Elric of Melniboné is a fictional character created by Michael Moorcock and the protagonist of a series of sword and sorcery stories taking place on an alternative Earth. The proper name and title of the character is Elric VIII, 428th Emperor of Melniboné. Later stories by Moorcock marked Elric as a facet of the Eternal Champion.
Elric first appeared in print in Moorcock's novella "The Dreaming City" (Science Fantasy No. 47, June 1961). Moorcock's doomed albino antihero is one of the better known in fantasy literature, having crossed over into a wide variety of media, such as role-playing games, comics, music, and film. The stories have been continuously in print since the 1970s.
|Elric of Melniboné|
Elric as depicted by Michael Whelan on the 1977 cover of The Weird of the White Wolf.
|First appearance||The Dreaming City, 1961 story|
|Created by||Michael Moorcock|
|Title||Elric VIII, 428th Emperor of Melniboné|
|Occupation||Emperor, sorcerer, warrior|
Elric is described in 1972's Elric of Melniboné:
It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bone.
Elric is the last emperor of the stagnating island civilisation of Melniboné. Physically weak and frail, the albino Elric must take drugs (special herbs) to maintain his health. Unlike most others of his race, Elric has a conscience; he sees the decadence of his culture, which once ruled the known world, and worries about the rise of the Young Kingdoms, populated by humans (as Melnibonéans do not consider themselves such) and the threat they pose to his empire. Because of his introspective self-loathing of Melnibonéan traditions, his subjects find him odd and unfathomable, and his cousin Yyrkoon (next in the line of succession, as Elric has no heirs) interprets his behaviour as weakness and plots Elric's death.
In addition to his skill with herbs, Elric is an accomplished sorcerer and summoner. As emperor of Melniboné, Elric is able to call for aid upon the traditional patron of the Melniboné emperors, Arioch, a Lord of Chaos and Duke of Hell. From the first story, Elric uses ancient pacts and agreements with not only Arioch but various other beings—some gods, some demons—to help him accomplish his tasks.
Elric's finding of the sword Stormbringer serves as both his greatest asset and greatest disadvantage. The sword confers upon Elric strength, health, and fighting prowess, allowing him to do away with his dependence on drugs, but it must be fed by the souls of intelligent beings. In the end, the blade takes everyone close to Elric and eventually Elric's own soul as well. Most of Moorcock's stories about Elric feature this relationship with Stormbringer, and how it—despite Elric's best intentions—brings doom to everything he holds dear.
Moorcock acknowledges the work of Bertolt Brecht, particularly Threepenny Novel and The Threepenny Opera, as "one of the chief influences" on the initial Elric sequence; he dedicated 1972's Elric of Melniboné to Brecht. In the same dedication, he cited Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions and Fletcher Pratt's The Well of the Unicorn as similarly influential texts. Moorcock has referred to Elric as a type of the "doomed hero", one of the oldest character-types in literature, akin to such hero-villains as Mervyn Peake's Steerpike in the Titus Groan trilogy, Poul Anderson's Scafloc in The Broken Sword, T. H. White's Lancelot in The Once and Future King, and Jane Gaskell's Zerd in The Serpent.
The story 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. Besides Elric, Kullervo has been proposed as having influence on Poul Anderson's 1954 novel The Broken Sword, and J.R.R. Tolkien's Túrin Turambar. 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]".
Elric's albinism appears influenced by Monsieur Zenith, an albino Sexton Blake villain whom Moorcock appreciated enough to write into later multiverse stories. Moorcock read Zenith stories in his youth and has contributed to their later reprinting, remarking that it "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, 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.
After this came four novellas:
The last of these terminated the sequence with the close of Elric's life.
After these initial Elric tales, Moorcock periodically published short tales throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, such as 1967's "The Singing Citadel" and 1973's "The Jade Man's Eyes". Meant to be placed in between the initial stories but before the conclusion of "Doomed Lord's Passing", these later stories would frequently be edited, retitled, and combined together with other material to form fix-ups as part of later republication campaigns.
The first original Elric novel, 1972's Elric of Melniboné, was a prequel detailing Elric's origin and how he came to possess Stormbringer. In 1989 came the second original Elric novel, The Fortress of the Pearl, followed in 1991 with The Revenge of the Rose. A decade later Moorcock began an original Elric trilogy, beginning with The Dreamthief's Daughter (2001), followed by The Skrayling Tree (2003) and The White Wolf's Son (2005).
The main sequence, according to the saga's internal chronology, comprises the following books. Bold roman numerals indicate the six-book sequence of the 1977 DAW paperbacks. The dates following each story refer to the date of original publication. In those cases where a book was assembled from several pre-existing stories, each story is given along with its original date; when an original novel is subdivided into parts, the parts are named but not given individual dates.
Not part of canonical continuity:
The first five novelettes were originally collected in The Stealer of Souls (1963) and the later four novellas were first published as a novel in an edited version called Stormbringer (1965). The 1965 novel had about a quarter of the text removed for reasons of length (mostly in the second and third novellas) and the remaining text rearranged with new bridging material added to make sense of the restructuring.
In 1977, DAW Books republished Elric's saga in six books that collected the tales according to their internal chronology. These 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. The DAW edition of Stormbringer restored some of the original structure and text compared to the 1965 release, but other revisions were performed and other material excised. A few oddments were collected in Elric at the End of Time (1984), which became the seventh book in the DAW line when DAW released it in the US in 1985. It includes two Elric-related tales: the title story and 1962's "The Last Enchantment", originally intended as the final Elric story but put aside in favour of those that eventually made up Stormbringer; it was not published until 1978. Both would appear in later collections (with "The Last Enchantment" occasionally retitled "Jesting with Chaos").
In the 1990s, Orion Publishing/Millennium released a two-book collection – Elric of Melniboné and Stormbringer – containing the Elric material then available. White Wolf Publishing released a similar two-volume compilation – Elric: Song of the Black Sword (1998) and Elric: The Stealer of Souls (2001). Both of these two-volume compilations are arranged according to the internal chronology of the saga. The White Wolf text has minor revisions when compared to the Millennium release.
The early version of the Elric saga, i.e., the first nine short stories – with "The Flame Bringers" using the later title of "The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams" and the full text of Stormbringer as it appeared in Science Fantasy – was republished in a single volume as Elric (Orion/Gollancz 2001), volume 17 in the Fantasy Masterworks series.
Beginning in 2008, Del Rey Books reprinted the Elric material as a series of six illustrated books: The Stealer of Souls, To Rescue Tanelorn, The Sleeping Sorceress, Duke Elric, Elric in the Dream Realms, and Elric: Swords and Roses. This series arranged the stories in the sequence they were originally published, along with related fiction and nonfiction material. The version of Stormbringer featured in this collection restored all the original material missing since the 1977 DAW edition – which had formed the basis for all later editions – as well as Moorcock's preferred versions of all the revised material in an attempt to produce a definitive text. These volumes present the evolution of the character through early fanzine stories, early musings by Moorcock, some Elric stories, some others introducing the reader to the wider "Eternal Champion" theme, stories of other heroes who coexist with Elric in the realm of Melniboné, unpublished prologues, installments of Moorcock's essay "Aspects of Fantasy", a 1970s screenplay, a reader's guide, notes from an Elric series that never developed, contemporary reviews, and appreciation essays by other writers.
In August 2012, Victor Gollancz Ltd. announced their intention to republish all of Michael Moorcock's back catalogue, including all the Elric stories, presented in internal chronological order along with previously unpublished material, in both print and e-book formats. The Elric stories were published in seven volumes in 2014-15: Elric of Melniboné and Other Stories, Elric: The Fortress of the Pearl, Elric: The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress, Elric: The Revenge of the Rose, Elric: Stormbringer!, and Elric: The Moonbeam Roads.
Mel-nib-on-ay (as in cafe)
Cultösaurus Erectus is the seventh studio album by American hard rock band Blue Öyster Cult, released in 1980. Following an experiment with a more-polished sound on the album Mirrors (released the previous year), this recording marked a return to the band's earlier, heavier sound. The first track, "Black Blade", features lyrics by fantasy and sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock and is about Stormbringer, a black sword wielded by Elric of Melniboné, the most famous character in Moorcock's mythology.
This album also features the first collaboration with British producer Martin Birch (Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden), who would also produce the band's following album Fire of Unknown Origin in 1981. The riff to Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water", a song Birch helped record, is referenced in "The Marshall Plan" - a song not about the World War II scenario, but a reference to the amplifier manufacturer.
While the album did sell more than its predecessor, it stalled at Gold status. However, during this time Blue Öyster Cult was still filling large venues. The tour promoting Cultösaurus Erectus found the band co-headlining sports arenas in the United States with Black Sabbath as part of the Black and Blue Tour (see Black and Blue).
The album cover features a part of the painting Behemoth's World by British artist Richard Clifton-Dey. The cover art was also used for the 1991 video game Ork.Deities in the Elric series
Deities and supernatural beings play an active part in Michael Moorcock’s fantasy series of books about the character Elric of Melniboné. It is nearly certain that a god will be summoned, or at least mentioned, in every story. There are three main classes of gods: the Lords of the Higher Worlds, the Beast-Lords and the Elementals.
Other gods are sometimes mentioned, such as the Dead Gods who are not active through most of the series. The Swords Trilogy, set in the same “Multiverse”, introduces the Lost Gods Kwll and Rhynn.
Long before the time when the stories take place, the royal family of Melniboné established formal alliances with many of these deities, sometimes through a diabolical pact. As the Emperor of Melniboné, Elric enjoys the right to call on them for aid. The Ring of Kings, set with an Actorios stone, demonstrates his right to summon these supernatural beings and supplies him with the mystic energy to do so.Domine
Domine is an Italian heavy metal band formed in 1983. The power metal band from Florence, who began releasing demo tapes in 1986, got some attention with their first album, Champion Eternal, released in 1997. Domine went on to release four more albums, touring Europe and playing at many festivals. They have been linked to heroic fantasy and sword and sorcery writers like Michael Moorcock and Robert E. Howard for their lyrics related to the Elric of Melniboné and Conan the Barbarian novels.Elric of Melniboné (novel)
Elric of Melniboné is a 1972 fantasy novel by Michael Moorcock. It is the first original full-length novel to feature Elric, the last emperor of the stagnating island civilisation of Melniboné who wields the cursed, soul-drinking sword Stormbringer.Writing for NPR, Jason Sheehan calls Elric "far and away the coolest, grimmest, moodiest, most elegant, degenerate, drug-addicted, cursed, twisted and emotionally weird mass murderer of them all."Live Chronicles
Live Chronicles is a 1986 album by Hawkwind recorded of a live performance of their The Chronicle of the Black Sword concept album based on the Michael Moorcock character Elric of Melniboné.Michael Moorcock
Michael John Moorcock (born 18 December 1939) is an English writer and musician, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published literary novels. He is best known for his novels about the character Elric of Melniboné, a seminal influence on the field of fantasy since the 1960s and 1970s.
As editor of the British science fiction magazine New Worlds, from May 1964 until March 1971 and then again from 1976 to 1996, Moorcock fostered the development of the science fiction "New Wave" in the UK and indirectly in the United States. His publication of Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad as a serial novel was notorious; in Parliament some British MPs condemned the Arts Council for funding the magazine. He is also a successful recording musician, contributing to the band Hawkwind, Blue Öyster Cult and his own project.
In 2008, The Times newspaper named Moorcock in its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".Michael Moorcock bibliography
This is a bibliography of the works of Michael Moorcock.Monsieur Zenith
Monsieur Zenith the Albino is an ambiguous villain created by writer Anthony Skene for the "Sexton Blake" series of detective pulp fiction.
Zenith is an albino, world-weary gentleman thief, originally Romanian nobility but in exile for undetermined reasons. He is full of an ennui which can only be relieved by opium, danger and adventure. Zenith sets himself against Blake not out of avarice but for the joy of the game, and treats Blake with sportsmanship rather than anger or hatred.
Zenith is influenced as much by the anti-heroes of Gothic fiction as he is by the master villains of 20th century pulp fiction, notably Fantômas. Zenith remains one of Blake's most popular adversaries.M. Zenith was an important influence in the creation of the fantasy character Elric of Melniboné. Elric's creator Michael Moorcock in turn influenced the re-publication of Skene's sole novel, Monsieur Zenith: The Albino (ISBN 0861301099), for which he wrote an introduction, and reused the characters in The Metatemporal Detective.
A new collection of five original Zenith short stories, Zenith Lives!: Tales of M.Zenith, the Albino, edited by Stuart Douglas, was published in April 2012 by Obverse Books as Book 4 of The Obverse Quarterly. It includes stories by Stuart Douglas, Sexton Blake scholar Mark Hodder, Paul Magrs, George Mann (a story set in his steampunk universe which also features a crossover character from Mann's Doctor Who novel, Paradox Lost), and Michael Moorcock (featuring Seaton Begg, an alternate version of Sexton Blake).Mournblade (band)
Mournblade are a heavy metal band, formed in 1982 and originating from London, England. The early incarnation falls into the category of space rock. The latter incarnation is regarded as one of the last bands of the new wave of British heavy metal movement. The band is named after a sword from Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné stories.Stormbringer
Stormbringer is a magic sword featured in a number of fantasy stories by the author Michael Moorcock. Created by the forces of Chaos, it is described as a huge, black sword covered with strange runes carved deep into its blade. It is wielded by the doomed albino emperor Elric of Melniboné. Stormbringer makes its first appearance in the 1961 novella The Dreaming City.Stormbringer (novel)
Stormbringer is a 1965 novel written by Michael Moorcock and featuring the character Elric of Melniboné.The novel is a fix-up of four previously published stories from 1963 and 1964:
Dead God's Homecoming
Black Sword's Brothers
Sad Giant's Shield
Doomed Lord's PassingStormbringer (role-playing game)
Stormbringer is a fantasy role-playing game published by Chaosium set in the world of the Young Kingdoms, based on the Elric of Melniboné books by Michael Moorcock. The game takes its name from Elric's sword, Stormbringer (though one edition was published as Elric!) and uses the Basic Role-Playing game system, a percentile-dice-based system used in many role-playing games designed by Chaosium.Stormbringer Ruler
Stormbringer Ruler is the third album released in 2001 by Italian epic metal band Domine. It is the third and final chapter of the story of Elric of Melniboné.The Chronicle of the Black Sword
The Chronicle of the Black Sword is the fourteenth studio album by the English space rock group Hawkwind, released in 1985. It spent two weeks on the UK albums chart peaking at #65. The album is based upon the adventures of Elric of Melniboné, a recurring character in the novels of science fiction author Michael Moorcock, a long-standing associate of the group, who contributes lyrics to one track on the album.
After two years of constant line-up changes, guitarist Dave Brock (the only member who has remained since the band's formation) settled on a line-up of himself, guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton, keyboardist Harvey Bainbridge, bassist Alan Davey, and drummer Danny Thompson (son of Pentangle's bassist Danny Thompson).
Though the album is largely inspired by Elric, "Needle Gun" is a reference to Jerry Cornelius, another of Moorcock's fictional characters. In keeping with the album's title, the track's inclusion refers to the wider Multiverse created by Moorcock, in which the characters Elric of Melniboné and Jerry Cornelius are both incarnations of The Eternal Champion, and the Needle Gun is the form in which the Black Sword manifests itself to Cornelius. The lyrics for "Needle Gun" were ghostwritten by Roger Neville-Neil.Prior to the recording of the album, the group appeared on Channel 4's ECT on 26 April and recorded a session for BBC Radio 1 on 19 July. They headlined an anti-heroin festival at Crystal Palace on 24 August, with a guest appearance from Lemmy.
The group undertook a 29 date UK tour in November and December to promote the album, with support from Dumpy's Rusty Nuts. The Hammersmith Odeon shows on 3 and 4 December were filmed and recorded, released as the video The Chronicle of the Black Sword and album Live Chronicles, and featured a guest appearance from Moorcock.
It has been issued on CD multiple times, each with differing bonus tracks. The latest issue in 2009 includes 1984's The Earth Ritual Preview EP.The Dreaming City
"The Dreaming City" is a novella written by Michael Moorcock, which first appeared in Science Fantasy issue 47, in June 1961. It was the first story to feature the character Elric of Melniboné."The Dreaming City" has been reprinted in several collections of Moorcock's Elric stories, including The Stealer of Souls (Spearman, 1963), The Stealer of Souls and Other Stories (Lancer / Mayflower, 1967), The Weird of the White Wolf (DAW, 1977), Elric of Melniboné (Millennium / Orion, 1993), Elric: Song of the Black Sword (White Wolf, 1995), Elric (Gollancz / Orion, 2001), Elric: The Stealer of Souls (Del Rey, 2008), and Elric: Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Gollancz, 2013).The novella was adapted into a 1982 graphic novel by Marvel Comics.This novella should not be confused with the 1972 novel Elric of Melniboné, which has occasionally been published under the title The Dreaming City by Lancer Books (1972) and Magnum Books (1975), but is actually a distinct story from the 1961 novella of this name.The Final Programme
The Final Programme is a novel by British science fiction and fantasy writer Michael Moorcock. Written in 1965 as the underground culture was beginning to emerge, it was not published for several years. Moorcock has stated that publishers at the time considered it was "too freaky".It was the first of his Jerry Cornelius series of novels and stories and was originally published in paperback in the US by Avon Books in 1968 then in London in hardback by Allison & Busby in October 1969. It was made into a 1973 film of the same name (directed by Robert Fuest), but Moorcock was critical of the version released on the screen.Set in a world less abstract and chaotic than depicted in the later volumes, it introduces Jerry Cornelius as a hip super agent playboy and follows his adventures as he attempts to subvert a plot by his disreputable brother Frank and Miss Brunner to build a super computer for nefarious ends. Jerry is sucked into the plans of Miss Brunner to create the perfect being by merging the bodies of Jerry and herself together. When this is done, a radiantly charismatic hermaphroditic being emerges from the machinery. All who see the new creature fall quaking to their knees. As things turn out, Jerry discovers that "it's a tasty world".Contrary to the apparent chaos of the later Cornelius novels, The Final Programme is quite structured, being an alternative retelling of major episodes of the saga of Elric of Melniboné, with the various characters each taking roles similar to those of the earlier stories: Jerry as Elric, Catherine as Cymoril, and Miss Brunner as Stormbringer.
The first US edition (1968) of this work was censored. The 1976 US edition of The Final Programme included an introduction by Norman Spinrad. The novel was first published in its revised form in 1979.Tygers of Pan Tang
Tygers of Pan Tang are a heavy metal band, part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement. They formed in 1978 in Whitley Bay, England, and were active until 1987. The band reformed in 1999 and continue to record and perform. The name is derived from Pan Tang, a fictional archipelago in Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné fantasy series whose wizards keep tigers as pets.Una Persson
Una Persson is a recurring character in many of Michael Moorcock's 'multiverse' novels. She has also been used as a character in stories by other writers. She was the character Moorcock chose to start a round-robin story in The Guardian.Often appearing as a cool, anarchistic revolutionary in the many alternate histories, futures and worlds created by Moorcock, she is bisexual in her private life, having been the lover of both Jerry and Catherine Cornelius. In some ways a more dedicated, less dissolute female version of Jerry Cornelius, she is revealed in The Condition of Muzak as playing the role Harlequin. In The End of All Songs she appears as a member of the "Guild of Temporal Adventurers".
She has appeared in the Jerry Cornelius novels A Cure for Cancer, The English Assassin, The Condition of Muzak and The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the Twentieth Century. She was in all three of the Nomad of the Time Streams trilogy - The Warlord of the Air, The Land Leviathan and The Steel Tsar, appeared in the Elizabethan alternative history novel Gloriana as Una of Scaith, and in the later Elric novel The Fortress of the Pearl she appeared as Oone the Dreamthief. As Oone she has a child with Elric of Melniboné she names Oona, who eventually becomes the parent of Oona Von Bek with Ulrich Von Bek in The Dreamthief's Daughter
She also features as a character in Dancers at the End of Time, "Elric at the End of Time", The Alchemist's Question, The Entropy Tango and in the books Second Gibraltar by Chris Reed and The Great Counterfeit Memory Sin-Drome by Andrew Darlington. She appears in "The Murderer's Song", The Gangrene Collection, The Roumanian Question and in Everything Blowing Up: An Adventure of Una Persson by Hilary Bailey.
She appears in several of The Metatemporal Detective stories including "The Mystery of the Texas Twister", "The Affair of the Bassin Les Hivers" and "The Flaneur des Arcades de l’Opera". Persson is also a protagonist in The White Wolf's Son, "The Spencer Inheritance", "The Camus Referendum" and "Firing the Cathedral".
She is also mentioned, although does not appear in her own right, in stories and novels such as "Pale Roses", "White Stars", The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming, Blood: A Southern Fantasy, The War Amongst the Angels by Moorcock as well as Giants in the Earth by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Angel of War by James Lovegrove. In The Revenge of the Rose Onna Peerthorn is the name of a boat. Naturally her name was on the guest list in The Reunion Party.Veteran of the Psychic Wars
"Veteran of the Psychic Wars" is a song by the American hard rock band Blue Öyster Cult, written by Eric Bloom and British author Michael Moorcock (creator of Elric of Melniboné). The song first appeared on the album Fire of Unknown Origin from 1981; an extended live version appears on the 1982 album Extraterrestrial Live. It also appears on the soundtrack of the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal.
The phrase "...veteran of a Thousand Psychic Wars" is from the Hawkwind song "Standing at the Edge," from the album Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975), which also dealt with the myth of the Eternal Champion and contained lyrics written by Moorcock. Prior to that, it appears as a line in the poem "Far Arden" by Jim Morrison of The Doors.
The song has been covered by the Finnish metal band Tarot, Metallica at the Bridge School Benefit, and Arjen Anthony Lucassen.