by Michael Moorcock

Quartet Books


166pp/£.60/July 1975

The Sword and the Stallion

Patrick Woodroffe

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

The final novel of Michael Moorcock's Corum series is The Sword and the Stallion, which takes everything Moorcock did in the first two novels of the second Corum trilogy and builds on them. The novel opens on a high point and Moorcock takes his characters and their situation to the depths before providing a satisfying conclusion to Corum's story.

At the end of The Oak and the Ram, Corum and the Mabden who summoned him from his own time had achieved their first real victory over the other-planar Fhoi Myore and they are still celebrating as the final novel opens, realizing that the biggest battles are still ahead of them. Everything seems to be going well except that Corum and his lover, Medhbh seem to be arguing for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Unfortunately, Corum's relationships with women are one of the weaker parts of all the Corum novels. In the first trilogy, Corum and Rhalina, and in this trilogy, Corum and Medhbh, the only reason the couples have paired up is because they are in the same place at the same time.

One of the most interesting sections of The Sword and the Stallion occurs in the first part of the novel. Corum's friend, Goffanon, and one of the Mabden, Hisak Sunthief, forge a sword for Corum. Swords, particularly named swords, play an important role in many of Moorcock's novels, from Stormbringer and Mournblade in the Elric novels to the Dragon Sword of The Dragon in the Sword to Erekose's Kanajana, but this scene shows the ritualistic forging of a sword of power. That adds not only to this novel, but gives greater depths to those other novels and swords as well and is the only time we see this sort of ritual performed in Moorcock's works.

Power is a theme throughout the novel and Moorcock builds on the idea of places of power throughout the novel. Cremmsmound, the mound in which Corum "slept" between the events of The King of the Swords and The Bull and the Spear, Craig Don, which the Fhoi Myore avoid, Hy Breasail, Goffanon’s island, and introduced in this volume, Ynys Scaith, home to the extraplanar Malibann. Each of these places adds a sense of wonder and mysticism to the novel, which is recognized by the characters. They are feared by some, exalted by others, and give a strong sense of differing belief systems amonth the various races that inhabit Corum's world.

The Sword and the Stallion also shows how much Moorcock plotted this trilogy as a cohesive unit, even moreso than Corum's previous trilogy. Elements planted throughout The Bull and the Spear and The Oak and the Ram resurface, providing a sense of completion and depth to the world Corum moves through. What appeared to be a minor, throw-away incident in the first volume suddenly resurfaces with major implications, not only for Corum, but for the Mabden he has allied himself with.

The Sword and the Stallion is a fitting conclusion to Moorcock's Corum novels and hs the rare effect of elevating the entire series by its ability to tie up the various loose ends and themes that Moorcock introduced, not only in the second trilogy, but also his look at deities and belief that filled the first trilogy.

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