The latest in Moorcock's long-running saga of Elric of Melnibone’s adventures in the multiverse.
Moorcock (King of the City, 2001, among many others) has spent much of his career writing baroque elaborations of the same story. This time, the protagonist is Oonagh von Bek, a young girl living in Yorkshire. One day, when Oonagh’s parents are away, strangers begin to appear in the neighborhood. Some seem to be old family friends, military types who have come to protect her against two others Oonagh has seen lurking about the neighborhood. But the next day, a strange earthquake drops Oonagh into the caves that lie under the family home, and her adventures begin. A talking fox, Lord Reynard, takes her to a nearby city where he rules the Thieves' Quarter. There, she meets a blind albino boy, perhaps Elric’s son, and a young woman who appears to be Oonagh’s grandmother (temporal relationships are ambiguous in this underground world). Then Oonagh’s pursuers attack, and in a magical duel the city is flooded. Oonagh and her friends flee across the fantastic landscapes of the multiverse, dodging perils until they arrive in a world in which Britain plays the role of Nazi Germany, spreading its evil dominion across Europe. Meanwhile, both Elric and the evil king of England are searching for Oonagh and the albino boy, whose blood holds the key to the fate of the entire multiverse. As usual, the author plays fascinating games with shifting realities, larger-than-life characters and a plot assembled from disparate fantasy tropes mutated through the ironic Moorcockian sensibility. The bright young protagonist makes the novel fresh enough to keep all but the most jaded reader from realizing how just many times Moorcock has told some version of this story.
Stylish performance from a giant of fantasy.