Continuity... kind of depends on how you look at it.
For the most part, I'm personally inclined to agree with you, and in fact love continuity when it's developed well. Moorcock does a really good job of juggling all that continuity in the earlier books, yeah. When I first read it, all the other aspects of the Champion showing up made me want to read their books later (which I ultimately did). So yeah, references like that can definitely enhance a universe and give the feeling that a lot more is happening out there.
At the same time, my view on it has changed a little over the years. Continuity is great as long as it's not too unnecessarily self-referential and the story is generally understandable without having read everything else in the mythos. It's kind of a fine line, if you get me.
Finished Weird of the White Wolf, the last of the Elric saga that I have right now. I'm thinking Geralt of Rivia owes a good bit to Elric of Melnibone.
Well, they were a good read. The second book was a total departure from the main plot, and Moorcock seemed loathe to return to the main plot in the third book, so he just killed off everyone from the first book. Meh. He has Elric do some dumb, baffling things that don't seem in character, like leaving his cousin, who tried to kill him and steal his bride like five times, in charge of the kingdom. In the final duel, he ignores his wife's warnings not to kill the guy, dooming them all. Then he completely neglects to grab the other black sword and become the most powerful being in the world! Elric seems to have no direction, at first I thought he was adventuring to try to save the kingdom, then he comes back, and for no reason, attacks and utterly destroys it!
That being said, I like most of the adventures, especially the way Stormbringer acts, and Arioch's involvement in affairs. It's kind of a bummer that every time Elric meets some interesting traveling companion he ends up killing them though. I'll finish Elric's saga, but I dunno if I'll want to get involved in reading a sprawling array of series and stories by Moorcock.
Pretty much everything Moorcock writes is set in the same Multiverse and huge chunks of it are about the Eternal Champion in his many incarnations. I always found that part of the draw, too.
Corum, Erekose, Hawkmoon & Elric are probably the 'main' incarnations in terms of the amount Moorcock has written about them, but there are others. And some stuff ties in that you might not think would, or is referenced in other places.
The best Elric novel overall is probably Revenge Of The Rose, IIRC...
Saberhagen: yet another complete shift in style & tone
Will definitely second Revenge of the Rose. Awesome book on so many levels, and brings in a great antagonist in Gaynor the Damned. That said, I also quite like Fortress of the Pearl as well.
Of the incarnations, I'd say Hawkmoon is probably my personal favorite, but I also really like Corum for being very different and twisted. Erekose is fairly different, and I'm not sure he's hit the same heights as the other incarnations... but he's interesting in his own way.
Saberhagen, I've not read enough of to comment on, I'm afraid...
As an aside, my next read will probably be Abraham Merritt's "The Ship of Ishtar". An obscure book by today's standards, but was apparently very influential among writers of both SF and weird fiction. I'm quite curious to find out why...
So, I finished The First Book of Swords. This is shaping to be some good, possibly epic fantasy. After reading so many books with magic enchanted swords, Saberhagen comes along with his 12 swords of the gods and it's still just as awesome. I'm glad to have the next two volumes in the series as well.
Since I've been reading all these different authors back to back I've always been initially cold to the style and tone of each one I came to, but then inevitably I'm drawn in and absorbed with each book. I've got to say these were some great picks EK.
I picked up A Game of Throne by George R.R. Martin again and finished it this week. It's the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series and I loved it. Looking forward to getting to the bookstore to buy the rest.
In the game of thrones, you win or you die.
I am the way into the doleful city I am the way into eternal grief I am the way to a forsake race
Justice it was that moved my creator Divine Omnipotence created me and highest wisdom joined with primal love
Before me nothing but eternal things were made And I shall last eternally Abandon all hope, you who enter here
Just finished Iorich, the latest book in the Vlad Taltos series. Pretty good book (though I'd expect no less from Brust), and pretty much manages to succeed in making life for Vlad even worse. Which is a pretty impressive feat, considering that this is Vlad we're talking about... ;D
Looking forward to the next one, which I think should be Tiassa. Will we see a Khaavren appearance in it, I wonder...?
Just another update on my adventures in exploring EK's top fantasy picks.
I finished the first Thomas Covenant trilogy. This series left the biggest impression on me. I was very moved by what a tortured non-hero Covenant was and what he managed to accomplish. I really wanted him to find redemption...
I got a little sick of Elric of Melbinone in the midst of the fifth book, The Bane of the Black Sword. It's obvious most of it was written as serial adventures, too many little episodes, all ending with Elric killing one of friends and lamenting what a tortured soul he is. It was fun for a little while, but there's no sense that it's progressing toward anything...
Continuing on with the Drenai chronicles now, reading The King Beyond the Gate. Great writing style as usual. I was a little bummed to see that once again the protagonist meets a girl who initially hates him but yet they have fallen in love within the same chapter!
I've re-read the first three books of the Wheel of Time (step forward, I've acually been reading and enjoying it somewhat and I was thinking of taking a break to read something I haven't read before. Maybe I'm ready for Thomas this time around...
Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe.
As with all things Gemmell, there's always a twist...
Elric is a bit 'Epic Teen Angst' in places, yes. I don't think I ever sat down and read the whole lot in one go, and one book at a time they are good to great. Even if you don't like the rest, you should still read The Revenge Of The Rose, though. That's the best one, IMO
Ah you know - long foreplays are overrated in epic heroism.
Cesar's 'I came, I saw, I won' often gets contorted into 'She saw, I won, I came'...
Yeah, I know, but couldn't just once a man and a woman character (in any medium, be it book, film, whatever) start out hating each other and just continue to hate each other? Or at least not become soul-mates? I understand that loving relationships are among the most meaningful human experiences but come on... too ubiquitous.
I think that's one reason I love George R.R. Martin and the Thomas Convenant books so much. It's not necessarily that I want to see people suffer and fail at relationships, it's just so pleasantly unpredictable. And it makes those moments of compassion and triumph so much more powerful.
Ubereil: I started re-reading the Wheel of Time (originally read books 1-10 back in high school all at once) to refresh my memory for the final installments, and I made it to the fourth book before giving up. Maybe I'm just older and more well-read now, but it doesn't resonate the way it used to.
Oh yeah, EK: I read Saberhagen's Book of Swords (the original trilogy). It was pretty darn good. Have you read beyond this? There are a number of books dedicated to all the lost swords, but they all have really abysmal reviews.
The Lost Swords books are very variable, honestly. Some of them are very good, some are dire. Stonecutter's Story is probably the stand out. If you want another somewhat related Saberhagen book, you'd do better with Empire Of The East, which is sort of a prequel. Different main characters and set some time before, but same world and still good.
And part of the appeal of the Dark Tower books is that King kind of pulled a Lovecraft by making a kind of mythos out of it. The Dark Tower stretches tendrils into many, many of King's other novels:
IT Eyes of the Dragon Salem's Lot The Talisman Black House
Personally, I never finished the Dark Tower series, although I loved most of King's 'tie-in' novels, and most of his books generally. I did not like how book 4 went back in time instead of continuing the story, and the final three books were self-aware, half-assed crap, frankly. Come on, King wrote himself into the books as a character whose fictional creations come to talk to him!