Corum Jhaelen Irsei
Corum Jhaelen Irsei
Corum Jhaelen Irsei.
Cover of Corum (The Tale of the Eternal Champion), written by Michael Moorcock (this edition published 1992).
First appearance The Knight of the Swords (1971) Last appearance The Sword and the Stallion (1974) Created by Michael Moorcock
Corum Jhaelen Irsei ("the Prince in the Scarlet Robe") is the name of a fictional fantasy hero in a series of two trilogies written by author Michael Moorcock.
Corum is the last survivor of the Vadhagh race and an incarnation aspect of the Eternal Champion, a being that exists in all worlds to ensure there is "Cosmic Balance".
Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe (The Swords Trilogy)
Corum is a Vadhagh, one of a race of long-lived beings with limited magical abilities dedicated to peaceful pursuits such as art and poetry. A group of "Mabden" (men) led by the savage Earl Glandyth-a-Krae raid the family castle and slaughter everyone with the exception of Corum, who escapes. Arming himself, Corum attacks and kills several of the Mabden before being captured and tortured. After having his right hand cut off and left eye put out, Corum escapes by moving into another plane of existence, becoming invisible to the Mabden. They depart and Corum is found by a member of the Nhadragh, an old enemy of the Vadhagh. The Nhadragh takes Corum to a being called Arkyn, who treats his wounds and explains he has a higher purpose.
Travelling to Moidel's Castle, Corum encounters his future lover, the Margravine Rhalina. Rhalina uses sorcery (a ship summoned from the depths of the ocean and manned by her drowned dead husband and crew) to ward off an attack by Glandyth-a-Krae. Determined to restore himself, Corum and Rhalina travel to the island of Shool, a near immortal and mad sorcerer. During the journey Corum observes a mysterious giant who trawls the ocean with a net. On arrival at the island Shool takes Rhalina hostage, and then provides Corum with two artifacts to replace his lost hand and eye: the Hand of Kwll and the Eye of Rhynn. The Eye of Rhynn allows Corum to see into an undead netherworld where the last beings killed by Corum exist until summoned by the Hand of Kwll.
Shool then explains that Corum's ill fortune has been caused by the Chaos God Arioch, the Knight of the Swords. When Arioch and his fellow Chaos Lords conquered the Fifteen Planes, the balance between the forces of Law and Chaos tipped in favor of Chaos, and their minions - such as Glandyth-a-Krae - embarked on a bloody rampage. Shool sends Corum to Arioch's fortress to steal the Heart of Arioch, which the sorcerer intends to use to attain greater power. Corum confronts Arioch, and learns Shool is nothing more than a pawn of the Chaos God. Arioch then ignores Corum, who discovers the location the Heart. Corum is then attacked by Arioch, but the Hand of Kwll crushes the Heart and banishes the Chaos God forever. Before fading from existence, Arioch warns Corum that he has now earned the enmity of the Sword Rulers. Corum returns to the island to rescue Rhalina, and observes Shool has become a powerless moron, and is devoured by his own creations soon afterwards. Corum learns Arkyn is in fact a Lord of Law, and that this is the first step towards Law regaining control of the Fifteen Planes.
On another five planes, the forces of Chaos - led by Xiombarg, Queen of the Swords - reign supreme and are on the verge on eradicating the last resistance from the forces of Law. The avatars of the Bear and Dog gods plot with Earl Glandyth-a-Krae to murder Corum and return Arioch to the Fifteen Planes. Guided by Arkyn, Corum, Rhalina and companion Jhary-a-Conel cross the planes and encounter the King Without A Country, the last of his people who in turn is seeking the City in the Pyramid. The group locate the City, which is in fact a floating arsenal powered by advanced technology and inhabited by a people originally from Corum's world and his distant kin.
Besieged by the forces of Chaos, the City requires certain rare minerals to continue to power their weapons. Corum and Jhary attempt to locate the minerals and also encounter Xiombarg, who learns of Corum's identity. Corum slows Xiombarg's forces by defeating their leader, Prince Gaynor the Damned. Xiombard is goaded into attacking the City directly in revenge for Arioch's banishment. Arkyn provides the minerals and confronts Xiombarg, who has manifested in a vulnerable state. As Arkyn banishes Xiombarg, Corum and his allies devastate the forces of Chaos. Glandyth-a-Krae, however, escapes, and seeks revenge.
A spell - determined to have been cast by the forces of Chaos - forces the inhabitants of Corum's plane to war with each other (including the City in the Pyramid). Desperate to stop the slaughter, Corum, Rhalina and Jhary Corum travel to the last five planes, ruled by Mabelode, the King of the Swords. Rhalina is taken hostage by the forces of Chaos and Corum has several encounters with the forces of Chaos, including Earl Glandyth-a-Krae.
Corum also meets two other aspects of the Eternal Champion: Elric and Erekose, with all three seeking the mystical city of Tanelorn for their own purposes. After a brief adventure in the "Vanishing Tower", the other heroes depart and Corum and Jhary arrive at their version of Tanelorn. Corum discovers one of the "Lost Gods", the being Kwll, who is imprisoned and cannot be freed until whole. Corum offers Kwll his hand, on the condition that he aid them against Mabelode. Kwll accepts the terms, but reneges on the bargain until persuaded to assist. Corum is also stripped of his artificial eye, which belongs to Rhynn - actually the mysterious giant Corum had previously encountered. Kwll transports Corum and Jhary to the court of Mabelode, with the pair fleeing with Rhalina when Kwll directly challenges the Chaos God.
In a final battle Corum avenges his family by killing Glandyth-a-Krae and decimating the last of Chaos' mortal forces. Kwll later locates Corum and advises that all the gods - both Chaos and Law - have been killed in order to free humanity and allow it to shape its own destiny.
Corum: The Prince with the Silver Hand
Set eighty years after the defeat of the Sword Rulers, Corum has become despondent and alone since the death of his Mabden bride Rhalina. Plagued by voices at night, Corum believe he has gone insane until old friend Jhary-a-Conel advises Corum it is in fact a summons from another world. Listening to the voices allows Corum to pass to the other world, which is in fact the distant future. Rhalina's descendants, the Tuha-na-Cremm Croich (who call Corum "Corum Llew Ereint") face extinction from the Fhoi Myore: seven giants who with their allies conquered the land and plunged it into eternal winter. Allying himself with King Mannach, Corum falls in love with his daughter Medhbh.
Corum also hears the prophecy of a seeress, who claims Corum should fear a brother (who will apparently slay him), a harp and above all, beauty. Corum seeks the lost artifacts of the Tuha-na-Cremm Croich - a sacred Bull, a spear, an oak, a ram and a stallion - which will restore the land. Together with new allies Goffanon (a blacksmith and diminutive giant) and Goffanon's cousin and true giant Illbrec battles the Fhoi Myore and their own allies, a returned Prince Gaynor, the wizard Calatin and his clone of Corum, the Brothers of the Pine, the undead Ghoolegh and a host of giant wolves. After being instrumental in the death of two of the Fhoi Myore and restoring the High King of the Tuha-na-Cremm Croich, Corum and his allies have a final battle in which all their foes are destroyed.
Corum decides not to return his own world, and is attacked by his clone, whom he defeats with the aid of a spell placed his silver hand by Medhbh. Medhbh, however, attacks and wounds Corum, having been told by the being the Dagdah that their world must be free of all gods and demi-gods if they are to flourish as a people. Corum is then killed with his own sword by his animated silver hand, thereby fulfilling the prophecy.
In other media
First Comics published The Chronicles of Corum, a twelve issue limited series (Jan. 1986 - Dec. 1988) that adapted the "Swords Trilogy", and was followed by the four issue limited series Corum: The Bull and the Spear (Jan. - July (bi-monthly) 1989) , which adapted the first book in the second trilogy.
- The Knight of the Swords (1971)
- The Queen of the Swords (1971)
- The King of the Swords (1971)
- The Bull and the Spear (1973)
- The Oak and the Ram (1973)
- The Sword and the Stallion (1974)
- The Vanishing Tower (1971)
- The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (1976)
- The Quest for Tanelorn (1976)
Note: In the United Kingdom the first trilogy has been collected as an omnibus edition titled Corum, Swords of Corum and most recently Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe (vol. 30 of Orion's Fantasy Masterworks series). In the United States the first trilogy has been published as Corum: The Coming of Chaos. The second trilogy was titled The Prince with the Silver Hand (United Kingdom) and The Chronicles of Corum (United States) respectively.
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