Wednesday, 11 January 2012

‘The Quest for Tanelorn’ – Michael Moorcock (Mayflower)

My journey through the ‘Chronicles of Count Brass’ has been a little up and down, to say the least, with a rocky opening leading into a much improved second instalment that nevertheless suffered from the same issues. Check the reviews Here and Here if you haven’t read them yet.

When I reviewed ‘The Champion of Garathorm’ I mentioned that there was no way I wouldn’t finish the series and the same reasons apply here. Not only that but I was genuinely curious to see how this all ended, especially with the story starting to tie into the wider creation of Moorcock’s Multiverse. I’m into (very) short reads at the moment as well and, at only a hundred and twenty six pages long, ‘The Quest for Tanelorn’ fitted the bill perfectly. One thing before I get into the review proper, is this series called ‘The Chronicles of Castle Brass’ or ‘The Chronicles of Count Brass’? The covers for each book seem to disagree with each other on this score although that score is two to one in favour of ‘Count Brass’... A little help here?

Anyway, the review...

Hawkmoon has finally been reunited with his true love Yisselda but his two children still remain to be found. If Hawkmoon is to finally reunite his family, he must first find the fabled and almost mythical city of Tanelorn.
Many dangers lie between Hawkmoon and his destination though, the most dangerous of which will be reached by a ghost ship carrying more than one incarnation of the Champion Eternal and promising an apocalyptic fight at the voyage’s end. This will prove to be the least of Hawkmoon’s worries though when he finally reaches Tanelorn and finds the true identity of the shadowy figure that has dogged his every footstep...

‘The Quest for Tanelorn’ is another book that attempts to do an awful lot in not very many pages. This time round though, things are even more ambitious than what Moorcock attempted to do in the previous two books. Not only are we looking at a trilogy being wrapped up but Moorcock takes things one step further than that and attempts to tie up certain elements of his entire ‘Eternal Champion’ series. That’s quite a lot to cover so... how does he do?

The answer is surprisingly well, especially given the amount of pages that he does it all in. There are questions left still to be answered and I’m guessing that gaps were deliberately left so as to be filled in at a later date. You do get more answers than questions though as well as a very clear picture of what’s been going on the whole time. A certain character’s death is revisited and the eventual fate of another is finally revealed, a nice mixture of resolution tempered by a sense of the overall tragedy that surrounds each incarnation of the Eternal Champion.

Hawkmoon’s own quest is placed very nicely in context with the wider reaching arc and this gives a real sense of depth to both plots. That’s not to say that Hawkmoon’s quest doesn’t receive that same treatment though; things are rounded off perhaps a little more neatly for Hawkmoon and, given what he has been through, you can’t say that he doesn’t deserve to just kick back and enjoy the fruits of his labours. I would in his shoes :o)

I wasn’t too sure about how all the events befalling Hawkmoon linked together (the Kamarg to an island battle via a ghost ship... how?) but one thing I have learnt reading Moorcock is that sometimes he just likes to say ‘things just happen’ and then let them all happen to his main character. Like I said, sometimes I wasn’t sure exactly why things happen but Moorcock writes with such energy here that you find yourself flying over any awkward spots and just getting on with the story. It’s a much smoother ride than you might think.

And what a story! Moorcock really has got all of the explanations out of the way now (apart from some stuff right at the end and that’s necessary to tie things up) and is happy to throw Hawkmoon back into the weird mash up of Sword & Sorcery/Sci-Fi that has characterised this trilogy, and the ‘Runestaff’ series, for me. The energy in Moorcock’s writing gives the plot the urgency it needs and makes some of the weirder events that little bit weirder. There’s no doubt that Hawkmoon has to overcome what’s in front of him, if he doesn’t there’s every chance that the plot will just move on and leave him behind! ‘The Quest for Tanelorn’ is one of those effortless reads where you suddenly find yourself naturally settling into the pace of the book and going along with it. A pleasure to read on that score.

I do have some reservations about the trilogy, as a whole, but ‘The Quest for Tanelorn’ proved to be a great way of rounding things off on more than one level. If you haven’t read the rest of the ‘Eternal Champion’ series that’s no problem, you can get plenty out of this trilogy on its own. I think the real joy though will come for those who have read the other books and want to see an overall conclusion. Either way, a very entertaining read.

Eight and a Half out of Ten

Cover Art courtesy of The Image Hive


Salt-Man Z said...

Everytime one of these Moorcock reviews of yours pops up in my RSS reader, I initially think I'm seeing an entry from Good Show Sir. :D

Graeme Flory said...

That genuinely never occurred to me, even though some of those covers are awful... :o)

Anonymous said...

Great blog and like your review. I thoroughly enjoyed Quest for Tanelorn and found it to be an epic ending to the entire Hawkmoon saga and tied the entire eternal champion realm together very nicely. You commented that it sought to accomplish much in a short length but I have grown to like Moorcock's tight writing style that leaves much to the imagination as you churn through the page. I was utterly astonished at the ending of this book and how grand the plot becomes.