The Sailor on the Seas of Fate

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A fix-up Elric novel of three novellas, the first being a reworking of part of The Quest for Tanelorn from the point of view of Elric. The second novella was later republished in a Flashing Swords anthology. The third novella was a substantial reworking of The Jade Man’s Eyes.

Book 2 in the DAW 1977/Grafton 1985 Elric Series.

Publishing History (UK)

  • Hardcover, Quartet, 170pp., ISBN: 0-7043-2110-6, 15 Mar 1976, Cover by Patrick Woodroffe
  • Mass Market Paperback, Quartet, 169pp., ISBN: 0-7043-1301-4, 1977
  • Mass Market Paperback, Granada, 192pp., ISBN: 0-583-13099-2, 4 Jun 1981, Cover by Melvyn
  • Mass Market Paperback, Grafton, 192pp., ISBN: 0-583-13099-2, 1986, Cover by Michael Whelan

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Omnibus Publication

Publishing History (US)

  • Mass Market Paperback, DAW, ISBN: 0-87997-601-2, Dec 1976, Cover by Michael Whelan
  • Mass Market Paperback, Berkley, ISBN: 0-425-07686-5, Jul 1983, Cover by Robert Gould (reprinted 1985,1986)
  • Mass Market Paperback, Ace, 160pp., ISBN: 0-441-74863-5, Nov 1987, Cover by Robert Gould
  • Mass Market Paperback, Ace, 160pp., ISBN: 0-441-74863-5, Nov 1990, Cover by Robert Gould

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Omnibus Publication

Stories

  • Sailing to the Future – This story is sometimes referred to as “Voyage on a Dark Ship” [1] but there is no evidence it ever appeared in print under that title. It tells the events of the middle section of The Quest for Tanelorn but as seen from Elric's pov rather than Hawkmoon's.
  • Sailing to the Present – also known as “The Lands Beyond the World”, later collected in Flashing Swords! #4, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1977
  • Sailing to the Past – Originally published as The Jade Man’s Eyes with the role of Count Smiorgan Baldhead taken by Moonglum of Elwher. The details of how Elric joins Duke Avan's expedition to R'lin K'ren A'a are considerably revised to tie-in with the ending of the preceding story.

The Twenty

The Twenty consist of the Four Who Were One (Erekosë, Elric, Corum Jhaelen Irsei and Hawkmoon) and sixteen warriors collected by The Captain in order to destroy Agak and Gagak. Each incarnation of the Eternal Champion selects four men to fight alongside him, making four groups of five. Three of the warriors are not named in either version of the story, all of whom coincidentally are in Erekosë's group. Moorcock suggested names for these characters in a forum post at Moorcock's Miscellany; as such, their names may be considered apocryphal rather than canonical.

Hawkmoon's Group

Corum's Group

Elric's Group

Erekosë's Group

The various incarnations of the Eternal Champion

The Quest for Tanelorn was, as of the time of first publication, only the second meeting between incarnations of the Eternal Champion, after Corum met first Elric and then Erekosë in The King of Swords. In "Quest" the three of them reunite again, and are now joined by Hawkmoon. The first part of The Sailor on the Seas of Fate tells the same tale, only by the perspective of Elric instead of Hawkmoon's.

This is the first meeting of the incarnations by the perspectives of Hawkmoon, Elric and (apparently) Erekosë, but not from Corum's.

In "The Quest for Tanelorn" (and therefore also in "Sailor"), Corum clearly remembers the events of "The King of Swords" and is slightly annoyed that Elric and Erekosë do not.

Elric's second meeting with Corum and Erekosë was also Corum's first meeting among the three. It was told in "The King of Swords" and will be retold by Elric's perspective in Elric's own novel The Sleeping Sorceress (a.k.a. "The Vanishing Tower").

Erekosë is described by Corum in "Quest" as "a different one" from the Erekosë that he met previously. The difference probably goes beyond a simple failure to recall the events of "The King of Swords" and "The Sleeping Sorceress", since Corum does not think of this Elric as different from the one he met previously. It is probably fair to assume that the difference is in physical appearance or, at least, in personality.

That can be explained in various ways. Perhaps the simplest is that the Erekosê in "Quest" may be the incarnation that came before John Daker. When we first meet Erekosë in The Eternal Champion he has already had a distinguished career as humanity's champion, but we do not learn much beyond that. Perhaps at some point in that first career Erekosë experienced the events in "The Quest for Tanelorn".

The Erekosë in "The King of Swords" (and "The Sleeping Sorceress") is considerably more aware of his nature as a recurring Eternal Champion and even implies that he does not often think of himself by the name "Erekosë", therefore those events happen later than "Quest" from his viewpoint.

Notes

  1. For instance, in Lin Carter's introduction to “The Lands Beyond the World” in Flashing Swords! #4
  2. Unnamed in text; name suggested by Michael Moorcock in forum post
  3. Unnamed in text; name suggested by Michael Moorcock in forum post
  4. Unnamed in text; name suggested by Michael Moorcock in forum post

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