Kirkus Reviews QR Code


A Tale of the Albino

by Michael Moorcock

Pub Date: April 11th, 2001
ISBN: 0-446-52618-5

Addition to Moorcock's sprawling and often abstruse fantasy series set in the multiple-reality "multiverse"; this one's the first since The Revenge of the Rose (1991) to feature Elric, the albino Sorcerer-King of Tanelorn. In pre-WWII Germany, Ulrich, the Count of Bek, watches horrified as Nazism rises and his friend, Prince Gaynor, joins the S.S. and rises rapidly through the ranks. With Hitler firmly in control, Gaynor returns to Bek to demand Ulrich's ancient magical black sword, Ravenbrand, and the magic cup that Ulrich's father was sworn to guard. These objects are part of Germany's magic Nazi soul, according to Gaynor. The cup has vanished; Ulrich hides the black sword. For his pains he's arrested, beaten, tortured, and eventually consigned to a concentration camp. Gaynor has made a bargain with a mad goddess of Law, giving him the power to cast Elric, of whom Ulrich is an avatar, into a magical sleep; only Ulrich can help him break free. If, meanwhile, Gaynor succeeds in locating the cup—actually the Holy Grail—he could remake, or destroy, the multiverse itself.

The best arrives early on, during the rise of Nazi Germany; thereafter, series fans will enjoy the warm familiarity of Elric's bloodthirsty adventures, but the feeble conclusion will satisfy nobody: Moorcock has never grasped that internal logic is far more important that inventiveness or even verisimilitude.