It’s Elric time again, as I am working my way through the entire series.
As with the four previous Elric books, there are three ‘books’ between the covers – likely novellas or novelettes.
In the first, “The Torment of the Last Lord,” Elric and his faithful servant Sancho Moonglum head off to confront the evil wizard Theleb K’aarna but they are beset upon by strange and terrible monsters. They are ill prepared for this battle and Elric calls upon an ancient god to help them, but the god refuses and they are captured and his sword, Stormbringer, lost. When they are taken away Elric finds a woman in coma who speaks to him (this is Moorcock, remember) and tells him many things, including where to find an item that will help him defeat the wizard’s army. But that item is on the other side of the world, so Elric has to take a magical bird that she somehow supplies, after some effort finds the jewel that will help him defeat Theleb K’aarna, but also finds a jewel that should awaken the woman.
Battle ensues, Stormbringer returns, Theleb K’aarna flees, woman awakes, love is made.
The second ‘book’ in this volume is “To Snare the Pale Prince.” Elric and Moonglum are off in a quiet village recuperating from their recent adventure. They are nearly undefeatable when facing armies and evil wizards and maniacal kings, but the pair of them get hoodwinked by a couple of young ladies who steal the Ring of Actorios – the ring that Elric must use to summon supernatural assistance.
It is, of course, a ploy on the part of Theleb K’aarna and Elric and Moonglum will fight more monsters.
The final piece is “Three Heroes with a Single Aim.” Elric connects once again with other incarnations of the Eternal Champion to visit Tanelorn – the refuge for tormented souls. The three-in-one eternal champion must enter the Vanishing Tower together to defeat an evil wizard (but this time it’s not Theleb K’aarna).
While the 1977 edition of this book still sits on my shelf, I don’t remember if I read it or not. There were times when the story seemed familiar, but I recognize that all three of these stories seem similar to stories in the previous volumes as well.
While I like the Eternal Champion theme, I recognize that it isn’t explained particularly well in the Elric books. In a nutshell – all the heroes (at least all of Moorcock’s heroes) are incarnations of the same person but in different realities and from time to time, they meet to fight together. And as time runs differently in different realities they sometimes know each other and sometimes don’t. Sometimes they remember shared battles that haven’t happened yet. Yes, it’s all a bit metaphysical and the Elric books are often quite philosophical and existential.
This particular volume didn’t excite me too tremendously. There was either a lot of senseless fighting or a lot of brooding. Sometimes at the same time.
For a short time I enjoyed the middle story, which, although a little ridiculous to have Elric and Moonglum taken in by your average prostitutes, was a little more on the relaxing side after all the heavy battling and brooding from the previous story, but then it, too, turned darker.
This is part of the Elric saga so I’m glad to have read it, but if I wasn’t a little OCD about book series, I’d probably have skipped it.
Looking for a good book? The Vanishing Tower is part of the Elric series by Michael Moorcock, and in that regard it is worth reading, but it’s not a particularly strong addition to the series.
I received a digital copy, as Volume 2 in The Elric Saga, from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Vanishing Tower
author: Michael Moorcock
series: The Elric Saga #4, Elric Chronological Order #6
publisher: Daw (1977); Saga Press (2022)
ISBN: 0879976934 (1977) 1534445714 (2022)
paperback, 175 pages (1977)