In the elaborate fictional cosmos Michael Moorcock has created, Elric and the various von Beks are all aspects of the Eternal Champion who fights for the Balance, preventing both Law and Chaos from dominating the universe and trapping it in either barren sterility or pointless fecundity. Elric, the albino sorcerer and last prince of the inhuman empire of Melnibone, was the creation of Moorcock’s adventurous pot-boiling inventive youth, just as the von Bek family featured in the heroic fantasies of his more thoughtful middle-life.
In The Dreamthief’s Daughter, he brings together Elric and Ulric von Bek, last scion of the family, and we finally learn the sin for which the perpetual villain Gaynor the Damned was doomed: Nazi occultists are searching for the Grail and the Black Sword and must be prevented from attaining them. Ulric seeks allies wherever he can find them, including Oona, who wanders through dream realities and with whom he falls in love. This is fast-moving phantasmagorical stuff with ambiguously virtuous heroes and baddies whose villainy and charm is total. Moorcock’s immensely powerful visual imagination and sense of the innate drama of crucial scenes make this a breathtaking read.