Last week I met one of my favourite authors Raymond E. Feist for the first time. We had a lovely talk and I got three books signed, two of them were special edition copies of Magician published by Voyager. This week I found a first British edition of Magician from 1983. My timing is spectacular. Of course this hasn’t diminished my excitement at finding a first edition of Magician one bit. This is the first time I have seen any of the first three Midkemia titles in hardcover in ten years of serious book collecting.
Waris Hussein, director of the very first Doctor Who serial starring William Hartnell, voiced his disapproval at the romantic undertones in some of the story-lines of the recent Doctor Who series. Rather he called it “sexuality”. I’d rather call it what it is. It’s called love. And it’s something you’ll find in most every epic tale ever told, dating back to when stories were passed on in song and poetry.
Every fantasy and science-fiction fan loves a good cover. I discovered Frank Victoria’s artwork on the covers of The Chronicles of the Tree by Mary Victoria ( his wife and my favourite new fantasy author). I particularly loved the artwork for Chronicles of the Tree, not just because they captured the immense scope of the world Mary created, but that they also have that wonderful ethereal quality which was once so traditional to fantasy cover art.
Modern cover art is evolving into stark, minimal covers with more branding and little storytelling. An exceptional cover should encompass all that is integral to the story, and that is just what these do.
On Sunday I picked up a book called Realms of Tolkien – Images of Middle Earth which features twenty artists who have illustrated Lord of the Rings books. There’s the artists I’m familiar with of course, Lee, Howe and Nasmith but the work of Cor Blok, whose paintings appeared on the covers of the Dutch Editions of LOTR really caught my eye.
Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn…Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead.