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Conan And Elric

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#1 RJMooreII

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 12:24 PM

Elric obviously has elements derived as a sort of deliberate contrast with Tolkein's, most notably that the old gods are all generally right bastards and Melniboneans as a kind of pastiche of elves and Numenoreans.

One thing that struck me while I was reading an Elric story was that the portrayal of the Melniboneans as well as the most 'civilized' of the Young Kingdoms paints them with a very Howardian brush. They are, despite their vast power, essentially petty despotisms ruled over by superstitions and nightmares which their populations regard as divine. Their sorcerous rulers, for all their learning, are bloodthirsty sociopaths whose own learning has alienated from humanity and the world.

Elric is both a more primal vision of the hero (as a man of death-dealing and divine providence) and a reflection of the corruption of civilization himself. Though his intellectual and artistic sophistication seem to give way to quasi-Howardian berzerker rage at times, perhaps as much thanks to the dead god he uses as a butter spreader as anything else.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was part of Moorcock's deliberate brand of anti-fantasy, but in any case I thought it was a neat aspect of the stories.
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#2 Rockamobile

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 03:30 PM

Elric obviously has elements derived as a sort of deliberate contrast with Tolkein's, most notably that the old gods are all generally right bastards and Melniboneans as a kind of pastiche of elves and Numenoreans.

One thing that struck me while I was reading an Elric story was that the portrayal of the Melniboneans as well as the most 'civilized' of the Young Kingdoms paints them with a very Howardian brush. They are, despite their vast power, essentially petty despotisms ruled over by superstitions and nightmares which their populations regard as divine. Their sorcerous rulers, for all their learning, are bloodthirsty sociopaths whose own learning has alienated from humanity and the world.

Elric is both a more primal vision of the hero (as a man of death-dealing and divine providence) and a reflection of the corruption of civilization himself. Though his intellectual and artistic sophistication seem to give way to quasi-Howardian berzerker rage at times, perhaps as much thanks to the dead god he uses as a butter spreader as anything else.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was part of Moorcock's deliberate brand of anti-fantasy, but in any case I thought it was a neat aspect of the stories.



I seem to recall that there was comic book crossover involving both Conan and Elric.

Edited by Rockamobile, 15 April 2012 - 08:39 PM.


#3 johnnypt

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:53 PM


Elric obviously has elements derived as a sort of deliberate contrast with Tolkein's, most notably that the old gods are all generally right bastards and Melniboneans as a kind of pastiche of elves and Numenoreans.

One thing that struck me while I was reading an Elric story was that the portrayal of the Melniboneans as well as the most 'civilized' of the Young Kingdoms paints them with a very Howardian brush. They are, despite their vast power, essentially petty despotisms ruled over by superstitions and nightmares which their populations regard as divine. Their sorcerous rulers, for all their learning, are bloodthirsty sociopaths whose own learning has alienated from humanity and the world.

Elric is both a more primal vision of the hero (as a man of death-dealing and divine providence) and a reflection of the corruption of civilization himself. Though his intellectual and artistic sophistication seem to give way to quasi-Howardian berzerker rage at times, perhaps as much thanks to the dead god he uses as a butter spreader as anything else.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was part of Moorcock's deliberate brand of anti-fantasy, but in any case I thought it was a neat aspect of the stories.



I seem to recall that there was comic book crossover involving boy Conan and Elric.


Conan The Barbarian (1970) #14-15, co-plotted by Moorcock. It's reprinted in Chronicles of Conan Volume 3

#4 RJMooreII

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:11 PM

I thought the comic was cool, but considering the two characters it could have been so much more. Though Elric is way, way more powerful than Conan, Conan is exactly the sort of person Elric needs around him (and, thus, will never find); someone who can watch out for himself in physical and supernatural situations and isn't particularly interested in any arcane drive. Of course, Conan would probably think Elric was bad medicine and stay the Hell away from him (as would any sensible person).
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#5 amster

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:29 PM

Elric obviously has elements derived as a sort of deliberate contrast with Tolkein's, most notably that the old gods are all generally right bastards and Melniboneans as a kind of pastiche of elves and Numenoreans.

One thing that struck me while I was reading an Elric story was that the portrayal of the Melniboneans as well as the most 'civilized' of the Young Kingdoms paints them with a very Howardian brush. They are, despite their vast power, essentially petty despotisms ruled over by superstitions and nightmares which their populations regard as divine. Their sorcerous rulers, for all their learning, are bloodthirsty sociopaths whose own learning has alienated from humanity and the world.

Elric is both a more primal vision of the hero (as a man of death-dealing and divine providence) and a reflection of the corruption of civilization himself. Though his intellectual and artistic sophistication seem to give way to quasi-Howardian berzerker rage at times, perhaps as much thanks to the dead god he uses as a butter spreader as anything else.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was part of Moorcock's deliberate brand of anti-fantasy, but in any case I thought it was a neat aspect of the stories.


Elric was quite deliberately created to be the "anti-Conan" when Moorcock wrote the first story, The Dreaming City, taking the conventions (or cliche's -depending on your point of view) of Sword and Sorcery and turning them on their head. Moorcock has even admitted this on several occasions.

Conan - barbarian/Elric - civilized
Conan - hates sorcery, kills evil sorcerors/Elric - is an evil sorceror
Conan - trustworthy and loyal to his friends and allies/Elric - kills or betrays those closest to him
Conan - physically strong/Elric -physically weak
Conan - self sufficient/Elric - depends entirely on drugs or sorcery just to survive
Conan - has no need for religion or divine intervention /Elric - has a demonic patron who he swears allegience to and who often intervenes on his behalf
Conan - and shapes his own destiny/Elric - bound to his destiny and unable to escape it no matter how hard he tries
Conan - gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth/Elric - tragedy and bad luck follow him wherever he goes
Conan - starts out in life as a penniless thief, and works his way up to to King/Elric - starts out as Emperor, forsakes his own crown, and destroys his own country
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Money and muscle, that's what I want; to be able to do any damned thing I want and get away with it. Money won't do that altogether, because if a man is a weakling, all the money in the world won't enable him to soak an enemy himself; on the other hand, unless he has money he may not be able to get away with it.
--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#6 RJMooreII

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:38 PM

It's weird, though, because Elric is Conan in a lot of other ways. He is muscle and might, but only sustained by drugs and black arts; he does possess native wit and drive and yet he uses these to master occult forces. He is not really as simple as an Anti-Conan, he is almost a transvaluation of Conan.

My friend used to call him the GMPC.

And he is so complex, too, because even his 'anti-Conan' elements are mixed up with Anti-Aragorn and Anti-Elfism. He's lithe and beautiful but actually quite muscular for his size, he doesn't hesitate to wear plate armor, he wields a real big friggin' sword like a threshing tool. Elric is also a play on the Scandinavian outlaw type.

Conan and Elric are probably my favorite fantasy characters of all time, I just love how they both kind of play off not opposite but strangely intertwined theories of literature and myth.

I guess we might say that Conan the Cimmerian is Scottish.
And Elric of Melnibone is a Scandinavian legend?

The interaction of these myth-types and cultures is pretty deep. I'm amazed at how rich European demigod myths are.

Edited by RJMooreII, 15 April 2012 - 08:42 PM.

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#7 Skullface

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 10:50 PM

With Moorcock rewriting all the time who knows what is going on with Elric.
Amster nailed it. I have an old interview around here somewhere with M.M from about 1970 and it says almost the same thing.
Elric is the anti-Conan/anti Tarzan/anti Tolkien type.
The story cycle grew into the eternal champion and that is a whole other topic.

#8 duaneshadow

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 10:55 PM

aye. flash sword and demonic patron or not, conan would **** him no bother and stick stormbringer right up arioch's poop shute then show cymoril how a real man does it.
'why does he have to be a misfit? Why can't he be handsome and kind?'

'You're still a dreamer girl'.

#9 RJMooreII

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 01:01 AM

aye. flash sword and demonic patron or not, conan would **** him no bother and stick stormbringer right up arioch's poop shute then show cymoril how a real man does it.

That really doesn't make sense in either of their Universes. I mean, it's not implied Conan could actually fight the Demon in Iron; and Stormbringer is far more dangerous than that. It could literally slice through his weapon and the slightest nick would instantly kill him and steal his soul. Conan is not some kind of supernatural whirlwind that never gets cut when fighting master swordsmen.

Conan was written with vulnerability in mind, to keep him from being a Mary Sue. Granted Conan wins in all the Conan stories we have, but that's just because we don't have the one where he dies. He is, whatetever his power, essentially a mortal man. Elric is minor deity who has personal pact with chaos demons and, to top it off, being the 'eternal champion' means he does have a bit of cosmic plot mail and always will 'win' after some fashion.

Elric would be a Mary Sue, except he often pulls a Superman Forgot His Powers and doesn't instantly decimate people with hellfire as it seems he could.

Edited by RJMooreII, 24 April 2012 - 01:20 AM.

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#10 Skullface

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 01:22 AM

A fight between could go either way.
If Elric was weak than Conan could make chop meat of him.
However Elric after killing a few guys could kill Conan....it would make a good tale.
Give Conan Mornblade...then see what happens

#11 Ironhand

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 02:33 AM

Elric's Kryptonite is that his Demon Sword is unreliable, and has its own agenda. Roy Thomas pegged it in the crossover comic where Conan expresses his contempt for Elric and his mighty sword.

Read my "Sack of Venarium" to see my take on how Conan deals with an invincible magic sword.

Edited by Ironhand, 24 April 2012 - 03:13 AM.

"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

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http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
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#12 RJMooreII

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:54 PM

A fight between could go either way.
If Elric was weak than Conan could make chop meat of him.
However Elric after killing a few guys could kill Conan....it would make a good tale.
Give Conan Mornblade...then see what happens


Elric's Kryptonite is that his Demon Sword is unreliable, and has its own agenda. Roy Thomas pegged it in the crossover comic where Conan expresses his contempt for Elric and his mighty sword.

Read my "Sack of Venarium" to see my take on how Conan deals with an invincible magic sword.

I can imagine a plausible story where Conan kills Elric (like I said, you can stab him), but it's like the Batman vs. Superman; if you base it on their stats and the stuff they've been through Elric is virtually unstoppable by any earthly power. He uses a dead god as a butter spreader. I would say the only way you'd expect Conan to win is if you went in with the idea of writing a story about Conan winning. Again, not that he couldn't, but Elric could theoretically just annihilate Conan in a blast of cosmic fire or summon a thousand chaos demons. Even ignoring plot-convenience sorcery, that sword actively fights. It's much faster than he is, and literally pulls him forward in battle sometimes.

The more mercenary/pirate allies Conan has, the worse it gets for him, because Elric will scythe through them like butter and turn into a juggernaut.

Now if Conan caught him at a bad time, yeah, he could cut him down if he got in before Elric was competently defending himself. Conan is crazy strong and his fighting style is animalistic, one good hack would cut the elf down. But if Elric is aware he's in a fight, and especially if he has his freaky dragon plate armor, he's going to be almost unstoppable.

Conan with Mournblade is a whole different story. Conan could probably control the sword about as well as anyone, and as long as Elric isn't pumped up on souls Conan has the strength advantage. The speed advantage Conan probably has over the less hardened Elric is partially negated, as I explained, by the sword's ability to fight almost on its own. But if both of them have demon blades I'd say it's a toss up, again barring Plot-Convenience Sorcery or demonic intervention.

I should point out that, as Eternal Champion, Elric can't have his soul sucked. But he can be killed by Mournblade, which can cut through basically anything that isn't Stormbringer.

Edited by RJMooreII, 25 April 2012 - 01:56 PM.

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#13 Skullface

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:00 AM

A great story would be if stormbringer turned on Elric,because it would prefer Conan...Conan half under control of stormbringer....that would be great.
That story almost writes itself.
Or if Conan had the sword from Glen Cooks Swordbearer novel. Also lots of fun could come of that.
You have to think Conan would try to ditch the magic swords asap,but if he did not he would kill half the planet before it was said and done.

Another fun one would be Conan with the one ring from lotr....someone would die.

#14 Libaax

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:31 AM

One of the reasons i dont like Elric himself even if i like Corum, some other MM S&S is because Elric is too much of answer to Conan,REH style. He is too much anti-Conan, bizzaro Conan, opposite version. He didnt strike as completly different and his own man like Fafhred and Gray Mouser.

I liked Stormbringer more than Elric which says it all i guess....

#15 duaneshadow

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:30 PM


aye. flash sword and demonic patron or not, conan would **** him no bother and stick stormbringer right up arioch's poop shute then show cymoril how a real man does it.

That really doesn't make sense in either of their Universes. I mean, it's not implied Conan could actually fight the Demon in Iron; and Stormbringer is far more dangerous than that. It could literally slice through his weapon and the slightest nick would instantly kill him and steal his soul. Conan is not some kind of supernatural whirlwind that never gets cut when fighting master swordsmen.

Conan was written with vulnerability in mind, to keep him from being a Mary Sue. Granted Conan wins in all the Conan stories we have, but that's just because we don't have the one where he dies. He is, whatetever his power, essentially a mortal man. Elric is minor deity who has personal pact with chaos demons and, to top it off, being the 'eternal champion' means he does have a bit of cosmic plot mail and always will 'win' after some fashion.

Elric would be a Mary Sue, except he often pulls a Superman Forgot His Powers and doesn't instantly decimate people with hellfire as it seems he could.



yeah mate, I was joking. not serious. like the poking swords through chainmail thing.
'why does he have to be a misfit? Why can't he be handsome and kind?'

'You're still a dreamer girl'.

#16 RJMooreII

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 03:19 PM

yeah mate, I was joking. not serious. like the poking swords through chainmail thing.

Gotcha. There's always someone who is serious about stuff like that.
"Never trust a wizard - even in death." - Grognak the Barbarian

#17 Athelstane

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:28 AM

Never liked Moorcock's writing style, and never really cared for any of the characters or environs he created.
Although admittedly, there are a few rather nice ideas and concepts in the Elric canon.

At any rate, If it ever came down to a battle, I'm sure Conan would find a way to cleave Elric's albino skull in twain.
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manna mildust ond mon-thwaerust,
leodum lithost ond lof-geornost.

#18 RJMooreII

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:49 PM

At any rate, If it ever came down to a battle, I'm sure Conan would find a way to cleave Elric's albino skull in twain.

That's metastory logic, like Batman beating Superman. If you don't pretend there is a purpose in the Universe and treat it realistically, Elric could beat most fantasy and superhero characters because all he needs to do is nick their toe to instantly kill them and become more powerful. If Stormbringer so much as gives you a paper cut you die, it doesn't matter if you're an accountant or God Almighty.

Edited by RJMooreII, 07 July 2012 - 11:50 PM.

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#19 Keith J Taylor

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 01:29 PM

About Elric versus Conan ... I'd far RATHER  see Conan win, and of course a story could be written in which circumstances made it plausible.  The Conan/Elric encounter in the Marvel Comics series was good -- better than I'd expected, although pretty crowded with Moorcock's characters, from Terhali the Green Empress of Melnibone to Gaynor the Damned.  Moorcock not only made Elric an anti-Conan, he took a lot of inspiration from Anderson's THE BROKEN SWORD.  Elves become Melniboneans, as Imric the elf-earl becomes Elric the last emperor of Melnibone (and Elric actually means elf king).  The accursed sword Tyrfing that gives superhuman power to its wielder but must kill each time it is drawn, and in the end destroys the one who carries it, becomes Stormbringer.  Malign, implacable Odin is a fair substitute for Elric's patron, Arioch, Duke of Hell.  Skafloc was luckier than Elric.  At least he died free of the blade's influence, his own man, with his beloved's arms around him. 







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