The Eternal Champion

Michael Moorcock
The Eternal Champion Cover

The Eternal Champion


"The names did not matter. I knew it now. Only the fact mattered. The fact that I was a creature incapable of dying. A creature eternal. Doomed to have many shapes, to be called many names, but to be for ever battling."

King Rigenose, his kingdom about to be destroyed by the Eldren, clutches at a final hope when he attempts to summon the Eternal Champion, Erekosë. Erekosë, whom legend claims would return to decide the battle should Humanity and Eldren ever again go to war. In another time, on another Earth, John Daker sleeps fitfully, his dreams haunted by visions and a word he's never heard before. Erekosë, Erekosë.......

A fantastical romance the likes of which I've never read. No exaggeration, no other way to say it. Simple fact. Moorcock has a legendary reputation in fantasy circles, and after this, the reason why is clear. The Eternal Champion is fantasy illuminated by a light I've never experienced before.

What made this book impossible to put down was the character John Daker, who crosses Time and Space to become Erekosë. An incredibly fleshed out individual, it's impossible to not be captivated by the existential struggle he faces as he comes to grip not only with the legend he's been summoned to fulfil, but also with his old life and the dreams that slowly but inexorably reveal the true nature of his identity. It's an incredibly fascinating tale that never lets you go.

Throughout the length of the book, Daker responds in a very human, very mundane, very realistic way to the legendary fate that befalls him, and this is where Moorcock weaves his spell over you. Not only does Daker struggle with the metaphysical paradox of his identity, but he must also deal with the reason for the summons that drew him forth in the first place, the coming war and the morality of the side he fights for.

Moorcock wonderfully captures the dark side of humanity, the arrogance, prejudice, rage, fear, brutality, lust and ultimately, ignorance, that makes man wage war. Not only does he capture it, but he forces Daker to stare into the dark depths of its very essence, and live with the knowledge of the role he plays in it. Not just in this Time, but in Times to come and Times past. Escape is not an option, and as he sees by the end his slightest actions can have terrible consequences. Erekosë is the Chosen One straight out of your darkest, bloodiest nightmares. And you're going to love him.

A fantastical romance is an apt description for the tale Moorcock weaves, as poignant, almost poetic prose slowly but steadily casts a spell on you, sucking you up and into the vortex that is the legend of the Eternal Champion. With vivid imagery to compliment the critical themes he plays with, the very essences of what it feels fantasy has always been about, you're never going to look at genre fiction the same way again.

You know what this felt like? Like Moorcock ripped the bloody viscera out of everything at the heart of epic fantasy and shows you it's true, darker nature. The actions and the consequences, the choices and the ramifications, the people and their mistakes, their baser natures and inherent prejudices. The good and the bad. There's nothing fun about it. There's nothing pleasant. It feels like a cold, clinical, calculated slap in the face, to drag your head out of the clouds.

It's epic fantasy like you've never seen it before. This guy makes every grimdark book I've ever loved look like a child playing with Daddy's broadsword. Powerful, visceral, poignant, wonderful, mindbending, romantic, terrible and spellbinding, the Eternal Champion will change the way you look at genre fantasy forever.

And you know what the messed up part of this entire book was? It's been made clear to me this is Moorcock warming up. This is the proverbial calm before the storm. It makes an excellent entry point into Moorcock's oeuvre, as it gives one a sense of the scope and the scale of his writings, and hints at tales to come and tales past, but this is most definitely not his best. This is basically your standard Moorcock story.

Do I need to say it? Buy this. Now. And see for yourself why the man's a legend in and of himself.