Questions about the Elric series

My cousin’s, Vito and Boppo, have been telling me I can’t continue being in the mob if I don’t read this series. They tell me they will break my kneecaps if I don’t start quoting it offhandedly like I quote other books of dorkdom™. Anyway, I see that they started publishing the books in multiple volumes; however, the books are not published in the order that the paperbacks were. I believe the first book was Elric of Melnibone but that is in the 4th or 5th volume of the series. Do you have to read them in order? What was the original order anyway? Do all the books stand alone without much if any interaction between them?

More questions to come.

According to a forward in one of the “new” volumes (the project has been going on since '94 or '95), this is Moorcock’s revising and reordering of his entire “Eternal Champion” sagas, which are a group of several interrelated multigenre stories and series that he’d been working on for decades, the Elric books being the most famous. I have only read the first six Elric books, and those years ago, but if all you want is Elric (and not all the other Eternal Champion series), I’d say it works quite well on its own.


Um, having read way too many of the Eternal Champion series when I was a youth, may I suggest that once you’ve read one or two, you’ve read them all. Particularly Elric books.

I kind of have to agree with IaS. They’re pretty good, but yeah, they do tend to blend together.

Personally, I prefer Moorcock’s non-EC books. Behold The Man, The Ice Schooner,Warlord of the Air, Land Leviathan, The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, and the duology (?) Byzantium Endures and The Laughter of Carthage are some great ones, IMO.

Do you have to read them in order?
Not really, though reading Elric of Melnibone first is useful, as it sets up a lot of the major characters, and the worlds politics.

What was the original order anyway?
Not at all easy, as many of the stories were created in magazines first, and the chronological order is very different from the published order.
Check out for details.

Do all the books stand alone without much if any interaction between them?
All of Morrcock’s Eternal champion serieses are interrelated but any can be dipped into with little difficulty.

Try an Elric book and see if you like it, most second hand bookshops seem to stock a few of them.

If IaS want’s a more unusual Eternal Champion book try The Jerry Cornilus stories.

Cheers, Keithy

I started reading Elric of Melnibone last night since I knew for sure that was the first book. I almost finished it but decided to go to bed instead. So after that one I can basically read them in any order without being too lost?

For what it is worth, I have song of the blacksword (the one with Elric of Melnibone in it) right now. It starts with Elric of Melnibone and then goes to the Sailor on the seas of Fate.

I like the one where Elric is trying to get revenge on that bad guy who did bad things to that woman, and just when he is about to be defeated Stormbringer gives him the strength to win (or maybe he called upon some demon or elemental, or maybe both), and he survives, but one of his friends dies.

I’ve read the Chronicles of Jerry Cornelius. Yes, they are a bit weirder. Uma Persson was kind of interesting.

Corum was okay too.

The problem with all of these is that they are essentially the same story. Moorcock wrote most of them in a whiney and self indulgent alcoholic stupor, convinced that these books were about the martyrdom of alcoholism and why alcoholics are such f****** betraying jerks. Yep, good observation. But twenty books out of it?

Yes, but one book contains the death of Elric, so can anyone here with a working memory advise which one it was? As that would be good to be left till last.

Cheers, Keithy


Which, btw, was not the last Elric book to be published.

The Elric series is so discombobulated that you only need to read the first one first, even the one with his death is fine in the middle.

Is that the one where he spends a lot of time moaning about his hellish, demon-spawned fate? Yeah, that was a good one.

Yeah, that’s the one! When he said ‘Blood and souls for my dark lord Arioch!’

LOL, I have read most of the first compilation now. The first one set the pace for the latter two (the last one I read was Sailor on the Seas of Fate… there was one in between but I don’t remember the name). Moorcock is a good writer, good pacing, and interesting story telling; however, the subject matter is throw away material. In other words, the stories are pretty good on the whole but there isn’t as much depth to them (at least the ones I have read so far) to keep me spellbound. They are nice for evening reading and don’t leave much to think about in the end unlike Roger Zelazny and Octavia Butler.

Oh, no, wait. I was thinking of the one where he mourns for his lost love(s).

I’d agree with your assessment, dorkus. Don’t go looking for depth in Moorcock’s work.

Or, you could just listen to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Black Blade.”

It pretty much sums everything up.


Warlord of the Air, and the Land Leviathon are EC books.

Oh, you certainly can go looking for depth in his work – and you’ll even find it…Just not in the Elric books, or in his heroic fantasies in general (at one point, he wrote so fast that he could write a whole book in a weekend – and it shows). If someone wants serious Moorcock, try The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, Gloriana (my favorite) or Mother London.

The series of omnibuses, as published in the US (the UK titles, order and contents are somewhat different) are:

The Eternal Champion – the UK edition is better, since it collects the three “John Daker” books together, but Daker/Erekose is one of the better EC avatars, and the odd novel thrown in here (The Sundered Worlds) isn’t bad, though it doesn’t really fit.

Von Bek – contains two not-exactly heroic fantasies from the '80s about Ulrich Von Bek, which are quite good and somewhat more weighty than pure hack-and-slash, and the third John Daker book (which was in volume 1 in the UK, where it belongs).

Hawkmoon – four novels set in a far-future fantasy Europe; this is probably Moorcock’s least interesting series. It’s pure adventure, but pretty unexciting; I’d leave this for last, or not read it at all.

A Nomad of the Timestreams – three alternate-worlds novels about Oswald Bastable, featuring various odd and implausible alternate histories that are closely related to late 19th century British adventure fiction. (Fans of the comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would probably like this.)

Elric: Song of the Black Sword – collects the first three (by internal chronology) Elric novels as of the time the omnibus was put together. I think the Elric novels should really be read in the order of publication (as others have said, Moorcock killed off Elric early, so practically all of the other novels are flashbacks in the first place), but that can be hard to do, since they’ve been reshuffled so many times.

The Roads Between the Worlds – Three weird SF novels that have very little, if anything, to do with anything else in the series. Worth reading if you like Moorcock’s '60s writing style, or want pulpy SF adventure.

Corum: The Coming of Chaos – the first trilogy about Corum, last don’t-call-him-an-elf, who goes off to kill three gods (the same ones Elric worships, interestingly). I personally like Corum better than Elric, because he’s otherwise very similar but whines less, but this series is less popular than the albino’s.

Sailing to Utopia – Four more novels that really don’t belong; at some point Moorcock obviously saw this series as a way to get his whole backlist into print. What I said about Roads also applies here.

Kane of Old Mars – a very pulpy trilogy that is also a very obvious homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs. Fun if you like that sort of thing, but not much to do with the EC.

The Dancers at the End of Time – one of Moorcock’s better series, though also very unrelated to the EC. It’s about decadent immortals at the end of time, and features some of his best writing. (It’s light-hearted and fun, too.)

Elric: The Stealer of Souls – the rest of the Elric novels as of the early '90s. It has Stormbringer in it, the best of those novels and also the book in which Elric kicks the bucket.

Corum: The Prince With the Silver Hand – another trilogy about Corum, in which he wanders off to another world and has to save it, too. Fun but a bit fomulaic, though still miles above Hawkmoon.

Legends from the End of Time – collects two books related to Dancers – one weird novel and a collection of good short stories. Well worth checking out if you liked Dancers.

Earl Aubec – an unabashed short story collection, without much to do with the EC.

Count Brass – the second Hawkmoon series, which is better than the first.

The UK series also had, somewhere in the middle, The New Nature of the Catastrophe, an anthology of stories edited by Moorcock, all about Moorcock’s anti-hero Jerry Cornelius (who has his own series, mostly in the literary/confusing mode, which intersects the EC mega-series in occasional and tangental ways).

Basically, Moorcock has been trying to tie every single word of fiction that he’s ever written together for the past two decades or so. A few books still roam free, but most of his work is, really or ostensibly, tied together in some way. So, if you find that you like his writing, it can be fun to dive into it and see how random things connect with each other. But if you only like one side of Moorcock (either the unabashed speed-writer of fantasy adventure or the would-be literary lion), it can be tougher to pick out the stuff you’ll like.