November 28, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: Gift Ideas for The Tolkien Society

I am part of the Tolkien Society’s Facebook group. I don’t have an actual Tolkien Society membership (yet… I hope to sign up when it turns 50). As a way of saying thanks, as well as recommending some items to members both newly joined as well as seasoned, I have created this post for them.

No, these aren’t “ultimate collector’s items” or anything elite, expensive, etc, but are targeted at some interests and trends I’ve noticed in the group since I’ve joined.

With that, check out the items below, which are categorized as best as possible:





THE CORE MIDDLE-EARTH BOOKS (or, A Great Place to Start)

Of course, the best place to start any Tolkien collection, is what I like to consider “The Main Middle-earth” books. Now these aren’t all of them, but these give you a very great idea, and reading experience of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The titles (in publication, and my suggested reading order) are: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King), The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. These exist in a few different formats and editions, but it depends on what you’re looking for and hoping to get from your books.

If you’re looking for a matching set : The Hobbit 70th Anniversary Edition, The Lord of the Rings 60th Anniversary Boxed set [includes the Reader's Companion], The Silmarillion hardback, and Unfinished Tales hardback' all from Harper Collins and features cover designs on the dustjackets.

Please note, that The History of Middle-earth was omitted from this section due to its in-depth historical approach and style (multiple versions of the same content, for example) as well as The Children of Hurin and Beren and Luthien; due to them being contained in other works already, which are mentioned in this post, albeit in different forms.


Notable Editions :

THE HOBBIT
 - 70th Anniversary hardback
- Annotated
- Jemima Catlin illustrated hardback


THE LORD OF THE RINGS
- 60th Anniversary Boxed set
- hardback single volume
 





“THE ENHANCED EXPERIENCE” (Enrich Your Reading)

In 1999 I believe it was, there were collector’s editions of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion which came in their own gift boxes. They came with a hardback edition of those respective books, as well as a few extra goodies. Some of the extra goodies are available elsewhere. While not completely identical to what’s offered in those boxes, the content itself is the same.

The maps of Wilderland and Beleriand included, are part of the set called The Maps of Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Brian Sibley and John Howe. Tolkien reading “Riddles in the Dark” form The Hobbit, and Christopher Tolkien reading Beren and Luthien from The Silmarillion are both included in the Tolkien Audio Collection, among other readings.

In addition to those, Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is very handy to have. It may not cover everything (it covers content from The Hobbit - The Silmarillion, which is the core basis of Tolkien's writings) but is still an incredible resource.
  

Also, there's The Lord of the Rings: Reader's Companion. It comes with the 60th anniversary box set, and provides further insight and background info as you progress through the text of The Lord of the Rings. It can be purchased on its own, as well, if you already own The Lord of the Rings in another edition.

BEST EDITIONS OF PETER JACKSON’S FILMS





I’m not going into what people think of Peter Jackson’s films; but for those who are interested in watching them or owning them, I highly suggest the blu-ray extended edition box sets of both trilogies on their own. In terms of technical aspects (audio, screen quality, etc) blu-ray offers the best of what’s currently possible, and you also get quite a lot of bonus materials in both sets. It’s more financially feasible to go for the two separate trilogies (The Hobbit as one box set, The Lord of the Rings as another), than opt for the recently released Middle-earth box set. You get quite a lot for the money spent, even if they don’t fit in one box. Then again, there’s always customizable slipcases…. The same goes for books, as well.
[also, the music from each of the 6 films is exceptional, so do look at the soundtracks no matter how you feel about the films themselves!]


TOLKIEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS: BEYOND MIDDLE-EARTH

These are for those interested in reading non-Middle-earth material, as well as seeing what Tolkien contributed to his fields of study, as well as his own personal interests.

Finn and Hengest
The Monsters and the Critics
[later editions also put "Beowulf" in front of the title] 

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
The Fall of Arthur 

Beowulf
The Story of Kullervo
A Secret Vice
The Lay of Aortrou and Itroun





FOR THE “SCHOLARS”

These titles are for the Tolkien fans who really wish to dig deep, and delve into the histories and evolution of Tolkien’s writing itself.

The Annotated HobbitThe Lord of the Rings: Reader's Companion / The Lord of the Rings 60th Anniversary Boxed Set
The History of Middle-earth (13 books)
The Tolkien Companion and Guide




MY PERSONAL SUGGESTIONS (A “Best Of” This Post, if you will)

These are what I suggest to look into, a little mix of everything, really, for any Tolkien fan, new or seasoned: 

The Hobbit : Harper Collins 70th hardback, Annotated Hobbit, or Jemima Catlin hardback
The Lord of the Rings:
60th Anniversary Boxed Set with Reader's Companion, or single volume hardback

The Silmarillion:
Harper Collins hardback
Unfinished Tales Harper Collins hardback

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
, hardback illustrated by Ted Nasmith (Harper Collins)
The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth (Harper Collins)
The Tolkien Audio Collection
(Harper Collins)
The Tolkien Audio Collection

I hope that this post was varied and informative. I strived to cover various aspects of Tolkien, as well as different items and editions.

November 20, 2016

"Fantastic Beasts" Spoiler-Free Review




Last night I saw Fantastic Beasts, the new entry into the Wizarding World by J.R. Rowling. This isn't quite a Harry Potter prequel. Well...it is and it isn't. It isn't because it has nothing to do with Harry himself whatsoever. It takes place in 1926, and the Harry Potter films begin in 2001. I know the Potter books take place in the '90s, but how else can you explain the flat screen owned by the Dursleys in Prisoner of Azkaban, or that bridge that collapses in the beginning of Half-Blood Prince? Anyway, so it takes place decades before Harry's born.

Because of that, the film slightly distances itself from Harry and Hogwarts, both by the time period, and the fact that it takes place in New York. This film doesn't 'set up' the main Harry Potter series, though there are some similarities. We are, after all, dealing with the same universe and mythos, so some connections will be there. This is a spoiler-free review, so that's all I'll say for now.

An exciting aspect, is that this is new territory. We don't have existing books or a book series to follow. For example, the novel Half-Blood Prince was published in 2005, and the film Order of the Phoenix came out in 2007, so previous knowledge outside of the films had existed. With Fantastic Beasts, everything is brand new, or has cropped up recently: Ilvermorny (I'm a Wampus!), No-Maj, MACUSA....lots of new entries here.

Now that I've sort of covered the similarities and differences, how is the movie??

Quite good. Actually, it's very good. It is definitely one of the best films of the year, and possibly the best prequel / spinoff I've seen yet. A hell of a lot better than Star Wars Episode I, and better than The Hobbit: Part 1, this is definitely a (sort of) "prequel" done right. It doesn't suffer from 'prequel-itis' [oh, there's no danger because we know these guys make it into the actual 'series']. What I meant by what I just said was, how it works in relation to the "main" series. 

It has its own feel and vibe, and is equally the same and different as Harry Potter all at once. The magic, wonder and amazement are all there. This film draws from Harry Potter's rich and extensive mythology, and this film dazzles with its own unique franchise-building magic.

The visual effects are top-notch, as is the sound and score (I'm listening to the soundtrack right now, actually). The casting is great. Move Emma Watson, my next female celeb crush is Queenie...whoa. Anyway! Everything about this film works just right. I'm hopeful that the next four films maintain this level of quality and that this film being great wasn't just a fluke.

As some of you may recall, I was initially against seeing this film. I admit it. But sometimes, with movies, a certain poster, picture, or trailer can change our minds. I happened to see the right trailer, the one called "final trailer." [the one and only trailer I watched.] and that one convinced me to get interested enough to go see this film at the cinema.

I'm not sure how well this movie would work for anyone that's never seen a Harry Potter movie before. I've seen all the Harry Potters, so nothing went over my head or confused me. Having prior knowledge of the world definitely does help, but I wouldn't say it's "mandatory", but it does enhance one's enjoyment of this film. And if you didn't like the Harry Potter movies, there's a strong chance you may not like this one either.

I'm definitely on board with the other four films in this series. I look forward to seeing Newt's adventures in Paris, in November 2018. Since there will be 5 of these films, I will wait until the box set comes out to buy any of them. If the box set is too pricey, or seems....tacky, then I'll just get them individually all at once once the final film arrives on blu-ray.

8.5 / 10 Recommended to anyone that enjoyed the Harry Potter films and is seeking new magical and wondrous adventures.

November 19, 2016

Yuletide 2016: Fantasy Gift Ideas


I wanted to upload this post pre-Black Friday.

As a geeky blogger, I’ve got some ideas to share with you, which may help your shopping. I understand my blog may have been a bit quiet lately, and when I do post, it’s about books. There will be books here, and other things. But all things geeky that most people will probably love.


So here are some general geeky things I recommend to gift this season!
HARRY POTTER
With Fantastic Beasts now out, the 'mania' seems to have taken off again. While Tolkien will always be my #1 fandom, I'm kicking things off with Harry Potter / Wizarding World first, seeing how things in that fandom have been the most 'active' lately.




Of course, I need to mention the books first and foremost! Like most other books, they exist in various formats and editions. The editions I am recommending, feature artwork by Jonny Duddle. They are the most recent editions, and therefore, the easiest to find because of that. I myself own the hardback box set featuring the black dustjackets, and feature a more 'serious' tone in design and style.

The image above is the paperback boxed set, with the ISBN of 9781408856772 .



The set also exists in hardback, with the ISBN of 9781408856789 .

Finally, there is also illustrated editions by Jim Kay, which feature full page colour illustration pretty much all throughout. So far, only Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets have been released, though it looks like one every so months will be on the way.



There is also the 8 film collection on blu-ray, which is the entire Harry Potter film series in one set. The packaging will remind you of some TV shows that have come out on DVD / blu-ray.

TOLKIEN
Where else to recommend Tolkien other than the beginning of it all? As you may have seen throughout my blog, I've recommended certain editions and formats over the course of time. For gifting, however, I have the perfect edition in mind to start anyone's Tolkien collection



The ISBN for this great edition is 9780007458424. It's a standard paperback, offering nothing too special. Sizewise and design wise, it'll fit well in any library, as well as match most paperback editions of the other Tolkien books; which is great if the person wants to start their Tolkien collection and get other titles (namely The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.)

The opening chapter art is quite nice, as is the cover as you can see. This edition will be included in my 'starter pack' as long as it keeps being printed, and I have people to gift The Hobbit to. 


I also highly recommend the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings on blu-ray. It's the best way to watch the best versions of these movies.


There is also the extended edition of The Hobbit trilogy, which matches The Lord of the Rings one. These versions of the films are much better than the inferior theatrical editions, especially in the case of Part 3, which had a pretty terrible theatrical edition. Sure, the idea of The Hobbit being 3 films is questionable, and the idea that each of those 3 gets an extended edition even more so but with qualms and minor issues, I'll still take the extended trilogy over the theatrical, as they provide a better viewing experience, and feature a cut trilogy-wide arc: that of Thorin's father. 

Both trilogies complement each other quite well, and they match, too. This is the ideal way of owning all 6 movies, is these 2 separate boxed sets.

HIS DARK MATERIALS


Possibly better known as "The Golden Compass Trilogy", these are great tales, and should be read by those that enjoyed Tolkien and Harry Potter. Sadly, the movie wasn't too too good, and kinda flopped. Such is the way of 'don't judge a book by its movie.' This has been described as the "anti-Narnia."

The edition pictured above, is the one I recommend: the ISBN is 9781841593425. It's all 3 books in one phyiscal book (an omnibus, if you will) by the excellent "Everyman's Library." It's a hardback volume, and features extra content at the end of each book known as "Lantern Slides." There also exists a paperback edition, for those who don't like hardbacks. The ISBN for that one is: 9780375847226.

I recommend His Dark Materials to anyone who likes Harry Potter, and / or Tolkien. It didn't "take off" like the other two I mentioned have recently, but don't shy away from these stories because of that.

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE / GAME OF THRONES


I of course also recommend the Ice and Fire books (pictured above) by George R.R. martin, as well as the seasons of Game of Thrones (which is based on the books) on blu-ray. There are two more books to come: The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Potentially an 8th, only if the page count for book 7 runs too high.

Now, lately each book has taken about 3-5 years to come out (and no wonder, as these books aren't thin), so hopefully it won't be too much of a long wait for the next book, The Winds of Winter, but expect about 5-7 years for the final book. Lots of time to catch up, though if you'd rather wait for the series to be finished before jumping in, that's understood. There's also a prequel set about 80-100 years before book 1 starts called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms which I recommend if the giftee owns the 5 books that are out at this moment. Here's hoping that Martin is able to complete both the main series, and the rest of these prequels. Seven Kingdoms collects 3 stories in its own book, and I can see another 2-3 of those types of collections coming. [please note that some of the larger books are split into 2 smaller books in some countries / by some publishers. This was done to make reading them easier, and maintaining the same level of quality on the printing side of things series-wide.]

For the HBO series, Game of Thrones, unless I'm misinformed, it'll be ending in 2018. HBO releases excellent blu-rays of their shows, and Game of Thrones is no exception. You get all the episodes (of course) plus some great bonus material.

MALAZAN

Finally, for the book recommendations there's the Malazan series. the main series complete. The author is also writing a prequel trilogy, with book 3 the next one to come out.

I've yet to read these myself, but I can recommend them in confidence to fantasy fans. I've heard nothing but great things about this series, and that it features possibly the best world-building since Tolkien. Gardens of the Moon is the name of the first of the series, and Forge of Darkness is the first of three prequels.


SKYRIM (SPECIAL EDITION)


Moving on to video games, the game I'd highly recommend is Skyrim (Special Edition). Now, I ONLY recommend the Special Edition to console players. PC gamers, stick with the original. Why's that? While I don't use mods myself, the modding situation is better with the original, and there some texture updates (both official and unofficial) to improve the games' graphics. That said, is it worth it switching over the HD remastered special edition? That's a judgement cal. I'm personally happy with the original game and Bethseda's HD texture pack. If texture packs didn't exist, then I'd recommend PC gamers opt for the Special Edition.

But, if there are PS4 / XBONE gamers out there that have never played Skyrim? To those I recommend the Special Edition. It's an HD remastering of Skyrim, and includes all the content released for the original game. Not sure when Elder Scrolls VI is coming, but this remaster should keep you entertained for dozens of hours until then.

Last, but certainly not least, is the NES Classic. I'm recommending it despite Nintendo and their shortages. This is a real treat, as it includes 30 games pre-loaded on it, and one controller. You won't be able to add or play any ore than those 30, FYI. You should also pick up a separate controller for 'player 2'. The only downside is the length of the controller cord. However, since you'll be using that 'reset' button a lot, maybe Nintendo wants you close to the console. Anyway, due that issue, I'll most likely use this with my laptop.

The graphics / rendering looks much better and vibrant than the NES games downloaded off of the Virtual Console on the wii / wii u / 3DS. Be patient, and don't buy from scalpers, there a few 'waves' of these coming. Nintendo never said this was a limited edition item, so just because it may be sold out, does not mean that it will be forever.

I would like to see other consoles re-released by Nintendo under this 'classic' banner. Super Nintendo for sure, though hopefully the N64 and perhaps even Gamecube may follow suit someday.

So those are my ideas to help you shop either for someone, or for yourself. Hope you enjoyed, and happy shopping! Christmas isn't (only) about the gifts....though I do admit I love the feeling of finding the perfect gift for someone. Hopefully this post (or others) have sparked that feeling in you.

November 7, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: Illustrated Collection (Gift Idea)

Well, since the holidays are coming up quite quickly, I thought it’d be interesting to do a few posts on gift suggestions or ideas; either for yourself or for gifting. This week, I’m going to focus on the illustrated hardbacks of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (as three volumes) and The Silmarillion. There may be a other 'gift posts' under the Tolkien Tuesday banner.

These were published by both Harper Collins and Houghton Mifflin. They are ‘mirrored’ in all ways except publisher name, like of the other Tolkien books both publishers print. However, it seems that the ones by Houghton Mifflin are still being printed, easier to find, and less pricey than the exact same ones by Harper Collins. The two best places to get these are Amazon.com , or bookdepository.com. Barnes and Noble should also carry them, and there's always other online booksellers.

A box set of all these does not exist. Imagine, though, the cost and weight if it would? Each book is pretty hefty on its own. So without further ado, here is The Tolkien Illustrated Collection.


First up, published in 1997, is Alan Lee’s illustrated edition of The Hobbit. Find it by searching 
9780395873465 . It features cover art, illustrations, and watercolor paintings.




Alan Lee also illustrated The Lord of the Rings, and these editions came out in 2002, individually, or as a boxed set. The ISBN for the box set is 9780618260584 . For the three volumes by themselves, they are:  9780618260515 for The Fellowship of the Ring; 9780618260591 for The Two Towers; and 9780618260553 for The Return of the King. Figure I’d list both the box sets and the books just in case.
Lavishly illustrated in full colour.



Finally, there is The Silmarillion illustrated by Ted Nasmith. This edition came out in 2004, and its ISBN is 9780618391110. It contains almost fifty full-colour illustrations.

All of these match one another very well in terms of design and size dimensions. These illustrated editions are among the best editions of the books to ever be published, and have always been a favourite among fans. They are large hardbacks, so the are definitely suited for 'at home' reading, even more so than a usual hardback would be. The artwork is astounding. Not only are these some of the best Tolkien images, they are among the nicest pieces of art I've ever seen period.  They are definitely a treasure and visual feast, even on the shelf, in any library.

November 4, 2016

Here's to the Weekend

Well the weekend is finally here.

Thank God.

This week seemed to creep and crawl, taking it’s sweet-ass time to get here. It wasn’t without enjoyment or merit, however.

I’ve revised my manuscript thus far, as well as fixed some vocabulary. I’ve added sentence after that so I know where to head to next, or what my parting idea was that I could not fully develop at that time. I’ve done a few blog posts as well, as you might have seen. I’m not intending for this to happen, but it seems every time I do a blog post lately, something about Tolkien pops up!

The book I’m reading is also coming along well. I’m finishing off Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy, and am on the third book, Excalibur. Once I finish that, I’m not quite sure what I’ll feel like reading. I know what I have that’s unread, it’s just a question of what kind of mood I’ll be in when I finish Excalibur. Will it be Neil Gaiman? Will I finally get around the reading Alice? (I’ve got a sort of collection book that has both stories plus a bit more in it). There’s a couple options but in my review here on the blog for Excalibur I’ll mention what I’ll decide to open up next.

I’m also reading on my Kobo. At work during lunch, and on the bus I’m reading The Elfstones of Shannara still. After I finish that, I’ll read Wishsong, and then something non-Shannara after that.

Haven’t been watching that much TV….been playing a bit of Skyrim here and there as well. My character is level 51, Imperial, heavy armor, no shield, and using a sword as a weapon. My magic is destruction for attack (mostly fire based), restoration for recovery after a fight / during one, and alteration for extra protection going into one. In terms of talent trees, aside from a few perks to enhance destruction, restoration, alteration, one-handed (sword based) and heavy armour usage, I’m also enchanting and smithing. I’m close to unlocking the perk that lets me put two enchantments on one item. As soon as I’m able to do that, I’m going to maximize my stahlrim armour. My gear is pretty good too. Going from Oblivion  into Skyrim, I knew how an Elder Scrolls game ‘functioned’ but your first character in any game (especially Elder Scrolls) no matter how much previous experience you have with previous installments, is more of experimenting as you figure the game out. My first character got to lvl 47 so it wasn’t too bad. I think it was corrupt game saves or something that made start over again, not dissatisfaction with my character. I will say the best way to defeat a tough opponent is this: Marked for death shout, dragon aspect, power attacks.

I’m also gearing up for Christmas, slowly. If finances allow (and so far they have) I always like to finish my shopping by Dec 1, at the latest.  There may have been the odd year that I’ve finished on the 9th or something, but generally, if I can finish before December, I’m happy. If it turns out a few days into December, no big deal. I just prefer to avoid the crowds etc. I’m going to do some shopping + browsing tomorrow morning. So my next bunch of purchases, deliveries etc aren’t for me ultimately! Tomorrow morning I may completely finish someone on my list. There are 1 or 2 I’m still undecided on what exactly to get. The important thing is, I’ve started on everyone!

So that’s what’s going on with me right now.

November 3, 2016

"The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun" Published Today



Today sees the re-publication of a Tolkien book that has been out of print for around 70 years – The Lay of Aortou and Itroun.

The book is edited by Verlyn Flieger, as Christopher Tolkien was likely occupied with Beren and Luthien (which is set to arrive May 2017.) The book will be 128 pages. It is being published in the ebook and hardback formats. At present time, there is no word or listing of a possible deluxe edition coming. My guess is, if one were to exist, it would be published in the deluxe format (slipcased, etc) next year, likely after Beren and Luthien, in the fall or winter (Aug – Dec). I’m going to be wait a bit to get this one. If a deluxe edition comes along, then I shall deem Aotrou & Itroun worthy of owning a physical copy and add it ‘to the shelf’. If no deluxe edition is to exist, then I’ll get the ebook to save space for other books. (Remember, the Tolkien books I have ‘on the shelf’ mirror which titles have a deluxe edition available.)

The title page officially calls the book: “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun together with The Corrigan Poems.” (sort of like how Unfinished Tales is actually “Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth”.)

“Unavailable for more than 70 years, this early but important work is published for the first time with Tolkien’s ‘Corrigan’ poems and other supporting material, including a prefatory note by Christopher Tolkien.
Set ‘In Britain’s land beyond the seas’ during the Age of Chivalry, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun tells of a childless Breton Lord and Lady (the ‘Aotrou’ and ‘Itroun’ of the title) and the tragedy that befalls them when Aotrou seeks to remedy their situation with the aid of a magic potion obtained from a corrigan, or malevolent fairy. When the potion succeeds and Itroun bears twins, the corrigan returns seeking her fee, and Aotrou is forced to choose between betraying his marriage and losing his life.
Coming from the darker side of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, together with the two shorter ‘Corrigan’ poems that lead up to it and which are also included, was the outcome of a comparatively short but intense period in Tolkien's life when he was deeply engaged with Celtic, and particularly Breton, myth and legend.
Originally written in 1930 and long out of print, this early but seminal work is an important addition to the non-Middle-earth portion of his canon and should be set alongside Tolkien’s other retellings of myth and legend, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, The Fall of Arthur and The Story of Kullervo. Like these works, it belongs to a small but important corpus of his ventures into ‘real-world’ mythologies, each of which in its own way would be a formative influence on his own legendarium.”

October 27, 2016

Tolkien 2018 Calendar Speculation

I have a theory.

I believe that the 2018 Tolkien Calendar will feature Alan Lee's artwork. More than that, I believe it will be from the forthcoming Beren and Luthien, making it a "2018 Beren and Luthien Calendar."

How did I arrive at this conclusion?

Every so often, I check out sites like Amazon UK or Book Depository for listings of upcoming books (not limited to Tolkien). I saw that the 2018 Calendar was listed, so I went to the page there. It stated that Alan Lee is the illustrator. Also, it says this:

20 b/w, 12 col illus.

Checking out the page for Beren and Luthien (also illustrated by Alan Lee) it states this:

20 b/w illus, 8 col plates, Index.


Based on this, I believe it's fair to guess at this point that I may be accurate. Please note that when The Children of Hurin was published in 2007, the 2008 calendar featured artwork (from both the book) by Alan Lee.





October 26, 2016

"Enemy of God" (Warlord Chonicles Book 2 of 3) Book Review



This book definitely lives up to, and continues, the standard of quality established by the previous installment. It doesn't "feel" different, in that some sequels, or continuations do, from its predecessor. Includes a few unique and interesting takes on the Arthur saga, as well as elements about it. One thing in common with other, and traditional, Arthur tales: it features romance, heroism, and tragedy. Also includes an Author's Note once the story-portion of the book concludes, found at the back of the book.

5/5

October 19, 2016

"Beren and Luthien"


Well, this is definitely unexpected!

May 2017 will see the publication of Beren and Luthien; the first new Middle-earth Tolkien book since The Children of Hurin.

Much like The Children of Hurin, the story already exists in various Tolkien books. Also, like The children of Hurin, this will be illustrated by Alan Lee, and features the complete tale between its own covers.

The book will be published in both hardback and deluxe edition. A paperback will follow, at the earliest, in 2018, for those that like that format. So know here comes the official word, as well as ISBNs. Please note that the deluxe edition artwork has yet to be revealed.

"Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.

Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.

In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost."

The book will be 304 pages, and published May 4, 2017.

The ISBN for the hardback is 9780008214197

The ISBN for the deluxe edition is 9780008214203.

I'll be pre-ordering the standard hardback edition, and place it right next to my copy of The Children of Hurin on 'The Shelf'.

Now, the only of 'The Three Great Gales' that remains to be published in this style is The Fall of Gondolin....

October 18, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: Ideas For Future Tolkien Editions

  
One of the things that got me into books, not reading, but books, was seeing all the various editions and formats of (essentially) the same text.



When I first got into Tolkien, it was late 2001. At that time, bookstores were that: bookstores. Nothing more, nothing less. Sure, sometimes at the cash line up they may have some gooodies here and there but back in those days it was all books. No home section. No American girl, nothing.

And so, after getting The Lord of the Rings in Christmas 2001 (this edition: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/usedphotosna/43903642_614.jpg ) I went to see what else by Tolkien there was. And, I was baffled that they carried 5 or 6 different types of The Lord of the Rings: paperback, hardback, one book, three books, seven books...).

So it is because of that, that I'm "designing" some food-for-thought for Harper Collins for future editions of Tolkien's works.

The following is meant to be the 'next wave' of deluxe editions, and features the same contents the current ones have, plus what I have outlined below.


THE HOBBIT
- Contract / Thorin's Letter as a facsimile on photo paper.
- Smaug Flies Round the Mauntain (or Lonely Mountain) facsimile on photo paper.

- book and matching slip-case foil-stamped embossed with Tolkien's design of Smaug, and 'JRRT' on the back
- updated, reset and definitive text [if needed since previous deluxe (possibly the same text as the facsimile first edition, the original story???)]


THE LORD OF THE RINGS


- 3 volumes (rather than a single volume) (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) housed in a single slipcase which is foil-stamped embossed with Tolkien's Ring-and-Eye motif. I say this so it'll easier to read. 1 volume rather than 3 is more 'reading friendly' and the most common way the books have existed through the years.

- each of the 3 volumes could have this page opposite the title page, rather than a list of works by Tolkien; which like how in the same spot for The Silmarillion it lists all the parts. http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/tolkien-book-store/images/001368-10.jpg
The Fellowship of the Ring: foil-stamped embossed with Tolkien's 'Ring-and-Eye' motif (matches the slipcase) and 'JRRT' on the back. The frontispiece fold out sheet could feature Tolkien's dust-jacket design on one side, and The Forest of Lothlorien in Spring on the other. 

-
hand-written caligraphy style Ring-verse by Tolkien at the very beginning of the book, rather than typed in italics.

- red ink as it appeared in the 50th anniversary edition where appropriate to text.

- the most up to date text [later impressions of the boxed set featuring the Reader's Companion, or the text used for the single-volume with the Alan Lee art]

- Doors of Durin on photo paper (it does have it's own page anyway...)

- leaves from the Book of Mazarbul from the 50th

-The Two Towers: foil-stamped embossed with the Nazgul Fell Beast, and the words which translate into “In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie” [as seen on the spine of the The Two Towers 50th anniversary hardback edition], with 'JRRT' on the back. The frontispiece fold-out sheet at the front could feature Tolkien's dust-jacket design on one side, and Fangorn Forest on the other [or perhaps this drawing of Orthanc: http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/tolkien-book-store/images/001260-9.jpg ]

-
The Return of the King: foil-stamped embossed with the Throne of Gondor, Crown of Elessar, and tree motif [as seen on the spine of the dustjacket for The Return of the King 50th anniversary hardback edition] with 'JRRT' on the back. [Essentially take the images from the spines of 50th anniversary hardback dust-jackets, and foil-stamp them on the respective books.] The frontispiece fold-out sheet at the front could feature Tolkien's dust jacket design on one side, and Barad-dur on the other.


- updated, reset, appendices and indexes

- red-and-black fold-out maps: Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age at the end of each olume, & Gondor, Rohan and Mordor near the beginning of The Return of the King.

- silk ribbon-marker in each volume (gold, scarlet, emerald respectively)




THE SILMARILLION

- heraldic devices segment (appeared in Collector's Edition of 1999 previously, as well as the calendar from the '70s)
- book and slip-case foil-stamped embossed with Tolkien's device of Luthien with 'JRRT' on the back.
Halls of Manwe illustration by J.R.R. Tolkien facsimile frontispiece included on glossy paper. The reverse side could feature Fingolfin's device.

-
red-and-black fold-out maps of Beleriand (and the Lands to the North), and Noldor and Sindar
- silk ribbon-marker (sapphire)

And that's all! I believe the deluxe editions of Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, Tales From the Perilous Realm, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, The Fall of Arthur, Beowulf, and The Story of Kullervo do not have anything further to add. Maybe re-publish them (or keep them printed) to go with The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion editions mentioned above.

October 17, 2016

"The Story of Kullervo" Deluxe Edition

We now have cover art!

Oct. 20, as of now, marks the publication date of the (long-awaited) deluxe edition of The Story of Kullervo. Why it was not published closer to the original hardback as per usual is beyond me, but here we have it! Looks like Harper Collins is going with a red/orange colour scheme, and an embossment of Tolkien's design.

Aside from the fact the book is quarter-bound, slipcased and superior paper quality, I'm fully expecting the page s/ contents of the book to be the exact same as the standard hardback. Since it's not out yet, and no site list the 'features' of the deluxe, I can't list them off here. The rest of the post is official publisher info, so I'll close here by saying if you want to brush up on related knowledge to this book, check out The Kalevala (as far as I know the only 'readily available edition' is the paperback offered by Oxford.)

Here are the specs:

192
Hardback
J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Verlyn Flieger
20/10/2016
9780008166724
Deluxe Slipcased edition

"Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.

Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates.

Tolkien wrote that The Story of Kullervo was the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was a major matter in the legends of the First Age’; his Kullervo was the ancestor of Trin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, The Kalevala, is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world."

October 13, 2016

"Fantastic Beasts" Series Now to be 5 Films



It was revealed today that the Fantastic Beasts series of movies went from 3 to 5.

“I can say one thing, we were doing some script sessions the other day and we always knew it was going to be one movie. We always knew that from the start. We said a trilogy as a placeholder because we knew there would be more than one movie. Now I think we can say, I’ve done the plotting properly so we’re pretty sure it’s going to be five movies.”

Fantastic Beasts: Part 2 is expected November 2018, and Part 3 of the then-planned trilogy will follow in 2020. If that trend continues, expect Part 4 to come 2022 and Part 5 in 2024; though 4 and 5 are guesswork on my part.

We'll see if this is a wise move. There are times where too many films in a franchise can be a bad thing. We'll have to wait and see, but expanding '3 to 5' sounds ok, as they always had more films planned, but as the quote above mentions, now that they sat down and plotte dit out, it seems they have their focus.

Time will only tell if 5 movies is the way to go, or if 3 should have been enough.
 

October 11, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: Tolkien Editors & Scholars

Before I begin, please note that I am in no way saying anything negative about the people mentioned in this post. It is just an opinion, and speculation on my part.

As of late, I have noticed that Christopher Tolkien is editing less Tolkien material, and that Veryln Flieger has been editing more.

Is it entirely possible that Christopher Tolkien is either stepping away, reducing his duties or handing the reigns to someone else? Any, or all three, are possible. However, please note that this post is purely guesswork and opinion. 

Christopher Tolkien has been editing Tolkien material since the 1970s (and assisting his father beforehand, as well) with projects such as The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth. He edited other Tolkien books here and there, but continued to do so from 2007 - 2014, with publications such as The Children of Hurin, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, The Fall of Arthur and Beowulf. This year he turns 92.

You may have noticed that I didn't mention The Story of Kullervo. For that publication, Veryln Flieger took the role of editor. This year will also see The Lay of Aortrou and Itroun re-published. Verlyn once again takes on the editing role, while Christopher Tolkien will supply a new prefatory note on the text.

As I mentioned, the fact that Christopher hasn't edited a Tolkien book since Beowulf is purely guesswork. He didn't after all, work on The History of The Hobbit, either. Maybe he's taking it slow and steady these days, with reduced roles and responsibilities. Maybe he's hard at work on something else.

I confess I do not know that much, or anything, bout how Tolkien projects get handled. I have noticed that usually Christopher Tolkien takes on the big or significant projects. Not to undermine their work, other Tolkien scholars and experts also pour huge amount of work and dedication into their work as well. They usually work on supplementary work, study or analysis which examine or enhance Tolkien's works. 

First up of additional mention, is Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. If I don't know the answer to something Tolkien related, I usually point the asker towards works by them. Their Lord of the the Rings Reader's Companion is sometimes contained in the same box set as The Lord of the Rings. Not only that, but they were heavily involved with the updating and correcting for The Lord of the Rings' 50th (and up) publications. Those two facts alone right there show me they know their stuff.

Then, there's the Tolkien Reader's Guide and Chronology. It's being revised and re-published next fall. This multi-volume set presents anything and everything you could possibly wish to know about Tolkien. On top of that, they have also done other projects, such as those about Tolkien's artwork (Artist & Illustrator, The Art of the Hobbit, and The Art of the Lord of the Rings)

There's also Douglas A. Anderson, also involved in Tolkien's texts. He is among other scholars, such as Verlyn, involved with Tolkien Studies. Most famously, he is responsible for The Annotated Hobbit.

There is also John D. Rateliff, who received Christopher Tolkien's blessing for The History of the Hobbit, which is a sort of companion to The History of Middle-earth. 

There are many others that deserve mention as well: Brian Sibley, Tom Shippey, Alan Bliss, Karen Wynn Fonstad, John Garth, Humphrey Carpenter, Dimitra Fimi, Andrew Higgins, and many more.

It is good to see that Tolkien's legacy is in good, responsible and respectful hands. As ever, I look forward to what come next; whether it'll be a brand new publication, revised and and updated re-issues of current works, anniversary editions of existing books.

I am definitely grateful to all of them, and appreciate their hard work and dedication. Once I even gave some information about my Lord of the Rings boxed set to Hammond + Scull's blog, which I hope has been of assistance to them. 

As always, keep an eye on my blog, and once I'm aware of upcoming Tolkien books of note, I'll be sure to spread the word by doing a post.

October 10, 2016

Presidential Debate: Poinless If You're Not American

I live in Canada. I was born in Canada, I live in Canada, very strong chance I'll die in Canada. Therefore, I am not a U.S. citizen.

One thing that annoys me to no end is seeing updates on social media from fellows Canadians about the election and the debate, and anything going on in regards to US politics at the moment, and coming in Novemeber.

Why?

Because we're not U.S. citizens!! We cannot participate in the election!If Canadians could, then I'd be all for following it, and getting interested in it. Now, I'm not telling you what you can and can't watch, or what you should or shouldn't like, I'm just asking: what's the point?? We, here up North, can't do a damned thing about it!  The only time I would watch a U.S. debate like that, would be if I was interested in one of the candidates. Judging from people's comments, reactions, etc, nobody seemed to like either of them.

Just my thoughts.

October 9, 2016

"Fantastic Beasts" Soundtrack Info



Well, I am excited for Fantastic Beasts. Initially I wasn't. The book is much smaller than The Hobbit, and getting 3 films ... and other factors. Like I've said many a-time on this blog, sometimes all it takes is a poster, photo or trailer to turn one's opinions. It was so with me and Fantastic Beasts, and the trailer named "final trailer", which was the only one I've seen.

Anyway, so here is the soundtrack info - release dates, formats, tracklisting...

So it's being released on the 3 main formats: vinyl (the ultimate way to own physical media. It seems CDs as an afterthought nowadays...), CD, and iTunes.

The vinyl version will be arriving November 4th, and will be a "12" picture disc." Here are the available photos at this time:



"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an all new adventure returning us to the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling. Featured on the picture disc are two early recordings by James Newton Howard that helped shape the musical vision for the film. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, Newt Scamander might have come and gone without incident... were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds. The 12 inch Picture Disc LP also features artwork from the film and is packaged in a clear plastic sleeve."

The CD and iTunes versions are pretty much identical, with the iTunes using it's own special sound mix, much like how vinyls have a specified mix of that format.

Here is the CD (and iTunes, I guess) info...both of which will be out Nov. 18.






Since the tracklisting for the vinyl is unknown at this point, I didn't include anything under that section. Hopefully it'll feature the same music as both the CD and iTunes releases....there's no reason not to. So, for the CD info + tracklist :

"This album is packaged in a 2 CD digipak with 26 tracks and nearly 100 minutes of music.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in 1926 as Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident...were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

James Newton Howard, describing the project and his introduction to the film, remarked, 'It's like joining a family in a way; I was made to feel very welcome. The scope of the movie, emotionally, visually, in every way, is very broad. There are funny moments, magical, beautiful moments, and there are some dark and scary moments. The music helps tell the story. I've had fun writing themes for the various characters and giving a musical voice to this wonderful new movie. It's been a great collaboration with musicians and filmmakers, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it!' "


  1. Main Titles - Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  2. There Are Witches Among Us / The Bank / The Niffler
  3. Tina Takes Newt In / Macusa Headquarters
  4. Pie or Strudel / Escaping Queenie and Tina s Place
  5. Credence Hands Out Leaflets
  6. Inside The Case
  7. The Erumpent
  8. In The Cells
  9. Tina and Newt Trial / Let's Get The Good Stuff Out / You're One of Us Now / Swooping Evil
  10. Gnarlak Negotiations
  11. The Demiguise and The Occamy
  12. A Close Friend
  13. The Obscurus / Rooftop Chase
  14. He's Listening To You Tina
  15. Relieve Him of His Wand / Newt Releases The Thunderbird / Jacob's Farewell
  16. Newt Says Goodbye to Tina / Jacob's Bakery
  17. End Titles - Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Disc: 2

  1. A Man and His Beasts
  2. Soup and Leaflets
  3. Billywig
  4. The Demiguise and The Lollipop
  5. I'm Not Your Ma
  6. Blind Pig performed by Emmi
  7. Newt Talks To Credence
  8. End Titles Pt.2 - Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  9. Kowalski Rag

October 7, 2016

Vinyl Revival: Wishlist



I've set myself up a wishlist for vinyl LP records through Amazon.ca . Here is the link.

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/registry/wishlist/F68MQXZEZHSG/ref=cm_wl_list_o_4?

Now, this is out of interest to my readers. I'm not expecting any surprise vinyls to show up at my door. Please note, that I am after specific editions of albums.

Those that are listed on my list are ones that I plan to get 'sometime'. Obviously, there are some that I wish to get sooner rather than later, but yeah. Not really a time limit on those, provided they aren't discontinued.

I'll let the priority, and descriptions / comments speak for themselves.

Feel free to leave comments here.

October 5, 2016

"Tolkien Companion and Guide" (Revised Edition) to be Published

A set I've been interested in for a while, but was crazy expensive on the markets due to it out of print, is Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull's two-volume Tolkien Companion and Guide.

However, it is being revised and set to be re-published next year.

Here's the official word from Wayne G.Hammond and Christina Scull....

We were honoured to learn this past spring that HarperCollins want to continue to publish the Companion and Guide, not simply as a reprint of the existing text but in a new edition, corrected, revised, and enlarged. When we were commissioned to write a general book about Tolkien’s life and works, our first model was C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide by Walter Hooper, a thick volume of nearly a thousand pages; but we gathered so much material that our Chronology alone reached that length. Fortunately, HarperCollins agreed to give us two volumes, though we had to cut the text of the Reader’s Guide to fit the maximum number of pages the binding process would allow. Readers of our addenda and corrigenda know that we have continued to gather information about Tolkien, and in the ten years since the Companion and Guide appeared more works by Tolkien have been published, as well as a considerable amount of Tolkien scholarship and criticism. With so much additional material at hand, and so much more ground to cover, HarperCollins suggested that the Companion and Guide now expand from two volumes to three.

The first edition of our book was published both as a boxed set in a slipcase and separately as the Chronology and Reader’s Guide; and because the two volumes could be bought separately, our Preface, bibliography of Works Consulted, and Index were included in each. For the new edition, which will be published only as a hardback set, the Preface will appear only in the first volume and the bibliography of sources only in the third, but for convenience of use each volume will include a comprehensive, improved index. The Chronology will remain a distinct volume, while the encyclopaedic Reader’s Guide will now have two volumes, the first of which will include a list of topics covered, a feature more than one reader has requested. Further, running heads for easier navigation, which had to be omitted in 2006 for reasons discussed on our website, will be included in the new edition of the Reader’s Guide, as well as a greater number of cross-references.


When HarperCollins commissioned this new work, they asked us not to discuss it until they could arrange publicity to be released at an optimal time. But partial information about the book slipped out to Amazon UK and was soon noticed by fans. We asked for permission to announce the new edition formally in this space, and received it this morning. The publication date of 7 September 2017 mentioned in the Amazon listing is probably correct, but the number of pages given, 2,400, is just an early estimate.


Found at: https://wayneandchristina.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/tolkien-companion-and-guide-2nd-ed/

And here is the info as supplied by Amazon.co.uk :

  • Hardcover: 2400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Revised edition edition (7 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008214548

Here is the official description for the original set:

Designed to be the essential reference works for all readers and students, these volumes present the most thorough analysis possible of Tolkien's work within the important context of his life.

The Reader's Guide includes brief but comprehensive alphabetical entries on a wide range of topics, including a who's who of important persons, a guide to places and institutions, details concerning Tolkien's source material, information about the political and social upheavals through which the author lived, the importance of his social circle, his service as an infantryman in World War I — even information on the critical reaction to his work and the "Tolkien cult."

The Chronology details the parallel evolutions of Tolkien's works and his academic and personal life in minute detail. Spanning the entirety of his long life including nearly sixty years of active labor on his Middle-earth creations, and drawing on such contemporary sources as school records, war service files, biographies, correspondence, the letters of his close friend C.S. Lewis, and the diaries of W.H. Lewis, this book will be an invaluable resource for those who wish to gain a complete understanding of Tolkien's status as a giant of twentieth-century literature.