moorcock’s Elric: Tales of the White Wolf (1994) ISBN 1565041755
  • Pawns of Chaos: Tales of the Eternal Champion (1996) ISBN 1565049330

Graphic Novels

Publishing history

Elric first appeared in print in 1961 in Michael Moorcock’s novelette "The Dreaming City" (Science Fantasy #47 June 1961). A further four novelettes ("While the Gods Laugh", "The Stealer of Souls", "Kings in Darkness", "The Flamebringers") and four novellas ("Dead God's Homecoming", "Black Sword's Brothers", "Sad Giant's Shield", "Doomed Lord's Passing") followed, the last of these terminating the sequence with the close of Elric’s angst-ridden life. The five novelettes were collected in The Stealer of Souls (collection, Neville Spearman 1963) and the four novellas were first published as a novel in Stormbringer (op. cit.). (This early version of Elric’s saga, i.e., these nine short stories – with the full text of Stormbringer, as it appeared in Science Fantasy – has recently been republished in a single volume as Elric (Orion/Gollancz 2001), Volume 17 in the Fantasy Masterworks series.)

Moorcock published further Elric tales throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. One of these was "The Jade Man's Eyes," published in 1973 in Flashing Swords! #2, an original anthology edited by Lin Carter. In 1977 DAW published what’s widely regarded as the canonical version of Elric’s saga: six books that collected the tales according to their internal chronology (and with the text of Stormbringer restored and revised). These DAW paperbacks all featured cover art work by the same young artist, Michael Whelan, and helped to define the look of both Elric and his sword Stormbringer. Whelan has subsequently done the cover art for other Elric novels, as have many other artists.

A few oddments were collected in Elric at the End of Time (coll. NEL 1984). The novelette "Elric at the End of Time" fits into the saga between The Sailor on the Seas of Fate and The Weird of the White Wolf.

  • Elric of Melniboné (1993; vt Elric: Song of the Black Sword 1997 US);
    • Elric of Melniboné
    • The Fortress of the Pearl
    • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate
    • The Dreaming City
    • While the Gods Laugh
    • The Singing Citadel
  • Stormbringer (1993; vt Elric: The Stealer of Souls 1998 US).
    • The Sleeping Sorceress (aka The Vanishing Tower)
    • The Revenge of the Rose
    • The Stealer of Souls
    • Kings in Darkness
    • The Flamebringers (aka The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams)
    • Stormbringer

Chronology

The main sequence, according to the saga's internal chronology, comprises the following books (in those cases where a book is composed of several titled sub-stories, these are listed):

  • (I) Elric of Melniboné
    • Book 1
    • Book 2
    • Book 3
  • The Fortress of the Pearl
  • (II) The Sailor on the Seas of Fate
    • Book One: Sailing To the Future
    • Book Two: Sailing To the Present
    • Book Three: Sailing To the Past
  • (III) The Weird of the White Wolf
    • Prologue: The Dream of Earl Aubec
    • Book One: The Dreaming City
    • Book Two: While the Gods Laugh
    • Book Three: The Singing Citadel
  • (IV) The Vanishing Tower (The Sleeping Sorceress)
    • Book One: The Torment of the Last Lord
    • Book Two: To Snare the Pale Prince
    • Book Three: Three heroes With a Single Aim
  • The Revenge of the Rose
  • (V) The Bane of the Black Sword
    • Book One: The Stealer of Souls
    • Book Two: Kings in Darkness
    • Book Three: The Flamebringers (aka The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams)
    • Epilogue: To Rescue Tanelorn
  • (VI) Stormbringer
    • Book One: Dead God's Homecoming
    • Book Two: Black Sword's Brothers
    • Book Three: Sad Giant's Shield
    • Book Four: Doomed Lord's Passing

Influences

The saga of Kullervo from Finnish Mythology contains elements similar to Elric's story, such as a talking magic sword and fatal alienation of the hero from his family. Kullervo has been proposed as having influence on Poul Anderson's 1954 novel The Broken Sword, Elric, and J.R.R. Tolkien's story of Túrin Turambar, which appeared in The Silmarillion and subsequent works. Moorcock has stated that "Anderson's a definite influence [on Elric], as stated. But oddly, the Kalevala was read to us at my boarding school when I was about seven." and "from a very early age I was reading Norse legends and any books I could find about Norse stories" Moorcock in the same posting stated "one thing I'm pretty sure of, I was not in any way directly influenced by Prof. T[olkien]". The Silmarillion was not published until 1977, sixteen years after the first Elric story. Moorcock has publicly written that he preferred Anderson's work to Tolkien's.

Elric's albinism appears influenced by Monsieur Zenith, an albino villain who used a sword cane, who Moorcock appreciated enough to write into later multiverse stories. Moorcock read Zenith stories in his youth, and has contributed to their later reprinting, remarking "took me forty years to find another copy of Zenith the Albino! In fact it was a friend who found it under lock and key and got a copy of it to Savoy who are, at last, about to reprint it! Why I have spent so much energy making public the evidence of my vast theft from Anthony Skene, I'm not entirely sure... . Moorcock later said "As I've said in my introduction to Monsieur Zenith: The Albino [ISBN 0861301099], the Anthony Skenes character was a huge influence. For the rest of the character, his ambiguities in particular, I based him on myself at the age I was when I created Elric, which was 20 The influence of Zenith on Elric is often cited in discussions of Zenith (e.g., )

Appearances in other media

Elric (along with Stormbringer) was listed in the first printing of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) Deities & Demigods rule book. However, Chaosium already had a role playing series in the works based on Elric & Stormbringer and the initial AD&D printing was not fully authorized. A mutually beneficial deal was worked out between Chaosium & TSR, yet TSR chose remove Elric from subsequent printings of Deities & Demigods.

Elric and Stormbringer have been detailed in the Stormbringer role-playing game by the publisher Chaosium and their licensees. Hawkmoon has also been so treated, as has Corum.

Comics

As well as within comic book adaptations, Elric also appeared in a number of original stories published by Marvel Comics and Vertigo Comics. Helix, a short-lived imprint of DC Comics published the 12 issue Michael Moorcock's Multiverse from 1997. More recently DC Comics published the 4-issue Elric: Making of a Sorcerer, with art by Walt Simonson, a story about Elric's training before the events of the novel Elric of Melniboné.

P. Craig Russell has drawn comics adaptations taken from three Moorcock novels: Elric of Melniboné (with Roy Thomas and Michael T. Gilbert; Pacific Comics), The Dreaming City and While the Gods Laugh (representing the first two-thirds of Weird of the White Wolf; Marvel/Epic Comics), and Stormbringer (Dark Horse). The character has also been separately adapted by Walter Simonson and Frank Brunner, and by George Freeman and others on the long-running Elric series at Pacific which Russell had co-created. (Reportedly tensions between himself and Thomas were the reason for his departure.)

Film

Unproduced film

Wendy Pini published a book documenting her attempt to make an animated film project of the Stormbringer series. Law and Chaos: The "Stormbringer" Animated Film Project (ISBN 0936861045) was published by Father Tree Press of Poughkeepsie, New York in 1987. The book contains original artwork, information on the characters, an overview of the plot, and her personal investment in the project. The film, however, never reached completion.

Upcoming films

On May 29, 2007, in an interview with Empire Magazine, directors Chris and Paul Weitz revealed that they are in the process of adapting a trilogy of films based on Elric for Universal Pictures. Chris has stated that he grew up reading the material and has met with Moorcock, who trusted them with the project.

References to Elric in popular culture

  • In the Babylon 5 episode "The Geometry of Shadows", the leader of the Technomage order is named Elric in what Michael Moorcock called "clearly straight homage to his Elric novels.
  • In the second to last episode of the TV show Alias, entitled "Reprisal", the password for one of computer engineer's Marshall Flinkman's programs is revealed to be "Moonglum of Elwher".
  • Elric appeared in a two-part Conan the Barbarian comic book adventure entitled "A Sword Called Stormbringer!" and “The Green Empress of Melniboné”, written by Roy Thomas, based on a story plotted by Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn that appeared in Conan the Barbarian.
  • The Elric character is affectionately parodied in the Cerebus the Aardvark graphic novels by Dave Sim, as Elrod of Melvinbone, the Albino. Sim's drawing of Elrod follows Smith's drawing of Elric in Conan the Barbarian, which in turn was based on the US Lancer paperback covers by Jack Gaughan, complete with "tall pointy hat".
  • Elric was parodied in the humorous comic strip Thrud the Barbarian. The character Eric of Bonemalone, bearer of the cursed sword Stoatbringer, appeared in the story "The Three Tasks of Thrud". Published in White Dwarf #57 (September 1984). Author / Artist: Carl Critchlow.
  • Karl Edward Wagner wrote a short story, "The Gothic Touch", in which his immortal antihero Kane enlists the aid of Elric and Moonglum, which can be found in Michael Moorcock’s Elric: Tales of the White Wolf (ISBN 1565041755) and in Wagner's Exorcisms and Ecstasies (ISBN 1878252283).
  • Michael Moorcock received a songwriting credit for the Blue Öyster Cult song "Black Blade". Blue Öyster Cult notes on their website that lyrical collaborations with Moorcock "inspired ... 'Black Blade'".
  • Elric's nickname "the White Wolf" inspired White Wolf, Inc. Founders Steven and Stewart Wieck were fans of the character, and named their roleplaying game magazine, and later their company, after him.
  • UK space rock band Hawkwind released the studio album The Chronicle of the Black Sword in 1985, based upon the Elric stories. An expanded live album (Live Chronicles) was released in 1986 and includes several spoken-word links by author Michael Moorcock, appearing on-stage as narrator. The live show, complete with mime artist dressed as Elric, was also released on VHS and DVD as "The Chronicle of the Black Sword".
  • In the Role Playing Game Radiata Stories by Square-Enix, a Sword by the name of Stormbringer is obtainable.

Footnotes

See also

External links

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