Elric on the Far Side of the World

Title: The Citadel of Forgotten Myths
Author: Michael Moorcock
Genre: Angsty Dark Fantasy (Eternal Champion “Series”)
Pages: 336
Rating: 2.5 of 5
Thank you to the author and publisher for a free eARC via NetGalley. This in no way influences the content of my review.

Elric of Melniboné, that whiniest most tortured iteration of the Eternal Champion, returns in an all-new (sort of) prequel (sort of). If you are a big Elric fan, run out and buy this. It’s pretty much of a piece with all the previous entries in the continuously reworked, reshuffled, and re-released Elric canon.

If you aren’t already acquainted with the character, this is not a very good place to start. Important events and characters are recapped (some ad nauseum), so you wouldn’t be completely lost, but you’re a lot better off getting to know this classic doomed antihero by reading in chronological order (more below on where this fits in chronologically).

The stories woven together to create this book previously appeared in slightly different form in two or three magazines, but I think that this is their first time in book form. Their biggest value is that they add quite a bit of new lore to Elric’s world. This includes interesting insights into the origin of the Melnibonéan civilization and exploring a completely new setting on the other side of Elric’s ovoid world. Unfortunately, the book also showcases some of the worst of Michael Moorcock’s tendencies when writing Elric: so much self-pitying whining, highly repetitive phrases and situations, pontificating social commentary, and new pieces of information seemingly pulled out of thin air to make the plot work.

As far as where this fits in the Elric saga chronology, the publicity blurbs claim it is a prequel that fits between the first and second volumes of the saga. I have two different versions of the saga, and this is true in neither of them. It actually fits in about 2/3 of the way through the second volume in both cases. It belongs after the section called Kings in Darkness and before the section called either The Flame Bringer (Stormbringer: The Elric Saga Part 2 – Kindle edition 2022 – p. 519) or The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams (Elric: The Stealer of Souls, Paperback by White Wolf 1998 – p.400). Maybe there’s a version of the saga where this fits between volumes 1 and 2, but it’s certainly not the case for the edition currently available on Amazon.

Overall, this is worth reading if you are an Elric completionist, but it is far from the best entry in the series.