The History of 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)
- All Hail the Great God Mickey: Granbretan, at least, has a pantheon of gods, including a quartet named Jhone, Jhorg, Phowl, and Rhunga.
- Exclusively 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.
- 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.
- 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: All Granbretan nobles—in fact, they feel naked without them.
- Money, Dear Boy: Word of God says so, though with some higher aspirations:
"The Hawkmoon books were written for money and took three days each to do. But I still tried to make them the best I could do of their kind. In the end it's the public who pay me and I feel I owe readers the best value for their money I can produce, irrespective of genre or level of ambition."
- 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.