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THE MAD GOD'S AMULET

by Michael Moorcock

Tor

978-0-765-32474-0

208pp/$13.99/March 2010

The Mad God's Amulet
Cover by Vance Kovacs

Reviewed by Steven H Silver


Michael Moorcock’s The Mad God’s Amulet (originally The Sorcerer’s Amulet) is the second novel of the History of the Runestaff and picks up the adventures of Dorian Hawkmoon immediately following his victory over Baron Meliadus in Hamadan.  The novel details Hawkmoon and Oladahn’s journey back to the Kamarg and Castle Brass in their overarching fight against the evil Granbretan empire.

Hawkmoon’s journey takes him to the city of Soryandum where they are captured by Huillam d'Averc, a Frenchman who is in league with the forces of Granbretan.  D’averc is preparing to destroy the city of Soryandum, which, unknown to him, is home to a race of interdimensional beings.  These wraiths ally with Oladahn and Hawkmoon to defeat d’Averc, who Hawkmoon eventually finds as his captive. An attack on their ship, however, finds them searching for the legendary Mad God, who may hold Hawkmoon’s paramour, Yisselda, hostage.

As with The Jewel in the Skull, one of the primary features of The Mad God's Amulet is the inclusion of interesting artifacts. Not only does Moorcock describe the titular item, but he also creates the Soryandum machine, which eventually acts as a deus ex machina.  As Hawkmoon and his companions and enemies move through a future Earth, it is reasonably clear that the various magical items they come into contact with are supposed to have a technological basis, even if their users don't know what it is and Moorcock's readers don't particularly care.  The Mad God's Amulet is science fiction for the fantasy fan.

While Hawkmoon and Brass had essentially only faced Baron Meliadus in The Jewel in the Skull, Moorcock allows them to face a range of villains in The Mad God's Amulet, including d'Averc and the titular character.  Despite Meliadus making a return appearance at the end of the novel, there is an indication on Moorcock's part that for all Baron Meliadus has a major role in Granbretan, he is not its sole operative, nor are villains limited to a single political entity.

The first novel in the series saw the main characters scattered across Eurasia, with Count Brass remaining in the Karmarg and Hawkmoon, along with the wild-man Oladahn in distant Hamadan, The Mad God's Skull manages to bring the characters together, after collecting additional companions and lost comrades.  Their return to the Kamarg is just in time to face off against Meliadus and the amassed power of Granbretan.  Moorcock's ending, while it provides a measure of success for the heroes, is not entirely satisfactory, but the knowledge that the story will be continued in The Sword of the Dawn and The Runestaff allows the reader to accept the temporary fate of Hawkmoon and company while awaiting closure and satisfaction.

The Mad God's Amulet is a strange novel.  Although a lot of import happens, from the introduction of new characters and relationships, to the political mechanizations of both the Kamarg and Grenbretan, it is essentially a middle novel, setting things up for the events of the next book in the series. Nevertheless, Moorcock's characters and his transparent writing style make The Mad God's Amulet and fun and engaging novel.


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