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The novel is set at some indeterminate time in a post-nuclear holocaust future, where science and sorcery co-exist and the Dark Empire of Granbretan (Great Britain) is expanding across Europe.


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The novel is set at some indeterminate time in a post-nuclear holocaust future, where science and sorcery co-exist and the Dark Empire of Granbretan (Great Britain) is expanding across Europe.

30 review for The Jewel in the Skull

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    Maybe not quite as good as Elric, from a "coldly logical" point of view, but I have a real soft spot for the Hawkmoon novels. This is close to the edition I read first (same cover but I read it in '74). These novels (2 Hawkmoon series) could be called the culmination of the Eternal Champion Cycle. I stumbled on this book when I had very limited access to books. Someone else had "donated it to the cause" (I was in a situation where we all shared any book that came to anybody). I liked fantasy and Maybe not quite as good as Elric, from a "coldly logical" point of view, but I have a real soft spot for the Hawkmoon novels. This is close to the edition I read first (same cover but I read it in '74). These novels (2 Hawkmoon series) could be called the culmination of the Eternal Champion Cycle. I stumbled on this book when I had very limited access to books. Someone else had "donated it to the cause" (I was in a situation where we all shared any book that came to anybody). I liked fantasy and really loved this book. It was about this same time that I stumbled across my first one of Roger Zelazny's Amber books. It was probably 2 years later when I was back in a situation to have "ready access" to books stores. Did you ever stop and think what a marvelous place this is? We think of hot and cold running water as a necessity of life, and we have access to bookstores in every neighborhood! No wonder I love America! I ran down the Eternal Champion series...found Elric, Corum, and of course, Dorian Hawkmoon. So I have read these books over and over, don't miss them!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    I have a theory that of Moorcock's many readers, 49% count Jerry Cornelius as their favorite character, 49% favor Elric of Melnibone, and the other 2% of us are split between Catherine, Moonglum, Whiskers, Bastable.... mine is Dorian Hawkmoon of Granbretan. The books are set in a post-apocalyptic future but include all of the sorcerous and swordish adventure of the traditional fantasy novels. Hawkmoon is a tragic figure who must oppose the Dark Empire and his own trial of sin-and-redemption brou I have a theory that of Moorcock's many readers, 49% count Jerry Cornelius as their favorite character, 49% favor Elric of Melnibone, and the other 2% of us are split between Catherine, Moonglum, Whiskers, Bastable.... mine is Dorian Hawkmoon of Granbretan. The books are set in a post-apocalyptic future but include all of the sorcerous and swordish adventure of the traditional fantasy novels. Hawkmoon is a tragic figure who must oppose the Dark Empire and his own trial of sin-and-redemption brought on by the mystic Runestaff, older than time itself, and the Black Jewel embedded in his head. Hawkmoon examines the conflict of the Balance for Law and Chaos and explores the character and nature of The Eternal Champion better than any of the other manifestations, in my opinion. Moorcock's multiverse tapestry is an endless delight, and Hawkmoon is my favorite facet.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    It's a 3 1/2 story but I gave it 4 stars as I felt some of the reviewers were too harsh. OVERALL FEELING: Evil Empire trying to take over an alternative European world; standard pulp swords and sorcery; easy read; somewhat good; few interesting points; some interesting characters; some are caricatures; flows well. MARKETING APPEAL: This story came about in the 60s, I believe, when pulp sci fi magazines were a big thing; I doubt it made a lot of money at first but the Eternal Champion, most notably It's a 3 1/2 story but I gave it 4 stars as I felt some of the reviewers were too harsh. OVERALL FEELING: Evil Empire trying to take over an alternative European world; standard pulp swords and sorcery; easy read; somewhat good; few interesting points; some interesting characters; some are caricatures; flows well. MARKETING APPEAL: This story came about in the 60s, I believe, when pulp sci fi magazines were a big thing; I doubt it made a lot of money at first but the Eternal Champion, most notably Elric and Corum, were a popular series. Remember, this was during a time when fantasy was just getting some notice but mostly in pulp magazines. Besides Tolkien and Le Sprague de Camp and a handful of others, there weren't that many. SCORING: Superb (A), Excellent (A-), Very good (B+), Good (B) Fairly Good (B-) Above Average (C+), Mediocre (C ), Barely Passable (C-) Pretty Bad (D+), Dismal (D), Waste of Time (D-), Into the Trash (F) DIALOGUE: B STRUCTURE: B- HISTORY SETTING: C CHARACTERS: B EVIL SETUP/ANTAGONISTS: B- EMOTIONAL IMPACT: C+ SURPRISES: B- MONSTERS: B- PACING: B+ THE LITTLE THINGS: B OVERALL STYLE: B- FLOW OF WORDS: B CHOICE OF FOCUS: B- TRANSITIONS/FLASHBACKS/POV: B- COMPLEXITY OF WORDS/SYMBOLISM/THEMES: B- OVERALL GRADE: B- CONCEPT: The idea of a technologically mixed Eurpean area, which exists thousands of years into the future, is an interesting one. During the 60s to 70s one could easily believe the world was destroyed by nuclear warheads and the results ended up in a future medieval Europe with magic and technology. Archetypes are heavy (see below for more details) . . . at its time, it was quite original. CHARACTERS: they're average to very good. DIALOGUE: Again, as character introspection is rare in this tale, it's reflected, to some degree, in dialogue. See the CHARACTER section on this point. Overall, the dialogue flowed well and the characters sounded somewhat different. But, no one stood out exceptionally like in better series like that of GRRM or even lesser ones like Kate Elliot's THE KING'S DRAGON. PACING: The book is sparse to begin with; only 160 pages . . . but it moves quick. I think the pacing is great. Of course, the pacing is so good b/c Moorcock doesn't give us a lot of details. Everything is brief . . . succinct . . . he should be writing scripts. Sometimes though; I'd like more details. Have to be fair here in comparison to authors who have meatier texts; 160 pages; it's easier to move fast compared to 900 pages as the typical epic fantasy. Back when Moorcock was writing, novels were shorter and would be considered almost novelettes today. By the 70s and 80s the fantasy novels shot up to 400 or 500 pages. Since RJ's WHEEL OF TIME series, the novels have shot up to 800 pages or so per book. FAVORITE DESCRIPTIVE PASSAGE: "The castle was built of the same white stone as the houses of the town. It had windows of thick glass (much of it painted fancifully) and ornate towers and battlements of delicate workmanship." "The Baron was almost as tall as Count Brass. He was dressed in gleaming black and dark blue. Even his jeweled animal mask, which covered the whole of his head like a helmet, was of some strange black metal with deep blue sapphires for eyes." OPENING PASSAGE: "Count Brass, Lord Guardian of Kamarg, rode out on a horned horse one morning to inspect his territories. He rode until he came to a little hill, on the top of which stood a ruin of immense age. It was the ruin of a Gothic church whose walls of thick stone were smooth with the passing of winds and rain. Ivy clad much of it, and the amber blossoms filled the dark windows, substitute for the stained glass that had once decorated them. FLAWS: Not enough character introspection . . . most of the characters were archetypes so the emotional arcs were less than say in his ELRIC series where the character is far more developed and emphatic. Again, give it some latitude, as I believe he wrote this out in pieces for magazines. Quite different from the expected fantasy novel of today. OVERALL STYLE: Again, he's succinct. One thing I really like is Moorcock's narrative approach; he'll sometimes jump in as a narrator to explain things; sort of like Tolkien's THE HOBBIT but not quite as much. He also has a setup at each chapter to sort of lay down the setting. THE LITTLE THINGS: Moorcock's division of the Evil Empire into jeweled masked faces in the shapes of different animals was interesting . .. pig, wolf, mantis, etc. The mix of technology with magic made for some interesting fights and events. COMMENTS: Apparently, Moorcock was never big on Tolkien so he took the opposite approach in his works; far darker; less details; more gore; not as happy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Atomic

    Moorcock only wrote one "Eternal Champion" book. He just gave it multiple titles and filled in the rest like an anti-hero "Mad Libs". Fortunately for me, I liked the book and can see it all as just variations of some desert I really enjoy. Here is an overview of "The Book". Feel free to use it for Corum, Erekose, Elric or what-have-you. A juvenile, self absorbed, doomed, ant-hero archetype sets out to destroy the the "Freaked Out Evil Britain Analogy". Not because he wanted to, but because he had Moorcock only wrote one "Eternal Champion" book. He just gave it multiple titles and filled in the rest like an anti-hero "Mad Libs". Fortunately for me, I liked the book and can see it all as just variations of some desert I really enjoy. Here is an overview of "The Book". Feel free to use it for Corum, Erekose, Elric or what-have-you. A juvenile, self absorbed, doomed, ant-hero archetype sets out to destroy the the "Freaked Out Evil Britain Analogy". Not because he wanted to, but because he had to. Meets himself/some ass named Jerry/both. Hero hunts for lost love, shoe or back scrubber. It doesn't matter because you will never believe in his motivation anyway. Meets strange people and learns "unpleasant truths". Finds a weapon that he eventually wishes he hadn't used. Kills/murders a butt-load of people in really horrid ways and with an arrogance that only the Eternal Champion could muster. Kills major villain. Inadvertently/tragically kills himself/love interest. Gets reincarnated. Changes names. I don't know if there is something wrong with me, but I totally eat this crap up. Seriously, what's not to love?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book seemed to have a decent plot, but I found that the exposition was really poor. It felt more like I was reading through a long summary of the story rather than the story itself; each element was introduced and then resolved without much emotion in the writing at all. Characters' moods and opinions changed however the story needed them to with little realism or explanation. Problems tended to be resolved very simply and quickly, but rather than seeming to have "Mary Sue" characters, it f This book seemed to have a decent plot, but I found that the exposition was really poor. It felt more like I was reading through a long summary of the story rather than the story itself; each element was introduced and then resolved without much emotion in the writing at all. Characters' moods and opinions changed however the story needed them to with little realism or explanation. Problems tended to be resolved very simply and quickly, but rather than seeming to have "Mary Sue" characters, it felt more like the problems weren't that big of a deal to begin with. If the writing had a voice, I would say that it was monotone. The book could have been good, but it needed more life.

  6. 5 out of 5

    William

    A young knight, having lost everyone and everything he holds dear, travels to a strange land, falls in with an older man and a beautiful woman in a battle against an evil empire, one that is ruled by a mystical ancient emperor and his most trusted evil, general, a vile battle-hardened brute who always wears a mask. There's a mystical force controlling our hero's destiny although he knows little about it at first, oh, and there's also a trusted companion covered totally in long ginger hair. Stop m A young knight, having lost everyone and everything he holds dear, travels to a strange land, falls in with an older man and a beautiful woman in a battle against an evil empire, one that is ruled by a mystical ancient emperor and his most trusted evil, general, a vile battle-hardened brute who always wears a mask. There's a mystical force controlling our hero's destiny although he knows little about it at first, oh, and there's also a trusted companion covered totally in long ginger hair. Stop me if you've heard this before :-) Moorcock's tale came a few years before Star Wars, but a fairy tale is a fairy tale, however it's told, and this one follows the same great themes. It takes place in the far future on earth rather than in a galaxy long ago and far away, and being Moorcock, reality is never all that stable, but it's another great romp. Dorian Hawkmoon is the latest incarnation of the Eternal Champion in this one, book one of the four-book history of the Runestaff. And again there's epic battles -- even more of them than in previous volumes -- some truly vicious bad guys, and heroic defenders standing against them. The evil empire of the future Great Britain, with its beast-masks, vast military, flying machines, time palaces and crystal bridges is more of Moorcock's early proto-steampunk, and comes alive wonderfully in the mind's eye, as does the castle in the Camarg that stands against them. As book 1 of 4 it's a wonderful introduction to all the main players, and the big battle is a joyous romp of old-school sword and sorcery. These four books as a whole are among my favorites of all of Moorcock's work, and I'm looking forward to spending most of the weekend lost in his world with them.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I can see why Moorcock is considered the father of modern fantasy. This short book was a prelude to the Runestaff series in which Dorian Hawkmoon plays a primary role as the displaced ruler of Koln. Hawkmoon is captured and tortured by the evil Meladius of Granbretan and then sent to the country of Kamarg where he is to spy on Count Brass and then kidnap his beautiful daughter, Yisselda. I enjoyed the elements of magic and technology and the references to the "Tragic Millennium". This was a chall I can see why Moorcock is considered the father of modern fantasy. This short book was a prelude to the Runestaff series in which Dorian Hawkmoon plays a primary role as the displaced ruler of Koln. Hawkmoon is captured and tortured by the evil Meladius of Granbretan and then sent to the country of Kamarg where he is to spy on Count Brass and then kidnap his beautiful daughter, Yisselda. I enjoyed the elements of magic and technology and the references to the "Tragic Millennium". This was a challenge book and I'm glad I read it. I'll probably try to find others of the Runestaff books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in March 1999. The first of Moorcock's Runestaff series really sets the tone of his mature style. Like many of his fantasy novels, it fits in with his ideas about the Eternal Champion, which is a mechanism by which all his heroes are in fact more or less interchangeable aspects of one archetypal hero. The atmosphere of the book is typical of Moorcock. It is set in a Europe far into the future, in a civilisation recovered after a nuclear holocaust. The Dark Empi Originally published on my blog here in March 1999. The first of Moorcock's Runestaff series really sets the tone of his mature style. Like many of his fantasy novels, it fits in with his ideas about the Eternal Champion, which is a mechanism by which all his heroes are in fact more or less interchangeable aspects of one archetypal hero. The atmosphere of the book is typical of Moorcock. It is set in a Europe far into the future, in a civilisation recovered after a nuclear holocaust. The Dark Empire of Granbretan is where most of the atmosphere is generated; this is done with little bits of descriptive writing, using symbols to evoke an emotional response: the beast-masks, the dark dungeons and alchemical experimentation, the grotesque Emperor Huon. This is an empire whose legions are gradually extending it through the whole of Europe, maintaining an iron grip on the conquered populace. Dorian Hawkmoon, the Duke of Köln, was captured by Granbretan while attempting to lead a revolt in his country, overrun by the Empire some years before. Now he is to be used against Count Brass, who has kept the Kamarg safe from the Empire and who has recently humiliated the Granbretan envoy, the sinister Baron Meliadus. Sent to betray Count Brass, Hawkmoon has a black jewel implanted in his skull by Granbretan alchemists. This not only enables them to spy on what he is doing and saying, but makes it possible to kill him from a distance at the slightest hint that he might turn against them. Hawkmoon comes to admire Count Brass and his daughter Yisselda, and the Count uses his own knowledge of sorcery, by which he immediately recognised the Black Jewel for what it was, to temporarily neutralise it. There are now two tasks facing Hawkmoon: to destroy the armies of the Dark Empire, now massed on the borders of Kamarg, and to find a more skilled sorcerer who can destroy the power of the jewel permanently. Exciting and atmospheric, The Jewel in the Skull is a fine introduction to Moorcock's first mature fantasy series.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    Another beginning saga for another Eternal Champion incarnation from Moorcock. Of course as usual the Eternal Champion is a long suffering tragic hero. I am sure that Moorcock has some Greek in him somewhere. Good read and story. Very recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dana Larose

    1960s pulp sword & sorcery by the guy who brought you Elric and Stormbringer (actually I gather Hawkmoon is part of Moorcock's Eternal Champion multiverse). It's about what you can expect from the genre and era, but Moorcock was an important early influence on 70s and 80s fantasy, as well as Dungeons & Dragons. It's set in a future Europe that has reverted to a medieval level of technology, with some remaining technology plus magic (they talk about sorcerer-scientists). Great Britain (Granbretan) 1960s pulp sword & sorcery by the guy who brought you Elric and Stormbringer (actually I gather Hawkmoon is part of Moorcock's Eternal Champion multiverse). It's about what you can expect from the genre and era, but Moorcock was an important early influence on 70s and 80s fantasy, as well as Dungeons & Dragons. It's set in a future Europe that has reverted to a medieval level of technology, with some remaining technology plus magic (they talk about sorcerer-scientists). Great Britain (Granbretan) is the evil empire conquering and slaughtering its way across the continent. There's actually a strong female character! More or less. She shows up at the end of the book, wears platemail and leads her army in battle against Granbretan. Of course, Dorian Hawkmoon (the main character) still has to help her liberate her city from Granbretan and she offers to marry him after (but he's already betrothed). One nice technical note: I bought this from Kobo, but it was DRM-free at the request of the publisher! They include a note saying you can make whatever backups you need, read it on any device you own but please be nice and don't give away pirate copies. More of this, please!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I had read this book by Michael Moorcock, published in 1973, back in the 70s, in England, which was appropriate--as Moorcock was born in London (in 1939), although he moved to Texas (near Austin) in the 90s. While I enjoyed it, it is the first of a series and I didn't continue reading the series. When I found the book in a used bookstore recently, I thought I'd read it again and maybe continue reading the series. Hawkmoon is our hero in this sword and sorcery outing, not as popular as Moorcock' I had read this book by Michael Moorcock, published in 1973, back in the 70s, in England, which was appropriate--as Moorcock was born in London (in 1939), although he moved to Texas (near Austin) in the 90s. While I enjoyed it, it is the first of a series and I didn't continue reading the series. When I found the book in a used bookstore recently, I thought I'd read it again and maybe continue reading the series. Hawkmoon is our hero in this sword and sorcery outing, not as popular as Moorcock's other S&S hero, Elric. But I liked this book especially for the world of the future that Moorcock has created. It's a post-apocalyptic world, centuries after a nuclear war. Europe has fallen back to a medieval-type society-and there is magic. There is the Dark Empire of Granbretan, that's right-Britain--a ruthless empire spreading over Europe. Hawkmoon is a great warrior who sides with Kamarg, an independent state in southern France, which, under Count Brass, is holding out against the British horde. Can the Evil Empire be stopped? I'll have to read on in this series to find out...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Francesco Manno

    http://panopticonitalia.blogspot.it/2... The jewel of death is the first volume in the saga of Rune Magic of Michael Moorcock, published on the British market in 1967 by Lancer Books under the title "The Jewel in the Skull"; while it is high in Italy only in 1978, thanks to the publisher Longanesi. This novel can be cataloged fantasy / sword and sorcery / fantasy science / clockpunk, though presents unique elements that make it difficult to harness it into a single genre. Some would not hesitate t http://panopticonitalia.blogspot.it/2... The jewel of death is the first volume in the saga of Rune Magic of Michael Moorcock, published on the British market in 1967 by Lancer Books under the title "The Jewel in the Skull"; while it is high in Italy only in 1978, thanks to the publisher Longanesi. This novel can be cataloged fantasy / sword and sorcery / fantasy science / clockpunk, though presents unique elements that make it difficult to harness it into a single genre. Some would not hesitate to call grimdark fantasy, label very dear to modern critics. But we come to the content of the book. We are on Earth in the distant future and post-nuclear where chaos reigns and nation states we know today have dissolved. In place of them there are a myriad of small domains ruled by local lords, with a feudal political system. The science has returned to the Middle Ages and the Black Empire of Great Britain, ruled by Emperor Huon, a being pseudoumano, is quickly subduing the whole of Europe, thanks to technological innovations that the other states do not have. The most dangerous are the flamethrower and thopters can unleash impetuous attacks from the sky; virtually impossible to counter. During the wars of expansion disparate behaviors, the soldiers of Great Britain are much feared as well as being fully equipped and to have an iron discipline, they fight with their faces covered by masks depicting animals (wolf, bear, mantis, crow, pork, bull), which represent their orders, and indulge in atrocities that make them inhuman in the eyes of the defenders. Also the Empire Black can also make use also of alchemists and sorcerers, capable to elaborate spells aimed at obscuring the minds of men and make them their slaves. But not only has changed the geopolitical situation of the Earth, as even humans and animals have undergone transmutations that made them ugly and grotesque. We find mountain giants, huge flamingos that can be ridden, goats big as ponies, horned horses, bats titanic equipped with long arms and sharp claws, and other monstrous creatures. The protagonist of the story is Dorian Hawkmoon, Duke of Koln, who, after being defeated in war by the army of Great Britain, was imprisoned and underwent an operation by which the alchemists / scientists have the Black Empire inserted in front of the Bud Black, subduing to their will; on pain of death. But our asylum located at Karmarg (Camargue wetland south of Arles, France), governed by Count Brass, one territory that can withstand the inexorable advance of Britain. Here you will be able to mitigate the power of Gemma Black and leave for Haman, in search of the magician Malagigi, in order to find a solution to the spell that afflicts him. Dorian Hawkmoon is an anti-hero charming and cursed by Gemma Black, consumed by the desire to avenge his father's death at the hands of Baron Meladius, generalissimo Black Empire. Alongside him in this enterprise will be Count Brass, streetwise and mercenary leader, Bowgentle , philosopher of Brass, Oladah, smart giant mountains, Von Villach, weapons master of Brass, Yisselda, his beloved and beautiful queen Fawbra. This short novel, less than two hundred pages, rushing and propels us into a fantasy world and gloomy, highlighting the extraordinary visionary capacity of Michael Moorcock, comparable only to that of Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance and Roger Zelazny. Those who like the authors cited and sword and sorcery can not help but get excited about reading The jewel of death and will be obliged to continue this wonderful fantasy saga.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    This is me finally getting off of my but and investigating arguably one the great fantasy concepts of the latter half of the 20th century. Moorcock's Eternal Champion mythos. Along with Julius Schwartz (as editor) and Gardner Fox (as writer) I cannot think of any other writer who has done so much to establish the concept of the multliverse as firmly in the fantasy/science fiction genre as Moorcock. But, where to start? I mean it does seem to be an imposing amount of reading. I elected to begin wi This is me finally getting off of my but and investigating arguably one the great fantasy concepts of the latter half of the 20th century. Moorcock's Eternal Champion mythos. Along with Julius Schwartz (as editor) and Gardner Fox (as writer) I cannot think of any other writer who has done so much to establish the concept of the multliverse as firmly in the fantasy/science fiction genre as Moorcock. But, where to start? I mean it does seem to be an imposing amount of reading. I elected to begin with the Runestaff aka Dorian Hawkmoon books. And, kudos to Moorcock for doing so much in what would today be considered a limited amount of space (less than 200 pages). The attraction for me of Hawkmoon are the minor post-holocaust overtones of the series setting and that Hawkmoon himself is one of the less tragic or anti-hero of the Eternal Champions. Of course Hawkmoon is a superb fighter, and has moral standards, but beyond that there is not much characterization of the main protagonist. I do wonder if Moorcock was having fun poking at Britain's politics as the evil empire is the decadent and deranged Granbretan. By modern fantasy standards this is a brief read. There is not a lot of characterization, but Moorcock deserves, I think, a lot of credit for moving the story along at a good pace and resolving plot points in the first book that I expected the author to drag out for multiple books to come.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Another good read. I can remember reading some of his fantasy stories back in the late 70s/early 80s although am not sure if I have read this one before or not. Wanted to sample this first one in the Hawkmoon series to see if it was as good as I remembered (in general - not this specific one), and I'm pleased to report that it was. This is a stirring swords and sorcery tale written in 1967 - it features a version of Europe (alternative universe or far future isn't made clear) in which the villain Another good read. I can remember reading some of his fantasy stories back in the late 70s/early 80s although am not sure if I have read this one before or not. Wanted to sample this first one in the Hawkmoon series to see if it was as good as I remembered (in general - not this specific one), and I'm pleased to report that it was. This is a stirring swords and sorcery tale written in 1967 - it features a version of Europe (alternative universe or far future isn't made clear) in which the villain of the piece is the Dark Empire of Granbretan (Great Britain) with it's capital city of Londra (London) - it's unusual for a Brit to be reading this, but the whole continent seems far removed from reality but with touches that make it seem familiar (Geography and bastardised place names etc). It's a great story of a hero (Hawkmoon) and his struggles against the Dark Empire. As I have enjoyed this one, and its the first of a 4 part series, I will be straight on to the next book in the series (they're all fairly short books and not the weighty fantasy epics that make up long running series these days!).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Doten

    I'm glad I read it, and I really the cover art and size of the book - book fetishism I know. I skimmed the 3rd quarter , it was one long battle scene that I could pick the key points out of. I was engaged again in the last quarter. The structure isn't standard with the first quarter being all about Count Brass then the rest being about Hawkmoon. It's written 'from a distance' more than the 'immediate here and now' of contemporary novels. It's more like being told a fairy tale. I was reading anot I'm glad I read it, and I really the cover art and size of the book - book fetishism I know. I skimmed the 3rd quarter , it was one long battle scene that I could pick the key points out of. I was engaged again in the last quarter. The structure isn't standard with the first quarter being all about Count Brass then the rest being about Hawkmoon. It's written 'from a distance' more than the 'immediate here and now' of contemporary novels. It's more like being told a fairy tale. I was reading another Moorcock, The Bane of the Black Sword in digital format while on the train to work. There is a difference in style, the Elric stories seem more immediate and intimate to me. I'd recently read Moorcock's 'How to write a novel in three days' article which gives some insight where his head was at when he produced a lot of this stuff. It was in my mind as I was reading that these books are very much a product of their time and place, as all books are.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Grim

    Very, very average book, but I guess that's what you get when you read groundbreaking dark fantasy 43 years late. meh Very, very average book, but I guess that's what you get when you read groundbreaking dark fantasy 43 years late. meh

  17. 5 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    In the first of the four volume ‘Runestaff’ series, Moorcock introduces us to Dorian Hawkmoon, another incarnation of the Eternal Champion. Hawkmoon hails from Köln, in a Germany of the far future. The Dark Empire of Granbretan has begun its invasion of Europe and in the way stands the Kamarg, a land of marshes, giant flamingos, white bulls and horned horses. There, in Castle Brass lives Count Brass, scientist and soldier. Hawkmoon is captured by Baron Meliadus and, having had a sentient and dead In the first of the four volume ‘Runestaff’ series, Moorcock introduces us to Dorian Hawkmoon, another incarnation of the Eternal Champion. Hawkmoon hails from Köln, in a Germany of the far future. The Dark Empire of Granbretan has begun its invasion of Europe and in the way stands the Kamarg, a land of marshes, giant flamingos, white bulls and horned horses. There, in Castle Brass lives Count Brass, scientist and soldier. Hawkmoon is captured by Baron Meliadus and, having had a sentient and deadly jewel inserted in his forehead, is sent to Castle Brass to kidnap the Count’s daughter Yisselda. When the Count neutralises the jewel’s power and recruits Hawkmoon to his cause, Meliadus swears by the Runestaff to have his vengeance, thus invoking ancient and powerful forces and setting fast the course of the future. Thus Hawkmoon, his allies and enemies are locked into the predestinate grooves along which lies their destiny. Despite its hastily written feel and its formulaic structure, Hawkmoon’s first adventure is full of strange and original ideas, blending fantasy and science fiction (although more prosaic critics would argue that the scientific elements are merely fantasy devices wrapped in the robes of technology) into that entertaining hybrid Science Fantasy. Our contemporary civilisation has been long forgotten, although fragments of it remain, as in Bowgentle’s recited poem which contains references to Earth’s lost past, which itself was long before ‘The Tragic Millennium’ that spawned twisted mutated creatures and the breakdown of civilisation. Stories and myths are told about the far lands of Asiacommunista and Amarekh, though no-one has actually returned from these lands to verify the facts. Hawkmoon discovers that his only hope of ridding himself of the jewel embedded in his skull is to travel to Hamadan to seek Malagigi the sorceror-scientist. On his journey he teams up with Oladahn, a hair-covered midget half-giant who becomes his companion and is – as is pointed out in other works – another incarnation of the Eternal Champion’s companion, or possibly the Champion himself. There he thwarts the plans of the Granbretanians and the life within the jewel is destroyed. Moorcock’s abiding theme in his work is the eternal battle raging throughout the Multiverse between Order and Chaos. The forces of Chaos here are represented by the decadent and psychotic people of Granbretan, divided into ‘tribes’ or ‘clans’ defined by the beast-masks they wear. It’s a stultified jaded society composed of people afraid to show their true faces, ruled for the last two thousand years by King Huon from the depths of his throne globe. The two thousand year figure is significant since this was written around the time of Moorcock’s involvement with the British new wave, and also a time when the voice of youth was rebelling against the establishment. This is by no means a work which fits into the New Wave, but is in its own way the work of an individual voice and pushes the devices of SF and Fantasy almost to the point of self-parody.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charles Dee Mitchell

    I went through a Michael Moorcock phase five years ago. I’m not a reader of heroic fantasy, but I ran across Moorcock’s essay, “Epic Pooh,” his takedown of JRR Tolkien, the Tolkien industry, and almost everything that had followed in its wake. Having abandoned the Ring novels when I first encountered them decades ago and having never felt compelled to give them a second try, I was intrigued by Morcocks’s Eternal Champion, a figure that takes various incarnations in the Moorcock Multiverse. I sta I went through a Michael Moorcock phase five years ago. I’m not a reader of heroic fantasy, but I ran across Moorcock’s essay, “Epic Pooh,” his takedown of JRR Tolkien, the Tolkien industry, and almost everything that had followed in its wake. Having abandoned the Ring novels when I first encountered them decades ago and having never felt compelled to give them a second try, I was intrigued by Morcocks’s Eternal Champion, a figure that takes various incarnations in the Moorcock Multiverse. I started, as did the author, with the Elric series. Don’t worry, I do not intend to summarize those novels, just know they wreak havoc with the tropes of traditional heroic fantasy while never falling into parody. In this world there is an ongoing battle between the powers of Chaos and Order. Elric is on the side of Chaos, but things get murky early on. The novels are morally complex, action packed, and filled with entertaining cohorts and repulsive monsters. And they wind things up in under 200 pages. Highly recommended. So I decided to try the next hero’s saga in the History of the Runestaff trilogy. The first novel, The Jewel in the Skull, may be Moorcock’s sophomore slump. The nation of Grandbretan (get it?) is on an imperialistic rampage through either an alternative or far future version of Europe and the Middle East. Battles are fought with a combination of medieval weaponry, ray guns using the ancient technology of the 20th century, and magic. The good guys are very good, and the bad guys are unremittingly evil. Our hero is Hawkmoon, the dispossessed prince whose European state that has been conquered by Granbretan. He is in love with a beautiful princess; he’s captured and tortured by Granbretan; and, he is under a curse that he must cross a continent to have removed. But these exploits are related in with a notable lack of enthusiasm compared to the Elric sage. And Hawkmoon, compared to Elric, is a tedious bore. John Clute,, who writes the general introduction to the Gollanz muti-volume collection of Moorcock’s fantasy novels, describes Hawkmoon as “a bit of a berk.” I had to Google it, but then I agreed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    I read the earlier un-revised version of this book, and I can see why he decided to go back and revise it later. In some ways it was very typical male authored fantasty, male characters doing important things, with very few female characters (though I did like the Princess in the blue plate mail!) There were a little too many fights and battles for my taste and the characters were fairly one dimensional. That said there were quite a lot of things I did like. I really liked the post-apocalyptic f I read the earlier un-revised version of this book, and I can see why he decided to go back and revise it later. In some ways it was very typical male authored fantasty, male characters doing important things, with very few female characters (though I did like the Princess in the blue plate mail!) There were a little too many fights and battles for my taste and the characters were fairly one dimensional. That said there were quite a lot of things I did like. I really liked the post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. I liked the evil British Empire. I really liked Count Brass. I liked that Hawkmoon became traumatised into numbness in the beginning of the his part of the book. I liked that it was full of odd creatures and monsters. It was fun, though not on the same level as Elric and Corum. I will definitely read the rest though I think I need to take a break from fantasy for a bit. While I enjoyed both this and the Beagle I'm remined why I don't read fantasy novels anymore!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Clive Anthony

    For some reason this was on my mind and I searched through my old books, finding the version with this cover. Copyrighted 1967 the price on the back was £0.30 Probably last read in the 70s... I read it in a few days, it was easy and quick. Not a challenging read and fairly short, the characters were not really developed although their motivations were clear. The plot was not hard to figure and was a little disappointing at times. The cover and blurb makes a lot of the jewel in the skull and yet t For some reason this was on my mind and I searched through my old books, finding the version with this cover. Copyrighted 1967 the price on the back was £0.30 Probably last read in the 70s... I read it in a few days, it was easy and quick. Not a challenging read and fairly short, the characters were not really developed although their motivations were clear. The plot was not hard to figure and was a little disappointing at times. The cover and blurb makes a lot of the jewel in the skull and yet the problem it causes is solved so easily and so quickly it was a let-down. Nostalgia helped me enjoy it but I don't think that was a huge influence, I actually enjoyed reading this because it was an engaging and fast moving tale. I enjoyed the future damaged Europe, the sorcerer-scientist approach. I liked the evil Granbretan, the beast-orders of soldiers with their identifying mask/helms. And ornithopters fighting giant flamingos!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Sovereign

    A good book in the Moorcock catalog. I think it is one of the first in his eternal champion multiverse. It was recently re-released and this is that version. The battling in the middle got a little boring, but that's just me, but there were a lot of great ideas in the book. It was also little weird, having read the Count Brass series, which features many of the same characters and some references to the events in this series. So my interpretation of the characters were probably influenced by tha A good book in the Moorcock catalog. I think it is one of the first in his eternal champion multiverse. It was recently re-released and this is that version. The battling in the middle got a little boring, but that's just me, but there were a lot of great ideas in the book. It was also little weird, having read the Count Brass series, which features many of the same characters and some references to the events in this series. So my interpretation of the characters were probably influenced by that book. The giant flying flamingo was awesome, though.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    This was pretty good for an introductory story for the Runestaff series. I really like Michael Moorcock's books, Jewel In the Skull was a decent story but it didn't really grab me like The Eternal Champion or Elric of Melnibone did. This was pretty good for an introductory story for the Runestaff series. I really like Michael Moorcock's books, Jewel In the Skull was a decent story but it didn't really grab me like The Eternal Champion or Elric of Melnibone did.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ben Lees

    One of the first of Moorcock's early "thin" books I read. A great adventure yarn and a great example of lean and exciting storytelling. One of the first of Moorcock's early "thin" books I read. A great adventure yarn and a great example of lean and exciting storytelling.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Miloș Dumbraci

    it feels more like a script for comics; somewhat enjoyable, but unoriginal and plain.

  25. 5 out of 5

    C. A. Powell

    I read this a long time ago. I had heard so much about Michael Moorcock from friends. Therefore I decided to give this a go. The first of the Runestaff novels. It is set in a sort of dystopian future or perhaps a fantasy alternative to Europe. The Dark Empire is Granbretan (Ooh - do they mean Great Britain?) The good guy is Dorian Hawkmoon - Duke of Koln. All the characters seemed a bit wooden. This book was read years ago and I was easily impressed by lots of things. However, this one went down I read this a long time ago. I had heard so much about Michael Moorcock from friends. Therefore I decided to give this a go. The first of the Runestaff novels. It is set in a sort of dystopian future or perhaps a fantasy alternative to Europe. The Dark Empire is Granbretan (Ooh - do they mean Great Britain?) The good guy is Dorian Hawkmoon - Duke of Koln. All the characters seemed a bit wooden. This book was read years ago and I was easily impressed by lots of things. However, this one went down in flames. I like pulp novels sometimes. I dislike classical novels sometimes. Perhaps I would like other Michael Moorcock novels? Unfortunately, this particular story put me right off. I would like to say that I have a couple of friends who enjoy the Dorian Hawkmoon/Runestaff stories immensely. Not my cup of tea - sorry.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tony Calder

    It was a bit of a toss-up whether to file this in sci-fi or fantasy - all of the Hawkmoon books are set in a far-future, post-apocalyptic Europe, but they are structured more as fantasy than sci-fi, as is the case for most of his Eternal Champion series. This is fairly typical of the books that Moorcock was writing in the late 60s and early 70s - if you are a fan of his work of this period (as I am), you will enjoy this book (and series). If you're not a fan, this book will not change your mind. It was a bit of a toss-up whether to file this in sci-fi or fantasy - all of the Hawkmoon books are set in a far-future, post-apocalyptic Europe, but they are structured more as fantasy than sci-fi, as is the case for most of his Eternal Champion series. This is fairly typical of the books that Moorcock was writing in the late 60s and early 70s - if you are a fan of his work of this period (as I am), you will enjoy this book (and series). If you're not a fan, this book will not change your mind. If you are unfamiliar with Moorcock's work, the Runestaff series isn't a bad place to start, it's reasonably accessible, perhaps not as accessible as the first Corum series, but certainly far more accessible than the Jerry Cornelious novels :) Like most of Moorcock's work from this period, I have read this series multiple times.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Macky

    ⭐️3.5⭐️ Nostalgic re-read of a favourite series of mine, that was originally written in the late sixties but I first discovered, loved and read many times in the late seventies/early eighties. Perhaps not the awesomeness I remember feeling the first time I ever read the four book series; as I guess it’s a wee bit dated now, but still a highly enjoyable read thirty years on. Really pleased to have found it in kindle form on Amazon as I sadly lost my original box set of PB’s years ago.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mattias Lejbrink

    Furious tempo throughout the whole book, action packed. The characters are shallow and not really relatable, but the story is epic enough to carry.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lyonesse Eglantine

    on one hand it took over three months to read this on the other I read damn near the whole thing out loud

  30. 4 out of 5

    M. Jones

    I'm beginning to realise I just don't get what the fuss is about Moorcock. Maybe you had to be there at the time. Feels like it needed longer in the pot. I'm beginning to realise I just don't get what the fuss is about Moorcock. Maybe you had to be there at the time. Feels like it needed longer in the pot.

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