The Bane of the Black Sword

Michael Moorcock
The Bane of the Black Sword Cover

The Bane of the Black Sword


This fifth book in the Elric Saga abandons any pretense of being a novel. The various copyright dates make it clear that these are bound up short stories, one of which mentions our hero only in passing. Although given the way things cycle through Moorcock's multiverse, this "Epilogue" story could figure prominently in some future installment.

This group of tales all seem pretty much business as usual for the albino Lord of Melnibone. He and his sidekick Moonglum defeat their nemesis, the evil sorcerer Theleb K'aarna. This involves enlisting the aid of Elric's ex-countrymen, who, since Elric was responsible for the destruction of their city, have understandable qualms about joining him. This gives Elric a chance to explain more clearly than ever his feelings about his actions, and about his own race that had grown old, cruel, and lacking the vitality of what they consider the upstart barbarian races.

"I but played a part in history...Time would have done what I did, eventually. I but brought the day nearer -- and brought it when you and our people were still resilient enough to combat it and turn to a new way of life..."

Later he admits, "I drive myself to a slow death, and those who go with me suffer also." As if to make this point, his sword Stormbringer once again kills of its own accord a man Elric has sworn to protect.

Moorcock relishes describing the most repellent characters and societies he can imagine. With the rulers and people of Org he pulls out all the stops. And as usual, he gives Elric a young, raven-haired beauty, this time with the ridiculous name Zarozinia. But she does stand out from Elric's other romantic involvements. After one night of love by the campfire he announces his plan to marry her. And she actually survives the rest of the story and is next seen as his wife.

Overall this is an enjoyable if slight installment in the Elric saga, with an epilogue tacked on that could have been added to justify the book's publication as a single volume.