August 31, 2016

The Witcher 3: Game of the Year Edition

It’s finally out. Well, released in the manner that I would like. A video game I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about since it was released. 

The Witcher 3, but the Game of the Year Edition.

Now, I hardly ever buy or play computer video games when they’re brand new. Especially if I have a feeling, or if it’s likely that future content will be coming somewhere down the road (great examples is The Elder Scrolls series). For starters, my hardware is never not quite up to snuff to run the game ‘properly’ (all settings maxed out!). So, when it comes to computer games I’m used to sort of waiting. What I do, is wait for the deluxe / game of the year type package to arrive before I get it. Or, if there is no ‘package’, I’ll buy everything related to the game in one shot. Once the company and developers say “that’s it, we’re finished on __. No future content will be coming.” I think “OK, now I can get it!” or shortly thereafter. That way, I get the ‘complete’ experience, for the price of the game when it initially came out. Of course, that means I have to wait….

And so, earlier this week, the Game of the Year Edition for The Witcher 3 has come out.

You get The Witcher 3, and it’s two expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine and everything else that was ever released for the game. 

So if you were waiting on The Witcher 3 like I was, wait no more. Unless you’re waiting for a sale, of course. What I’m getting at, though, is that the content is all there now, for the price of the game at launch. 

So now that The Witcher 3 is finished (no more forthcoming official content) set forth and enjoy!

August 29, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: Supplementary Books

In some of my earlier Tolkien Tuesday posts, I mentioned how I own some Tolkien books that are not 'on the shelf'. Of course, I have no desire to 'hide' them, but a) 'the shelf' is reserved for the MAIN books. and b) If I would put everything by Tolkien on the shelf, I fear it may get too full, or too heavy for everything. So I keep them in another area, yet still all together. Please note that this post will be the last of "things I own" in regards to Tolkien Tuesday. If I obtain another Tolkien book, I'll most likely do a post just about it. 

This post will list them all:

- The Annotated Hobbit (Revised Edition)

"Seldom has any book been so widely read and loved as J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, The Hobbit. Since its first publication in 1937 it has remained in print to delight each new generation of readers all over the world, and its hero, Bilbo Baggins, has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals: Alice, Pooh, Toad…
As with all classics, repeated readings continue to bring new detail and perspectives to the reader’s mind, and Tolkien’s Middle-earth is a vast mine of treasures and knowledge, its roots delving deep into folklore, mythology and language. The Hobbit is, therefore, an ideal book for annotation: as well as offering a marvellous and entrancing story, it introduces the reader to the richly imagined world of Middle-earth, a world more fully and complexly realised in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.
Douglas Anderson’s annotations make fascinating reading. Additionally, many of Tolkien’s own illustrations embellish the text, and numerous illustrations from foreign editions exhibit an extraordinary range of visual interpretation. In an appendix there are details of the revisions made by Tolkien at various times to the publsihed text, which provide an uncommon and privileged glimpse into the special concerns of an exceptional and painstaking writer."

Because I already own The Hobbit, I've never been inclined to get this. That's not to say that I was against it, or never wanted it, it just never crossed my mind to add to the collection. I was definitely interested in getting it, but just never got around to it. I got it as a gift, and I guess, that was the best way for me to get it.

The reason for me not getting it, or not having it near the top of my 'want' list was because of the fact I was striving for uniformity with my Tolkien hardbacks. However, this is jam packed full of info and is definitely of interest for those wishing to delve beneath the surface, or learn a little bit more about the story 'behind' the story.

As mentioned, this book contains the story of The Hobbit inside, as well as notes, annotations, remarks, footnotes, etc. The Lord of the Rings is too large to present the entire text in one volume, plus all the annotations (although they could have it done it in three, with the annotations mixed in...), so it got it's own sort of volume as the Reader's Companion, which is included within my box set. If it were presented in a different manner, however, "The Annotated Lord of the Rings" would sit right next to my Annotated Hobbit.

- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth

"J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion have delighted millions of readers over the years.

Middle-earth, the world in which the stories take place, is as real and complex as our own. Events, geography and names were created with care and loving attention by Tolkien, who wanted every single detail of his books to fit into their total pattern. A belief in perfection, the fun of the sub-creation and the desire to create something totally convincing involved him in map-making, endless charts of dates and events and the development of his many invented languages.

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth was designed to add to the enjoyment of the reader of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion by bringing together in an A–Z sequence facts and information about names, languages, places and events from these central books which will provide an indispensable aid to every reader’s discovery of Tolkien’s world – and the new edition has been enhanced by stunning illustrations, courtesy of celebrated Tolkien artist Ted Nasmith."
This is the ultimate Tolkien companion. It covers material from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, which are the three main, primary works of Tolkien. It's a terrific A-Z of Middle-earth, as well as a fantastic reference guide should you want to look something up in a hurry. The illustrations are quite lovely - not why I got this edition, but I'm glad for their inclusion.

I should add that this goes really with the illustrated hardback editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by Alan Lee, as well as The Silmarillion by Ted Nasmith (imagine the box set THAT would be!) of course, it also works really on its own, and near as I can tell, pretty accessible no matter which editions or formats of Tolkien's books you own.

- The Art of The Hobbit 

"When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, he was already an accomplished amateur artist, and drew illustrations for his book while it was still in manuscript. The Hobbit as first printed had ten black and white pictures, two maps, and binding and dust-jacket designs by its author. Later, Tolkien also painted five scenes for colour plates which are some of his best work. His illustrations for The Hobbit add an extra dimension to that remarkable book, and have long influenced how readers imagine Bilbo Baggins and his world.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, the complete artwork created by the author for his story has been collected in The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Including related pictures, more than one hundred sketches, drawings, paintings, maps, and plans are presented here, preliminary and alternate versions and experimental designs as well as finished art. Some of these images are now published for the first time, and others for the first time in colour. Fresh digital scans from the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford and Marquette University in Wisconsin allow Tolkien’s Hobbit pictures to be seen more vividly than ever before.

The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien has been written and edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, two of the leading experts on Tolkien and authors of the acclaimed J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, and The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide."

This is more in-depth look at Tolkien's artwork for The Hobbit that has been presented in Artist & Illustrator. There are some great pieces included - early, famously seen, as well as some that many have seen before. This of course goes quite well on its own, but pairs quite well with the following Art of The Lord of the Rings, The Annotated Hobbit, History of the Hobbit, or any edition of The Hobbit you happen to own (but most especially the 'classic' edition)

- The Art of The Lord of the Rings

"As he wrote The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s mental pictures often found expression in drawing, from rough sketches made within the manuscript to more finished illustrations. Only a few of these were meant for publication; most were aids to help Tolkien conceive his complex story and keep it consistent. Many do not illustrate the final text, but represent moments of creation, illuminating Tolkien’s process of writing and design. In addition to pictorial sketches, numerous maps follow the development of the Shire and the larger landscape of Middle-earth, while inscriptions in runes and Elvish script, and ‘facsimile’ leaves from the burned and blood-stained Book of Mazarbul, support Tolkien’s pose as an ‘editor’ or ‘translator’ of ancient records.

The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien collects these drawings, inscriptions, maps, and plans in one deluxe volume. More than 180 images are included, all of them printed in colour from high-quality scans and photographs, more than half not previously published. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, two of the world’s leading Tolkien scholars, have edited the book and provide an expert introduction and comments. Readers who have enjoyed The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, with which the new book is uniform, will find much of interest also in The Art of The Lord of the Rings."

I've yet to go through this one cover-to-cover, but based on The art of the Hobbit, I'm looking forward to seeing what Tolkien has done up for The Lord of the Rings. I've seen some of his artwork before for The Lord of the Rings (due in thanks to the material that's surfaced and been published for the 50th Anniversary). It looks like this will be a great 'sequel' to The Art of The Hobbit, as well go very well together with the Reader's Companion, and any edition of The Lord of the Rings, most especially those with Tolkien's own artwork as the dustjacket. 

- J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator

"A lavishly-illustrated study of Tolkien's paintings and drawings, set in the context of his writings. J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), renowned author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion was an artist in pictures as well as in words. In fact, for him the two were closely linked, and in his paintings and drawings he displayed remarkable powers of invention that equalled his gift for words. His books have been read by many thousands; most of his art, however, has only been seen by a few. This book explores Tolkien's art at length, from his childhood paintings and drawings to his final sketches. At its heart are his illustrations for his books, especially his tales of Middle-earth. Also examined are the pictures Tolkien made for his children (notably in his 'Father Christmas' letters and for the story Mr. Bliss), his expressive calligraphy, his love of decoration, and his contributions to the typography and design of his books. J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist and Illustrator contains 200 reproductions, over half of which are in colour and many published for the first time."

This is a great collection of Tolkien's own artwork, without a set focus like The Art of The Hobbit or The Art of The Lord of The Rings. Lots of material here, and is a great mixed-bag offering of various Tolkien artwork, inside Middle-earth and out. 

- The Atlas of Middle-earth
(revised edition)

"Find your way through every part of J.R.R. Tolkien's great creation, from the Middle-earth of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the undying lands of the West...The Atlas of Tolkien's Middle-earth is an essential guide to the geography of Middle-earth, from its founding in the Elder Days - as recounted in The Silmarillion - to the Third Age of The Lord of the Rings, including the journeys of Bilbo, Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring. Hundreds of maps and diagrams survey the journeys of the principal characters day by day - including all the battles and key locations of the First, Second and Third Ages. Plans and descriptions of castles, buildings and distinctive landforms accompany thematic maps describing climate, vegetation, languages and population throughout the history of Middle-earth."

This revised edition will be out in November, so I haven't received it yet, and thus, can't comment on it. However, it looks like it'll offer an incredible geographical look at Tolkien's lands. It will definitely fit well in any Tolkien collection.

So that's pretty much it! I can definitely recommend all of the supplementary / reference books I've mentioned, depending on what you're into or after.

General Update

My my, how time flies! August is nearly at an end!

I don’t know why time has seemed to flow quicker than usual as of late. I haven’t been keeping myself too busy. It may be time to finally shut off the air conditioning. I don’t put it on when it gets unbearably hot or humid, but more to keep the temperature at a specific level so it won’t get hot in the house.

September is nearly upon us, which means Labour Day long-weekend is coming up for us Canadian folk.

That also means that fall is nigh. Now, I really like it when it’s ‘cool’ or ‘warm’. Ideally, my preferred temperature is 20 celsius, either end of the thermometer. I also like winter. I just dislike how long we have ‘winter weather’ here up in Canada. Towards the end, it feels like it overstays its welcome. And the barren stretch of Jan & Feb is never fun either.

Bit by bit I’ve been working on the book. The plot (not my work, but the story progression) is advancing at a glacial pace. I mean, of course, the writing of said plot. Been taking and using lots of notes. This past weekend I was away so not much computer time, by the way. I hope do to do some this coming long weekend, but not dedicate the entire weekend to it.

TV show wise, I’m working my way through Bloodline: Season 2, and a complete re-watch (because I never “finished the entire series, but left off around Season 7) of How I Met Your Mother. I’m looking forward to a few more seasons of shows I currently watch, I don’t plan on starting anything that’s new to me for a little while yet.

I will also finish up reading The Winter King this week I hope. Great read so far, look for my review once I complete it. I definitely recommend it, it is one of the best I’ve read in a long time, potentially ever. On the e-reader I’ve got Elfstones of Shannara on the go. I will also likely review that as well. After I finish Elfstones, I’ll move onto Wishsong of Shannara, and take a “Shannara break” for a couple of e-books. When I do get back to reading Terry Brooks, it’ll be with the Heritage of Shannara omnibus ebook.

It’s prolly too early to say, but it seems that the two best ‘direct’ high fantasy authors inspired by Tolkien are Terry Brooks (though I’m starting with Elfstones both publication date and chronology wise) and Robert Jordan. Those two are definitely ‘Tolkien disciples’ for their fantasy stories. George R.R. Martin also mentions that he owes a lot to owe to Tolkien. So do other fantasy authors. With Martin, it doesn’t feel like he’s trying to do ‘his’ version of The Lord of the Rings. With Brooks and Jordan, they start out that way then their stories take forms of their own. Authors like Martin, Patrick Rothfuss and Steven Erikson, sure, they may have been inspired by Tolkien, but it doesn’t appear that they are mimicking him, was more my point.  

Speaking of Tolkien….

Lately, you may have seen some “Tolkien Tuesday” posts from me. What that is, is a series of blog posts I publish (very close to) Tuesday relating to Tolkien. Each and every week. Unless there’s news or an ‘omg’ factor that can’t wait for Tuesday to come for me to post. This has started off by me naming off my Tolkien books. Well, my primary main ones that I have on a shelf in my office. I detail what makes those editions unique, and why I got them, etc. I don’t intend to be a materialistic person…but I need to say that my books are my favourite material possessions, my Tolkien books chiefiest among them I have other favorites too but Tolkien has a place for me, and is a big part of my life, other than really liking the stories.

So far I’ve covered all of those “main” books, my special collectors editions that I own; purchased with collecting in mind. The next post scheduled will be supplementary / ‘other’ books (example, atlases etc.) That will end my report of the Tolkien books I own. I’ll do a few more book related posts for the Tolkien Tuesdays (2 or 3), then branch off from there.

There’s not too much movie wise. I’m looking forward to a few here and there in cinemas, but nothing right now is ‘must watch’. I’ll wait for Suicide Squad to come out ‘at home’ and see it then, as well as a few others. Hey, just because I prefer the live action Marvel films over the DC ones doesn’t mean I dislike the DC ones. I’m just more wary of them.

* thinks * That pretty much covers it…..

Keep your eyes peeled! I hope to 2 posts per week at the very least.

August 22, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: "Do Not Read" Editions

"Books are meant to read!" I hear some of you crying aloud. I definitely agree. However, there are certain editions of certain books that appeal to collectors. Whether we want a nicer edition beyond a possibly spectacular hardback editions for our own reading, or for 'holding on to', collecting books, especially Tolkien books is definitely a popular thing.

What initially attracted me to collecting them, is that I saw some of the prices the original editions (first edition, first print, first impression...) are going for. It's crazy to see how much some are worth, and how much they sell for. Also, look at other items over the years. Namely, Star Wars action figures still in the box, etc.

I own two 'sets' of Tolkien books. There are my hardback editions for reading and using (although taking care of them as best as I can), and there are my 'do not read editions'. These, as you've guessed are not reading, and were purchased with that in mind. Will I retire off the funds I earn from selling them in about 30-40 (or more) years? Will I leave them for my children to hold onto and not use to inherit and get them rich? I've no idea at this point, but they are meant for long term. Very long term. Some of them are, where applicable, are still factory sealed. They will remain in that plastic for many years and many, many months.

I'm going to reveal to you which editions I've selected for 'do not read' categorization, and why. But first, as a general intro to those editions, and why I generally own them.

My 'reading' copies are the hardback editions of what Harper Collins has published as deluxe editions, in terms of title and publisher. For example, on my shelf I own The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, 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. All of those titles have, or will have, the deluxe slipcased treatment by Harper Collins. Aside from a few bells and whistles or minor differences, content-wise, they are identical. The mentality behind me buying a Tolkien book, and in hardback, is based on: "Oh! A new Tolkien book! Harper Collins is also publishing a deluxe version as well? OK, I'll get the standard non-deluxe hardback. Harper Collins has enough faith that this title will sell, so I'll add the standard version to The Shelf."

Some of you may think that 'limits' my Tolkien shopping. Not so. I also own an e-reader and have some Tolkien titles on that which I don't physically own. Example, Sir Gawain. There's been no deluxe version by Harper Collins recently, so I've got that as an ebook title. Aside from that, I own quite a few books, so some 'sacrifice' has to be made.

Now, I'll mention why I've gotten some of these editions. I will list them below, but bear with me for a second.

I live in Canada. For certain things, such as books, we either get the American edition, or the UK edition. In the case of Tolkien books, 9/10 we get the UK editions by Harper Collins. Mos of my 'do not read' are American editions, because it's different, even by a different publisher house at the least, from my UK hardback reading editions.

Onto my "other" collection.....

Collector’s Edition, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780395177112
Product info: “This deluxe collector's edition of Tolkien's modern classic is boxed and bound in green leatherette with gold and red foil rune stamping on the spine and cover. The text pages are printed in black with green accents. It includes five full page illustrations in full color and many more in two colors, in addition to Thror's map -- all prepared by the author.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: it's different than the UK deluxe edition of The Hobbit, in terms of design. It's also attractive, and has a timeless feel about it. I found this to be the nicest edition offered by Houghton Mifflin.

50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618517657
Product info: “Fifty years and nearly one hundred million American readers later comes a beautiful new one-volume collector’s edition befitting the stature of this crown jewel of our list. The text is fully corrected under the supervision of Christopher Tolkien to meet the author’s exacting wishes and includes two large-format fold-out maps, a ribbon placemarker, gilded page edges, a color insert depicting Tolkien's own paintings of the Book of Mazarbul and exceptionally elegant and sturdy overall packaging housed within an attractive slipcase.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: of all the 'differences' between the US & UK deluxe editions, this is the one I cite the most often. Here's an image of the UK, to compare: 

As you can see, its quite different. I got this one to have one of, if not the nicest edition published by Houghton Mifflin. Also, because of the fact it's so different from the UK Harper Collins one, aesthetically.

Hardback, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618642670
Product info: “In The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion internationally acclaimed scholars Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull examine Tolkien's masterpiece chapter by chapter, offering expert insights into its evolution, structure, and meaning. They discuss in close detail important literary and historical influences on the development of The Lord of the Rings, connections between that work and other writings by Tolkien, errors and inconsistencies, significant changes to the text during its fifty years of publication, archaic and unusual words used by Tolkien, and words and passages in his invented languages of Middle-earth. Thousands of notes, keyed to standard editions of The Lord of the Rings but universally accessible, reveal the richness and complexity of one of the most popular works of fiction in our time. In addition to their own expertise and that of other scholars and critics, Hammond and Scull frequently draw upon comments by Tolkien himself, made in letters to family, friends, and enthusiasts, in draft texts of The Lord of the Rings, and in works written in later years which amplify or illuminate characters and events in the story. Extensive reference is made also to writings by Tolkien not previously or widely published, including elaborate time-schemes, an unfinished manuscript index to The Lord of the Rings, and most notably, the important Nomenclature or guide to names in The Lord of the Rings prepared for the use of translators, long out of print and now newly transcribed and printed in its entirety. With these resources at hand, even the most seasoned reader of The Lord of the Rings will come to a greater enjoyment and appreciation of Tolkien's magnificent achievement.”

Never read, in very fine / near-mint condition. Stored on a bookshelf properly away from light. Any possible extremely minor dents or creases to the dustjacket would be from initial purchase (was bought and shipped online, as new not used) or during shipping / transportation.

Why I got it: to complement the edition of The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary deluxe edition. I fully intend to 'pair' the two.

Hardback, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618135042
Product info: “This second edition features a number of minor textual corrections along with a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien describing his intentions for the work, written more than twenty-five years before its eventual publication. As described by Christopher Tolkien in the preface, it serves as a brilliant exposition of his conception of the earlier Ages of Middle-earth.”

Never read, in very fine / near-mint condition. Stored on a bookshelf properly away from light. Any possible extremely minor dents or creases to the dustjacket would be from initial purchase (was bought and shipped online, as new not used) or during shipping / transportation.

Why I got it: as I mentioned in another post (and will quickly do so again here) there aren't that many editions of The Silmarillion. I found this to be the nicest (non illustrated) edition, and only one in hardback offered by Houghton Mifflin.

Hardback, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618154043
Product info: “A New York Times bestseller for twenty-one weeks upon publication, UNFINISHED TALES is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and further relates events as told in THE SILMARILLION and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. The book concentrates on the lands of Middle-earth and comprises Gandalf's lively account of how he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End, the story of the emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand, and an exact description of the military organization of the Riders of Rohan and the journey of the Black Riders during the hunt for the Ring. UNFINISHED TALES also contains the only surviving story about the long ages of NĂºmenor before its downfall, and all that is known about the Five Wizards sent to Middle-earth as emissaries of the Valar, about the Seeing Stones known as the Palantiri, and about the legend of Amroth. Writing of the Appendices to THE LORD OF THE RINGS, J.R.R. Tolkien said in 1955, "Those who enjoy the book as a 'heroic romance' only, and find 'unexplained vistas' part of the literary effect, will neglect the Appendices, very properly." UNFINISHED TALES is avowedly for those who, to the contrary, have not yet sufficiently explored Middle-earth, its languages, its legends, it politics, and its kings.”

Never read, in very fine / near-mint condition. Stored on a bookshelf properly away from light. Any possible extremely minor dents or creases to the dustjacket would be from initial purchase (was bought and shipped online, as new not used) or during shipping / transportation.

Why I got it: not to be lazy in this post, but really, the exact same reason as for The Silmarillion listed above.

Deluxe Edition, Harper Collins. ISBN: 9780007252237
Product info: “This deluxe collector's edition features the first edition text and eight full-colour plates, with an exclusive colour frontispiece illustration. The book is quarterbound with a special gold motif stamped on the front board and is presented in a matching slipcase.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: This one isn't by Houghton Mifflin, but by Harper Collins, intentionally. The reason for it, is that there are a few why I got this one: a) It could be the last new Middle-earth material published as a text, not counting deluxe, anniversary, or iullustrated editions in the future b) I didn't want to shell out the cash for the Super Deluxe Edition c) marketing wise, The Children of Hurin seemed to have been the biggest Tolkien event since The Silmarillion was published, so I wished to 'mark' the occasion with an extra special purchase.

Deluxe Edition, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780547296289
Product info: “"The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun" is a previously unpublished work by J.R.R. Tolkien, written while Tolkien was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford during the 1920s and '30s, before he wrote" The Hobbit" and" The Lord of the Rings." It makes available for the first time Tolkien's extensive retelling in English narrative verse of the epic Norse tales of Sigurd the Volsung and The Fall of the Niflungs.""It includes an introduction by J.R.R. Tolkien, drawn from one of his own lectures on Norse literature, with commentary and notes on the poems by Christopher Tolkien.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: there are a few reasons: a) Again, I did not wish to shell out the money for the Super variant. b) At the time, the one offered by Houghton Mifflin was more readily available, and cheaper, than the Harper Collins edition c) this is the last time (as of 2016) that Houghton Mifflin and Harper Collins produced an identical deluxe edition. Also, it is the final (as of now) deluxe or slipcased collector's / deluxe edition that Houghton Mifflin published the same day (or very close to it) of another version of the same book.

THE HOBBIT (illustrated edition):
Deluxe Edition, Harper Collins. ISBN: 9780007497911
Product info: This special slipcased edition is bound in red cloth with an exclusive wraparound dragon design in gold foil. The first new illustrated edition of The Hobbit for more than 15 years contains 150 brand new colour illustrations. Artist Jemima Catlin's charming and lively interpretation brings Tolkien's beloved characters to life in a way that will entice and entertain a new generation of readers.

Still factory sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: do I regret owning the other 'do not read' Hobbit, or my reading copy? No. This was published well after I had both. It seemed to be another slight publishing sensation. Houghton Mifflin did not do a deluxe edition (nor have they done a 'same time' release of a new book, or edition of one, since The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. So I snagged this one up. The cost wasn't too high (if it were I would have gone for the standard hardback by either Houghton Mifflin or Harper Collins) plus I also managed to get a discount of sorts....and stock was running low. Also, as far as deluxe editions go by either publishing house, this is one of the finer ones.

And those are my books! I don't expect, or intend to get that much or many more in the future. It could happen! I'm expecting 2-3 more in total over the course of time but we'll have to see....I admit I am eyeing the 60th anniversary illustrated Lord of the Rings by Harper Collins to 'pair up' with the Jemima Catlin deluxe Hobbit....

I hope you enjoyed this look at my "special collection." I have no idea how much this whole set, or specific books listed, may go for in the future.

Courage, it Couldn't Come at a Worse Time

So lately you may have been hearing about a band in the news or on social media called The Tragically Hip. Also known as "Canada's Pearl Jam". Let me tell you why.

Earlier this year, the band's singer, Gord Downie, had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Shortly after the news broke, the band announced a (potential) farewell tour. I phrase it like that, because, really, the future of the band is dependant on Gord's health as time goes on. Apparantly, he has received treatment, and it's gone well, but there's no cure for his particular case.

This past Saturday, as the band's (potentially) final show, of that tour, in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. Oh yes - they're Canadian!

I'm unfamiliar with the band, for the most part. Since they are Canadian, I've heard a good number of their songs throughout the years - music videos on much music, on the radio, etc. Outside of that, I haven't paid that much attention. I only know most of their singles nd hits: whatever went onto the radio, or Much Music as far back as '94, as late as '97 is when I started to hear their stuff. I've liked what I've heard but I've always had other musical priorities. They've been around since the late '80s - early '90s, but it was was the mid '90s that the band took off and I started to hear of them more and more.

I'll quickly run down some of their more famous I recognize by name, and by ear: Music at Work (possibly my fave all time 'rock' song they have), 38 Years Old, Ahead by a Century, Fifty Mission Cap, Courage, Poets, Bobcaygeon, At the Hundredth Meridian....there's so many of them. Some I know by sound but not title.

All of those and more can be found on Yer Favourites, a greatest hits compilation released back in '05 but has been selling enormously well due to the diagnosis. The tracks were picked by the band's fans via an online poll on their website.

I urge you to check their music out. I could most likely name the amount of times I've held the CD I've mentioned in my hands, hming and hawing about buying it, only to get a phoje call, text, notice my bus was coming soon...etc...etc....but I only just got it (via itunes) quite recently.

So hop on youtube, itunes, Google Play, what have you, and check out samples from Yer Favourites, and hopefully, they will become your favourites too. If you're more the 'album' type? Then it's Fully Completely you'd want. They're like Pearl Jam..a bit. they may remind you of REM.... a bit. But if you like "that '90s rock sound" you'll most likely dig them.

And now, I leave you with most likely my fave song of the band's (that I've heard so far...), and wishing Gord nothing but the best. Who knows, maybe it will go well enough, health-wise that we may get a farewell tour, and YOU may get to see them.

So now, that song:

And if you want to donate to help Gord? THIS is the place to go and do so:

August 20, 2016

Middle-earth 6 Film Collection

For the very first time on November 1, all 6 Middle-earth films will be released in one package on blu-ray, consisting of 30 discs.

This box set, includes the following films, in order of release:

- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Two Towers

- The Return of the King
- The Hobbit: Part 1
- The Hobbit: Part 2
- The Hobbit: Part 3
The versions of the films is the extended editions for all 6, plus all the previously released content and special features.

The official info is as reads:

- For the first time ever, Academy Award®-winning director Peter Jackson's epic adventure is available in one spectacular limited collector's edition box set.
- The Limited Collector's Edition includes 30 discs featuring all six Middle-earth films in their extended edition forms, housed in six stunning faux leather books and a collectible Hobbit-style wood shelf. The one-of-a-kind wood shelf is crafted from solid wood with design selected by Peter Jackson.
- In addition to the extended edition release of every film, the collection also includes all previously released bonus content from both the theatrical and extended editions.
- Exclusive premiums designed for the collection include: · Spectacular 100-page sketch-style book with replica The Red Book of Westmarch, filled with original film sketches and new artwork · Original reproductions of exquisite watercolor paintings by acclaimed conceptual artists Alan Lee and John Howe, framable and wall-ready
- THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – Follow Bilbo Baggins, who – along with the Wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield – is swept into an epic and treacherous quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG – Our heroes escape the giant Spiders and Wood-elves of Mirkwood before encountering the mysterious Bard, who smuggles them into Lake-town. Finally reaching the Lonely Mountain, they confront the Dragon Smaug. THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES – The Dwarves of Erebor have reclaimed their homeland, but face the consequences of unleashing Smaug. As five great armies go to war, Bilbo fights for his life, and the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must unite or be destroyed.
- THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING – With the help of a courageous fellowship of friends and allies, Frodo Baggins embarks on a perilous mission to destroy the legendary One Ring. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS – In the middle chapter of this historic movie trilogy, the Fellowship is broken but its quest to destroy the One Ring continues. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING – The final battle for Middle-earth begins. Frodo and Sam, led by Gollum, continue their dangerous mission toward the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the One Ring.

So that's it, the ultimate box set. I myself own The Lord of the Rings extended blu-ray trilogy box set, and The Hobbit extended blu-ray trilogy box set, so I've no need of this. If this exact same release gets released on the format after standard blu-ray (4K Blu-Ray? UHD Blu-ray?) then I would definitely consider it. For the time being, I'm more than happy with both of my blu-ray trilogies (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit).

The shelf is an interesting, yet neat addition to the box set. I was thinking that it would come with a weta statue or bookends. Of course, I've yet to see actually see all the contents in-depth (I'm going to be keep a close eye out for those unboxing videos) but I'm looking forward to getting a close look at the physical goodies (the shelf, the accompanying booklet) especially the art prints which could be frameable. I'll keep a close out on ebay or something as well, in case portions of the set gets sold separately on 'the market'.

This is great for fans that were waiting for a complete 6-movie box set, or don't any of the (extended!) films on blu-ray yet.

The pre-order link for is here:

The price is currently quite steep. Not that I agree with it, but there are some things to consider: it contains 30 discs, and it's going to be limited edition. It's possible the price may decrease via public outcry (see that low rating?). Also, there's always Black Friday. If the price is a bit much for you, here's the next best thing:

Here is the link for The Lord of the Rings extended blu-ray trilogy:

And, The Hobbit extended edition blu-ray trilogy:

August 15, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: "The Story of Kullervo"

Happy #TolkienTuesday all! Wherein I take a moment or two to ponder about Tolkien, and his works, his influences, and things that stemmed from his legacy.

Each week since I began this series of posts, I’ve ‘examined’ my reading editions of the main Tolkien books on ‘my shelf’. I’ve got a shelf on my wall dedicated to my core Tolkien books. Well, today, I’ve reached the end of that shelf. But, not the end of my #TolkienTuesday posts. Also, I own other Tolkien books (not too many others) that I call “supplementary books” which I don’t have on the shelf (amount of them to add to what’s on the shelf already, weight, size, etc) that I’ll go into at some point. Those will get one blog post for all of them. Things like art books, references, etc. However, next week I’ll tell you about my ‘other’ collection; but for the time being, let’s have a look at that last book.

This last book is called The Story of Kullervo. This newest book (publication date wise) that I (physically) own is actually one of Tolkien’s earliest writings, if not his first.  This is the Professor’s prose version of Kullervo, found within The Kalevala. Much like The Fall of Arthur, it is an unfinished fragment (and also a thin book as well). Despite this, the book also includes numerous  additional supplementary material. Some may feel that The Fall of Arthur, and this publication (especially this publication) are an attempt to earn money from the publisher by releasing something best left in one of Tolkien’s desk drawers, or possibly part of a larger volume. I myself do not think so. While I admit that not every single thing Tolkien’s pen put to paper should be published, there are some unheard of works that deserve to be looked at, or their existence known. As an author, I myself would not like some of my earlier drafts of the novel I’m working on to see the light of day. Some of my possible future fans may like to see those, but I’ll tell them how and what changed. But those early attempts? Not very good and should not be read.

This book is definitely excellent, however, like a few other books I’ve covered (namely Tales From the Perilous Realm, The Fall of Arthur and now The Story of Kullervo) it may not exactly appeal to everyone – whether it be the content itself, the size of the book, etc. However, I cover my format here, not the book itself. I wanted to provide a bit of insight if this is the first you’re hearing of it.

So let’s have a look at my hardback!

The dustjacket is made the paper-y matte type material, and features artwork by Tolkien (I believe this piece is titled “The Land of Pohja”). This book sits well with Beowulf, and matches it in design and style, but I’ve got to say that all my hardbacks ‘blend’ together quite well in terms of dimensions. Of course, the cover art and design style from The Hobbit compared to The Children of Hurin is different, but they still look great on the shelf, and as a whole I believe my shelf looks quite attractive.

Removing the dustjacket, the book itself is red underneath, with, as usual, the title, author and Tolkien’s monogram logo foil stamped in gold on the spine. Opening it, we are treated to a sheet of glossy paper which features the original image in which the cover art is based as a facsimile. Opening the book further, we get the table of contents as well as the text of the book. There are facsimiles included, though they are not in colour, and are printed on standard paper. I’ve got to say, it’s neat that Harper Collins chose to put in a few more images than is custom into this book. There’s nothing wrong with none, but it’s neat that they’re there. In future editions of some of the books I’ve covered, I can see little things like these added in, where appropriate to the book. That’s not a guarantee, however, just some thoughts aloud. And that’s pretty much it!

Why did I get it: They say not to judge a book by it’s a cover, but once I saw the book itself and had a quick (respectful) flip-through at the book store, I was sold on it by presentation, artwork, etc. Also, I didn’t plan it this way, but it seems fitting that most likely (because never say never!) the final title I’ll add to ‘the shelf’ would be one of Tolkien’s earliest writings.

Who would I recommend this edition to: Since this book is so new, aside from the ebook, this is the only edition that’s out at this time. However, the deluxe is out later this year, and the paperback next year. If you’ve enjoyed Sigurd & Gudrun, The Fall of Arthur and Beowulf, and you want a print copy of the book, and to see the artwork, facsimiles etc, then you should pick this up.  
“Should I wait for a better one?” : the book pretty much just came out, there most likely won’t be a better one for quite some time. When the book is reissued or republished, it could very well just be reprinted.

Overall: As mentioned, there are some books on my shelf that are not for everyone, and a bit trickier to recommend than others. This would be one of them. I say this because, like The Fall of Arthur, this is an unfinished fragment, and the book itself is fairly small. However, there’s lots of extra content to accompany what Tolkien did write. If you’ve been following my shelf as a I went along on it, or you own all the Tolkien hardbacks mentioned thus far (in the exact same editions as mine or different) and you’re missing this one, pick it up to round out your collection.

And that concludes my series of posts about what’s on my primary Tolkien shelf! There are other books I own which I’ll cover, and other Tolkien products I own which I’ll write about. Of course, not all of the Tolkien Tuesday posts will be about the material items I down, that’s just how I found best to kick off the weekly installments.

I hope you enjoyed, and that this series of ‘shelf posts’ may serve as “Which edition of The Hobbit should I get?” for example, or “what titles am I missing?”

Next week, I’ll tell you about what I own exclusively for collecting purposes…My “Do Not Read” editions.

August 8, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: "Beowulf"

My ‘shelf exam’ is nearly at an end!

This week, I’ll be looking at Beowulf.

This is Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf. It’s in prose, as opposed to verse – though he partially worked on a verse translation. By that fact, many Beowulf scholars may not like this edition because of the fact it’s not in verse. This publication is more substantial and ‘complete’ than The Fall of Arthur was, and feels similar to Sigurd & Gudrun. The book features the complete prose translation, as well as other goodies, which showcase Tolkien’s love and knowledge on Beowulf. Also, because it’s a translation, it’s interesting to see how Tolkien saw or interpreted certain portions. The best example I can think of is at the very beginning: “hwaet!” is “lo!” to him.

So, let’s get into this book…..

The dustjacket features a dragon design by Tolkien, and is quite lovely and striking and definitely looks like a Tolkien book. It feels like one too, as it uses the matte, paper-y texture common with Tolkien hardback dustjackets. On the rear, is more of Tolkien’s artwork, Grendell’s mere. Inside the back flap, is another view of Grendell’s mere.  Removing the dustjacket, the book itself is blue, with Tolkien’s logo and the book title etc appearing on the spine in gold embossment.

Opening it, a few pages in, we’re treated to more of Tolkien’s artwork – this one showing a warrior with a shield and spear facing off against a dragon. Very well designed. The table of contents follows, as does, well, the book’s contents.

And that’s it!

Why did I get it: Tolkien’s version of Beowulf is long-awaited. Aside from the fact that it’s a new main Tolkien book, I wanted to get this as early as I could. Also, the abundance of Tolkien’s artwork and sketches on the dustjacket, and inside the book (1 inside, I believe, while the rest are on the dustjacket) was the icing on the cake to get this one in hardback. The only books I was initially on the fence about when first announced was Tales From the Perilous Realm and The Fall of Arthur (Once I saw the contents and page count for Fall of Arthur became hesitant. It went from excitement, hesitance, back to excitement. Perilous Realm was initially hesitance, followed by excitement as time went on and the book became published.)

Who Would I recommend this edition to: anyone who wants it in hardback. Sorry if that statement is too ‘simple’. Really, if you want to get this book, and you have the other Tolkien books I’ve covered so far in hardback (or even the exact same editions) then this will definitely go with them quite well. It’s very attractive ‘on the shelf’.

“Should I wait for a better one?” : As of writing this, the book is only about 2 years old. Future editions is unknown of some Tolkien books, so you may as well go for the hardback while it’s in print. This release feels so ‘complete’ I don’t see what the publishers could add or change in the future, much like some other Tolkien books I’ve covered. The ones most likely to get different content in any form would be The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and even then, it all depends on what one considers ‘better.’. With this edition, you get some of Tolkien’s artwork, as well.

Overall: Tolkien’s love of Beowulf is very clear with both this book, and this edition. Harper Collins has put together another fine hardback, and it’s jam packed with ‘extra’ goodies as well as the translation. If you like Tolkien, and you like Beowulf, don’t miss out on this one.

August 2, 2016

Thank You to the Tolkien Society

Very recently, some of my blog posts (the Tolkien Tuesday series, of course) were featured in The Tolkien Society’s webpage section named “Tolkien Transactions”.

I wanted to express my gratitude at being featured and mentioned. It is an honour to be recognized by such dedicated fans of Professor’s Tolkien’s works; as well as interacting with them online.

So once again, thank you, and keep checking every Tuesday!

Missed Deadline

Well, I hate to say it, but it happened.

About four years ago, when I began extremely early drafts of my novel and conceiving the plot, characters, and background info, it was my intent to have the first volume completed; in the earliest of draft forms by August 6th, 2016. That day marked 20 years since the publication of A Game of Thrones, the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. That's because while reading the books that were out at the time, they served as the spark to get me to write. Well, that day is coming up this week and I’m nowhere close to meeting that.

I’ve made progress, but it’s all distributed across over a few character chapters, plot notes, background info, notes on the map…..there’s still quite a bit to do, but I’ve been laying the foundation. I’m creating the world as I’m putting story elements and characters into it. It’ll go a lot better (not to mention faster) once the world building has had a lot more work. Not only that, but I work 37.5 hours a week. And I don’t feel like writing every time I’m at the computer as well. It’s trickier to find the time and effort to put into it. I’d like to put more, but it seems ‘spare writing time’ is harder to come by.

But when I do write, it’s going quite well. I’d put to put in more time. I’m going to take this missed deadline as stern effort to get more writing in. I won’t force it, but I’ll do better management wise to allow for more writing. I also have a short story I’m working on I hope to complete in October, so we’ll see how that goes as well….

August 1, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: "The Fall of Arthur"

Continuing my trend of examining the main, primary books that I have on ‘the shelf’ (which isn’t all of my Tolkien books, but all the main, or essential ones), we have one that is very similar in style, in terms of content and subject material, to The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. We have The Fall of Arthur. Which is not a translation, but an original poem by Tolkien.

The cover artwork matches the theme of Sigurd & Gudrun, as you can see if you compare the two books side by side. I also forgot to mention in previous posts going as far back as The Children of Hurin, that from that book onwards, the ‘layout’ on the dustjackjet cover matches. Also, all of the Tolkien books I’m covering, the size dimensions match, or are VERY close to it, so they are all of an equal height. Of course, the thickness of each book varies from book to book.

The Fall of Arthur, is a slimmer book compared to recent publications. Thickness wise, it’s about the size of one of the The Lord of the Rings hardbacks (excluding the Reader’s Companion), most likely The Two Towers.

So let’s go onto to holding and opening the book.

Like Tales From the Perilous Realm, and the Middle-earth books (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales) the dustjacket is made of the matte, paper-y texture or material. On the back of the dustjacket, is a sticker from the publisher. It has a barcode and price. Due to the type of material the dustjacket is made of, after what happed to Perilous Realm, I decided to leave it on and make no attempt to remove it.

Anyway, removing the dustjacket, the book itself is black. Like other Tolkien books I’ve covered, the black book has copper-brass embossment on the spine of Tolkien’s logo, the title etc. Opening the book, like Sigurd & Gudrun, we are treated to a facsimile page of Tolkien’s manuscript, printed on the plastic-y, glossy material of paper. The table of contents is to be expected, and there are chapter / segment illustrations, like Sigurd & Gudrun. Except in this book, they all feature the same image (the knight on the horse) whereas with Sigurd and Gudrun, each segment featured a different image.

So that’s about it, in regards to what the standard hardback edition has. There is also paperback edition, and a deluxe edition. The text for all editions is the same.

Why did I get it: it’s the newest main Tolkien book! When initially published, of course. Also, the book is quite lovely, and is a Tolkien epic poem (in verse, like Sigurd & Gudrun) about Arthur! Also interesting to think about, that if Tolkien completed the poem (it’s a fragment, sadly, however the other contents of the book point to closure) then it’s entirely possible that he may not have written The Hobbit, or The Lord of the Rings. In its place, then, what could have happened? Could he have completed and published The Book of Lost Tales? The Children of Hurin? The Fall of Gondolin? We may never know, but Tolkien stopped work on the poem because of The Hobbit
, and early roots of The Lord of the Rings…. The Fall of Arthur may have been published sooner, if not for The History of Middle-earth.

Who would I recommend this edition to: like before, and in the future, anyone wishing to own a hardback edition of this work. The book looks quite nice ‘on the shelf’ with the rest of the Tolkien books I’ve covered thus far, should you wish it to match your other Tolkien books in hardback by Harper Collins.

“Should I wait for a better one?” : the book was published in 2013, and most likely still in print. I can’t forsee a ‘better’ one coming along. It may be re-issued or republished, but I don’t see the contents changing, unless by way of a ‘repackage’ (like comparing Tales From the Perilous Realm to Tolkien Treasury box set, for example).

Overall: Harper Collins continues to print and publish fine editions of Tolkien’s works. This one definitely deserves it’s place on anyone’s shelf, though skepticism and reluctance is understandable: the book is thin, the main poem is an unfinished fragment, etc. I did not get it as ‘reluctant completist’, but there may be some who feel that way. It’s a great book (I’m focusing on the edition or format by way of these ‘on my shelf’ posts), though it does fall short in a few departments: I’m speaking ‘presentation’ wise (not how the book ‘looks’, and not in terms of the quality of the content, but it seems a bit lacking in terms of amount of content). The book could have been presented or edited a bit differently. Not the poem itself, but some of the additional or supplementary contents.

I am glad it exists, and what’s in the book is great. Ultimately, it will depend on what you want from this release. Content wise, it will definitely appeal to Arthurian fans, medieval fans, and those who enjoy epic verse poetry. Also, if you enjoyed Sigurd & Gudrun you’ll most likely enjoy this one.

Also, worthy of note, it’s very interesting to see an earlier attempt by Tolkien to introduce his own mythology. In that sense, this is a great window. Bottom line? It’s worth having but, not as perfect as some of the other Tolkien publications. It depends on what you want.