THE WHITE WOLF'S SON
by Michael Moorcock
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
When I was first introduced to the writings of Michael Moorcock, back when I was a young teenager, one of my favorite of his series was the four books of the Runestaff and the follow-up Chronicles of Count Brass trilogy. Although the hero, Dorian Hawkmoon, occasionally crossed over into stories of Elric, he wasn't as much a focus of the writing as Elric, Corum or even Erekosë. In The White Wolf's Son, the follow up to The Skrayling Tree, Michael Moorcock introduces Elric to the Dark Empire of Granbretan and the world of Dorian Hawkmoon. And Hawkmoon still only appears as a tangential character.
The focus in The White Wolf's Son is on Elric and his great-granddaughter, Oonagh von Beck. Opening, more or less, in contemporary times, Oonagh narrates most of the tale of being chased through the dimensions by Herr Klosterheim and Gaynor the Damned, characters who will be familiar to readers of the previous books in this series (The Dreamthief's Daughter and The Skrayling Tree). Klosterheim and Gaynor are convinced that they need Oonagh for their own nefarious purposes which are not specifically revealed until near the end of the novel. What does become clear early on, after Oonagh escapes into the Middle March, is that her fate is apparently tied to that of Onric, a blind albino boy who she can't seem to contact, despite seeing him occasionally.
In her attempts to escape Klosterheim and Gaynor, Oonagh is helped be a wide range of characters who also come from various works by Moorcock, ranging from Elric and Oswald Bastable to Lord Renyard the fox-man and Oona, the Dreamthief's daughter and Oonagh's grandmother. While these characters know how to deal with the situations Oonagh finds herself in, they in the dark concerning Klosterheim and Gaynor's motives and frequently seem ineffectual.
Much of The White Wolf's Son is given over to speculation of the nature of the multiverse, important within the the confines of Moorcock's books, and the nature of evil, more intriguing in our own world. The role of evil is taken by the Dark Empire of Granbretan, which is described in the book as a mixture of Nazi Germany with the expansionist policy of Cecil Rhodes. In addition, Moorcock occasionally allows individual characters from Granbretan and their actions to mirror policy of modern politics.
With the exception of the prologue and epilogue, the sequences featuring Elric and the other characters have little resemblance to the original Elric novels of the 1960s. Moorcock has moved far beyond that stage of his writing and is more comfortable dealing with more philosophical matters. While this makes for a more interesting and intellectual novel, it will not necessary endear the novel to those who are fans of the original Elric series. However, the portions which focus on Granbretan do manage to very well capture the feel of the original Hawkmoon series.
The White Wolf's Son is a satisfying conclusion to the most recent series concerning Elric of Melniboné and his offspring. As Moorcock has always done, he introduces a wide variety of characters from different books, all of which are linked by their philosophical underpinings. In addition, Moorcock introduces locations and the feel of earlier books into this novel to good effect which will make it more palatable to those who yearn for Moorcock's earlier, less practiced days.
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