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Newly revised and expanded by the author, this study of epic fantasy analyzes the genre from its earliest beginnings in Medieval romances, on through practitioners like Tolkien, up to today's brightest lights. Newly revised and expanded by the author, this study of epic fantasy analyzes the genre from its earliest beginnings in Medieval romances, on through practitioners like Tolkien, up to today's brightest lights.


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Newly revised and expanded by the author, this study of epic fantasy analyzes the genre from its earliest beginnings in Medieval romances, on through practitioners like Tolkien, up to today's brightest lights. Newly revised and expanded by the author, this study of epic fantasy analyzes the genre from its earliest beginnings in Medieval romances, on through practitioners like Tolkien, up to today's brightest lights.

30 review for Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Moorcock, master of fantasy—and self-described pragmatist and anarchist—offers his opinionated and passionate observations on the genre and its practitioners. He derides J.R.R. Tolkien's world—and C.S.Lewis' as well—as a kind of “epic Pooh,” a privileged and nostalgic vision of England, fearful of social change, defensive in its conservative Christianity and profoundly uninterested in the subtlety and ambiguity of evil. He prefers the nuanced and and ironic works of E.R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake, F Moorcock, master of fantasy—and self-described pragmatist and anarchist—offers his opinionated and passionate observations on the genre and its practitioners. He derides J.R.R. Tolkien's world—and C.S.Lewis' as well—as a kind of “epic Pooh,” a privileged and nostalgic vision of England, fearful of social change, defensive in its conservative Christianity and profoundly uninterested in the subtlety and ambiguity of evil. He prefers the nuanced and and ironic works of E.R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake, Fritz Leiber, and—among his own contemporaries—Gene Wolfe and M. John Harrison, whom Moorcock argues are all better stylists than the two hallowed "masters" of the genre. He is quick to praise--and to condemn--other authors as well, having particularly harsh words for the sexist S&M indulgences of John Norman's series, the Chronicles of Gor. This collection of observations can be both infuriating and illuminating. Moorcock's essay “Epic Pooh” is particularly fine, and central to a mature understanding of fantasy fiction. (Note: this review refers to the 1987 edition, not the expansion and revision of 2004.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This is a hard book to rate. It’s a choppy read, and for good reason. Basically it’s a collection of essays, necessary essays I would argue, on Fantasy literature. Moorcock, as sure a guide as you can find, is also strong in this opinions. If you’re a big fan of Lord of the Rings, you may not want to read this book. Moorcock has problems with Tolkien, which are captured best in this quote: Writers like Tolkien take you to the Abyss and point out the excellent tea-garden at the bottom, showing you This is a hard book to rate. It’s a choppy read, and for good reason. Basically it’s a collection of essays, necessary essays I would argue, on Fantasy literature. Moorcock, as sure a guide as you can find, is also strong in this opinions. If you’re a big fan of Lord of the Rings, you may not want to read this book. Moorcock has problems with Tolkien, which are captured best in this quote: Writers like Tolkien take you to the Abyss and point out the excellent tea-garden at the bottom, showing you the steps carved into the cliff and reminding you to be a bit careful because the hand-rails are a trifle shaky as you go down; they haven’t got the approval yet to put a new one in. (pg. 129) There are specific criticisms of Lord of the Rings, but that “be a bit careful” line scored with me. Have you ever noticed how no one who really matters or who you care about in Lord of the Rings, ever dies? I’m not pushing for a body count, but if you read some of the older sagas and such that Tolkien used as source material, you know that major characters die like flies in those books. In counterpoint, a modern example that Moorcock is very high on (as am I), is Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, which has more tragedy and action in its few hundred pages than The Lord of the Rings has in its thousand plus. In fairness to Tolkien however, there is no analysis of The Silmarillon, a work I feel does have the epic sweep – and tragedy, of the sagas of old. But I’m in a distinct minority with that sentiment. But Moorcock’s book is not just about Tolkien (he’s also not a fan of Robert E. Howard or Lovecraft ). It’s about what he thinks works in Fantasy, and what doesn’t. He names names, at least up to a certain point. If you’re looking for titles and books to read this is a good book, but one that needs to be updated every 5 or 10 years or so. I suppose we should thankful for what we do have.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Clint

    I should say more about this, and perhaps will someday. For now: parts might make you angry as he puts down sacred cows such as HPL, JRRT and 1982’s Conan the Barbarian movie; and yet, even as I at times disagree with Moorcock, I found myself entertained with his opinions and as a result of, adding too many books to my “to-read” list than I can possibly hope to scratch off in three lifetimes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Michael Moorcock, Wizardry and Wild Romance (Gollancz, 1987) Michel Moorcock would be, it seems, the obvious choice to produce a critical work on epic fantasy. After all, he's written more of it than jut about any living author, or he had at the time this book was commissioned, ten years before its release, after the publication of his article "Epic Pooh" in 1977. ("Epic Pooh," revised, appears as chapter five here, and is one of the true gems of this book.) Still an excellent choice, as most of Michael Moorcock, Wizardry and Wild Romance (Gollancz, 1987) Michel Moorcock would be, it seems, the obvious choice to produce a critical work on epic fantasy. After all, he's written more of it than jut about any living author, or he had at the time this book was commissioned, ten years before its release, after the publication of his article "Epic Pooh" in 1977. ("Epic Pooh," revised, appears as chapter five here, and is one of the true gems of this book.) Still an excellent choice, as most of the similarly prolific writers who have emerged in the shadow of Moorcock lack the wit and originality he displays in novel after novel. Interestingly, this is one of his main criticisms of the fantasy genre overall, not just in the moderns but going back to the earliest days of epic fantasy. The book, which is far more a survey than a critical analysis, strikes a Paul DeMan-esque note in its willingness (perhaps too much willingness) to turn many of fantasy's sacred cows into shish kebab. What is refreshing about Moorcock is that, unlike most critics, he is always willing to suggest a good number of alternatives for each piece of overwrought, mindless fluff the public is willing to take to heart. (Moorcock seems to have a special circle in Hell reserved for the Inklings, the chief fantasists of which were J. R. R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis, both of whom Moorcock roundly despises; he spends more column inches disparaging Narnia and Middle Earth than all the other writers he castigates combined.) One wonders, idly, why a survey draws as much money as it does these days. I could probably pay a month's rent auctioning off my copy of this, a first edition/first printing. Odd, since the volume barely gets a few lines into page one hundred fifty before it reaches its conclusion. But mine is not to reason why. It's not worth the incredible sums it fetches from booksellers these days, but as a jumping-off point for readers of fantasy who are looking for ways to branch out into wider genre-specific reading, it's a pretty darned fine piece of work. Most of Moorcock's jaundiced views on epic fantasy could apply to all types of literature, which is at the same time both the book's main strength and its weakness. One expects, when reading a survey, to see the ways that the subject's lineage relates to what has come before and what has come after (see Eliade's wonderful Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy for perhaps the finest extant example of how to write a survey on a particular subject), but Moorcock seems to have the underlying belief that writing in a particular genre should have the same strengths and weaknesses as writing in any other, or in writing that is genreless or transcends its genre. To some extent this is true; the best fantasy writers, like the best writers of most genres, do transcend what the hacks are doing and make their work into literature. Where Moorcock goes slightly wrong, though, is in not delineating the transcendent from the more satisfying genre tales. He gives equal weight to, for example, Terry Pratchett (whose work, while parodic, is still very much genre fiction) and Ursula K. LeGuin (who is the very definition of an author who transcends any genre in which she chooses to apply herself). Perhaps he is expecting the reader to be able to discern which is which. Not an unreasonable expectation, if you assume your audience is as widely read in the genre as you are. I doubt many fantasy readers, or for that matter many academics, are as widely-read in their chosen fields as Moorcock, who tosses out the names and critical overviews of fantasy works going back to the pre-Romantic period that have been out of print for a few hundred years as if he'd assigned them the week before while teaching a class on fantasy literature, and we are all expected to go down to the University bookstore and pick up copies of them. Would that we could. Still, as an overview of what's out there, where both the aspiring fantasy reader and the aspiring fantasy writer should be looking to find the stuff that really is worth being influenced by, despite its age Wizardry and Wild Romance is still the definitive survey on epic fantasy. It'd be nice to see a second edition. I, for one, would love to see what Moorcock thinks of, say, Philip Pullman, Terry Goodkind, or Neil Gaiman. But the recommendations in here should be enough to keep me hunting down obscure titles for the next decade, and the approach he takes to epic fantasy is a witty and readable one. ****

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mieneke

    I ran across this book at work and decided to take it out to brush up a bit on the history of fantasy, in this case epic fantasy. It took me a while to finally pick it up - I think I renewed the loan about 4 times - and once I did the experience was a mixed one, to be honest. Partly, that is due to the age of the book, it was published in 1987, and partly, it was due to the tone of the author's writing. But it did give me plenty of food for thought and gave a very interesting overview of the evo I ran across this book at work and decided to take it out to brush up a bit on the history of fantasy, in this case epic fantasy. It took me a while to finally pick it up - I think I renewed the loan about 4 times - and once I did the experience was a mixed one, to be honest. Partly, that is due to the age of the book, it was published in 1987, and partly, it was due to the tone of the author's writing. But it did give me plenty of food for thought and gave a very interesting overview of the evolution of (epic) fantasy. It certainly gave me a list of seminal and classic works to check out! The book is over 24 years old and it shows its age in some of the statements found in the book. It should be noted however that a new and revised edition of this book was published in 2004 by MonkeyBrain Books, so these statements might have changed in this newer edition. To me though, they gave gave an added sense of interest to they book, as they show how much has changed in 24 years, both in the genre and in the world at large. Wizardry and Wild Romance gave me a lot to think about and I plan on checking out some of the classic authors Mr Moorcock mentions. Additionally, I plan on searching our library catalogue for more titles on the subject of speculative fiction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sffgeek

    This is the book of criticism where Moorcock slags off Tolkien, and all other fantasy writers who are not his own proteges. Reading this was when I realised that his arrogance had overtaken his critical abilities, and that he would never again write anything to match the standard of the original Elric stories. I've only given it one star, but it is still worth a read "for a laugh" if you can pick it up second-hand... This is the book of criticism where Moorcock slags off Tolkien, and all other fantasy writers who are not his own proteges. Reading this was when I realised that his arrogance had overtaken his critical abilities, and that he would never again write anything to match the standard of the original Elric stories. I've only given it one star, but it is still worth a read "for a laugh" if you can pick it up second-hand...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Moorcock deserves to have his say about Heroic fantasy but there were quite a few sections of this that really irritated me. I often find myself disagreeing with Moorcock on many issues where Heroic Fantasy is concerned.

  8. 5 out of 5

    AT

    A politically-tinged analysis of fantasy. Fairly disappointing as it opts to be a somewhat shallow polemic at critical moments rather than a more thoughtful piece of writing. The criticism of ironic fantasy is particularly specious; modern fantasy wishes it had an author as good as James Branch Cabell.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

    Michael Moorcock isn't your typical fantasy writer, turning genre-based fiction and elevating it to something more. More than a few fantasy readers would say they get a feeling that he is someone who looks down on the genre as a whole and to those readers who just want to enjoy a good hack and slash trip to an alternative world. Literary criticism usually has more of a nose-up-in-the-air attitude, so the combination of a seemingly snooty Moorcock writing a literary analysis of epic fantasy seems Michael Moorcock isn't your typical fantasy writer, turning genre-based fiction and elevating it to something more. More than a few fantasy readers would say they get a feeling that he is someone who looks down on the genre as a whole and to those readers who just want to enjoy a good hack and slash trip to an alternative world. Literary criticism usually has more of a nose-up-in-the-air attitude, so the combination of a seemingly snooty Moorcock writing a literary analysis of epic fantasy seems to steamroll toward a finished product that is unreadable. Talking in class with intelligent people about books and reading and history is one thing, there is a back and forth to the conversation, but reading an intelligent person's one specific view of an entire genre is more like choking down medicine than something enjoyable. But I have been rooting through the roots of genre fiction over the past couple of years, going back into the past to find how horror and fantasy and science fiction found their way from writings in the early 1900's to where we are today. Who did Lovecraft and Howard and Asimov read when they were young to push them into expanding these areas of fiction into new heights? With Wizardry and Wild Romance, Moorcock is successful in some aspects but gets bogged down in his own particular opinions to give the reader a broad overview or history of the fantasy genre. And that is okay, but it left me with a sense that he could do more. His knowledge of literature and fiction overall and how fantasy evolved off of more traditional genres is vast, but in these essays he seems more intent on showing the reader what is good and what is bad versus educating the reader and allowing them to decide for themselves. More of a lecture than a conversation or a history presented for readers to further explore. And I am sure that is what Moorcock has in mind with these essays. Only read the good stuff, let the drivel be forgotten and lost in time. But to me this type of thinking inhibits the growth of fantasy fiction rather than enhances it. He may not like Tolkien or Lin Carter, and his critiques of them are valid, but tell us more about how Tolkien came to be and trace the chains of his influence to modern day fantasy. That investigation and study and more similar analysis from someone as insightful and learned as Moorcock I would pay a lot more than a couple of bucks to read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    R.M.F Brown

    A writing masterclass from a fantasy master When it comes to Fantasy writing, there are few better than Moorcock, and its often been pointed out, that Moorcock has written most of it! So there are few more qualified than Moorcock to guide us through literary labyrinth. In this collection of essays, Moorcock casts a critical, no holds barred, eye over the genre. The result is an insightful, and sometimes frustrating look at the evolution of the fantasy genre. Moorcock's critique of Tolkien's works A writing masterclass from a fantasy master When it comes to Fantasy writing, there are few better than Moorcock, and its often been pointed out, that Moorcock has written most of it! So there are few more qualified than Moorcock to guide us through literary labyrinth. In this collection of essays, Moorcock casts a critical, no holds barred, eye over the genre. The result is an insightful, and sometimes frustrating look at the evolution of the fantasy genre. Moorcock's critique of Tolkien's works is a welcome antidote to the persistent and lingering notion that modern fantasy started with the LOTR. As much as I've enjoyed the LOTR, there are aspects of it that do not stand up to critical scrutiny. Moorcock's championing of Fritz Lieber and Mervyn Peake, as giants of the genre, is long overdue, and introduced me to criminally overlooked novels. For that, I'm grateful. The role of women in the genre ( criticised for being often two dimensional or the stereotypical maiden in distress) and the use of evocative imagery (landscapes) are discussed, and yield up insights that no aspiring fantasy author should do without. There is an element of Jung philosophy here when dealing with environment: how does one affect the landscape, and how does the landscape affect us. A simple question as Moorcock points out, but also one that yields works such as Mythago Wood On the negative side, the random insertion of obscure authors, and the structure of this book (random essays thrown together) did make me gnash my teeth at times. On the other hand, if you have time, then many of these obscure works can be traced through Goodreads, and thanks to the wonders of ebay, hard to find books can be purchased such as this hidden gem: The Blue Sword As a critique of the genre or as a primer in fantasy writing, I have yet to come across a comparable book. Well worth a look.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Ravinski

    Check out my review at Wandering around the Words favorite quotes: "Writers like Tolkien take you to the edge of the Abyss and point out the excellent tea-garden at the bottom, showing you the steps carved into the cliff and reminding you to be a bit careful because the hand-rails are a trifle shaky as you go down; they haven't got the approval yet to put a new one in." (Epic Pooh, 129) "Jokes are not Comedy and stories which contain jokes are not comic stories." (Wit and Humor, 110) Check out my review at Wandering around the Words favorite quotes: "Writers like Tolkien take you to the edge of the Abyss and point out the excellent tea-garden at the bottom, showing you the steps carved into the cliff and reminding you to be a bit careful because the hand-rails are a trifle shaky as you go down; they haven't got the approval yet to put a new one in." (Epic Pooh, 129) "Jokes are not Comedy and stories which contain jokes are not comic stories." (Wit and Humor, 110)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I read the new expanded edition for a work related project, I'm glad Mike has revised this as a lot has happened in the realm of fantasy since it was originally published. The strange thing is I still find after all these years I still agree with his opinions on Tolkien and the Inklings, Lovecraft and Lieber. A lot of fantasy fans will have a hard time with Mike's opinion on Tolkien, but I found it quite refresing that someone was able to take a tilt at such an institution. I read the new expanded edition for a work related project, I'm glad Mike has revised this as a lot has happened in the realm of fantasy since it was originally published. The strange thing is I still find after all these years I still agree with his opinions on Tolkien and the Inklings, Lovecraft and Lieber. A lot of fantasy fans will have a hard time with Mike's opinion on Tolkien, but I found it quite refresing that someone was able to take a tilt at such an institution.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    In brief: Wonderful, full of great observations and a distinctive grasp of the history of Romantic and fantastic literature. He's even fun to disagree with! In brief: Wonderful, full of great observations and a distinctive grasp of the history of Romantic and fantastic literature. He's even fun to disagree with!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Fasching-Gray

    I am glad to have Moorcock's recommendations for fantasy reading, but I was hoping for more political analysis alongside his literary taste. I think comparing Middle Earth to the Hundred Acre Wood is an insult to A. A. Milne. This was a good read but it was a real struggle to get a copy. I am glad to have Moorcock's recommendations for fantasy reading, but I was hoping for more political analysis alongside his literary taste. I think comparing Middle Earth to the Hundred Acre Wood is an insult to A. A. Milne. This was a good read but it was a real struggle to get a copy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    A short but extensive and very idiosyncratic overview of 'heroic fantasy' fiction by a pretty able practitioner of the form hissown bad self - as a teenager I DEVOURED Moorcock's books, as can be seen by my Goodreads shelf dedicated to his work (it certainly helped that his novels were short and sharp). His flying leaps at Tolkien and, by extension A.A. Milne, seem a little unjustified but I see it as exaggeration for effect. It also doesn't hurt that he rates quite highly one of my other favori A short but extensive and very idiosyncratic overview of 'heroic fantasy' fiction by a pretty able practitioner of the form hissown bad self - as a teenager I DEVOURED Moorcock's books, as can be seen by my Goodreads shelf dedicated to his work (it certainly helped that his novels were short and sharp). His flying leaps at Tolkien and, by extension A.A. Milne, seem a little unjustified but I see it as exaggeration for effect. It also doesn't hurt that he rates quite highly one of my other favorite writers of sword & sorcery - Fritz Leiber. And 'Wizardry and Wild Romance' - whatta title!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Recommended for all fantasy genre lovers. This edition features an introduction by China Mieville, a foreword by Moorcock, 6 essays, various book reviews done by Moorcock including a very good forward about Peake, and an afterword by Jeff VanderMeer. 5 stars for Moorcock's anti-tolkien essay, "Epic Pooh." - An argument about everything that is wrong with The Rings, which I whole-heartedly agree with. The essays are good, as well as his book reviews; he would be a good GR friend to have as I have al Recommended for all fantasy genre lovers. This edition features an introduction by China Mieville, a foreword by Moorcock, 6 essays, various book reviews done by Moorcock including a very good forward about Peake, and an afterword by Jeff VanderMeer. 5 stars for Moorcock's anti-tolkien essay, "Epic Pooh." - An argument about everything that is wrong with The Rings, which I whole-heartedly agree with. The essays are good, as well as his book reviews; he would be a good GR friend to have as I have already further lengthened my To-Read pile on his recommendations.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steve Haynes

    An absolute MUST read for any fan or budding writer of British fantasy. You don't have to agree with him, but Moorcock both educates and entertains. I've actually lost this book over a decade ago, but many of tge passages stay in my mind. An absolute MUST read for any fan or budding writer of British fantasy. You don't have to agree with him, but Moorcock both educates and entertains. I've actually lost this book over a decade ago, but many of tge passages stay in my mind.

  18. 4 out of 5

    reverend dak

    Everything you need to know about the Fantasy sub-genre Sword & Sorcery. I like Moorcock a lot. This book helped me understand why I like a certain type of Fantasy over others.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elias Helfer

    This book was a mixed experience. On one hand, Moorcock clearly knows what he's talking about, and both scholars and aspiring writers of fantasy and gothic stories can probably learn something from this book. On the other, I grew increasingly exasperated by Moorcock's style. The book is a collection of essays, first going into the origins of fantasy stories, then going on to point out important elements of the stories: the landscape, the hero or heroine, and the humour present in many of these s This book was a mixed experience. On one hand, Moorcock clearly knows what he's talking about, and both scholars and aspiring writers of fantasy and gothic stories can probably learn something from this book. On the other, I grew increasingly exasperated by Moorcock's style. The book is a collection of essays, first going into the origins of fantasy stories, then going on to point out important elements of the stories: the landscape, the hero or heroine, and the humour present in many of these stories. Each of these essays start out briefly outlining what the essay is about and why it is relevant, it then proceeds to quote work after work with very brief introductions. This often left me wondering what I was looking for in the quote, and why Moorcock deemed it worthy of inclusion. The book culminates with Epic Pooh, Moorcock's condemnation of Winnie the Pooh, Narnia, and especially Tolkien. This is both the meatiest part of the book, and the most infuriating. While Moorcock makes some arguments, it mostly left me with the feeling that Moorcock objects to these books because he doesn't like them. This is also where his tendency to include long quotes with little commentary, as he often seems to think that the quotes speak for themselves. I did not find that to be the case, however. I do not regret reading this book, though I did not have the time or patience the book might have required. And if you want to dive into the genre to understand it better, and to discover work you otherwise might not have come across, this is not a bad book to read. But I do wish that Michael Moorcock had done a little more to help his reader understand what he's talking about.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robert Adam Gilmour

    This is a review of the updated and expanded version with the new intros, essays and reviews. First the negatives: It can seem like Moorcock has quite large blindspots and that writers with certain traits he doesn't like can be treated far too harshly; as if he has a hard time seeing past certain flaws. I think he can seem a bit too narrow and prescriptive about how things ought to be written. It might partially be my own paranoia but I thought he was placing too much importance on metaphors and This is a review of the updated and expanded version with the new intros, essays and reviews. First the negatives: It can seem like Moorcock has quite large blindspots and that writers with certain traits he doesn't like can be treated far too harshly; as if he has a hard time seeing past certain flaws. I think he can seem a bit too narrow and prescriptive about how things ought to be written. It might partially be my own paranoia but I thought he was placing too much importance on metaphors and writing about real life, which is veering too close to the painfully restrictive idea of fiction as some pragmatic tool for very responsible people; but given how often in interviews he's expressed enthusiasm for absurdism, surrealism and disreputable entertainment, I'm really not sure about this. Perhaps he changed his mind? Another thing that particularly irked me is his lack of care about grass/trees. He says that we needn't be alarmed about the destruction of green fields because he can see large fields outside his window. Which is unusually silly for him. But this is still a really good, fun book with interesting insights and I especially appreciated the recommendations for very early fantasy that most fantasy readers and even guides don't bother with (George Meredith and Walter Scott for example). His attack on Lin Carter is interesting and funny, but perhaps Carter deserved a bit more credit for the books he helped keep in print and in a sort of canonization.

  21. 4 out of 5

    André Bernhardt

    Since the long gone days of me reading Elric and Corum I always thought Michael Moorcock is some kind of pulp writer but actually he is very clever - which also explains why I loved Corum and Elric ;). So I read through his little journey into the world of fantasy and enjoyed it quite much. Besides pointing out some nice reading recommendations (Broken sword) I am was also impressed about his thoughts about the future of the genre which isn´t repeating old stereotpyes and cliches but about writi Since the long gone days of me reading Elric and Corum I always thought Michael Moorcock is some kind of pulp writer but actually he is very clever - which also explains why I loved Corum and Elric ;). So I read through his little journey into the world of fantasy and enjoyed it quite much. Besides pointing out some nice reading recommendations (Broken sword) I am was also impressed about his thoughts about the future of the genre which isn´t repeating old stereotpyes and cliches but about writing better fantasy that doesnt treat women as subject and features heroes that never really grow up. Worth reading!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steve Graham

    Very interesting and opinionated take on epic fantasy and its history. Very well informed. Very engaging. Worth another read through (or perhaps two or three more). Nice antidote for suppositions that Epic Fantasy started with Tolkien. Has piqued my interest in "gothic" fantasy from the 19th century (though Moorcock describes most of it as bad). I need to go back and extract a bunch of reading ideas based on his descriptions. He tends to be critical, but brief comments criticizing particular asp Very interesting and opinionated take on epic fantasy and its history. Very well informed. Very engaging. Worth another read through (or perhaps two or three more). Nice antidote for suppositions that Epic Fantasy started with Tolkien. Has piqued my interest in "gothic" fantasy from the 19th century (though Moorcock describes most of it as bad). I need to go back and extract a bunch of reading ideas based on his descriptions. He tends to be critical, but brief comments criticizing particular aspects of a book or author are not (and are not intended to be) comprehensive criticism.

  23. 4 out of 5

    J Grimsey

    An interesting read and a good source of Fantasy Fiction you haven't read yet. My problem is that all my favourite fantasy books are disliked by the author (e.g Tolkien, C S Lewis, Charles Williams and Richard Adams ) I like simple heroes, Christian values, Hobbits and Hippies. Moorcock does not preferring harder traditions and I feel American culture. Still it's worth a read even if he does not like Dorothy Sayers. An interesting read and a good source of Fantasy Fiction you haven't read yet. My problem is that all my favourite fantasy books are disliked by the author (e.g Tolkien, C S Lewis, Charles Williams and Richard Adams ) I like simple heroes, Christian values, Hobbits and Hippies. Moorcock does not preferring harder traditions and I feel American culture. Still it's worth a read even if he does not like Dorothy Sayers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    This is an interesting and erudite overview of epic fantasy by one of the genre's living masters. The breadth of Moorcock's knowledge is impressive, particularly when it comes to pre-Tolkien fantasy and it's roots in gothic literature. It's also incredibly opinionated; there's something in here to irritate any serious fantasy fan. I delighted in his notorious portrayal of Lord of the Rings as safe and bland "Epic Pooh", but I thought he gave Robert E. Howard short shrift in places, especially si This is an interesting and erudite overview of epic fantasy by one of the genre's living masters. The breadth of Moorcock's knowledge is impressive, particularly when it comes to pre-Tolkien fantasy and it's roots in gothic literature. It's also incredibly opinionated; there's something in here to irritate any serious fantasy fan. I delighted in his notorious portrayal of Lord of the Rings as safe and bland "Epic Pooh", but I thought he gave Robert E. Howard short shrift in places, especially since he appeared to be working from one of the inferior products resulting from L. Sprague deCamp and Lin Carter's tampering. For the most part everything is well-argued, however. This is a worthwhile read for serious fantasy fans.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sam Beaven

    Superb. It contains Epic Pooh, which is a great little essay on Lord of the Rings, one that finally pointed out what it was about the trilogy that always bothered me, slightly out of awareness. Aside from that it's a thoroughly good collection of essays on the history of fantasy, its roots in epic poetry, and its traits and tropes. Strongly recommended for any fan of genre. I don't agree with Moorcock on everything (I think he's a little harsh on Lovecraft), but Moorcock's reasoning is always well Superb. It contains Epic Pooh, which is a great little essay on Lord of the Rings, one that finally pointed out what it was about the trilogy that always bothered me, slightly out of awareness. Aside from that it's a thoroughly good collection of essays on the history of fantasy, its roots in epic poetry, and its traits and tropes. Strongly recommended for any fan of genre. I don't agree with Moorcock on everything (I think he's a little harsh on Lovecraft), but Moorcock's reasoning is always well rounded and understandable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Philip Gomez

    This is an excellent place to start if you're trying to get out of the "elfish" fantasy of Tolkien and his followers and into something deeper, darker, and out of the ordinary. Tolkien and similar authors get a good beating in this, but not without justification by Moorcock. Read this book and you won't look at fantasy literature the same way again, whether or not you agree with Moorcock on all his points. This is an excellent place to start if you're trying to get out of the "elfish" fantasy of Tolkien and his followers and into something deeper, darker, and out of the ordinary. Tolkien and similar authors get a good beating in this, but not without justification by Moorcock. Read this book and you won't look at fantasy literature the same way again, whether or not you agree with Moorcock on all his points.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Young

    Moorcock discusses the fantasy genre and offers extracts from various authors such as E Nesbit, Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber and Jack Vance. Not fully comprehensive and dealing more with opinion than cold fact but this is still an interesting overview of the genre.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    Moorcock's history of the fantasy genre is comprehensive and eclectic. If I have a criticism, it is that the extracts are so long that at times it's easy to lose the thrust of MM's argument. Nonetheless, worth reading if only for Moorcock's opinions on Wolfe & Harrison vs Tolkien, Lewis & Milne. Moorcock's history of the fantasy genre is comprehensive and eclectic. If I have a criticism, it is that the extracts are so long that at times it's easy to lose the thrust of MM's argument. Nonetheless, worth reading if only for Moorcock's opinions on Wolfe & Harrison vs Tolkien, Lewis & Milne.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Killjoy

    This is one of my favorite books of literary criticism. I actually particularly enjoy the attack on that sacred Lord of the Rings, even though I still like LotR.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lera

    'Anyone who hates hobbits can't be all bad' 'Anyone who hates hobbits can't be all bad'

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