Monday, May 03, 2010
29: The Knight of Swords: The First Book of Corum by Michael Moorcock
Ah back to some classic 70s sword & sorcery. I found this entire trilogy at our local thrift store and snatched it up based on the covers alone. What I particularly appreciate is the thinness of these volumes. Most of these kind of fantastic epics are super-thick by definition, thus the term "fat fantasy", I guess the geeks want to be absorbed into their world and never leave. I'm happy to say that, at least in the first volume, Moorcock delivers all the fantasy world, epic quests, short-lived adventuring companions, powerful relics and mad gods in 143 efficient pages.
The story is about Corum, the last of his ancient race, who due to their own complacency, but also the machinations of the gods got wiped out by the barbaric Mabden (humans). He discovers this reality in a quest to find another of his race's castle with whom he and his family had long lost touch and in doing so gets caught up in a quest of vengeance and god-driven world changing. Moorcock's cosmology concerns the balance between the gods of chaos and gods of order and in the Books of Corum, chaos, in the form of the Sword Gods, has upset the balance of power.
Corum's quest in this book is to find the heart of the Knight of Swords, which is hidden in his castle far to the north. There is much coincidence and strange encounters leading him there. There is a fantastic scene when he first discovers the god, in the form of a corpulent naked giant, his fetid body swarming with humans chewing at his scab, picking food out of his hair. It's the kind of image you read these books for and Moorcock delivers.
I only every now and then dip into fantasy, but this one has worked out quite well so far. I shall continue with the other two in the series and report back here.