Stormbringer

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Stormbringer
File:Weird of the white wolf daw 1977.jpg
Stormbringer being wielded by Elric of Melniboné
First appearance
  • The Dreaming City
  • 1961
Created byMichael Moorcock
GenreFantasy
In-story information
TypeSword, weapon
FunctionConsuming of souls
Specific traits and abilitiesBlack, runes
AffiliationElric of Melniboné

Stormbringer is a magic sword featured in a number of fantasy stories by the author Michael Moorcock. Created by the forces of Chaos, it is described as a huge, black sword covered with strange runes carved deep into its blade. It is wielded by the doomed albino emperor Elric of Melniboné. Stormbringer makes its first appearance in the 1961 novella The Dreaming City.[1]

The theme of a cursed sword which causes evil deeds when drawn goes back to the sword Tyrfing in Norse Mythology, with which Moorcock was likely familiar. In the four novellas collected in the 1965 book Stormbringer, the sword's true nature is revealed.[2]

Moorcock intended the sword/character as a symbol of his theme, "how mankind's wish-fantasies can bring about the destruction of... part of mankind".[3] Claiming influence from Freud and Jung he says: "The whole point of Elric's soul-eating sword, Stormbringer, was addiction: to sex, to violence, to big, black, phallic swords, to drugs, to escape. That's why it went down so well in the rock’n’roll world".[4]

Description[edit]

This powerful enchanted black blade is a member of a demon race that takes on the form of a sword, and as such is an agent of Chaos. Stormbringer's edge is capable of cutting through virtually any material not protected by potent sorcery, and it can drink the soul from (and thereby kill) any unprotected living creature upon delivering any wound, even a scratch. Its most distinctive features are that it has a mind and will of its own, and that it feeds upon the souls of those it kills. Elric loathes the sword but is almost helpless without the strength and vitality it confers on him.[5]

Stormbringer's hunger for souls is such that it frequently betrays Elric by creating a bloodlust in his mind, turning in his hands and killing friends and lovers. The cursed nature of the sword adds to Elric's guilt and self-loathing, even as he feels pleasure when the stolen lifeforce enters his body.

Stormbringer has a "brother" sword named Mournblade, which was at one time wielded by Elric's cousin and enemy Yyrkoon. It is identical to Stormbringer in most regards. Later stories reveal that there are thousands of identical demons, all taking the form of swords. Three such sibling blades appear in The Revenge of the Rose and many more "brother blades" are seen in the novel Stormbringer, but only Mournblade and Stormbringer are named.

In Elric of Melniboné, Elric and cousin Yyrkoon find the runeblades in a realm of Limbo and commence battle. Elric and Stormbringer disarm Yyrkoon, and Mournblade disappears. Yyrkoon is defeated, and Elric and his cousin return to Imrryr.

In The Weird of the White Wolf, Elric returns to Imrryr after a long journey and confronts Yyrkoon, who usurped the throne in his absence. Yyrkoon has regained Mournblade through unknown means and uses it to attack. Elric and Stormbringer kill Yyrkoon, and no further mention is made of Mournblade until it is later disclosed that it was recovered by the Seers of Nihrain, to be wielded by Elric's cousin, Dyvim Slorm. Imrryr is sacked, though the pillagers' fate is not much better, being pursued by the golden battle barges and the few dragons who were awakened, led by Dyvim Tvar. Only Elric's ship escapes, propelled by the aid of his sorcery.

In Stormbringer, Elric learns that the representatives of Fate, which serve neither Chaos nor Law, recovered Mournblade from the netherworld. They present it to Elric and explain that the runeblades were designed to be wielded by those with Melnibonéan royal blood as a check against the might of powerful beings including the Dead Gods of Chaos. Elric gives Mournblade to his kinsman, Dyvim Slorm, and the two men become embroiled in a confrontation between the gods. Elric summons others of Stormbringer's demonic race (also in the form of swords) to fight against a number of Dukes of Hell, brought to the Young Kingdoms by Jagreen Lern, theocrat of Pan Tang.

Ultimately, Elric's reliance on Stormbringer proves his undoing: after the utter destruction of the Young Kingdoms in the battle of Law and Chaos, just as it seems that the cosmic Balance has been restored, Stormbringer kills Elric, transforms into a humanoid demon, and leaps laughing into the sky, to corrupt the newly-remade world once more. The sword-spirit says to the dead Elric: "Farewell, friend. I was a thousand times more evil than thou!"[6]

In the book The Quest for Tanelorn, a character claims that the demon in the sword is named Shaitan – a variant of 'Satan', and in Arabic a word meaning a devil, if not the Devil. In the same book it is revealed that the demon can inhabit either the black sword or the black jewel, the jewel which was once embedded in the skull of Dorian Hawkmoon.[2] Hawkmoon was an avatar, like Elric, of the Eternal Champion.

Bibliography[edit]

Books by Moorcock featuring Stormbringer:

  • The Dreaming City (1961)
  • The Stealer of Souls (1963)
  • Stormbringer (1965)
  • The Singing Citadel (1970)
  • The Vanishing Tower (1970)[7]
  • Elric of Melniboné (1972) [8]
  • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (1976)
  • The Weird of the White Wolf (1977)
  • The Bane of the Black Sword (1977)
  • Elric at the End of Time (1984)
  • The Fortress of the Pearl (1989)
  • The Revenge of the Rose (1991)
  • The Dreamthief's Daughter (2001)

In other media[edit]

Comics[edit]

Tom Strong No. 31 and No. 32, "The Black Blade of the Barbary Coast" parts 1 & 2 by Moorcock, feature albino pirate Captain Zodiac seeking the "Black Blade", a black cutlass marked with red runes. This appears to be a recurrence (a favoured Moorcock trope) of Elric and Stormbringer's tale. Almost all of Moorcock's stories about the Eternal Champion include a parallel or analog to Stormbringer, invariably wielded by the Champion.

Literature[edit]

Lawrence Watt-Evans explicitly mentioned Moorcock's Stormbringer as an inspiration for the enchanted Black Dagger, which is at the center of his own novel The Spell of the Black Dagger and which is in many ways similar - though not identical - to Stormbringer.

Sorento wields the sword in Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline.

In popular culture[edit]

  • "Black Blade", the opening track of American hard rock band Blue Öyster Cult's seventh studio effort, Cultösaurus Erectus, concerns itself with Stormbringer. Moorcock himself made significant contributions to the track, having previously established a working relationship with the musical group.
  • The 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure module White Plume Mountain, written by Lawrence Schick and published by TSR,[9] featured a magical sword called Blackrazor, a black-bladed vampiric blade created from an extra-dimensional being. Schick later said that he was "a little embarrassed to this day by Blackrazor, inasmuch as it's such a blatant rip-off of Elric's Stormbringer; I would not have put it into the scenario if I ever thought it might be published".[10]
  • The Melnibonéan character profiles are included in the first edition of Deities & Demigods, a TSR AD&D resource.
  • In the opening animation short for the 1983 Daicon IV Nihon SF Taikai convention, the 'Bunny Girl' is shown riding a sword with the same visual design as Stormbringer as one of numerous classic fantasy and sci-fi references in the film.
  • In the fighting game series The King of Fighters, the character Heidern possesses a special move named "Stormbringer", where he stabs and drains life from the enemy.
  • In the Game of Thrones episode, "The Lion and the Rose", one name that the crowd shouts out as a name for Joffrey Baratheon's Valyrian steel sword is "Stormbringer".
  • In Ready Player Two, written by Ernest Cline, Nolan Sorrento yields Stormbringer after his escape from A Maximum-Security Prison.

References[edit]

  1. Kross, Karin L. (2013-07-12). "The Elric Reread: Elric of Melniboné". Tor.com. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Scroggins, Mark (2015). Michael Moorcock: Fiction, Fantasy and the World's Pain. McFarland & Company. pp. 25–29. ISBN 978-1476663074. Retrieved 6 March 2020. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. Riley, James (2018). "Terminal Data: J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock and the Fiction of the Decade's End". In Tew, Philip; Riley, James; Seddon, Melanie. The 1960s: A Decade of Modern British Fiction. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 277. ISBN 9781350011687. Retrieved 6 March 2020. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. "Michael Moorcock: "I think Tolkien was a crypto-fascist"". New Statesman. 2015-07-24. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  5. Pringle, David (1988). Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0246134202. Retrieved 6 March 2020. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  6. Kross, Karin L. (2013-10-18). "The Elric Reread: Stormbringer". Tor.com. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  7. Variant Title: The Sleeping Sorceress
  8. Variant Title: The Dreaming City
  9. Schick, Lawrence (1979). White Plume Mountain. TSR, Inc. pp. cover, 3–5, 9, 13. ISBN 978-0-935696-13-4. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  10. Maliszewski, James (May 16, 2009). "An Interview with Lawrence Schick". Grognardia.Blogspot.com. Retrieved 2009-08-31.

External links[edit]


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