A semiautobiographical, semifantastical adventure by a legendary author, set in both real and imagined Londons.
In Moorcock’s (Phoenix in Obsidian, 2014, etc.) latest book, a young man named Michael Moorcock lives and works in post–World War II London, making a name for himself as a writer and editor of gradually more and more radical fantasy and science fiction—and slipping in and out of an alternate London known as Alsacia, or the Sanctuary. In this hidden section of the city, time seems to flow differently, death is almost unknown, and folk heroes like Dick Turpin can often be found drinking down at The Swan With Two Necks. Oh, and there’s a girl, Moll Midnight, who seems to have stepped right out of Michael’s dreams. Alsacia—and Molly—becomes a kind of tempting retreat from real life, a place where Michael can participate in grand adventures and rescue romance from the clutches of modernity. Moorcock’s many fans will relish the complicated blurring of autobiographical fact and fantastical fiction, but more casual readers may find themselves impatient for Michael to stop editing groundbreaking magazines and get back to the swashbuckling. There’s a complex and beautiful book in here, with an unusually adult perspective on fantasy as nostalgia for what never was and cannot be again. But many readers will find their impatience at the initially slow-moving plot keeps them from fully enjoying it.
This first book in a planned trilogy requires, but also rewards, patient readers and holds out plenty of promise for its sequels.