Moorcock's Hawkmoon quartet

Extollager

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This summer I read The Jewel in the Skull (Lancer pb). The sequel is Sorcerer's Amulet. I know he's tinkered with his books but I'd probably stick with the original because I like reading older paperbacks. But is Sorcerer's Amulet worth $12 or so?
 

j d worthington

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No. I wouldn't say so, and I'm an enormous fan of Moorcock's work. I would imagine that you can find much, much less expensive copies floating around if you take the time.

However, the Lancer pbs, if I remember correctly, also suffer from unauthorized editorial tampering (I know this was the case with Elric of Melniboné, which they released as The Dreaming City... making it quite confusing for those who were used to the short story of that name; and though I would have to double-check on this, I believe several of the other Lancers had this same problem. The original title is Mad God's Amulet, which really conveys a better impression of the tale, just as the original title of the final book in the quartet was simply The Runestaff, not Secret of the Runestaff....)

I'll check and see if I have a duplicate of this one; if so, I'll gladly send it to you....
 

Elflock

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I know there are newer versions of all his stuff around,but I think the best 'definitive' Moorcock Eternal Champion series was the Millenium one from the 90's...here's the Hawkmoon one for $1 + postage from Abebooks...
http://www.google.com.au/imgres?q=Moorcock+Hawkmoon+millenium&hl=en&biw=1152&bih=701&tbm=isch&tbnid=x6FSWjUOJqeHUM:&imgrefurl=http://www.abebooks.com/9781857984378/Hawkmoon-Eternal-Champion-Moorcock-Michael-1857984374/plp&docid=gVQIkSj7V8L3_M&itg=1&w=79&h=130&ei=pcV2TuC7BeHEmAXzqMiBDQ&zoom=1
 

Extollager

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I'll check and see if I have a duplicate of this one; if so, I'll gladly send it to you....

Thanks!

I confess that I'm most interested in the original Lancer versions of the quartet for a peculiar reason. I bought The Jewel in the Skull largely because the cover copy explicitly compared it to Tolkien. I've been tracking the marketing of fantasy paperbacks prior to 1969 -- specifically, the books that were alleged to be like Tolkien and/or The Lord of the Rings. So -- what DID publishers market thus? How "Tolkienian" WERE these books? My sense is that they were often quite amusingly NOT very Tolkienian.
 

j d worthington

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Certainly Moorcock was not. He was, if anything, very anti-Tolkienian in his intents with his fantasy, and has been berated for his sometimes harsh comments on Tolkien & similar writers over the years....

I might have a copy of that edition somewhere around. If not, I'm sure I can get one quite cheaply, as I see them around here all the time. So I'll look and see what I can do....
 

Extollager

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Certainly Moorcock was not. He was, if anything, very anti-Tolkienian in his intents with his fantasy, and has been berated for his sometimes harsh comments on Tolkien & similar writers over the years....

I might have a copy of that edition somewhere around. If not, I'm sure I can get one quite cheaply, as I see them around here all the time. So I'll look and see what I can do....

If you have one you can spare, that would be great! If you don't but know where I can get one cheap, just pass that along privately, please.
 

demos99

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This summer I read The Jewel in the Skull (Lancer pb). The sequel is Sorcerer's Amulet. I know he's tinkered with his books but I'd probably stick with the original because I like reading older paperbacks. But is Sorcerer's Amulet worth $12 or so?
No. I wouldn't say so, and I'm an enormous fan of Moorcock's work. I would imagine that you can find much, much less expensive copies floating around if you take the time.
FWIW, all UK editions of The Mad God's Amulet (published variously by Mayflower, Grafton and Granada between 1969 and 1991) use the original unrevised text and would certainly be cheaper than $12. (£3 would be a more reasonable estimate.)

Moorcock revised the Hawkmoon quartet in 1977 for the DAW Books editions but to be honest I'm not sure how extensive those revisions might be. Certainly it would be possible to conduct a line-by-line comparison of the original and revised texts but I don't expect there were any major plot changes.

A second revision was made for the White Wolf Hawkmoon omnibus that addressed a number of continuity errors but again I don't believe there were any major changes to the essential narrative itself. That version is the current 'definitive' text and is used for both Gollancz's 'Fantasy Masterwork' omnibus and Tor's recent four-volume editions.

However, the Lancer pbs, if I remember correctly, also suffer from unauthorized editorial tampering (I know this was the case with Elric of Melniboné, which they released as The Dreaming City... making it quite confusing for those who were used to the short story of that name; and though I would have to double-check on this, I believe several of the other Lancers had this same problem. The original title is Mad God's Amulet, which really conveys a better impression of the tale, just as the original title of the final book in the quartet was simply The Runestaff, not Secret of the Runestaff....)
If Lancer 'tampered' with the original Hawkmoon editions it's not a claim I've come across before, so it would be interesting if it were the case. Personally I'm inclined to doubt it as Moorcock hasn't (to the best of my knowledge) ever alleged that the Hawkmoon texts were ever altered by other hands - in contrast to his frequent comments on the unauthorised The Dreaming City editions or the censoring of The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius by Dale Books[1] or Byzantium Endures by Random House[2].

It is true that the back cover blurb[3] to Lancer's 1968 edition of The Jewel in the Skull displays some marked differences to the actual text but that's because it was based on Moorcock's original outline rather than the finished novel. What's not disputed is that Lancer, under the Lodestone imprint, published a bootleg edition[4] of The Jewel in the Skull in a (bare-faced) attempt to defraud Moorcock. (Ditto the Magnum imprint edition of The Dreaming City[5].)

Incidentally, on the issue of original titles, because the Lancer paperbacks of Sorcerer's Amulet and Sword of the Dawn are the true first editions (pre-dating the UK Mayflower editions by a year) they are technically the 'original' titles even if they aren't what Moorcock intended - a fact attested to by the fact that the novels have, ever since, been published under the UK titles. (Although interestingly the Japanese Hawkmoon editions[6] frequently use the Lancer titles for some reason.) Conversely, the Mayflower edition of The Runestaff pre-dated the publication of Lancer's Secret of the Runestaff so the UK title rightly takes precedence there. :D
 

j d worthington

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Thank you for the correction to my faulty memory on this one... it has been some years since I last dealt with this aspect of things, and I obviously conflated separate things.

And I'm very glad to see someone so knowledgeable as yourself joining into the discussion....:)
 

Fried Egg

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I must admit that I happened to read the "Chronicles of Castle Brass" trilogy before I read this quartet. I have to say that I preferred the Chronicles overall...
 

demos99

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I confess that I'm most interested in the original Lancer versions of the quartet for a peculiar reason. I bought The Jewel in the Skull largely because the cover copy explicitly compared it to Tolkien. I've been tracking the marketing of fantasy paperbacks prior to 1969 -- specifically, the books that were alleged to be like Tolkien and/or The Lord of the Rings. So -- what DID publishers market thus? How "Tolkienian" WERE these books? My sense is that they were often quite amusingly NOT very Tolkienian.
A few years ago, I wrote a review of The History of the Runestaff (aka the Hawkmoon quartet/tetralogy) where I argued that there were a number of superficial similarities - as well as fundamental differences - between it and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Superficially, both are essentially quest narratives to destroy a great evil, where the hero gathers a 'fellowship' of companions to assist him in his quest and both books feature worlds that are mythological in nature - Middle-Earth being a past mythology, Hawkmoon being a future mythology - with a largely unknown though oft referenced history that informs present events (LOTR's First and Second Ages; HOTR's 'Tragic Millennium').

That said, these similarities are outnumbered by the differences: Moorcock takes us right into the heart of his Great Evil (the court of King Huon) and shows us the political machinations and intrigues that lie at its centre; whereas Tolkien prefers to keep his Great Evil at arm's length, showing us hints and glimpses of the nature of that evil but mostly he avoids gazing too hard or long at it. It's enough to know Sauron IS evil without knowing why. In contrast Meliadus is not so slavishly in thrall to his monarch that he doesn't think things would be better if he were in charge (which is kind of the equivalent of the Witch King deciding that actually he would make a better Dark Lord than Sauron. *spoiler*
(The irony of Moorcock's version is that Meliadus actually succeeds in his political ambitions even if he loses the larger battle.)
*end spoiler*

Women are imo *slightly* better represented in HOTR with Yisselda taking a full part in the final battle in her own right as opposed to Eowyn who has to sneak onto the battlefield in drag, and Countess Flana being her own power in King Huon's court. That said, I wouldn't want to make any great claims on HOTR as a 'feminist' text by any means. :p

However, for me, the most significant difference between the two books lies in the fate of its heroes. In LOTR, if it isn't quite a case of "Today Rose, everybody lives!" it's not far off with most of the Fellowship - and the majority of their associates - surviving. In HOTR however most of the heroes die in the end, some of them in the most senseless, tragic ways imaginable.
D'Averc (and Flana)'s fate always seems particularly harsh to me.
For me Moorcock seems to acknowledge that victory rarely comes without sacrifice, whereas Tolkien seems unable to go that far (odd considering that many (all?) of his friends were killed in the Great War (which, by the same token, might explain why he can't go there)).

The one claim that I wouldn't want to make for HOTR is that it's in any way Great Literature, unsurprising given that each volume was written in three days. It's great pulp fiction and Moorcock's battle scenes are extremely visceral, bloody and evocative, whereas Tolkien's battles are rather anaemic imo. By contrast, I do think Tolkien's magnum opus does have some claim to being regarded as 'well-written' (although I've also argued that in many ways Tolkien is something of an 'anti-author', doing things that proper novelists would never do but which nonetheless work within the framework of his novel). Obviously where Tolkien scores more highly than Moorcock is in his world-building but then Moorcock has never made any great claims to being a world-builder, saying it bores him and preferring to paint his landscapes - both natural and social - in broad, impressionistic brush-strokes in contrast to Tolkien's linguistic obsessions.

All of which is a rather long-winded way of saying the Hawkmoon quartet is a bit Tolkienian but - unsurprisingly given Moorcock's disregard for LOTR - it's also very un-Tolkienian as well. For a rip-roaring Science Fantasy adventure I'd probably go for Hawkmoon but for a more considered Epic Fantasy I'd probably pick the Tolkien. That said, I read both books at very different times in my life (about 20 years apart) and for sentimental reasons I prefer Hawkmoon for pretty much the reasons outlined above.
 
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demos99

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I must admit that I happened to read the "Chronicles of Castle Brass" trilogy before I read this quartet. I have to say that I preferred the Chronicles overall...
The Chronicles are in a quite different league to the History - in much the same way as The Chronicles of Corum seem to me to a more 'mature' work than The Swords of Corum. Hawkmoon's mental breakdown at the start of Count Brass - where he compulsively uses toy soldiers to re-fight the Battle of Londra - in particular is far darker than anything in the preceding volume.
 

Fried Egg

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Hawkmoon's mental breakdown at the start of Count Brass - where he compulsively uses toy soldiers to re-fight the Battle of Londra - in particular is far darker than anything in the preceding volume.
Indeed, it left quite an impression on me when I read it for the first time. I think it was actually one of (if not the) first books by Moorcock I ever read.
 

Extollager

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Demos99, your discussion of the similarities and differences vis-a-vis Lord of the Rings and the Hawkmoon quartet was really interesting. Thank you for taking time to share it with us.
 

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Beast Lords of Granbretan! Ilian of Garathorm. I hope the art director is inspired by the 1970s Rodney Matthews Big O card and poster art....
 

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History of the Runestaff one of those things I read all of when I was a teenager, and have essentially no memory of - it still sits on my shelf. Perhaps I should dust it off sometime.
 

hitmouse

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Same here, along with any other Moorcock I could lay my hands on.
I remembered this as readable anodyne fun, but on rereading the books a couple of years ago I was surprised at the undercurrent of kinky wierdness, a common Moorcock trope I had only associated with his other books.
 

BAYLOR

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I found the series to be a very quick and exciting read. :cool:
 
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