The Shores of Death

Michael Moorcock
The Shores of Death Cover

The Shores of Death


Originally published in 1965 as The Twilight Man, the final novel in the so-called Multiverse Trilogy is perhaps the weakest of the three, and also seems to be the one with the least to offer in terms of links to Moorcock's other works. That said, there are a few themes common to his later work, including a main character who, much like Elric, Corum, and others, is presented as something of an unwilling leader of a dying race. There's also more than a few elements of this novel that are later echoed in the early Hawkmoon books, which were published only a year or two after this one.

The story itself is set on a tidally locked Earth, where most of the population lives in peace and happiness on the daylight side of the planet. Clovis Marca is a product of incest, born in the twilight lands that separate the daylight from the night. When Marca's father dies, he sets out for the daylight, and soon becomes accepted as a leader of sorts. However, when the few remaining human scientists discover that humanity has lost the ability to reproduce, Marca sets out to try and find a way of escaping the ordained end of the human race.

As with many of Moorcock's works, the sense of impending doom is a constant theme throughout the narrative, with an almost tragic protagonist trying desperately to find a way to avoid an inevitable fate. There's also once again a hint at the conflict between Law and Chaos, with Law this time being represented by the followers of Marca's rival and eventual enemy, Andros Almer, and Chaos represented by an apocalypse cult who call themselves the Brotherhood of Guilt. In retrospect it's easy to see the embryonic forms of many of Moorcock's more common themes hidden within a narrative that doesn't quite reach the standards of his later works.

That said, it's still an enjoyable read, and not just one for the completists out there.