Thursday, 4 May 2000

Michael Moorcock: The Queen of the Swords (1971)

Edition: Grafton, 1986
Review number: 492

The Queen of the Swords, the second of Moorcock's Corum series, is a similar story to the first. The Chaos-led Mabden are once again undertaking an invasion threatening Corum and those he loves. This is again inspired by one of the gods of Chaos, seeking to overcome toe forces of Law in Corum's world (in this case Xiombarg, Queen of the Swords and sister of Arioch, killed by Corum in the first book of the series).

Though Corum and his beloved Rhalina find new allies in this book, what really matters is the combat between Corum as manifestation of the Eternal Champion and the forces of Chaos, which here included a Chaotic equivalent of the Eternal Champion. The major new character is the Champion's companion, Jhary a-Conel, who makes his first entry into this series though he had already appeared elsewhere (in the Runestaff novels, for instance). The most interesting part of the novel is the journey undertaken by Corum, Rhalina and Jhary through the realms ruled by Xiombarg, where the triumph of Chaos has been so extensive that not only have normal physical laws been set aside but the creativity that is the positive side of Chaos has exhausted itself (needing to be rooted in the order of Law). This series sees the dichotomy between Chaos and Law which strongly interested Moorcock in the seventies perhaps most fully worked out, in a traditional swords and sorcery style setting.

No comments: