What Are Your Thoughts on Michael MoorCock's The Eternal Champion Saga and his other Work?

BAYLOR

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I found this series after I finished up with Conan and Kane, I read Elric saga, The Chroincals of Corum , Dorian Hawkmoon, Castle Brass, The books dealing with Erekose , Dancers at the End of Time , I tried and failed with the Jeremaih Cornelius Chronicles.

Ive read other short stores by him as well. He's a great writer. (y)

What are thought on his books and stories? :)
 

j d worthington

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Sorry for the double post -- got caught with things here and didn't get back to my post.

To be a bit more informative: I've read pretty much everything I could lay hands on by Moorcock until the last few years (about the time of the final Pyat book, The Vengeance of Rome), and even then I have read a few, such as the graphic novel Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer. I keep meaning to get back and read those I've missed, but have not yet managed to dig down in my pile enough to get there. I've even fallen behind on keeping track of what he's been publishing lately, something I, as a collector of the man's work, really need to rectify.

One thing I would like to address is the ambiguity of that phrase (when it comes to Moorcock), "other work". With the exception of a few nonfiction pieces (and even here the distinction is questionable), pretty much everything Moorcock has written has been subsumed into the Eternal Champion cycle, really. He has included just about every major (and no few minor) characters he has created in that structure, and no matter what the type of book -- fantasy, science fiction, contemporary fiction, western, mystery, comedy, what-have-you, in one way or another it all hangs together -- much as (as I point out in one of those threads I linked to above) pretty much all of Cabell's work up to that time was subsumed into his Biography of the Life of Manuel. (Even some of his later work was at least connected to it, though not as "directly".)

Moorcock's themes have remained pretty much consistent, though his ideas on such have grown and he has examined many new aspects of these themes over the years from a variety of angles -- one of the advantages of having such a free structure as his multiversal Champion cycle being to allow what would be contradictions in just about any other form to be valid extensions here.

The problem, one which Moorcock himself has commented on now and again, is that, as what he writes is so varied and so disparate in "genre" or mode, large chunks of it are indigestible by many readers who are extremely taken with other aspects. I've encountered relatively few who can take the entirety of the cycle and either enjoy or at least appreciate the incredible achievement it represents. Even I have those I don't care that much for (though most of these are among his earliest works, when he was still a relatively crude beginner); though I do find points of interest in them all, and am enormously fond of the majority of it all. Moorcock, like Balzac or Cabell, has attempted the sort of unified structure which deals with just about every aspect of the human experience, and from a number of often very different perspectives as well as manner. When taken as a sum total, it is a breathtaking thing with a great deal to offer, but I would recommend anyone who approach it either seek out the particular type of story they like and leave the rest alone, or try to be open to such a variety in type, voice, and handling. If you are simply looking for the heroic fantasy romances, you're not likely to enjoy Some Reminiscences of Mrs. Cornelius Between the Wars (also known as the Pyat sequence); if you prefer sf, you are likely to be bored with such things as Lunching with the Antichrist or London Bone... or, as Baylor pointed out elsewhere, the Cornelius stories. But, if you can loosen up and approach each as a different facet of a remarkably complex structure, you will find riches galore both in ideas and often in sheer beauty of prose, as well as generosity of spirit.

Be prepared, also, to intensely dislike some of the main characters, even your protagonist. Karl Glogauer is often very difficult to like, while Maxim Arturovitch Pyatnitski (Colonel Pyat) is likeable enough in the Cornelius books, but in his own sequence is about as alienating a figure as you are likely to find... yet the latter (and the Glogauer book Breakfast in the Ruins) contain some of Moorcock's most elegant and even stunning prose, and are both bravura and highly controlled performances, and I highly recommend them to anyone truly interested in the man's work overall.
 

hitmouse

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I too have read most of the available Moorcock, and quite a lot of his more obscure stuff. This started with Elric, Corum, Hawkmoon and Erekose, as a teenager, when the Mayflower books were easily found for pennies in my local second hand book stores.
On one level these books are interesting and fun fantasy. Good fodder for someone in pre-internet days, who was playing a lot of D&D, and when there was less other fantasy easily or cheaply available. It it also felt good to get to grips with the stories and relationships of those 4 central series.
However, there is always something stranger and more perverse to Moorcock (even the ones mentioned) than simple sword and sorcery. The heroes are complex and often nihilistic.
Beyond those books there is a spectrum of fiction, from relatively conventional fantasy to more adult stuff: An Alien Heat, Breakfast in the Ruins, the Black Corridor, the Golden Barge, Gloriana, the Cornelius Quartet etc. These are very interesting, especially when one considers the background in late 1960s Ladbroke Grove, and the milieu of Hawkwind, the New Worlds, Ballard, Aldiss etc.

So: Moorcock is fascinating and accessible on many levels.
 

MWagner

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Moorcock was my favourite author as an adolescent and a teen. I started with the Swords Trilogy and Chronicles of Corum when I was about 11, moved on to the Erekose books, Hawkmoon, Oswald Bastable and then Elric. I went on to read a lot of his weirder stuff, including the Dancers at the End of Time, the Cornelius Chronicles, and the Golden Barge (the latter of which was a real trip at the age of 12!).

So I blame Moorock for calibrating my sense of fantasy to a sensibility that left me alienated from the popular works that defined the genre for most of the fans of my generation - Edding, Brooks, etc. The strange, haunted tone. The themes of decline and doom. The vividly drawn, bizarre landscapes. Demi-gods, mad wizards, cataclysmic battles fought under an aegis of doom. I just couldn't go back to orphan farm-boys and the mountain of doom after that.

As for the series, I still like the Corum books the best. It seems more coherent than the Elric series. And though the protagonist faces his own share of doom, Corum isn't as angsty and self-pitying as Elric. Hawkmoon is also fantastic - its post-apocalyptic Europe and Granbrettan Empire a wonderful invention. I will say that Moorock's series tend to get more rushed as they progress. So the first book will be rich in atmosphere and language, while by the last book the prose cracks along under what is presumably the goad of a publisher's deadline. And yet however prolific he is, Moorcock's powers of imagination save him from being a hack. I feel a re-read of the Hawkmoon books coming on...
 

j d worthington

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I will say that Moorock's series tend to get more rushed as they progress. So the first book will be rich in atmosphere and language, while by the last book the prose cracks along under what is presumably the goad of a publisher's deadline. And yet however prolific he is, Moorcock's powers of imagination save him from being a hack. I feel a re-read of the Hawkmoon books coming on...
Question: Do you mean the first and later books in the sense of internal chronology of the series, or by date of publication? I ask because of the case of Elric, where the earliest stories published don't come into the series until Weird of the White Wolf, third (or fifth, if you include Making of a Sorcerer and The Fortress of the Pearl, which were written much later than the rest of the contents of that volume); and Stormbringer, the final volume, was serialized closely following "The Flame Bringers", years before the bulk of the saga was even conceived. Other series were often written in such chronological order (particularly Corum and Hawkmoon), and it might be just a tad difficult to actually assign an internal chronology to something like the Cornelius books at this point, given that time itself is quite uncertain in many of them....

At any rate, I'd agree that this applies in such cases, and yes, it probably did have something to do with deadlines (though I remember Justin Leiber, Fritz Leiber's son, telling us that when he was staying with Moorcock, he saw him write the entire Martian trilogy about Michael Kane in the space of a week....
 
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