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Middlemarch: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Reviews and Criticism (A Norton Critical Edition)
Bert G. Hornback, George Eliot
The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel García Márquez
The Bane of the Black Sword - Michael Moorcock Four more Elric stories. These stories are really the model for collectible card games: one player summons some undeads; the other counters with air elementals; the first pulls out a quaolnargn card; then the other ripostes with a kyrenee or dragonriders, next plays his floating ships of Xerlerenes or fire-things--and so on, until someone is deadmeats.

First story puts paid to the antagonist from volume IV. Only item of interest therein is that Elric gets to the antagonist because a merchant group hires him to discipline a competitor who "can afford to import greater quantities of goods [...] and thus sell them for lower prices," "virtually a thief" with "unfair methods" (12). Thus, horizontal price-fixing might be maintained. That Elric did not really want to discipline the competitor, intended to rob the cartel later, did indeed rob them, does not change the fact that competitor did in fact get disciplined by the nasty end of the nuclear-sword.

Second story involves some undeads in an evil forest. Third has a stereotypical eastern horde, including a character who is the model for Mieville's Goss & Subby. Fourth is a Rackhir story, which notes that Elric is off rescuing his wife--who is generated ex nihilo in the second story. (New wife is "infatuated by a legend" (65) and "revived unplesant recollection.") Fourth story includes an noteworthy passage through an area of Law, which is void, wherein the sidekick complains, "what is Law without something to decide between?" which indicates that Law is not necessarily the absence of strife. An inhabitant of Law shows up, and is nevertheless a true nihilist. Neither conception was foreseeable at the outset, but both are reasonable, all things considered. The ultimate encounter in the fourth story involves the Grey Lords, a non-aligned supernatural corporation, and features the best discourse in the volume, including a beautiful list (148-49) of potential supernatural agents to aid Rackhir and Tanelorn, eventually selecting the flying boats aforesaid--this kind of stuff is really among the best that speculative fiction has to offer. Sadly, the rest of the volume is ill done.

Lotsa references to memory in this volume, but generally in a positive manner (unpleasant recollection aforesaid notwithstanding); if this is intended to demonstrate a shift in Elric's character, it is not well accomplished. Elric is generally addressed as a "legend" (13, 62, 99). Not sure what to make of that.

At one point, Elric tells his new wife that he's "tired of swords and sorcery" (123). I understand the feeling. Despite that, I have high hopes for volume VI, but am preparing for Amber volume V levels of disappointment.