Via marycatelli, here is an excellent essay on one of Michael Moorcock’s essays by superversive/Tom Simon, criticizing Moorcook’s rather ill-founded criticism of J.R.R. Tolkien. Which is an another topic, of course, but this paragraph nicely sums up Elric’s biggest problem:
Elric makes a pact with Arioch, a Lord of Chaos, who gives him the sword Stormbringer. Stormbringer gives its wielder great power, but also turns him, in effect, into a vampire, who must slay other living souls merely to stay alive. Nowhere in the Elric books is there any indication that Moorcock’s hero regrets his pact, or feels that his victims have any worth comparable to his own. In the end he builds up an army of barbarians, returns to Melniboné, kills the cousin who usurped his throne, destroys the entire city, and then betrays his allies to destruction themselves. From all this slaughter and betrayal he walks away more or less smiling, if the desperately melancholy Elric can ever be said to smile. It is a celebration of heroic nihilism so blatant that even Nietzsche might have averted his eyes in shame. All this is worlds away from the strict Judaeo-Christian ethics and Catholic sense of grace that permeate Tolkien’s work.
Elric is dependent on Stormbringer to keep him from becoming a cripple, and he often laments this fact…but this is also Elric’s own fault, as well. I wonder if anyone ever pointed out this obvious fact to him…
ELRIC: Curse this vile demon-sword Stormbringer! It destroys everything I hold dear, yet without it, I am helpless and feeble! How I wish I could be rid of it.
JM: Actually, wouldn’t regular treatments of medication allow you to function without the sword?
JM: Why not do that?
ELRIC: Because the necessary drugs are only available in Imrryr, the Dreaming City, of which I was once Emperor.
JM: Didn’t you betray your kinsmen and sack the city?”
JM: So, you are dependent upon your cursed sword because you destroyed the only source for the medication that would allow you to remain independent of the sword?
ELRIC: I am cursed! Cursed! The forces of Chaos manipulate my actions, and I cannot resist.
JM: Somehow I think that convincing you to do stupid things didn’t take much exertion on the part of the forces of Chaos. If you get my drift.
ELRIC: I am doomed, and bring misery and despair wherever I trod.
JM: Also, the whole emo thing? Terribly adolescent. Makes it easy to mock you, though.
ELRIC: You dare mock me, Elric, last emperor of Melniboné, bearer of the runesword Stormbringer, master of ten thousand years of sorcerous lore?
JM: Oh, yeah. Also, you’re not really Elric; you’re just a simulacrum of him on the blog of an obscure fantasy writer. Which means I can make you do whatever I want. And since you spend at least a third of each story whining about your fate, you might as well express yourself through song…
ELRIC: No! No! Not that! Stop!
(ELRIC bursts into SONG & DANCE.)
ELRIC: It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to…
JM: And you thought Arioch was cruel.