I am re-reading Elric of Melnibone at the moment. I read this book a long long time ago! I think I must have been around twelve when I bought it. I remember it being tiny, the book couldn't have been more than two hundred pages. It was the only book I could find at the time about Elric and I yearned to read more. Finally I remembered these books a few weeks ago. I am not sure why. I have vague memories of seeing them for sale second hand recently but not buying them because they were an incomplete set. This edition is number eight despite the fact that it starts with the first book in the series. I haven't quite figured it out but I suspect it is due to prequels. The prose isn't great. I have only read the first book completely and it was generally fine. The second book, Fortress of the Pearl, is terrible. I am not sure if it is a style issue or if it is actually bad. I guess it is style as the books have been popular. I am trying to get through the second book in the hope that the third is better. Now while the prose is bad the story is good and remarkable for having been written in the sixties(?). It is only recently that fantasy for me has matured as a genre and yet within this book I find wonderful ideas.
This book is one of the main inspirations for Games Workshop during the creation of the Warhammer Universe as far as I remember. The high elves are easiest on some levels to identify. Melnibone, home of Elric, is very similar to Ulthuan. The Dragon Princes are a direct idea taken. The gods of law and chaos were once a feature of Warhammer but the gods of law such as Soltan have more or less been ignored. I remember only one reference in recent books. The fifth god of Chaos Malal appeared somewhere in the Elric saga and was removed from the GW pantheon due to copyright issues. A lot of the seminal ideas of Chaos stem from these books and even John Blanche derived a lot of inspirations from the word within. I look forward to reading more and hopefully finding the hidden gems!