cover image The Woods of Arcady

The Woods of Arcady

Michael Moorcock. Tor, $29.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2478-8

The ambitiously intertextual second installment to SFWA grandmaster Moorcock’s Sanctuary of the White Friars series combines autobiography and fantasy into a genre-bending whole that is as puzzling as it is engaging. Rather than pick up where 2015’s The Whispering Swarm left off, the story immediately introduces disorienting new elements, including several characters from Moorcock’s past works, before returning to the tale of the fictionalized Michael Moorcock in London. Even this, however, is a different version of Michael than the protagonist readers met in the first book, one who never found sanctuary in Alsacia. Instead, on a trip to Paris with his wife and young daughters, he meets Alexandre Dumas’s three musketeers, who drag him away on an international quest that teaches Michael important truths about the multiverse. Moorcock himself brought the term multiverse in its contemporary sense into speculative fiction in the 1960s, and he takes obvious delight in playing with the concept. The writer’s innovation makes the character’s stubborn skepticism in the face of the fantastical especially baffling, and readers may grow frustrated with the fictional Michael. The intricately woven plot threads and complex prose do not welcome the reader in gently, but it’s nevertheless an engrossing tale, especially in the lively second half. This will be best enjoyed by dedicated Moorcock fans. (June)