Wednesday, 5 May 1999

Michael Moorcock: The Mad God's Amulet (1968)

Edition: Granada
Review number: 244

The second of the four Runestaff books begins with the hero, Dorian Hawkmoon, in Persia where he has travelled to rid himself of the Black Jewel which betrays his every move to the Dark Empire of Granbretan. He now has to fight his way back to the Kamarg, through a Europe which has fallen to the ever-expanding Empire, hoping that his family are still holding out.

The dangerous return journey is the subject of this book. The Empire is not the only enemy faced by Hawkmoon. Crossing the Black Sea, he is attacked by the fanatical, drug-crazed followers of the Mad God from the Ukrain, finally seeking out the (self-proclaimed) god at his fortress. He has to decide whether Guillaume d'Averc, the Empire general who appears to have abandoned his employers to join Hawkmoon, is sincere. He has to begin to puzzle out the mysterious plans of the Warrior in Jet and Gold, servant of the even more mysterious Runestaff, who appears at intervals to help Hawkmoon.

The Mad God's Amulet - named after the jewel which gave the Mad God his power but also maddened him since he was not the one destined to own it - is really an interlude in the history of the Runestaff. Having journeyed to Persia, Hawkmoon has to return; but almost everything that happens on this return is irrelevant to the main plot of the series. From that point of view, the most important feature of the book is the introduction of the strange character of d'Averc, the affected Frenchman, hypochondriac yet a formidable fighter.

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