Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The Eternal Champion #02 - The Silver Warriors (aka Phoenix in Obsidian)

Michael Moorcock is a highly respected and admired science-fiction and fantasy author. His Elric Saga influenced dozens of genre authors, comic writers, and even rock bands. But, Moorcock also authored a number of other series titles that connect to the Elric Saga's robust multiverse. You can enjoy these series titles without reading Elric, but at some point you'll find the connection if you read enough. The Eternal Champion trilogy is one of those connecting titles. The trilogy, often called the Erekose series, began in Science Fantasy #53 in 1962, and then published by Dell in 1970. Its sequel, also published in 1970, is Phoenix in Obsidian. In 1973, the book was published by Dell in paperback as The Silver Warriors, with artwork by Frank Frazetta. 

The premise of most of Moorcock's fantasy novels is a special blade called the Black Sword. The sword desires blood and often can possess the one who wields it. The blade is the master, the swordsman the slave. Throughout time, whether there really is time, a hero is summoned to use the sword to fight for a cause. These heroes are incarnations of the Eternal Champ, and range from Elric to Hawkmoon and other characters. The Eternal Champions trilogy focuses on the hero of Erekose, who is flung from his time when someone, or something, summons him. 

In the book's opening pages, Erekose is summoned as the Eternal Champion again, this time as Urlik Skarsdol, a warrior of the Southern Ice. Urlik finds he is in a far flung future of a dying Earth, a frosty ice-world that now faces its final years. On a sled pulled by polar bears, Urlik takes a wrong turn and ends up on Rowernarc where he meets Bishop Belphig (bad guy) and Lord Shanosfane (good guy). 

In a humorous exchange, Urlik, knowing if he has been summoned it is surely to battle something, questions why he is in Rowernarc. Belphig and Shanosfane both advise him that they didn't summon him. Urlik then asks if anyone is out to dethrone or assassinate them, is there a plot emerging to overthrow the king, is there a rebellion to thwart? The answer is always no, so Urlik begins to think he was summoned by mistake. 

Eventually, the plot begins to take shape and Urlik is betrayed by Belphig and left to die on a glacier. He is saved by a race of people called The Silver Warriors, and the narrative begins to focus on Urlik's true calling. The Black Sword, really appearing as The Cold Sword, is introduced and Urlik has his destiny to face – take up the sword and try to control its powerful persuasion to slaughter or attempt to stop Belphig using another, safer means. The central element to Moorcock's writing is always this inner turmoil that helps elevate the story into something meaningful and wrought with emotion. 

The Silver Warriors, or Phoenix in Obsidian, is another remarkable novel by Michael Moorcock that is chock-full of action, adventure, fantasy, and sorcery. Whether you are brand new to the Eternal Champion mythos or a longtime fan, this book is a mandatory read. It also introduces a rare comical twist that I felt made it unique. Highest possible recommendation. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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