Saturday, November 15, 2014

Books: Corum - The Coming of Chaos


I've never read Michael Moorcock's famous Elric Saga, but I have read an enjoyable work from another part of his Eternal Champion mythos -"Corum: The Coming of Chaos." The book is actually a collection of three novels published in the early '70s: "The Knight of the Swords," "The Queen of the Swords," and "The King of the Swords," though they essentially tell one long story.

At the start of the book, Corum Jhaelen Irsei ("the Prince in the Scarlet Robe") leads an idle life. His race, the elf-like Vadhagh, devote their time to poetry, art, and other intellectual pursuits, and remain aloof from the rest of the world. Of course, this being heroic fantasy, things soon fall apart, and Corum is left to seek vengeance against the forces of Chaos using his sword, his wits, and two otherworldy artifacts - the Hand of Kwll and the Eye of Rhynn.

Moorcock's writing is pulpy and Lovecraftian, and works best when weird darkness intersects with the usual sword-and-sorcery tropes. My favorite part of the trilogy, for instance, is the middle book, which describes a nightmarish journey to the shifting planes of Chaos. If you like reading about mad gods, pitched battles, carnivorous plants, and undead armies, you'll like the "Corum" books.

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