This is my first set of of the Song of Ice and Fire series. The first four books are my first edition trade paperbacks. I bought A Dance with Dragons in hardcover when it was released, but when I went to buy the paperback, they had stopped making trades. Resulting in this
And if you are a mega-nerd like me and need matching covers and same-size books, then this is what happens
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.
I love getting side-tracked. I’ve been keeping up with my Tolkien reading this month, but after discovering my friend Travis hadn’t read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman after he asked me if I had seen the Golden Compass movie, I’ve re-read the whole trilogy again. He’s finished book two but I cheated (couldn’t help myself) and finished book three a couple of days ago. I’ve got the short stories Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North to read, which I haven’t read before. But is there anything better than seeing someone else discover books that you love for the first time? It’s only the third time I have read them, and each time I read them they amaze me.
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.
“I am in fact, a hobbit in all but size” J.R.R Tolkien
I have been enjoying a rather Hobbity holiday. This is usually the time of the year I start reading Lord of the Rings, and watching the movies (my new Blu Ray boxed set this year) but I don’t always read The Hobbit before I start LOTR, in fact I will usually read it later. Having read it directly before I started Fellowship of the Ring I was able to enjoy it more as a prequel, more than usual in any case. I sometimes forget the references to Dale and the Mountain during Bilbo’s birthday party, the last chapter in The Lord of the Rings in which we are still allowed to be children.
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.
Sir Terry Pratchett, or as we in the Discworld fan world prefer to call him, Pterry, is one of my favourite authors. Not THE favourite, but one
of them. There are a number of stories out there about how I became a
fan, I know as I wrote them. This is the true story for a given value of
“Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.”
Fantasy cover art has seen a lot of changes over the last few years. I noticed Voyager had been doing a lot of re-issues with clean, simple covers with less colour and a ‘symbol’ rather than the sometimes elaborate artwork of old. I’m not going to say I like either style better. I love the new covers on the Raymond E. Feist books and the Robin Hobb books, but I used to really enjoy examining the artwork on the Robin Hobb books by John Howe. Pre-release Harry Potter covers would have me in a somewhat fanatical state, peering intently into the laptop screen and trying to uncover any clues of what might happen in the next book.
I had no particular plans for my book collection this year other than attempting to finish my American collection of Brian Jacques first editions and a reading set of the History of Middle Earth. But lately it seems a few Hobbits have been making their way to my bookcase. I recently read a wonderful article by Neil Gaiman where he discussed C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien and his much-loved and battered copies of books he’d had since childhood. I have no such creased and read-to-death copy of the Hobbit from my childhood. I actually can’t remember the first copy I read. But on exploring the contents of my bookcase and ever-growing collection of Tolkien I could easily remember where I bought or was given each copy. So this is my collection of Hobbits in the order I acquired them.
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.