Corum: The Coming of Chaos by Michael Moorcock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
June-July 2012 Re-read
The Knight of the Swords: Corum, Prince in the Scarlet Robe, leaves his home to visit others of his kind, the Vadagh. He is soon ambushed by the Mabden and maimed, losing his eye and hand. Corum finds allies and has his missing hand and eye replaced with the hand and eye of two dead gods. Even with his powerful weapons, can Corum hope to defeat the Knight of Swords?
The Elric Saga was one of my favorite fantasy tales around the turn of the century. The Knight of Swords, first in the Corum series, is a better written version of early parts of the Elric Saga.
Corum isn't Elric, however. He's from a gentle, peace-loving race, the Vadagh. The rise of men, or Mabden as they call themselves, parallels the rise of the Young Kingdoms in the Elric books.
Basically, Knight of Swords is the standard early Moorcock tale. You've got gods meddling in the affairs of mortals, an ancient but dying race, travel to exotic alien locales, and betrayal, sometimes at the hands of weaponry.
I actually found Corum to be a more well-rounded character than Elric, although the tale itself was a little weak. If I was rating the volume solely on this book, it would probably be a weak three.
The Queen of the Swords: Corum and Rhalina meet Jhary-A-Conel and go up against Xiombarg, Queen of Swords, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance...
Elric 2.0 continues as Corum and company go on a quest similar to some of the ones Elric has gone on. I have to say, though, I find Corum's abilities with his Eye and Hand to be a lot more interesting than Elric's and Corum to be a more likeable character.
The locales Corum visited in this one were pretty cool, like the River of White, the Plains of Blood, and the City in the Pyramid. Gaynor the Damned, enemy to many of the Eternal Champions, makes his first (to my knowledge) appearance and Jhary gives hints of Corum's true destiny.
Queen of Swords is a much stronger tale than Knight of Swords, upping this volume in my esteem. The "the end of the world is nigh" feel that's present in the later Elric tales is well represented here.
The King of the Swords:
The forces of Chaos have unleashed a rage plague on Corum and the forces of Law. Corum, Jhary, and Rhalina use a sky ship to search for Tanelorn and allies. But will they find them in time?
This one is for all the marbles. Corum and Jhary meet Elric and Erekose at the Vanishing Tower, much as they did in the Elric story of the same name, find Tanelorn, bad things happen, and the first saga of Corum has an ending of sorts.
So, how was Corum on my second reading? Both for nostalgia reasons and for the fact that I thought it aged better than the original Elric saga, I'm giving it a four. I still prefer the Elric Saga overall but Corum definitely has some marks in its favor.
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