January 23, 2018

Sad Day For Fantasy

Today is a sad day for the field of fantasy - legendary author Ursula K. Le Guin has passed away at age 88.

Le Guin has a staggering bibliography, with novels, novellas, short stories...you name it, in various areas of fiction. However, I think it safe to say that she is best known for her Earthsea books.

In publication order (novels and short stories), they are:

~ The Word of Unbinding (1964)
~ The Rule of Names (1964)
~ A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)
~ The Tombs of Atuan (1971)
~ The Farthest Shore (1972)
~ Tehanu (1990)
~ The Other Wind (2001)
~ Tales From Earthsea (2003 for the collected edition under that title)
It contains the novella "The Finder," and the short stories "The Bones of the Earth," "Darkrose and Diamond," "On the High Marsh," and "Dragonfly." Concluding with with an account of Earthsea's history, people, languages, literature, and magic.
~ The Daughter of Odren (2014)

It was initially a trilogy, then a quartet...and it kept going from there. As you saw from the publication dates, this year marks the first book's 50th anniversary. I must confess I have not read the books - yet. There's no better time for me, now that it's celebrating it's 50th anniversary, and to honor the author.

So I will read all Earthsea material by the end of 2018.

Tolkien has greatly inspired her. However, not in the usual sense (Shannara, The Wheel of Time, etc...) more so in that Tolkien opened the doors to her to what can be done in fantasy. The world isn't the typical fantasy setting. She doesn't adhere to the usual fantasy tropes. Indeed, her Earth material is vastly different from usual fantasy, or what one would think of.

I look forward to reading Earthsea. It was something I had been hoping to do in 2018, due to the fact that the first novel turns 50th this year. Le Guin's passing, however, cements my plans.

Here is the blurb for the first novel:
Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea,  but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless  youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered  with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow  upon the world. This is the tale of his testing,  how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an  ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to  restore the balance. 

January 19, 2018

Book Review: "The Story of King Arthur and His Knights" by Howard Pyle

As of this writing, I have not read some of the other more "traditional" KING Arthur stories (Le Morte d'Arthur by Malory, the one by Roger Lancelyn Green, etc) however I quite enjoyed it. 

It is a traditional Arthurian story (no Saxons, etc here) that is all "flowery" style (thou, hast, etc) that goes into the adventures of King Arthur (and how he became King), Merlin, and some of his Knights. 

You can definitely tell that both Tolkien and Martin must have read (and enjoyed) this book, as there different types of echoes from it that 'ripple' into their writings; which you can pick up if you knew what Tolkien enjoyed, and read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; for instance. The different lords, kings, knights etc definitely appealed to Marin, which you can detect if you've read some of his Ice and Fire books. 

Going onto this edition - the book paired well with the ACTUAL book itself: I enjoyed that it was a hardcover of slightly different dimensions, great font, good paper quality, it even had a ribbon-marker, and the artwork both on the dustjacket and the illustrations that appear from time to time was quite nice as well. I hope to get a few more of the classics in this format; availability permitting. 

Recommended if you are looking for another fantasy read.

(this edition is published by Sterling) 

January 14, 2018

Opinion: Should "The Annotated Hobbit" Receive A Deluxe Edition?

One item that sometimes, in my experience, that gets overlooked in the field of Tolkien scholarship, as well as overall importance, is The Annotated Hobbit by Douglas A. Anderson. The book was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Hobbit.

That is, of course, nothing ill against Anderson, The Hobbit or what he has done. In a field so varied and vast as Tolkien scholarship, it oft gets overlooked, I mean to say. In a sense, I consider it to be "an underrated piece of genius." Of course, in terms of thinking it could be overlooked, I could be completely off the mark.

I remember when the revised edition of the book was brand new. I was getting into Tolkien, and checking out various titles by and about him. I saw the book and thought it was a bit unnecessary for my needs at the time. Plus, it didn't match any of the other books in terms of size dimensions etc. More on that later.

I thought it was a neat concept, but at the time, I was casual normal reader, getting exposed to Tolkien. While not exclusively for "seasoned Tolkien fans" the fact remained that I thought it was a bit much for my current needs.

Fast forward to quite a few years later when I was knowledgeable enough, and my interest in Tolkien was high enough, to consider myself to be a 'Tolkien fan.'

While it had interested me (Anderson did, in fact, provide a note on the text for most editions of The Hobbit from the early '90s onward. That fact alone had caught my interest, by the way) something about the book still stood out:
a) it didn't "match" my other editions
b) (sort of b) there wasn't an "Annotated Lord of the Rings" or other Tolkien titles to receive similar treatment. So, I thought, while a great idea, it would 'stick out' from the rest of my Tolkien and Middle-earth books, for reasons listed previously.

It wasn't until not along ago (I believe about two years this summer) that I had received the book as a gift for my Birthday from my lovely lady.

And you know what? That was truly the best way to get this item. I had never considered asking for it (I already had The Hobbit, after, all). Again, not to downplay my interest of the book, or its importance, but it's something I had never considered doing.

So, a bit of background info about the book: it was first published in 1988 by Houghton Mifflin. That's right - nothing against Harper Collins (despite my complaints against them on and off with regards to QA for Tolkien titles, stock, etc) they have generally done a very decent job in presenting and publishing Tolkien (and related material) over the years. I was a little surprised to learn that Houghton Mifflin had published the book before, not vice-versa. Anyway, so it was published in 1988 initially, and then again as recently (depending on who published it) in 2002 and 2003.  The new edition was completely re-designed and updated in every way possible. I haven't seen the original edition in either pictures, videos, my own eyes etc, (side from the cover) but it sounds like a completely different book compared to the original.


So here we are, in 2018, and the book will turn 30 in October. I myself would like to see a deluxe edition of it presented by Harper Collins. Or, possibly by Houghton as well (as they haven't a deluxe edition similar to Harper Collins' since 2009, with The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun).

Here is what it could possibly look like and contain:

- quarter-bound (as per usual with the other deluxe edition titles)
- matching slipcase. Possible colours: green, or that yellow / orange that is featured for the inside endpapers of the revised edition.
- the book itself could feature a small circular version of Smaug (as seen in "Conversion with Smaug") while the slipcase could feature addition artwork, so when the book slides into the slipcase it creates a 'whole picture'. Much like using a combination of cut-out design, as seen in The Maps of Middle-earth or the deluxe editions of The Hobbit and / or The Lord of the Rings respectively.
- green or yellow / orange silk ribbon-marker
- in terms of content, maybe a 'reprint' of the most recently updated version of the book. "New" content could include a new, or additional forward (by Anderson himself...?0, as well as a frontispiece (fold-out?). my nomination for the frontispiece would be Tolkien's Mirkwood, just to change things up. 
- possibly a section in which Anderson 'compares' or 'breaks down' what is new between the original and revised editions. As well as his reasoning for providing the update etc. You know, some extra content.

The fact that it exists in deluxe edition format could prove attractive enough in its own right, however; there also exists possibility to include further new material. A similar situation somewhat exists when Harper Collins re-issued The Complete History of Middle-earth recently. It was all 12 books (presented in 3 larger books and a slipcase) yet the design was that of the deluxe editions, as opposed to 'regular' hardback. Such could be the case for The Annotated Hobbit, should a deluxe edition come to fruition.

So, at long last, in closing, The Annotated Hobbit is a book that I've come to appreciate (and receive) quite by accident, however, not for a lack of interest. With The Hobbit now just 80 years old, and the annotated edition's anniversary coming up much later this year, I highly suggest it to Tolkien fans.

As I mentioned earlier, it's not "exclusively for" the hardcore Tolkien fans, however they will enjoy and appreciate it the most. That's not to say that nobody else will, of course.

Due to the age of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, it goes without saying that there are some parts of the book where the annotations may spoil the 'grand-er scheme of things', plot-wise.   

Even though I own The Hobbit (70th Anniversary Edition) I don't consider The Annotated Hobbit to be my primary reading copy, but rather, the tip of the iceberg in regards to supplemental material to Tolkien. I keep it with my 'supplementary' Tolkien books as opposed to the main ones for the simple reason of uniformity. I love the fact that Anderson created the annotated edition, and assisted with the correctness of the text for the book itself (being, The Hobbit) much in the same way that Wayne G. Hammond + Christina Scull did for The Lord of the Rings Reader's Companion; and helped edit and revise The Lord of the Rings for it's 50th an 60th anniversaries.  

So, yes, to answer the question proposed in the title of this entry - I do believe that The Annotated Hobbit should receive a deluxe edition, or some kind of celebration, later this year once the original edition celebrates its 30th anniversary.    

January 10, 2018

Update On "The Hobbit Complete Recordings" and "The Music of the Hobbit Films" Book

Good day all!

Yesterday evening, TheOneRing.Net hosted a live session with Doug Adams, 'musical scholar' for Howard shore's Middle-earth movie scores. He has assisted Howard tremendously with The Complete Recordings (even going so far to do the liner notes, which were expanded into its own book called The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films).

Last night, I asked my question (twice - once at the beginning of the session and properly during question time). I had asked: "Doug - can you provide any updates on either 'The Music of the Hobbit Films' book *OR* 'The Hobbit Complete Recordings?'

His answer, to paraphrase is this:

The Book:

- it is already completed in some form. (My guess is rough version, first draft etc.) He said "I'm looking at it right now, actually." This was during a live video session, so it most likely only exists digitally at this point. Either way, this is great news - the book is underway to some degree, and will be out....sometime! In my opinion, what he shared about the book was the better answer he provided.

The Complete Recordings:

- as of now, there are no current plans underway. That's not to say that it won't happen, however, it's not a garuntee that it will happen. There is interest, though. He also stated that most of The Hobbit music had been released already, so a need to justify a 'complete recordings' project isn't as "justified" as with The Lord of the Rings. He also stated that that was sort of one of the reasons why The Hobbit soundtracks were 2-discs each (if one bought them as CDs, that is.) So, the '2 disc editions' were sort of a 'middle ground' should there never be a Complete Recordings of The Hobbit music.

Again, I'm paraphrasing, and I do not intend to put words into Doug's mouth - I'm going off what he said, while adding my own commentary.

So that's the latest official word, as of now, in regards to both "The Hobbit Complete Recordings" and "The Music of the Hobbit Films" book!

Big shout-out and thanks to TheOneRing.Net for hosting, and relaying my questions during the session. 

January 5, 2018

The Long Night Begins: "Game of Thrones: Season 8" Arriving in 2019

Well, it's now official - Game of Thrones: Season 8 will be coming in 2019.

I had been hoping for later this year (2018) but alas....

I admit to being curious for what that will mean for the publication of Book 6, if anything. Will we get it before or after Season 8 (which will be the final season) in 2019? Oh - I'd love to get Book 6 sometime this year....but I'm not sure that's likely. It's pretty much a garuntee it should be out next year. Of course, there's always the wait between Book 6 and Book 7, the final one.....

As I stated previously, regardless of when Book 6 will be published, I am going to re-read the books the day after the final episode of Thrones. If Book 6 is not out by that point, it is my hopes that it will be very close to when I finish reading Book 5 of that re-read.   

January 2, 2018

Holiday & Winter Update

Hey all,

Another long-awaited update!

Things have been busy - went away for most of the holidays (so there was packing, travelling, merry-making and then travelling back home and more merry-making), finishing up some work, etc.

I had intended to post this before going away, but now it seems that it needs to be posted at the end of the holidays, as opposed to before.

I hope Santa was good to you, and you got lots of goodies plus had some great time with friends and family etc.

Once again, the holidays have come and gone so crazy-fast, I could hardly believe it. I vividly recall typing up my previous blog post - and then the first 2-3 weeks of December just disappeared.

So, some highlights of my haul include:

- PJ Pants
- Mario Kart 7 for 3DS
- assorted booze and beer
- chocolates and sweets
- some books
- much more....

So now that I've finished reminiscing about the holidays, it's time to look forward to this year - 2018 - for what I'm looking forward to in terms of geeky things.....


For as long as I can remember, I always what Tolkien books are coming up in the New Year. So, I shall begin this subject with the same train of thought. Let's start with the items I know will be coming....

- Beren and Luthien in paperback
- The Story of Kullervo in paperback
- Tolkien Calendar 2019 (apparently, it will also be illustrated by Alan Lee. Unconfirmed at this point).
- A Middle-earth Traveler by John Howe
- The Hobbit Facsimile Gift Edition [my guess is it'll contain later / corrected printings of the Facsimile Slipcased First Edition from Sept, plus other goodies in the set as well, though it's too early to tell at this juncture.]

I think that's pretty much it for Tolkien books that I'm aware of. Now for other ones. Some of which are guesses:

- A Column of Fire by Ken Follett in paperback
- A Song of Ice and Fire Book 6 by George R.R. Martin [guess]
- The Book of Dust: Volume 2 by Philip Pullman [guess]
- The Skaar Invasion by Terry Brooks 
- Kingkiller Book 3 by Patrick Rothfuss [guess]
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard Illustrated Edition


This list applies to only intended cinematic viewings only.

- Black Panther
- Infinity War
- Deadpool 2
- Incredibles 2
- Mission Impossible 6

- Ant-Man 2
- Fantastic Beasts: Part 2


So those are some of the geek-y things I'm looking forward to in the coming year! Should be a good one.