My rating: 5 of 5 stars
More of the Von Bek family adventures in THE CITY IN THE AUTUMN STARS, which isn’t as rollicking an adventure as THE WARHOUND AND THE WORLD’S PAIN (although there is a glorious set piece battle in an otherworldly tavern as warring factions attempt to seize the Grail ), but more an examination of one man’s journey from disillusioned French revolutionary to alchemical perfection.
Of course, being Moorcock, the path to perfection is a rocky one, and the end of the journey is rarely the destination that was in mind at the beginning. But it’s well worth going along for the wild ride again, as Von Bek escapes Paris, heads for Switzerland, and gets involved in schemes with an early balloonist to swindle a fortune while searching for an elusive Countess that has stolen his heart.
The Countess proves to be after much more than that, and soon we are off into another part of Moorcock’s multiverse, where the quest for the Grail is taken up in one of Moorcock’s trademark baroque cities displaced in time and space. There’s also a Concordance, a great meeting of the spheres that regular Moorcock readers will recognise as a motif holding everything together ( and blasting everything apart.)
There’s great characters, typical Moorcockian musings on the nature of humanity, some glorious alchemical symbolism shot through it, and a lovely bittersweet ending.
Another winner from the great man, and a fitting later addition to the Eternal Champion cycle, which has been broadened by these additions weaving later European history into the rich tapestry.