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Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melnibone #3)

Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melnibone #3)

3.9 49
by Michael Moorcock

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Elric of Melniboné. Traitor. Savior. Lover. Thief. Last king of a fallen empire whose cruelty was surpassed only by its beauty. Sustained by drugs and the vampiric powers of his black sword, Stormbringer, haunted by visions of a tragic past and a doomed future, Elric wanders the world in quest of oblivion. But the great lords of Law and Chaos have other plans for


Elric of Melniboné. Traitor. Savior. Lover. Thief. Last king of a fallen empire whose cruelty was surpassed only by its beauty. Sustained by drugs and the vampiric powers of his black sword, Stormbringer, haunted by visions of a tragic past and a doomed future, Elric wanders the world in quest of oblivion. But the great lords of Law and Chaos have other plans for this tormented adventurer.
This volume is the third of Del Rey’s definitive collections featuring the tales of Elric and other aspects of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, along with essays, a selection of classic artwork, and new material never seen in book form.

Gorgeously illustrated by Steve Ellis, and featuring a foreword by Holly Black, The Sleeping Sorceress is a must-have for all lovers of fantasy.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This third omnibus volume of a six-book series presents two classic tales of the doomed albino king of the lost world of Melniboné. In "The Sleeping Sorceress," Elric, the antihero, battles an old enemy, the Pan Tangian sorcerer Theleb K'aarna, and in "Elric of Melniboné," he confronts his wily cousin Yyrkoon in the days before the two acquired their soul-draining swords, Stormbringer and Mournblade. In addition, this anthology contains several essays on fantasy and the character of Elric. Libraries with a strong Moorcock following should consider adding this collection of revised stories, beautifully reillustrated by Ellis, to their fantasy collections.
—Jackie Cassada

From the Publisher
“[Elric is] among the most memorable characters in fantasy literature.”
–Science Fiction Chronicle

“The greatest writer of post-Tolkien British fantasy.”
–Michael Chabon

“Before Elric, my idea of a fantasy novel hero was a strapping fellow who rose from simple circumstances to lofty heights. Elric was decadent, sickly, and doomed. I loved him instantly.”
–from the Foreword by Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melnibone Series , #3
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5 MB

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IN THE SKY a cold moon, cloaked in clouds, sent down faint light that fell upon a sullen sea where a ship lay at anchor off an uninhabited coast.

From the ship a boat was being lowered. It swayed in its harness.

Two figures, swathed in long capes, watched the seamen lowering the boat while they, themselves, tried to calm horses which stamped their hoofs on the unstable deck and snorted and rolled their eyes.

The shorter figure clung hard to his horse’s bridle and grumbled.

“Why should this be necessary? Why could not we have disembarked at Trepesaz? Or at least some fishing harbour boasting an inn,
however lowly . . .”

“Because, friend Moonglum, I wish our arrival in Lormyr to be secret.

If Theleb K’aarna knew of my coming—as he soon would if we went to Trepesaz—then he would fly again and the chase would begin afresh. Would you welcome that?”

Moonglum shrugged. “I still feel that your pursuit of this sorcerer is no more than a surrogate for real activity. You seek him because you do not wish to seek your proper destiny . . .”

Elric turned his bone-white face in the moonlight and regarded
Moonglum with crimson, moody eyes. “And what of it? You need not accompany me if you do not wish to . . .”

Again, Moonglum shrugged his shoulders. “Aye. I know. Perhaps
I stay with you for the same reasons that you pursue the sorcerer of Pan
Tang.” He grinned. “So that’s enough of debate, eh, Lord Elric?”

“Debate achieves nothing,” Elric agreed. He patted his horse’s nose as more seamen, clad in colourful Tarkeshite silks, came forward to take the horses and hoist them down to the waiting boat.

Struggling, whinnying through the bags muffling their heads, the horses were lowered, their hoofs thudding on the bottom of the boat as if they would stave it in. Then Elric and Moonglum, their bundles on their backs, swung down the ropes and jumped into the rocking craft.

The sailors pushed off from the ship with their oars and then, bodies bending, began to row for the shore.

The late autumn air was cold. Moonglum shivered as he stared towards the bleak cliffs ahead. “Winter is near and I’d rather be domiciled at some friendly tavern than roaming abroad. When this business is done with the sorcerer, what say we head for Jadmar or one of the other big Vilmirian cities and see what mood the warmer clime puts us in?”

But Elric did not reply. His strange eyes stared into the darkness and they seemed to be peering into the depths of his own soul and not liking what they saw.

Moonglum sighed and pursed his lips. He huddled deeper in his cloak and rubbed his hands to warm them. He was used to his friend’s sudden lapses of silence, but familiarity did not make him enjoy them any better. From somewhere on the shore a nightbird shrieked and a small animal squealed. The sailors grunted as they pulled on their oars.

The moon came out from behind the clouds and it shone on Elric’s grim, white face, made his crimson eyes seem to glow like the coals of hell, revealed the barren cliffs of the shore.

The sailors shipped their oars as the boat’s bottom ground on shingle.
The horses, smelling land, snorted and moved their hoofs. Elric and Moonglum rose to steady them.

Two seamen leapt into the cold water and brought the boat up higher. Another patted the neck of Elric’s horse and did not look directly at the albino as he spoke. “The captain said you would pay me when we reached the Lormyrian shore, my lord.”

Elric grunted and reached under his cloak. He drew out a jewel that shone brightly through the darkness of the night. The sailor gasped and stretched out his hand to take it. “Xiombarg’s blood, I have never seen so fine a gem!”

Elric began to lead the horse into the shallows and Moonglum hastily followed him, cursing under his breath and shaking his head from side to side.

Laughing among themselves, the sailors shoved the boat back into deeper water.

As Elric and Moonglum mounted their horses and the boat pulled through the darkness towards the ship, Moonglum said: “That jewel was worth a hundred times the cost of our passage!”

“What of it?” Elric fitted his feet in his stirrups and made his horse walk towards a part of the cliff which was less steep than the rest. He stood up in his stirrups for a moment to adjust his cloak and settle himself more firmly in his saddle. “There is a path here, by the look of it. Much overgrown.”

“I would point out,” Moonglum said bitterly, “that if it were left to you, Lord Elric, we should have no means of livelihood at all. If I had not taken the precaution of retaining some of the profits made from the sale of that trireme we captured and auctioned in Dhakos, we should be paupers now.”

“Aye,” returned Elric carelessly, and he spurred his horse up the path that led to the top of the cliff.

In frustration Moonglum shook his head, but he followed the albino.
By dawn they were riding over the undulating landscape of small hills and valleys that made up the terrain of Lormyr’s most northerly peninsula.

“Since Theleb K’aarna must needs live off rich patrons,” Elric explained as they rode, “he will almost certainly go to the capital, Iosaz,
where King Montan rules. He will seek service with some noble, perhaps
King Montan himself.”

“And how soon shall we see the capital, Lord Elric?” Moonglum looked up at the clouds.

“It is several days’ ride, Master Moonglum.”

Moonglum sighed. The sky bore signs of snow and the tent he carried rolled behind his saddle was of thin silk, suitable for the hotter lands of the East and West.

He thanked his gods that he wore a thick quilted jerkin beneath his breastplate and that before he had left the ship he had pulled on a pair of woolen breeks to go beneath the gaudier breeks of red silk that were his outer wear. His conical cap of fur, iron and leather had earflaps which were now drawn tightly and secured by a thong beneath his chin and his heavy deerskin cape was drawn closely around his shoulders.

Elric, for his part, seemed not to notice the chill weather. His own cape flapped behind him. He wore breeks of deep blue silk, a highcollared shirt of black silk, a steel breastplate lacquered a gleaming black, like his helmet, and embossed with patterns of delicate silverwork.

Behind his saddle were deep panniers and across this was a bow and a quiver of arrows. At his side swung the huge runesword Stormbringer,
the source of his strength and his misery, and on his right hip was a long dirk, presented him by Queen Yishana of Jharkor.

Moonglum bore a similar bow and quiver. On each hip was a sword, one short and straight, the other long and curved, after the fashion of the men of Elwher, his homeland. Both blades were in scabbards of beautifully worked Ilmioran leather, embellished with stitching of scarlet and gold thread.

Together the pair looked, to those who had not heard of them, like free-traveling mercenaries who had been more successful than most in their chosen careers.

Their horses bore them tirelessly through the countryside. These were tall Shazaarian steeds, known all over the Young Kingdoms for their stamina and intelligence. After several weeks cooped up in the hold of the Tarkeshite ship they were glad to be moving again.

Now small villages—squat houses of stone and thatch—came in sight, but Elric and Moonglum were careful to avoid them.

Lormyr was one of the oldest of the Young Kingdoms and much of the world’s history had been made there. Even the Melnibonéans had heard the tales of Lormyr’s hero of ancient times, Aubec of Malador of the province of Klant, who was said to have carved new lands from the stuff of Chaos that had once existed at World’s Edge. But Lormyr had long since declined from her peak of power (though still a major nation of the south-west) and had mellowed into a nation that was at once picturesque and cultured. Elric and Moonglum passed pleasant farmsteads, well-nurtured fields, vineyards and orchards in which the golden-leaved trees were surrounded by time-worn, moss-grown walls. A sweet land and a peaceful land in contrast to the rawer, bustling north-western nations of Jharkor, Tarkesh and Dharijor which they had left behind.

Moonglum gazed around him as they slowed their horses to a trot.

“Theleb K’aarna could work much mischief here, Elric. I am reminded of the peaceful hills and plains of Elwher, my own land.”

Elric nodded. “Lormyr’s years of turbulence ended when she cast off Melniboné’s shackles and was first to proclaim herself a free nation.

I have a liking for this restful landscape. It soothes me. Now we have another reason for finding the sorcerer before he begins to stir his brew of corruption.”

Moonglum smiled quietly. “Be careful, my lord, for you are once again succumbing to those soft emotions you so despise . . .”

Elric straightened his back. “Come. Let’s make haste for Iosaz.”

“The sooner we reach a city with a decent tavern and a warm fire,
the better.” Moonglum drew his cape tighter about his thin body.

“Then pray that the sorcerer’s soul is soon sent to limbo, Master
Moonglum, for then I’ll be content to sit before the fire all winter long if it suits you.”

And Elric made his horse break into a sudden gallop as grey evening closed over the tranquil hills.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Born in London in 1939, Michael Moorcock is a prolific and award-winning writer with more than 80 works of fiction and non-fiction to his name. He is best known for his novels about the character Elric of Melniboné, a seminal influence on the fantasy genre in the 1960s and ’70s. In 2008, the London Times named Moorcock in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945."

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Elric 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are unfamiliar with the Elric novels, do not buy! Wait for SFGateway to re-release the original novels. This version of the series is terribly disjointed with the first book in this series containing parts of the 3rd, 5th and all of the 6th original novels. The third book in this series matches up with the 4th original novel. And the fourth book in this series matches up with the 2nd original novel. If you are not already familiar with the novels, good luck putting it all together or understanding the motivations of the characters.
Valid8r More than 1 year ago
I first discovered Moorcock's Elric and The Eternal Champion saga in 7th grade. I have read every English edition and I recommend them all to the neophyte and to the subject matter expert if one has never had the pleasure. Makes me want to break out my AD&D gear and my vorpal sword! :)
harstan More than 1 year ago
"Fortress Of The Pearl". Lord Gho Fhaazi wants a position on the Council of Seven that rules over the city of Quarzhasaat, but he knows he needs help to overcome his rivals. He chooses Prince Elric of Melnibone as his tool to obtain the Pearl at the Heart of the World that will insure his spot on the council. To insure Elric cooperates, he poisons him using a slow acting agent in which he has the serum. Elric begins his escapades as the affluent class' minion the Sorcerer Adventurers try to prevent his success and eventually trap his mind inside that of a comatose teenage female, but with the Dreamthief to guide him through the Dream Realm, Elric continues his quest. The novel above is half of Elric In the Dream Realms and it is one of his greatest early tales and makes the book worth reading. The short story "A Portrait in Ivory" is terrific also as the albino hero is confronted by his worst enemy, the mirror reminding him he should be known as Elric Kinslayer filled with remorse for Cymoril more so than Imrryr. The other entries like "Elric: The Making of a Graphic Novel", the essay "Aspects of Fantasy", and the background material of "Earl Aubec of Malodor", etc. target die hard fans of Michael Moorcock only. Overall the fifth Chronicles of the last Emperor of Melnibone is an engaging look at Elric In The Dream realms. Harriet Klausner
EricABQ More than 1 year ago
Elric the Stealer of Souls starts a series of books collecting Moorcock's Eternal Champion cycle. The Eternal Champion is a character that is reincarnated in differant times and places to fight for balance between the forces of extreme Order and Chaos. The first few books are about Elric last emperor of Melnibonie who carries the soul stealing blade Stormbringer.
NYM More than 1 year ago
Elric: The Stealer of Souls is the story of Elric, the last of his noble line, and his travels. Elric has left his kingdom behind and is exploring the outlying lands with Stormbringer, his sentient sword. Being a dark fantasy, Elric's adventures are filled with horrendous creatures, evil beings and violent encounters. Moorcock does a fabulous job developing the characters and setting his scenes. The world he creates is well thought out and planned. There were occasional scenes that didn't quite ring true to me, but not so much that they seemed off. Enjoyable read and recommended to those who enjoy the genre, but those who don't should probably pass.
StokerFan More than 1 year ago
Del Rey's current release of Michael Moorcock's Elric was conceived as an authoritative edition of the Albino king, who is a a central incarnation of Moorcock's Eternal Champion. I've been picking these up as they come out to the tune of what is currently five volumes, of which DUKE ELRIC is volume 4. Leaving my starred-rating breakdown as a commentary on the quality of the work, I'll leave additional explanation here to qualify and elucidate my feeling on DUKE ELRIC, in particular. Some of these comments may be extended in general to my feeling toward the series as a whole, that being favorable. So, DUKE ELRIC. This book contains the text of a segment of ELRIC titled THE SAILOR ON THE SEAS OF FATE, which had appeared in earlier editions as a familiar episode in the ELRIC saga often represented as part 2 of the cycle. That it appears as late in the current edition as volume 4 illustrates a point: Moorcock, like Gaiman and others after him, allows reinterpretation of his ideas with ELRIC being a prime example. I've compared this text of SAILOR with that in the Science Fiction Book Club edition and found differences as significant as the addition and deletion of full paragraphs in the early pages, and British versus American usage differences in some word choices. That the current edition is to be considered authoritative may, I suppose, be accepted given the author is alive, has allowed this, and has provided essays and other material, some new. Further comparison of early pages shows this edition to match more closely the text included in the White Wolf collectible hardcover ELRIC: SONG OF THE BLACK SWORD for those who desire to know, although neither comparison is comprehensive. Further inclusions in this volume are text of an ELRIC graphic novel titled DUKE ELRIC, and part 2 of Moorcock's essay ASPECTS OF FANTASY, as well as other related material. I very much like this series as it contains a longer view of the ELRIC cycle than we've had in a uniform edition, with material as diverse as essays, graphic novels, early, rare art, and good, authoritative editions of the familiar text.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first of three volumes of "The Balance Lost" series, which unites Elric, Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon, and Eric Beck in worlds where Law and Chaos are out of balance. This volume sets the stage of an increasingly unbalanced set of universes. Each of the champions is navigating their respective world and in the end all are called to the same place as the boundary between universes start to blur.
Chris_ More than 1 year ago
This particular volume contains "The Sailor on the Seas of Fate" novel in Michael Moorcock's Elric cycle. When I first read this novel as a kid I never really rated it (I wasn't keen on the Eternal Champion team-up stories) but reading it again recently it really impressed me. The story begins with our anti-hero on a stony shore, alone and on the run. Here's a slightly edited sample of the first chapter right from the top: "It was as if the man stood in a vast cavern whose walls and roof were comprised of gloomy, unstable colours which would occasionally break and admit rays of light from the moon. That these walls were mere clouds massed above mountains and ocean was hard to believe, for all that the moonlight pierced them, stained them and revealed the black and turbulent sea washing the shore on which the man now stood. "Distant thunder rolled; distant lightning flickered. A thin rain fell. And the clouds were never still. From dusky jet to deadly white they swirled slowly... "The sea seemed weary. Great waves heaved themselves together with difficulty and collapsed as in relief, gasping as they struck sharp rocks." Those last two sentences are quite possibly the best I've read all year. The writing is crisp and assured and the pacing and structure are tight. Like many of his fantasy novels, however, it's perhaps a little too brisk at times for my tastes when the action and plot overtake atmosphere and texture. But when it is atmospheric, as per the quote above, it is suitably fantastic - in some places even disorienting, such as the distant far future in the first part of the novel which was reminiscent of those of Jack Vance and William Hope Hodgson. If you like fantasy with a lot of flavour and have never read any Elric before then I highly suggest you push this series to the top of your list. It's a surprisingly light read too for all the detail and action. Although it's often violent and sometimes gruesome, the series is never as gothic as some of its fans make it out to be - and if that's what you're after you're probably better off checking out Mervyn Peake's "Gormenghast" series. This is more along the lines of swash-buckling dark fantasy with a modern sensibility. It's worth noting that it doesn't really matter what order you read the books because Moorcock wrote the end of Elric's saga about a decade before he published its beginning. Which brings me to another small criticism I have with this novel, and perhaps my only real one: while the beginning of Sailors blew me away, the foreshadowing at the very end of the novel (the last sentence or two) felt a little heavy-handed and slightly bathetic, especially as we all know how the saga ends. But this is a small quibble in a novel and and writer well worth your time.
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