The War Hound and the World's Pain

Michael Moorcock
The War Hound and the World's Pain Cover

The War Hound and the World's Pain


I've only read the Von Bek books a couple of times in the past, and I have to admit previous readings never really did anything for me. However, this time round, something about the narrative of The War Hound and the World's Pain just seemed to hit the right chords.

It's essentially a variation on the Grail Quest, and like all good Grail Quest stories, it spends a lot of time examining the established ideals of right and wrong, good and evil, and the eternal conflict between the Devil and God. However, whereas most Grail Quests follow a pious knight as he challenges his own doubts and overcomes his own feelings of inadequacy, in this book we're told right from the beginning that Ulrich von Bek is most definitely damned, and what's more he gladly embraces his damnation.

There are a lot of parallels in this book with other older works by Moorcock. Von Bek is very much the epitome of the Champion Eternal, and a few familiar names and archetypes crop up throughout the narrative. The Grail itself, when it finally makes an appearance in the last couple of chapters, is presented almost as a talisman of the Cosmic Balance, capable of bringing Harmony to the world, resulting in a more optimistic dénouement than is generally expected from one of Moorcock's books.

As a part of the broader Eternal Champion mythos, I'd class this one as maybe less important than say the Elric, Corum, or Hawkmoon sagas, but still something of an essential read if you want to get a fuller understanding of the Multiverse and how it all fits together.