Wednesday, 15 August 2001
Michael Moorcock: Jerusalem Commands (1992)
Review number: 905
The third Pyat novel is largely set in North Africa, where he travels, in the guise of Hollywood star Max Peters, to make a film on location in Egypt. It is a real exhibition of Moorcock's talent as well as a superb evocation of twenties life.
As the series progresses, the extent to which Pyat's memoirs are fantasy becomes more apparent. The unpleasantness of his views and his total self-centredness have never been in doubt, but continue to be underlined. He manages to proceed from one self-wrought disaster to another, but still remains convinced that all his visions will come true, that he only fails through the treachery of others and the determination of the Jews to destroy him. (One thing which isn't quite clear, deliberately, is how much the attitudes of the old man writing his memoirs in Notting Hill in the mid seventies are imputed to his twenty five year old self, as though nothing has changed.)
Though Flashman remains the clearest influence, in this particular novel T.E. Lawrence is clearly a reference point. In the section on Pyat's captivity and degradation at the hands of the man who insists that he be called "God", de Sade is also important. As before in this set of novels, though, Moorcock distils something different from his influences, creating a powerful historical narrative and character study.