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Elric: In The Dream Realms by Michael Moorcock and illustrated by Michael Wm. Kaluta

01/05/2010. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy Elric: In The Dream Realms in the USA - or Buy Elric: In The Dream Realms in the UK

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pub: Del Rey/Ballantine. 419 page illustrated small enlarged paperback. Price: $16.00 (US), $19.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-49866-3).

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'Elric: In The Dream Realms' is the fifth book in this excellent series contains 'The Fortress Of The Pearl' an Elric novel written in 1989. It opens with the albino sorcerer dying for want of those herbs which sustain his life. He is in Quarshasaat, a city in the Sighing Desert where gold is common, water scarce and assorted nobles scheme to get a place on The Council of Seven. A boy called Anigh had found Elric in the desert and bought him to his room. Melniboné was responsible, long ago, for the decline and fall of Quarshasaat, its loss of empire and inundation by sand so Elric pretends to be a thief from Nadsokor. He is recruited by Lord Gho Fhaazi, the boy's master, to find the Pearl at the Heart of the World, which is kept in the fortress. 'When the blood moon makes fire of the bronze tent then the path to the pearl will be opened,' he tells Elric, under the impression that our hero is a Dreamthief and will know what this means. Elric hasn't a clue but sets off as directed along the Red Road to the Silver Flower Oasis to await the blood moon. He is almost trampled by a herd of giant flaming beetles chasing man-sized rats but rescued by the Yellow Sect of Sorcerer Adventurers from Quarshasaat. He is then set upon by the Foxglove Sect of Sorcerer Adventurers but they leave him alone after some slaying and soul-stealing with Stormbringer. Then he meets Alnac Kreb, who really is a Dreamthief and also a Companion to Champions in the multiverse.

There's about fifty pages of plot for you. As usual Moorcock's work is full of imagination and adventure, full of strange creatures, cruel gods, treacherous humans and so forth. 'Fortress Of The Pearl' is actually one of the best Elric novels I've read, probably second only to 'Stormbringer'.

The book essentially consists of 'The Fortress Of The Pearl' and some trimmings. 'Elric: The Making Of A Sorcerer' makes up 130 pages of it and its pretty good, though there's an awful lot of plot crammed into those pages even for Moorcock. Young Elric takes to the dream couches of Melniboné as part of his studies and dreams of some albino ancestors who shaped the Empire's history. In one dream, he meets a beautiful winged woman called Della Fwarr, pronounced Phwoar! presumably. The story is okay and it was interesting to learn some Melnibonéan history but personally I don't like reading scripts of graphic novels or films and I'm not sure others would neither. The exception, I suppose, is would be writers interested in how scripts work. The graphic novel is available second-hand but it's quite dear, alas. I am hoping it will be re-issued.

'A Portrait In Ivory' is a squib really. The various essays are interesting but again only to real hard-core fans of the albino sorcerer or would-be writers. That's a large group but if you don't fit into either category, dear reader, and you already own 'The Fortress Of The Pearl' this is not the book for you. If you do want to read 'The Fortress Of The Pearl' and a graphic novel script then here they are with added trimmings. If you are collecting this Chronicles series then I guess you'll have to buy it for completion's sake. Enjoy.

Eamonn Murphy

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