Monday, 3 July 2000

Michael Moorcock: The Bull and the Spear (1973)

Edition: Berkley, 1978
Review number: 534

The start of this novel is very melancholy. Several decades after the end of the Swords trilogy, the immortal Corum has sunk into lethargy after the death of his beloved human wife, Rhalina. He starts experiencing strange dreams, and finally allows himself to be taken far into the future by a mystical incantation. The people who have called him, half-believing, are driven by desperation. The world is under attack by mysterious non-sentient beings of great power, who desire to turn the land around them into a counterpart of the inter-dimensional limbo from which they came. The principal weapon which has almost defeated their human foes is a part of this transformation, as it brings extreme cold and permanent winter to the world.

In this novel, influences from Celtic mythology are more apparent than is usual in Moorcock, whose references to external mythological systems are rare. Moorcock is usually more interested in making links with popular culture, most extensively in the Jerry Cornelius novels. The story itself follows a form common in fantasy, a heroic quest for some talismanic object to counter a major threat.

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