The Elric Saga (series)

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The Elric Saga is the umbrella name given to the series of stories and novels written by Michael Moorcock and featuring or pertaining to Elric of Melniboné beginning in 1961 and continuing on and off for over forty years to the present. During this period Moorcock has filled in gaps within the chronology of the original series as published in Science Fantasy magazine, as well as periodically revising and occasionally retitling both individual stories and books.

The Stories

The Original Saga

The first version of the Elric Saga consisted of nine novelettes and novellas, which were written at the behest of John Cornell, editor of Science Fantasy, and chronologically detail Elric's life from the sacking of Imrryr to his death.

The nine stories were:

These were collected in two books: The Stealer of Souls (1963) and Stormbringer (1965), with the first five stories appearing in the former and the last four being abridged and partially revised to form the latter. The Stormbringer novellas would eventually be restored to their original forms (and further revised) for the 1977 edition. All nine stories are included in the collection Elric (2001).

A tenth story, written contemporaneously to the Science Fantasy stories (and appearing therein as well) is To Rescue Tanelorn..., which features Elric's sometime companion Rackhir rather than the albino and details events that occur concurrently with 'Dead God's Homecoming', as Rackhir seeks aid from the Lords of the Higher Worlds in the defence of Tanelorn from attack by the forces of Chaos. It was included as part of the Elric Saga in the collection The Bane of the Black Sword but was omitted from the most recent omnibus editions (Stormbringer (UK) and Elric: The Stealer of Souls (US), and does not appear in the 2001 Elric collection.

Intended by Moorcock as 'the last Elric story', The Last Enchantment was written circa. 1962 but rejected by Cornell who felt there was more mileage in the character and so asked Moorcock to continue writing Elric stories. Later novellas have effectively rendered it an 'out-of-continuity' story and it has never been published as part of the Elric Saga proper, although it can be placed chronologically within the Saga (see Chronological List of Elric Stories). The story was lost and not rediscovered until after Cornell's death when it was found among his personal effects. It was eventually published in 1978, although in later collections it is retitled Jesting with Chaos.

The Saga Expanded

Moorcock continued to detail Elric's adventures in novella form during the remainder of the '60s and early '70s with the following stories:

'Master of Chaos' is a story set in the pre-history of Elric's world and does not feature Elric. In later collections it is retitled The Dream of Earl Aubec, and as such was included in the collection The Weird of the White Wolf. As with 'To Rescue Tanelorn...' it is omitted from the chronological omnibus editions of the Saga (See Earl Aubec and Other Stories (1993)), but both are included in Elric: To Rescue Tanelorn.

In 1972 Moorcock wrote the first Elric novel proper, Elric of Melniboné, which recounted the origin of Elric and how he came to have Arioch as his patron demon and bear the runesword Stormbringer. Before he gained Stormbringer in the novel's climax, Elric is shown to wield the same Great Sword as Earl Aubec in 'Master of Chaos'.

Elric also featured in two other Eternal Champion novels during this period; firstly in the Corum novel The King of the Swords along with Erekosë during the Three Who Are One sequence, and secondly in the Hawkmoon novel The Quest for Tanelorn during the Four Who Are One sequence (again featuring Corum and Erekosë). The former was re-used as part of the fix-up novel The Sleeping Sorceress (aka The Vanishing Tower), while the latter was re-written from Elric's perspective as part of the fix-up novel The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, which collected:

Taken as a whole, all the stories and novels from the Original and Expanded Saga formed the core of the Elric Saga by the mid-'70s, and apart from the 'out-of-continuity' novella Elric at the End of Time (1981), Moorcock would produce no further Elric stories until the late '80s and early '90s.

Later Stories

In 1989 Moorcock wrote the first new Elric novel since Elric of Melniboné, The Fortress of the Pearl, which is set during the period when Elric first wanders the lands of the Young Kingdoms after leaving Melniboné at the end of the earlier novel. He followed it up in 1991 with The Revenge of the Rose, which takes place between The Vanishing Tower and The Bane of the Black Sword.

In 2001, Moorcock published a new Elric trilogy beginning with The Dreamthief's Daughter followed by The Skrayling Tree (2003) and The White Wolf's Son (2005). These do not form part of the Elric Saga itself but rather act as one of three possible conclusions to the overall Eternal Champion series,[1], although The Skrayling Tree itself occurs as part of Elric's Thousand Year Dream in 'Black Sword's Brothers'.

Despite announcing The White Wolf's Son as marking his retirement from writing fantasy novels, Moorcock continues to produce new novellas featuring Elric and Rackhir thus returning the Saga to its short story roots of the Science Fantasy era.

The most recent stories are:

  • The Roaming Forest (a Rackhir story published in Cross Plains Universe - probably set before the events of Elric of Melniboné)
  • A Portrait in Ivory (an Elric story published in Logorrhea - probably set between 'The Dreaming City' and 'While the Gods Laugh')
  • Black Petals (an Elric story - published in Weird Tales #349 (March/April 2008) - 85th anniversary issue)
  • Red Pearls - (an Elric story - published in Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery, Eos, 2010)

The Books

The publishing history of the Elric Saga is complex and somewhat convoluted due in no small part to Moorcock's periodical revisions and additions to it, as well as the numerous editions, collections and omnibuses that have been published over the past 50+ years.


The first sequence of books consisted of collections of the short stories and novellas that made up the original saga.

These are

  • The Stealer of Souls (1963), containing five novellas:
    • 'The Dreaming City'
    • 'While the Gods Laugh'
    • 'The Stealer of Souls'
    • 'Kings in Darkness'
    • 'The Flame Bringers'
  • Stormbringer (1965) – fix-up novel of four (abridged & revised) novellas:
    • 'Dead God's Homecoming'
    • 'Black Sword's Brothers'
    • 'Sad Giant's Shield'
    • 'Doomed Lord's Passing '
  • The Singing Citadel (1970), containing three Elric novellas + 1 other:
    • 'The Singing Citadel'
    • 'Master of Chaos'
    • 'The Greater Conqueror' (non-Elric novella)
    • 'To Rescue Tanelorn...'

The saga was expanded with


In 1977 the entire series was reordered and republished as a uniform six volume set:

The contents of the earlier collections The Stealer of Souls and The Singing Citadel were absorbed and rearranged into The Weird of the White Wolf and The Bane of the Black Sword volumes as follows:

  • The Weird of the White Wolf
    • 'The Dream of Earl Aubec' - formerly 'Master of Chaos' (in TSC)
    • 'The Dreaming City' (in TSOS)
    • 'While the Gods Laugh' (in TSOS)
    • 'The Singing Citadel' (in TSC)
  • The Bane of the Black Sword
    • 'The Stealer of Souls' (in TSOS)
    • 'Kings in Darkness' (in TSOS)
    • 'The Flamebringers' - formerly 'The Flame Bringers' (in TSOS)
    • 'To Rescue Tanelorn...' (in TSC)

The six books comprising the Elric Saga were published as two omnibus editions for the US market:

A seventh book Elric at the End of Time (1981) acts as a pendant to the series during this period.

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The series was continued with two further novels:

Together these two novels were published in omnibus format in the US as The Elric Saga Part III (2002).

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In 1993 the entire Elric Saga to date was collected in internal chronological order in two new omnibuses as part of a 14 omnibus series entitled The Tale of the Eternal Champion, being number Volumes 8 and 12 respectively.[2] At this time Moorcock took the opportunity to make some additional textual revisions.

  • Elric of Melniboné
    • Elric of Melniboné
    • The Fortress of the Pearl
    • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate
    • 'The Dreaming City'
    • 'While the Gods Laugh'
    • 'The Singing Citadel'
  • Stormbringer
    • The Sleeping Sorceress - title reverted from The Vanishing Tower
    • The Revenge of the Rose
    • 'The Stealer of Souls'
    • 'Kings in Darkness'
    • 'The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams' - formerly 'The Flamebringers'
    • Stormbringer

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In the US these two omnibuses (with the same content) were titled

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Between 2008 and 2010 Del Rey published the Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, a series of six uniform collections which featured the Elric stories in approximate publication order instead of a strict narrative chronology. Each volume included supplementary material, including articles, introductions, scripts and non-Elric-related stories to provide context for the Elric content. For the most part the series used the 1992-1999 omnibus texts rather than the original editions, although Stormbringer was further revised to restore text that had been removed in previous revisions.

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In 2013 Gollancz began re-publishing the Elric Saga, in narrative chronological order, in a uniform series of seven volumes as part of The Michael Moorcock Collection. The format of these 'definitive editions' was based on the Del Rey Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné series and featured much of the same supplementary materials.

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Comics & Graphic Novels

Elric: The Return to Melniboné is a graphic story originally created in 1969 by the French artist Philippe Druillet, though without permission from Moorcock to use the Elric character. In 1973, Bill Butler of Unicorn Books repackaged the story with text by Moorcock, though without permission from Druillet to reproduce the artwork. A potential law suit was avoided when both Moorcock and Druillet agreed to let the Unicorn edition go out of print and not be reprinted. In 1997, John Davey of Jayde Design was able to secure a special dispensation from Moorcock and Druillet to produce a second edition of this rare work. Elric: The Return to Melniboné is largely irrelevant to the main narrative of the Elric Saga and its place in the canonical Elric Saga is thus debatable. However, in 2007 Moorcock 'ret-conned' the story as a dream of Elric's that may take place between The Fortress of the Pearl and The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.[3]

Elric appeared in two issues of Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian comic in a story co-written by Moorcock and James Cawthorn with Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor Smith:

The stories - at least the parts that pertain to Elric and Melniboné's history - are generally considered canonical but do not form part of the Elric Saga proper.

In 1997/8, Moorcock wrote Michael Moorcock's Multiverse a 12-part series for DC Comics, which featured Elric in one of three comic strips in each issue,[4] called Duke Elric. It appears to present an 'alternative' or 'dreamquest' version of Elric living in Europe in the years prior to the Norman Conquest of England. Its place in the canonical Elric Saga is debatable. Michael Moorcock's Multiverse was published as a trade paperback in 1999 with the contents presented differently than in the original periodical serialization.

Between 2005 and 2006, DC Comics serialized Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer by Moorcock and artist Walter Simonson, which is a graphic novel prequel to the novel Elric of Melniboné and recounts events prior to Elric becoming 428th Emperor of Melniboné. It was published as a trade paperback in 2007 and is considered to be the latest addition to the Elric Saga.

See Also


  1. The others being The Quest for Tanelorn and the The War Amongst the Angels.
  2. The US edition of this series consists of 15 omnibuses, adding two additional volumes and losing one UK one.
  3. See The Sailor on the Seas of Fate audiobook.
  4. The other strips are Moonbeams and Roses and The Metatemporal Detective.