The Eternal Champion (series)

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The Eternal Champion series is a fifteen volume set of omnibuses that present a considerable number of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion novels and stories in a 'recommended reading order'. It was originally published in the United States by White Wolf in hardcover and trade paperback editions between 1994 and 2000. The series was jointly edited by Moorcock and John Davey, and was based on the earlier The Tale of the Eternal Champion omnibus series published by Orion in the United Kingdom. The UK omnibuses appeared with a number of errors and the US series presented Moorcock with an extra opportunity to both correct these and make additional revisions to the texts. Although Moorcock prefers the UK 'recommended reading order' he considers the White Wolf omnibuses the 'definitive' textual versions.[1] Each omnibus also contained an Introduction by Moorcock; in some cases these were reprinted from the UK omnibuses but occasionally were original to the US series.

List of Volumes

Series Publication

The original publication of the Millennium hardcover and trade paperback volumes took place over a relatively short period, with the first four volumes published on 12th November, 1992 and the final fourteenth volume published by 14th December, 1993. As such, with the exception of volumes like A Nomad of the Time Streams and Stormbringer, each volume simply used the most definitive texts available at the time. However, because Moorcock doesn't tend to re-read anything once its been published, the "most definitive texts available at that time" had never been thoroughly re-copy-edited, certainly not for cross-title uniformity. With volumes coming out at roughly one per month from Millennium, there was little time for any major editing, and proof-reading tended to only deal with fixing typographical errors and the like. Additionally, there was little reason to assume that there was anything substantially wrong with the existing text.

Whereas the entire Millennium series was published in 13 months, with the White Wolf volumes there was a more relaxed publication schedule with the first volume (The Eternal Champion) published in September 1994 and the final fifteenth volume in March 2000. This five-and-a-half year process gave Moorcock and Davey ample opportunity to ensure the White Wolf texts were as 'definitive' as they could possibly be. However, the early White Wolf volumes were rather error-strewn, mainly with typographical errors - Davey had little involvement in The Eternal Champion volume, for instance - but publication of the trade paperbacks for volumes 1-12 between February 1996 and July 2001 provided the opportunity to correct most - if not all - of these errors.

The Millennium/Orion mass-market paperbacks were published from June 1995 through to September 1998, and as such some (though not all) of these editions were able to take advantage of some (but not all) of the White Wolf revisions and corrections.[2]

Hardcover and Trade Paperback Editions

All fifteen volumes were originally published by White Wolf in hardcover editions, but due to contractual reasons only the first twelve volumes were also issued in trade paperback .[3] As a result, the final three hardcover volumes generally command higher prices in the secondary marketplace due to their relative scarcity.

According to John Davey, Moorcock's co-editor on the series:

"Generally, speaking, the White Wolf editions have the more definitive texts, having (in most instances) received an additional and thorough copy-edit. The W.W. trade-sized paperbacks are also very slightly more definitive than the hardcovers, having allowed correction of anything erroneous occurring first time 'round. (This is only approaching substantial in 'Hawkmoon', where the hardcover had a few layout problems.) Also, the 'Stormbringer' novel, in 'Elric: The Stealer Of Souls', was fairly substantially worked on, to ensure inclusion of the best of all previous versions.[4]

Differences between UK and US series

Whereas the UK series opened with the von Bek novel The War Hound and the World's Pain it was felt that Moorcock's status in the US as the fantasy creator of Elric meant the series should start with a more 'mainstream' fantasy novel and so the first two Millennium volumes - Von Bek and The Eternal Champion - were switched for the White Wolf series.

This new first volume, as well as featuring the Erekosë novels The Eternal Champion and Phoenix in Obsidian also included a novel not used in the UK series for copyright reasons,[5] the so-called "first novel of the Multiverse", The Sundered Worlds, in order to establish the concept of the Multiverse early on in the US series. A Rackhir novella set in Elric's realm of the Young Kingdoms, 'To Rescue Tanelorn...', was moved up from the end of the UK series (where it had concluded the thirteenth volume) to the new first US volume as well.

However, the upshot of including all this extra material meant it wasn't practical to also include the third Erekosë novel, The Dragon in the Sword (as in the UK series) because the resultant book would have been too large to have been bound properly.[6] Therefore, since Ulrich von Bek also co-stars alongside Erekosë in the The Dragon in the Sword it was felt possible to incorporate it alongside other von Bek novels in the US Von Bek omnibus.[7]

The US series contained two additional volumes not included in the UK series - The Road Between the Worlds and Kane of Old Mars - and omitted one: The New Nature of the Catastrophe.

  • The Road Between the Worlds contained three novels that - as was the case with The Sundered Worlds - could not be included in the UK series because the British rights were not held by Orion Books:[8] The Wrecks of Time, The Winds of Limbo and The Shores of Death. Moorcock provided new framing/bridging material featuring Renark von Bek to link the three novels together with the overall Eternal Champion/Multiverse concept.
  • Kane of Old Mars, was the first time the Michael Kane novels had been published in omnibus format in the US and was a straight reprint of the 1981 UK Warrior of Mars omnibus from New English Library, although the original Introduction was slightly revised for the US market.
  • It was not possible to include the The New Nature of the Catastrophe collection in the US series because the American rights for the Jerry Cornelius stories were held by Four Walls Eight Windows, although the planned anthology - to compliment their edition of The Cornelius Quartet - was never published.[9]

To replace the novella 'To Rescue Tanelorn...', which had rounded off the thirteenth UK volume and was now included in the first US volume, a different Elric-themed story, 'Sir Milk-and-Blood', was added to the US edition of Earl Aubec and Other Stories instead.

Differences in UK and US 'Reading Orders'

Although Moorcock and Davey had devised their preferred 'recommended reading order' for the Millennium/Orion series, it was felt that changes needed to be made to accommodate the American readership, specifically their expectation of an Elric omnibus earlier in the series.[10] Therefore, Moorcock decided to tweak the reading order for the White Wolf series - incorporating the additional US-only omnibuses - consulting with Davey to ensure no narrative hiccups occurred in the revised order.

Textual Revisions

Mike Says

  • "The reason I put the omnibus series together with John Davey was exactly in order, initially, to give readers an idea of where and when to start the EC series. They were slightly different in the UK and US, as it happened, for logistic reasons and the fact that the Michael Kane books weren't then available to include in the UK series. I would now prefer it if the books just went back to their ordinary individual volumes..."[11]

See Also

Notes

  1. CITATION REQUIRED
  2. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=114715&postcount=43
  3. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=1101&postcount=14
  4. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=22021&postcount=12
  5. The rights to The Sundered Worlds in the UK were held by Penguin Books so the title couldn't be included in the Millennium/Orion series.
  6. CITATION REQUIRED (from John Davey at MWM?)
  7. The UK Von Bek omnibus contained only The War Hound and the World's Pain, The City in the Autumn Stars and the short story 'The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius' (revised to fit in with the von Bek family stories).
  8. The UK rights were held by Penguin Books, who published the novels individually between 1993-4.
  9. CITATION REQUIRED
  10. In the Millennium/Orion series, the first Elric omnibus, Elric of Melniboné, didn't appear till halfway through the series.
  11. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=27965&postcount=6