Spoilery. That’s your warning.
An Elric novel where Elric doesn’t show up until a fair way through, the lead character is actually Ulric von Bek, a German aristocrat at the start of World War II. He’s got a conscience and morals, and opposes the Nazis. He’s also an albino, and has a mysterious black sword that’s been passed down through his family line. The Nazis want the sword, of course, since they’re snapping up all sorts of weird, allegedly mystical artifacts. Obviously, von Bek is an aspect of the Eternal Champion, or at least an aspect of Elric, although I found that he had a lot more depth and moral conflict.
I was digging his story, and was actually sort of disappointed when Elric showed up. Instead of Elric helping to fight the Nazis, which would have been weird but interesting, von Bek gets recruited to help Elric defend Tanelorn. Okay, it’s a good story, and I dig Tanelorn. It’s interesting. But I wanted to get back to the Nazis.
If you’re not an Elric fan, but enjoy urban fantasy, you might dig this. It ties a lot of myth and legend into Moorcock’s multiverse. We have an underground civilization that leads to, or ties to, the fey realms. We’ve got the Holy Grail, and Reynard the fox. As much Elric continuity as you need to follow the story gets explained along the way, so it can be read easily as a stand-alone book; if there is anything you should read first, it would be Fortress of the Pearl, but you could easily circle back and read that afterward.
I enjoyed, and it’s one of my favorites in the Elric cycle.