For the Runestaff!
"Then the Earth grew old, its landscapes mellowing and showing signs of age, its ways becoming whimsical and strange in the manner of a man in his last years..."
—The Jewel in the Skull
Chronicling the adventures of Dorian Hawkmoon, Duke of Köln and another one of Michael Moorcock
's Eternal Champion incarnations. Dorian lives in a far-future Earth that has rebuilt itself after the Tragic Millennium
, but is being taken over by the brutal Dark Empire of Granbretan
. Hawkmoon, whose own land was recently conquered, has to struggle with what has happened to him as a prisoner of that regime, and strives to help one of the few holdout nations, the Karmarg, ruled by Count Brass. This sets off a quest both to remove the infernal device implanted in him by the Empire and to find the legendary Runestaff, which can help restore the balance of power.
Dorian's story is told in a tetralogy and a trilogy:
- The History of the Runestaff:
- The Jewel in the Skull (1967)
- The Mad God's Amulet (1968)
- The Sword of the Dawn (1968)
- The Runestaff (1969)
- The Chronicles of Castle Brass:
- Count Brass (1973)
- The Champion of Garathorm (1974)
- The Quest for Tanelorn (1975)
The books provides examples of:
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: Granbretan, at least, has a pantheon of gods, including a quartet named Jhone, Jhorg, Phowl, and Rhunga.
- Always Chaotic Evil: While this trope isn't normally applied to humans, the Dark Empire surely must count.
- Artifact of Doom: The Black Jewel, a magical tracking device that can bore its way into Dorian's brain and kill him if he causes trouble.
- Chekhov's Gun: Averted; at one point, Hawkmoon and D'Averc are scampering up some hills and D'Averc finds a bullet, from one of the old guns; he comments on it, and then tucks it away. That is the first and last that we hear of the bullet.
- The Empire: Granbretan.
- Evil Brits: Gee, ya think?
- Feudal Future
- God Emperor: King-Emperor Huon of Granbretan, a very long-lived being kept going by living in a life-support sphere.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In The Runestaff, all the heroes except Dorian and Yisselda.
- Horse of a Different Color: Kamarg's horned horses and ridable flamingos.
- Inhabitants of Garathorm ride arboreal ostriches.
- Immortality Inducer: King-Emperor Huon's life is indefinitely prolonged by the Throne Globe, an elaborate piece of Lost Technology.
- Intangible People: The Wraith-folk of Soryandum.
- Living MacGuffin: The Runestaff, initially— and one of the few male examples.
- Magitek: Granbretan favors scientist-sorcerors.
- Malevolent Masked Men: everybody in Granbretan— it's one of the basic tenets of their culture, to the point that they feel naked without a mask on. For the military, this results in whole armies of Faceless Goons.
- Never Found the Body: Baron Meliadus
- Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Granbretan's ornithopters.
- Summoning Artifact: The Sword of the Dawn, which can call forth the nigh-infinite Legion of the Dawn.
- Vanishing Village: Castle Brass takes refuge in another dimension for a while.
- Yellow Peril / Red China / Red Scare: Invoked in-universe, with rumors of "Empire of Asiacommunista". It never appears in the books and its existence is never confirmed or disproved.