Elric of Melnibone was created by British author Michael Moorcock. He’s an influential character in contemporary fantasy, in the league of Conan the Barbarian, though he came later. Elric came out of the 60s and I think you can see a lot of them in his character. He’s a drug addict sorcerer nerd who is perpetually self-pitying. Basically, if you imagine Conan as a jock, Elric is the nerdy bookworm who sits in a library and laments his existence. He’s pretty great, and several authors have cited him over the years as an influence or a favorite such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. What’s interesting is that he kind of pops up all over the place in contemporary fantasy.
Important features of Elric is that he’s (a) an elf albino, (b) a sorcerer, (c) tormented, (d) a loner, (e) from an evil race of elves, and (f) has a magic soul sucking black sword. I’ll go with a six point system to rate a character.
#1. Brynden Rivers, Game of Thrones
Albino sorcerer with a special sword, Dark Sister, and a tortured existence. Brynden is a blatant copy of Elric. What’s interesting to me is that a pulp fantasy hero like Elric of Melnibone is in Westeros, a setting known for it’s rejection of fantasy tropes.
Elric rating: At least 4/6
#2. Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher
Albino “witcher” (monster hunter) who uses a silver sword to kill monsters and has magical abilities. Geralt was taken by the witchers as a child and given magical potions that changed him into a witcher, which are mutant humans with amazing abilities. He was then trained to use witcher magical abilities centered around their medallions. He wanders around his fantasy setting, constantly getting entangled in morally ambiguous issues.
I think the connection here is the emphasis on moral ambiguity, the albino nature of the hero, and the isolated existence he lives, cut off from most of humanity.
Elric rating: 3/6
#3. Drizzt Do’Urden, Forgotten Realms
Drizzt is a ranger exile from his people who fights for the good guys despite being born of the bad guys. This one is probably one of the more tenuous links. Drizzt is from a race of dark elves known for their cruelty, not unlike the Melniboneans that Elric is from, and he’s a reject for lacking their cruelty, also like Elric. The focus is here is kind of the adolescent isolation from society, which is what I believe is at the core of Elric, which is something Drizzt definitely has.
Elric Rating: 3/6
#4. Malus Darkblade, Warhammer Fantasy
Malus is a dark elf who is possessed by a demon, wields a magical sword, and his stories are filled with cruelty and betrayal. This clone of Elric is probably one of the most blatant ones, even more so than Brynden Rivers. His disposition is different than Elric’s, but he’s basically the same character for the most part. I actually enjoy these stories since they kind of hearken back to a pulp adventure era. Usually Malus will wander into an area, get entangled in the events there, and generally screw everyone over.
Elric Rating: 5/6
#5. Silchas Ruin and Anomander Rake, Malazan Book of the Fallen
This is one of the few instances where Elric is split into two characters who are brothers and dark elves. Silchas Ruin is an albino warrior, and his brother Anomander is a depressed sorcerer king with a magic soul consuming sword. It’s an interesting tact to split the character up like that, though I’m not exactly sure what that gained the author. I assume that he, just like I would in his position, just thought it was cool.
Elric Rating: 6/6