By Michael Moorcock



336pp/$28.99/December 2022

The Citadel of Forgotten Myths
Cover by Brom

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

More than sixty years after Michael Moorcock introduced Elric of Melnibone in "The Dreaming City," he has once again returned to his creation, taking a look at a previously unreported adventure Elric and Moonglum embarked upon shortly before the events of Stormbringer. The novel The Citadel of Forgotten Myths builds not only on the previous Elric stories and novels, but also brings in many of the concepts of the multiverse and the moonbeam roads that Moorcock has introduced and developed throughout his work.

The novel sees Elric and Moonglum travel to the opposite site of the world from Melnibone, indicating that their world is somewhat egg-shaped and giving them a new world to discover. Ostensibly making the arduous journey in order for Elric to learn more of his people's ancestry and their relationship to the Phoorn, the technical name for the race of dragons who protected Melnibone before Elric betrayed his kingdom. Along the way, they make the acquaintance of one of Elric's cousins, Dyvim Marluc, who leads a band of Melnibonean refugees who must balance their hatred of Elric for his betrayal with the sense of loyalty they feel for their former emperor. Along with Dyvim Marluc they go on a quest for a black plant which Elric may be able to use to replace the strength he gets from Stormbringer. Finally, they journey to the city of Kirinmoir in an attempt to get the last piece of a map that will lead them back to their own side of the world, and find themselves in a battle for the soul of the world.

Moorcock tends to shift viewpoint throughout The Citadel of Forgotten Myth, most frequently between Elric and Moonglum, which allows for an interesting view of his albino antihero, but the shifts are often down suddenly and just as suddenly shifting back. The most sustained viewpoint shift is also the most intriguing. Late in the novel, Moorcock presents Xiombarg's point of view in an almost stream of consciousness gush which serves to highlight the impact of the encroaching Chaos that Xiombarg is promising to bring to the city of Kirinmoir. While shifting the point of view to Xiombarg makes sense and works as a representation of chaos, it harms the narrative of the novel. Similarly the shifts between Elric and Moonglum is a slight jarring. Possibly because portions of the novel were published separately, there are places where it is a little repetitive.

Despite being set in a fantasy world that makes use of many of the tropes that Moorcock helped pioneer and making full use of his gift for alien nomenclature, Moorcock is not afraid to allow The Citadel of Forgotten Myths to comment on the current state of the world. Hardly a hero, Elric's fight against Xiombarg and her Golden Warlord Ramada Sabaru in a reflection of the war against the fascism that Moorcock has returned to again and again in his works. However, he makes it clear that his concern is not just with the fascism that arose in the mid-twentieth century, but also the fascism that is gaining a foothold in the twenty-first century.

While there is a familiarity to The Citadel of Forgotten Myths that ties it to Moorcock's classic Elric novels, there is also a more philosophical level to the novel, in line with the novels Moorcock added to the series beginning with The Fortress of the Pearl, and while The Citadel of Forgotten Myths can be read on its own, or at least without knowledge of all of Moorcock's Elric books, the book is strengthened by the knowledge of not only all of the prior Elric novels, but many of Moorcock's other novels.

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