The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Stormbringer, the first novel in the Elric Saga to be published, was actually the last of the series according to internal chronology. It was first published serially by the British magazine Science Fantasy (1963-1964). The single volume Stealer of Souls (1963) was expanded, with the addition of stories from the separately published collection The Singing Citadel (1970) and the return and revision of the omitted portions of Stormbringer, into the six-volume saga. The Fortress of the Pearl is an additional adventure that occurs between the events narrated in Elric of Melniboné and The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, and The Revenge of the Rose apparently occurs between the events of The Vanishing Tower and The Bane of the Black Sword.

The Elric Saga tells the story of Elric, last emperor of the Bright Empire of Melniboné, whose inhuman race has ruled their world for ten thousand years. It is, even in its decline, more than a match for the human upstarts of the Young Kingdoms. These strange people inhabit the Dragon Isle, on which rests their only settlement, Imrryr, the Dreaming City of unearthly beauty and unimaginable horror.

Elric has the dual misfortune of being an albino, which causes him some physical weakness, and being so unusually intelligent and sensitive—for a Melnibonean—that he has a conscience and is capable of both pity and remorse, an anomaly that raises questions about his fitness to rule a people who create orchestras from the dying screams of tortured slaves. Loudest among Elrics critics is his greedy cousin Yyrkoon, who lusts after the throne and the power of bygone days. Elric has great inner strength and sorcerous powers, which Yyrkoon discovers when he attempts to usurp the Ruby Throne and is resoundingly defeated.

The battle ends triumphantly for Elric, but it is a victory...

(The entire section is 790 words.)