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Norse Mythology & Tradition imbued in Stormbringer, the

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  • Norse Mythology & Tradition imbued in Stormbringer, the

    Greetings Mr. Moorcock,

    I am Danish, male, in my late twenties, and my interests are Norse and Greek Mythology, History, and Tradition.

    The only book I have had the time to read from your work unfortunately, is the book called "Stormbringer" that contains the following novellas:

    a. The Sleeping Sorceress, b. The Revenge of the Rose c. The Stealer of Souls d. Kings in Darkness e. The Caravan of Forgotten dreams f. Stormbringer.
    I bought your book Stormbringer, about two years ago, and I have been reading it at least once a month ever since.

    I have been infatuated with that book; nothing had ever fascinated me so deeply.

    And I wonder why.

    a. General remarks on the book Stormbringer:

    It is my understanding that you tend to dismiss Stormbringer as a somewhat immature work, that you wrote for a somewhat unpopular science fiction magazine. Is that true?

    The feeling I had while reading the book is, that it was if you were actually
    living what you wrote, it was as if in some manner, you actually saw what your wrote unfurling before your eyes.

    The one thing that I like the most about Stormbringer is I suppose, that in spite of its fantasy elements, it does sound realistic as opposed to other popular fantasy series that are far too childish.

    b. Norse elements in the book Stormbringer:

    Sir, by my meager experience and moderate scholarship, I have found the following prominent Norse elements in the book:

    -------------->a. The legend of Esbjorn Snأ¸rre, the Northern Werewolf, read Norse Shapeshifter, contained in Book III of Stormbringer, entitled "A Rose Redeemed; A Rose Revived".

    This is in actuality, a Norse legend.

    -------------->b. Book V of the series, entitled "Kings in Darkness" is in essence, a rewritten version of certain parts of the Eyrbyggjasaga.

    ...or Helga Fell the "Holy Mountaininto which the relatives of Thorolf Mosturbeard died, which had:

    "great fires burning inside it, and the noise of feasting and clamor over the ale-horns"

    There might have been little feasting and ale horns inside your Hellig Bjerg sir, but still the parallel is there.

    ---------------->c. The final book of the series entitled "Stormbringer" was based on the Ragnarأ¸k Myth.

    There are more Norse elements in Stormbringer, but the above have struck me as being more prominent.

    I reckon that you did like Norse History and Mythology a lot. Are the above hypotheses of mine correct, sir?

    c. Questions about certain characters:

    a. Would Master Wheldrake the poet be yourself sir, or your alter ego?

    b. Could you please tell me what was the inspiration for naming the character Donblas the Justice Maker, one of the Lords of Law? He is my favourite character.

    c. What was that which you called "a pure untainted evil" and associated with the true form of the sword Stormbringer?

    d. Have you actually met a Norseman who was a Navigator or Seaman, thus your decription of Esbjorn Snأ¸rre as a seaman?

    e. Does your mentioning of the Legend of the Northern Werewold, has anything to do with the Ulfhednir otherwise known as Bersekr?
    Have you read the Skallagrimssonar? Were you influenced by Skallagrimssonar in what you have written about the shapeshifters?

    f. Your reference to Elric as "the wolf", has anything to do with our perception of the wolf as being an evil creature?

    g. Melnibonأ© symbolises Great Britain to a certain extent, does it not?

    h. Your perception of the Gypsy Nation as a creation of Chaos, that has formed a kind of psychic gravity of its own, that makes certain people feel irresistibly drawn to it, eventually to become a part of it, I find a very very important allegory.

    I have linked it, with the infatuation that certain children and young adults develop these days, with certain computer games, especially on-line games that deal with magic and the "practising of the dark arts" (your quote).

    Some of these people, become so much drawn into these games, that loose touch with reality to a certain extent, and that leads them almost always to their destruction, exactly like it happened with the Gypsy Nation.

    Of course, it needs not be games alone; the internet, and especially certain discussion boards, can play that role as well.

    Would you care to comment on the above sir?

    Many thanks for your kind attention.

    Med venlig hilsen,


  • #2
    Norse legends

    Hi, Kvedulf,
    Yes, I had a strong fascination for Norse and Celtic mythology when I was young and read a great deal. My argument with Tolkien is that he weakens the power of mythology, also his influence, in LOTR, though I'm not about to get into that one again! When I came to write Stormbringer I wanted to do something which echoed the power of the Norse myths in particular, and that included a tragic ending! While I did not follow any particular myth, the memories of those myths are ingrained. And, of course, the notion of Ragnarok was very much part of all that. I did use Esbjorn Snorre deliberately, in acknowledgement of those links and Wheldrake is in many ways my alter ego, yes. He pops up in a number of my books including Gloriana and is often quoted by a Victorian lady, Mrs Underwood, in The Dancers at the End of Time. The Elric book you have, by the way, is the second volume of the omnibus set. The first one is Elric of Melnibone. These are the British titles. They had different titles in the US editions.
    I don't dismiss Stormbringer. I did write it at white heat in a very short time and I would probably have taken a little more care with some of the language if I wrote it now but it remains the yardstick for the rest of the books, especially those written relatively recently -- Revenge of the Rose,
    The Dreamthief's Daughter and The Skrayling Tree. The Skrayling Tree
    is another book which makes specific reference to Norse mythology as well as the Viking expeditions to Vinland.
    I haven't made many direct references to specific Norse myths in the stories and the Kings in Darkness similarities probably come from the fact that both Jim Cawthorn and I read Norse literature extensively. The plot was in fact Jim's -- the only Elric that was not done completely by me.
    I don't think I had any particular inspiration for Donblas the Justice Maker. I haven't used him very much in later stories. Indeed those Lords and Ladies of Law I have used have tended to be corrupt (as in Miggea of
    The Dreamthief's Daughter). Since Law and Chaos don't relate closely to Good and Evil, it means that you can have 'bad' Lords of Law and 'good' Lords of Chaos, depending on your perspective and particular ambitions. The aim of the Eternal Champion is not to side with one against the other at all times, but to ensure that the Balance is maintained, which is what Elric does, of course, at the end of Stormbringer.
    I've known a fair number of Norse seamen over the years, including Icelandic fishermen. I travelled fairly extensively in Scandinavia as a young man and one of my best memories is reading Bengtsson's The Longships sitting on a runestone in Upsala, where much of the book is set.
    While I haven't specifically used berserkers as characters, I do of course know of the phenomenon and have employed it where it suits the character (as in some ways it does suit the character of Elric). I haven't specifically used Norse mythology very much, in fact, except where it is obvious and the characters have Norse names, but it is very much something I absorbed as a boy. Melnibone is a representation of Great Britain, yes -- a great empire in decline. I have written about this in various places. It is why I am troubled by the emergent American empire at the moment. I don't think empires are very good for those who start them!
    Elric is the White Wolf, certainly, but I don't believe wolves to be evil. In fact I tend to think of them as amoral, if anything. I like wolves. However, where they stand as wild outlaws, I tend to identify characters like Elric with them.
    The Gypsy Nation is, as you suspect, a reference to people who formalise 'freedom' and in fact become prisoners of that conception. Again this tends to be a reference to modern America which has become somewhat stultified, certainly at government level. When you give up real freedom in order to subscribe to an idea of false freedom you are in serious trouble, in my view.
    I hope that covers your questions. I'm always happy to expand an answer or argument should you wish me to!
    Be well!

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses


    • #3
      another advantage of the new multiverse incarnation seems to be that it is possible ask follow up questions directly!

      here is one: Wheldrake appears not only in many stories, but is also quoted often at the beginning of chapters with poetry. are there special influences for those poems? and has Wheldrake also written prose, maybe the history of the runestaff? Wheldrake also seems to recall much more of the various plains of the multiverse, so he is similar to Jhary and Daker as well.

      the norse mytholgy influence is very important and interesting . the whole fast paced action in the nordic sagas, which Andersons Broken Sword reflects very good in my opinion, is also very important for the Elric stories. itآ´s like, you donآ´t have to describe every single step the character takes, but can leap over things that are unimportant maybe, or leave it to the readers imagination.