New Book of the Week: The Jewel in the Skull

You might notice something familiar about our current New Book of the Week. I mean besides the fact that it’s one of the most best-known books from one of the most famous fantasy authors of all time.

The Jewel in the Skull, Book One of Hawkmoon: The History of the Runestaff should be extra familiar because it was also our New Book of the Week last week. The reason it’s still New Book of the Week is  that, because of the downtime and various other impediments last week, we didn’t get a chance to highlight it on the blog – and for a book as good as The Jewel in the Skull by an author as important as Michael Moorcock, that was quite simply unacceptable. So here we are.

The Hawkmoon books hold a special place in my heart as they were among the first of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion books I encountered.  My first exposure to Michael Moorcock actually came, back in what we are contractually obliged to refer to as ‘The Day’, via a graphic novel adaptation. It was, from memory, Roy Thomas and P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Elric: The Dreaming City, in Marvel’s Epic Illustrated No.4**.  I loved the story, so the next time I was in the vicinity of a good bookshop (there used to be lots of these, you know), I made straight for the SF section to see if I could find anything by this Moorcock chap.

Brooding albinos with vampiric swords were nowhere to be seen on that first foray, but there was n enticingly baroque future fantasy series about a young duke with a mind-controlling jewel embedded in his skull . . .


Dorian Hawkmoon, the last Duke of Koln, swore to destroy the Dark Empire of Granbretan. But after his defeat and capture at the hands of the vast forces of the Empire, Hawkmoon becomes a puppet, co-opted by his arch nemesis, the ruthless Baron Meliadus, to infiltrate the last stronghold of rebellion against Granbretan: the small but powerful city of the Kamarg.

He has been implanted with a black jewel, through which the Dark Empire can control his every decision. But in the stronghold of the Kamarg, Hawkmoon discovers the power inside him to overcome any control, and his vengeance against the Dark Empire is filled with an unrelenting fury.


The Jewel in the Skull is followed by The Mad God’s Amulet, The Sword of the Dawn and The Runestaff, all of which are available as SF Gateway eBooks and in the collected print edition Hawkmoon: The History of the Runestaff, which is available as part of Gollancz’s Michael Moorcock Collection.



You can find more of Michael Moorcock’s work via his author pages at the SF Gateway and Orion websites, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.


** Close. Just checked my facts and it was Issue 3 in which the first part appeared; Issue 4 contained part two.