Thursday, 13 April 2000

Michael Moorcock: The Knight of the Swords (1971)

Edition: Grafton, 1986
Review number: 479

The background myth of the two series Moorcock wrote about Prince Corum is that of the elves, as a noble race displaced by mankind. Corum is the last of his Vadagh race; their cultured, elegant and complacent life destroyed by the barbarous Mabden. All who remain of the elven kind are a few of the hereditary enemies of the Vadagh, degradingly enslaved by the Mabden and helping them find the remaining Vadagh for rape, murder and destruction.

Through the intervention of the bearlike, mythical Beast of Llyr, Corum escapes from Mabden torture having lost and eye and a hand. Vowing vengeance on the Mabden leader, he begins a life of adventure.

Corum is another manifestation of Moorcock's Eternal Champion, dedicating hiself to restoring the balance between Chaos and Law, destroyed when the god of the Mabden, known as the Knight of the Swords, overwhelmed the god of the Vadagh. This particular novel is a fairly straightforward adventure story, though Corum is a well realised non-human character and the atmosphere is as strongly created as in any of Moorcock's writing.

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