I am still suffering some severe Hobbit-fever.
Of course January usually begins with Tolkien for me, and I’ve finished my yearly read of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This year for the first time I’ve gone straight into further reading, and a few days ago I finished reading The Silmarillion for the first time in many, many years (and seemingly no less difficult than the first time I read it). Last year I painstakingly collected the massive 12-part-plus-index History of Middle Earth, plus the two-part History of the Hobbit to add to my collection. After checking out an article from the Tolkien Library on Recommended Reading Order I’ve decided to continue on with Unfinished Tales and The Book of Lost Tales part One and Two for this month.
Year of the Dragon indeed. City of Dragons the latest instalment in the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb, is the book I am most looking forward to in 2012. I think all of her fans were longing for a return to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds (well actually we’re also all longing for a return to the Six Duchies but I’m sure it’s not going to happen) and what a return it was. They were nothing short of brilliant. Something akin to when you get to the end of an epic fantasy series and everything happens exactly as you want it to happen and fills you with all sorts of rampant glee. Only these were just the first two. It could be because they were originally intended to be just a two volume series (the thought fills me with horror) and the pace is a lot faster than her usual sort. With the world building long established the books plunge straight in, with a disparate host of new characters and a group of Dragons who you fall desperately in love with and almost forget about the humans.
Robin Hobb has always been one of my favourite authors, both in her work and as a person. I have always admired Robin and her writing, as the famous quote from George R.R Martin that is printed on most of her book covers says “stands out like diamonds in a sea of zircons” As a person you can get a glimpse of her in her blogs of course, but I have in my possession a leather bookmark. Quite a while ago Robin’s assistant was on Twitter offering “special bookmarks” I asked for one assuming they were promotional bookmarks for the new series. I forgot about it after a couple of weeks, but several months later I got a small parcel. In it was a hand-tooled leather bookmark signed by Robin accompanied by a letter in which she stated she’d been making the bookmarks for months with the help of her son, niece and assistant. While she said she had a lot of fun on the project I was simply amazed at the many hours they would have spent making them, and the many lucky fans who have a hand-crafted gift from Robin herself. I kept the letter as well, with sits with my collection of first editions.