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The Dreamthief's Daughter
Michael Moorcock
Warner Aspect, 460 pages

The Dreamthief's Daughter
Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock has published over 70 novels in all genres. These include several series that share, to different extents, a common multiverse: the Cornelius Chronicles, The Dancers at the End of Time, Erekose, The Books of Corum, Hawkmoon: The Chronicles of Castle Brass, Hawkmoon: The History of the Runestaff and the classic Elric of Melnibone Saga. He has also edited an anthology of late Victorian science fiction, Before Armageddon. Under the pen name E.P. Bradbury, he published a series of novel-length pastiches of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels.

Moorcock was born in London in 1939 and began writing, illustrating, editing and printing fanzines under the MJM Publications imprint at a young age. He became the editor of Tarzan Adventures at 16 (some sources say 17), and later the Sexton Blake Library. In 1964 he became the radical editor of the experimental and frequently controversial British SF magazine New Worlds.

A multiple winner of the British Fantasy Award, Moorcock is also a World Fantasy Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner for his novel Gloriana. He won the 1967 Nebula Award for his novella "Behold the Man." He has twice won the Derleth Award for Fantasy (for The Sword and the Stallion, and The Hollow Lands), and the Guardian Fiction Prize (1977) for The Condition of Muzak. He has been shortlisted for both the Booker and Whitbread prizes, Britain's most prestigious literary awards. Moorcock currently lives in London, Spain and Texas. Moorcock has also recorded music, both solo and with the progressive rock group, Hawkwind.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Gloriana or the Unfulfilled Queen
SF Site Review: Behold the Man
SF Site Review: Michael Moorcock's Multiverse
SF Site Review: The War Amongst the Angels
SF Site Review: The Dancers at the End of Time
SF Site Review: Kane of Old Mars
SF Site Review: Sailing to Utopia
Michael Moorcock Interview
Michael Moorcock's Musical Contributions
Bio-bibliography: Michael Moorcock
Bibliography: Michael Moorcock
Vote for your favourite Moorcock novel
Michael Moorcock Tribute Site
Michael Moorcock Tribute Site
Elric of Melnibone site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

Michael Moorcock is a pioneering writer of his generation. His tortured prince, Elric of Melniboné, was a lasting memorable character with a complex, multi-dimensional existence and a brooding central sorrow which wounded his spirit but never dulled the edge of the warrior prince who continued doing what circumstances demanded of him. The Dreamthief's Daughter is the latest novel in the Elric saga, and it plunges its protagonist squarely into the moral morass that was Nazi Germany in the 30s.

Moorcock uses his story to make some scathing points which apply to the modern day as much -- if not more -- than they ever did to his Nazi scenario. Among other things, he says:

Nazis... controlled the media. On the radio, in the newspapers and magazines and movies, they began to tell the people whom they should love and whom they should hate... This is by no means a new phenomenon... The American Puritans characterised everyone who disagreed with them as evil and godless and probably witches... The British and the Americans went into China to save the country from the opium they had originally sold it. The Turks had to characterise Armenians as godless monsters before they began their appalling slaughter of the Christians.

Frightened nations will accept too easily the threat of civil war and the promise of the man who says he will avert it. Hitler averted civil war because he had no need of it. His opposition was delivered into his hands by the ballot boxes of a country which, at that time, had one of the best democratic constitutions in the world, superior in many ways to the American.

It is a mark, I think, of the political scoundrel who uses the most sentimental language to blame all others but his own constituents for the problems of the world. Always a "foreign threat", fear of "the stranger". I still hear those voices in modern Germany and France and America and all the countries we once thought too civilised to allow such horror within their own borders.

These are brave things to say, even if they are put into the mouth of the protagonist of a fantasy novel. Some of them skate perilously close to things we would find if we looked a little closer at our own everyday world, which provokes an uncomfortable thought about how much ELSE in Elric's violent universe has parallels in our own.

The Dreamthief's Daughter is an oddly old-fashioned novel, a tome that feels weighty even though it weighs in at a not-too unwieldy standard paperback. Perhaps it's the tone, an almost personal-journal delivery of the events in question, which gives it a strangely 19th century feel. However, despite its sometimes glacial pace, the novel delivers both beauty and humor. There is, for instance, a passage that (taken literally) might explain far too much about my own existence sometimes:

Some people believe that each of us has a guardian angel which discreetly looks after our interests, perhaps in the way that we care for and protect a pet. And just as some pets have conscientious owners, others have bad owners. Therefore, although we are all assigned such angels, the unlucky ones have careless guardian angels.
I don't know how Michael Moorcock managed to meet mine, but, if not careless, my own has certainly "slept on the job" occasionally. I don't doubt other readers will nod in recognition where their own angels are concerned.

Moorcock speaks of the "...tidiness of death. Mankind inevitably achieves the same when it seeks to control too much" -- an insight immediately followed by, "Was anarchy so terrible, compared to the deadly discipline of fascism? As much democracy and social justice had emerged from chaos as from tyranny".

As I said, this is a brave book. The Dreamthief's Daughter is the kind of book that makes you put it down, engage your brain, and consider concepts that would have otherwise remained comfortably concealed under convenient carpets.

The tales of Elric remain, as always, a thinking reader's fantasy.

Copyright © 2003 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her latest fantasy work, a two-volume series entitled Changer of Days, was published by HarperCollins.


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