I’m taking my own sweet time with ‘A Promise of Blood’, for the simple reason that is proving to be an awesome read and therefore to be savoured on the morning and evening commutes. Take it from me, if you haven’t read ‘A Promise of Blood’ then you need to do something about that sharpish. As far as the blog goes then, expect to see a few more short stories covered here in the meantime. Stories like Michael Moorcock’s ‘The Last Enchantment’ for instance.
Anyone looking to read ‘The Last Enchantment’ can find it in those old battered ‘Elric at the end of Time’ paperbacks, that can be found wherever there is an old second hand bookshop, or you can pick it up as part of the ‘To Rescue Tanelorn’ collection that Del Rey released a few years ago (2008, has it really been that long?) Either book will guarantee some good reading with the other stories sitting alongside ‘The Last Enchantment’.
The premise of ‘The Last Enchantment’ is simple; Elric is sent into a realm of Chaos (he really should have helped Slorg out instead of sending him to a horrible death) and must solve a seemingly impossible task if he is to escape the fate of being ‘forever conscious’. It’s no surprise that he does, we all know that a worse fate awaits Elric, but there is a clever twist to it that completely eluded me on first reading (it was my first couple of weeks at high school, I was more concerned with trying to find where my next class was) but really struck me with its elegance and simplicity this time round. What I really liked about ‘The Last Enchantment’ though wasn’t just the cruel atmosphere of Elric’s world, and the creatures that lurk within it (the Hungry Whisperers still make me shiver even now) but the fact that Elric immediately comes across as a bit of a bastard and unlike any other hero that you’re likely to meet. He’ll stand up to the Lords of Chaos but only if it suits him; Elric’s reaction to Slorg’s plight is to basically say, “sorry mate, this is nothing to do with me” and then ride on. A hero when the stakes are high but not someone to place your faith in concerning more mundane matters such as being chased by creatures that are going to eat you… Slightly uncomfortable reading then, if you like your heroes to be a bit more heroic, but I like characters that are open about who they are and the honesty here appealed to me.
‘The Last Enchantment’ isn’t an action filled piece (and the horror is only hinted at); what the reader has instead is a more thoughtful piece on the nature of Chaos and its limitations. Elric’s slightly mournful final words here hint at what humanity might just be capable of if it only realised. All of this is set against one of Moorcock’s surreal landscapes that are easy to get lost in yet has a cruel undertone to it, reminding the reader that perhaps the characters behave the way they do for a very good reason. A very slight read (only about eleven pages long) and very much to the point but as good a place as any other to start finding out what Elric is all about and why fate is so cruel to him…