The End Of All Songs

Michael Moorcock
The End Of All Songs Cover

Missing the Light and Fun of the First Two in the Series


The third and last entry in the Dancers at the End of Time is a different beast from the first two books, An Alien Heat and The Hollow Lands. Gone is the lightness of the first two novels, for the most part; the End of Time, it seems, is growing up, insofar as there is a lot more darkness and torment on display here.

I understand what Mr. Moorcock was trying to accomplish, taking his lighthearted characters, especially Jherek himself, and trying to see them change and mature under the strain of events. I respect the decision to add depth to his emotions. But at the same time, I'm forced to admit that, in so doing, Moorcock has chased much of the joy and happiness that made the first two novels so much fun to read.

That's not to say the result is bad. Central to the conclusion of the trilogy is the growing relationship between Jherek Carnelian and his beloved Mrs. Amelia Underwood. It's a testament to Moorcock's greatness that he made Amelia into a full-fledged, complex, intelligent, tortured soul. Her struggle to adapt to the End of Time is poignant, fully realized, and harrowing at times. I'm grateful that she turned out much, much more than just a blank canvas that Jherek gets to project his love upon, which is often the case of heroines throughout fiction, especially in SF.

Another large part of The End of All Songs concerns itself with the fate of Time and the Multiverse. This large part of the story detracted from the characters' growth. This is made even worse by the fact that the first two novels "trained" their readers to not give much credence to doomsayers; we are shown that the denizens at the End of Time care very little about anything as boring as the End of the Universe, and so, when they turn around and start actually giving a damn, it's hard to do so as well.

Overall, the third volume of the series was worth it to see Amelia fully come into her own as a strong female character in her own right, and to see her relationship with Jherek grow, mature, and struggle to resolve itself. But by the time the novel ended, I felt I had overstayed my welcome a bit at the End of Time, and that it was time to put these beloved characters to rest.