Elric of Melniboné is a fictional character created by Michael Moorcock.
Elric is the antihero of a series of high fantasy books centring in the world of Melniboné. The proper name and title of the character is Elric VIII, 428th Emperor of Melniboné.
Elric first appeared in print in 1961 in Michael Moorcock’s novella, ‘The Dreaming City’ (Science Fantasy #47 June 1961); subsequent novellas were reformatted as the novel Stormbringer (1965), but his first appearance in an original novel wasn’t until 1973 in Elric of Melniboné.
While not the first antihero to feature in literature, Moorcock’s albino character is one of the best-known in fantasy literature. The novels have been continuously in print since the 1970s.
|‘It is the color of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the color of bone.’
This is the description of Elric by author Michael Moorcock in the first book, Elric of Melniboné. Elric was the last emperor of the decaying island civilization of Melniboné. Physically weak and frail, the albino Elric must take special herbs in order to maintain his health. In addition to herb lore, his character is an accomplished sorcerer able to summon powerful, supernatural allies by dint of his royal Melnibonéan bloodline.
Unlike most others of his race, who are described as being psychologically similar to cats, Elric possesses something of a conscience; he sees the decadence of his culture, and worries about the rise of the Young Kingdoms, populated by humans (Melniboneans do not consider themselves human) and the threat they pose to his empire. Because of his introspective self-loathing and his hatred of Melnibonéan traditions, his subjects find him odd and unfathomable, and his cousin Yrkoon (next in the line of succession, as Elric has no heirs) interprets his behaviour as weakness and plots Elric’s death.
Elric’s sentient sword Stormbringer serves as both his greatest asset and greatest disadvantage. Forged in the distant past, the sword confers upon Elric strength, health and fighting prowess, but does so by feeding on the souls of those struck with the black blade. Most of the Moorcock’s stories about Elric feature his relationship with Stormbringer, and how it – despite Elric’s best intentions – brings doom to everything the Melnibonéan holds dear.
Here are the titles of the Elric series – in chronological order:
Elric of Melniboné
The Fortress of the Pearl
The Sailor on the Seas of Fate
Elric at the End of Time
Weird of the White Wolf
The Vanishing Tower (The Sleeping Sorceress)
The Revenge of the Rose
The Bane of the Black Sword
The Dreamthief’s Daughter
The Skrayling Tree
The White Wolf’s Son
Elric in the Dream Realms
Michael Moorcock’s Elric: Tales of the White Wolf
Pawns of Chaos: Tales of the Eternal Champion
Along with Jerry Cornelius, Elric of Melniboné is one of Michael Moorcock’s greatest creations.