Gloriana (1979) is Moorcock's homage to Mervyn Peake (author of the Gormenghast saga), and fittingly, is a lush tale of intrigue told in thoroughly British prose.
The tale takes place in Renaissance-era Albion, the England of another world. Queen Gloriana presides, with the assistance of her counselors, over an empire of remarkable peace and prosperity: a romantic Golden Age in stark contrast to the cynical, iron rule of her father. All is not well, however, for the queen cannot--despite a veritable circus-stable of lovers male, female, both and other--achieve sexual fulfillment. (Whereas our own Queen Elizabeth was the 'virgin queen', in name at least, Gloriana proves quite the opposite.)
I couldn't get through it, but if you're a Moorcock fan (which I'm not, really) you might like it. :-)
It has been over 3 decades since I have read any Michael Moorcock. Ever the consummate fantasy romance writer - that is, fantasy writer with romantic tastes, images, characters . . . not romance fantasy writer, as in mass pulp fiction for the ladies, he successfully penetrates the veil of traditional science fantasy and delivers "Gloriana, or The Unfulfill'd Queen." Part fantasy, part romance, Moorcock portrays a world that is decadent yet stable; morally challenged, yet prosperous and thriving. As I fondly remembered, it is his depth of character that I truly enjoy - intimate, yet not too aware; strong, but not overly self absorbed - exposing themselves enough to have you wanting to know them more only to be left wondering about them as the result of some small, seemingly inconsequential, actions.
Gloriana is the perfect queen of Albion who is adored by everyone, friend and foe, alike. Her personal struggles (I'll leave it there as this is a PG review) reflect her struggles as a ruler, and isn't resolved until she realizes that the two are - intertwined. Enough said.
The story unfolds at a reasonable pace, and is a mix of traditional fantasy, a who-dun-it thriller, a rather bizarre Arthurianesque world complete with knights and Chivalry, and mild/tasteful erotica. While I was surprised by the rather abrupt conclusion, it almost seems appropriate given Gloriana's struggle, ahem (which is a substantial focus of the plot). Good book to let reader relax. [4/5]