This is the first of the six Elric books; the series is supposed to the be the quintessential dark fantasy and ground-breaking when published in the 60s and 70s for its anti-hero protagonist. Neil Gaiman is a fan. A blurb on the cover by Michael Chabon called the author "the greatest writer of post-Tolkien British fantasy." I can't say this book lives up to that kind of praise. The imagery is lush, the prose lyrical and the imagination prodigious no question. I'm not about to forget the description of the "Dreaming City" of Imrryr with scintillating towers of "a thousand soft colours" or their "battle-barges armoured in gold." Or the court filled with the sounds of singer-slaves "specially trained and surgically operated upon to sing but one perfect note each." Or the Ship Which Sails Over Land and Sea. Then there's the title character, Emperor Elric, the occupier of the Ruby Throne: a sorcerer and warrior, a sickly albino troubled by a conscience alien to his people, gloomy and brooding (and at times too stupid to live). The Melnibonéans are never called elves, but remind me of them in their beauty, power and alien feel. I like the idea of Elric's character--not exactly your typical hulking hero or orphan boy of destiny(tm). However, he and the other characters still come across as sketchy to me, the style pulp. (There is "yonder" and "thus" and "thee" and very few contractions in the dialogue.) The only female character, Elric's love, is the kind that faints and must-be-rescued. The ending felt abrupt to me. It's a quick, light short read though--only 180 pages. I hear the Elric novels became more disturbing as they went along--based on the first I'm not inclined to seek out the others. However, they were made into graphic novels--now that I might want to look up--somehow I think that would suit this style and character.