Genre Friday – Hobbit Day Tribute Edition

Baggins BDay

Welcome to the house that Tolkien built. Epic Fantasy (also known as High Fantasy) is the quintessential fantasy sub-genre, the fount from which all other fantasy sub-genres have flowed, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s elves and orcs and rings (oh my) utterly dominate the field. There are, of course, stand-outs and outliers, stories that forge news paths in an old sub-genre, but even when a tale isn’t filled with staff wielding wizards and subterranean, master-craftsmen called dwarfs anything called epic fantasy still contains a few essential elements that were originally established when Tolkien first fleshed out Middle-earth on paper.

Epic fantasies create entire worlds, with long and complex histories and vivid cultures and lifestyles. How complex and vivid? Tolkien actually created (or adapted) a historic timeline leading back to the creation of the world, myths, legends, deities, several races of creatures (many of which have become staples of the fantasy genre), multiple kingdoms, and an entire language for the fictional inhabitants of his world! If you look hard enough in the right places I bet it wouldn’t take too much effort to find someone that speaks at least passing Elvish. They are not all that in depth, but that is the kind of detail you are potentially looking at when you jump into an epic fantasy.

In case that isn’t enough to wrap your head around, epic fantasy also almost always has a large cast of characters taking part in quests and adventures that will affect the fate of an entire kingdom or world. Possibly multiple worlds.

So, it is a complex workout for your imagination and memory. What else?


While hand-drawn maps of the world are not strictly mandatory, they are strongly encouraged. 

It’s big. Aside from its often immense geographic scope, as it is not unusual for the cast of characters to have to trek across continents and cross oceans in the pursuit of their goal, these stories can also cover large spans of time, with years, decades or even generations passing by in the course of the story (or series of stories). They are also big in another way – these are not typically short books. Once you get sucked into an epic fantasy series you are in it for the long haul.



Sheepfarmer's DaughterThe Belgariad series by David Eddings

The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

The Original Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks

The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan


Author Birthdays – How is it October already?

Thomas Wolfe (b. October 3, 1900, Asheville, NC; d. September 15, 1938, Baltimore, MD)

Name the emotion on his face. Mild concern?“All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Look Homeward, Angel

For more information on Thomas Wolfe, click here.


Gore Vidal (b. October 3, 1925, West Point, NY; d. July 31, 2012, Los Angeles, CA)

He was vidally important.“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.” You can find more quotes here.

What you should read: Lincoln

For more information on Gore Vidal, click here.


Anne Rice (b. October 4, 1941, New Orleans, LA)

She looks so nice for someone that writes about Godless horrors..“To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Interview with the Vampire

For more information on Anne Rice and her books , click here.


Peter Ackroyd (b. October 5, 1949, London, UK)

Mustache? Or fuzzy photo?“It may seem unfashionable to say so, but historians should seize the imagination as well as the intellect. History is, in a sense, a story, a narrative of adventure and of vision, of character and of incident. It is also a portrait of the great general drama of the human spirit.” Read more quotes here.

What you should read: Thames: The Biography and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein

For more on Peter Ackroyd, click here.


Clive Barker (b. October 5, 1952, Liverpool, UK)

I never, ever imagined that my first thought when seeing a picture of Clive Barker was going to be that he looked like Sly Stalone's little brother.“I don’t feel there’s any reason to apologise for having a wicked imagination. I think it’s important as a maker of fantasy and of horror.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Imajica and The Scarlet Gospels

For more information on Clive Barker and his works, click here.


Desmond Tutu (b. October 7, 1931, Klerksdorp, South Africa)

I used to just think his name was funny - then I actually learned about him.“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: No Future without Forgiveness and The Book of Forgiving

For more information on Bishop Desmond Tutu, his life and his works, click here.


Thomas Keneally (b. October 7, 1935, Sydney, Australia)

Again, not what I was thinking.“You know, so I was a weird eccentric kid but I did believe in the power of the word and of the word being made flesh I suppose, which again I suppose came from my temperament as well as my upbringing.” Read more quotes here.

What you should read: Schindler’s List

For more on Thomas Keneally, click here.


Frank Herbert (b. October 8, 1920, Tacoma, WA; d. February 11, 1986, Madison, WI)

That is a beard worthy of the 19th century, sir. Well done.. Especially since you lived in the 20th century.“If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Dune

For more information on Frank Herbert, click here.

Happy Birthday Harry!

Harry Potter turns 36 today!

Takes me back

“The Boy Who Lived” (a.k.a. “the boy that got an entire generation of people excited about reading” – 400 MILLION COPIES SOLD) was born July, 31 1980 in the fictional world that inhabits the mind of series creator J.K. Rowling (who coincidentally also happens to have a birthday today).

If you are a fan of the series you might be saying, ‘But wait, the first book came out in ’97 and he turned 11 at the beginning of it so shouldn’t he be…’ You can stop doing the math – no, seriously, stop. I can feel you trying to work it out. It’s giving me goosebumps. Just trust me on this – J.K. Rowling herself has confirmed his birth year as 1980.


Crazy rich

While were at it, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JK Rowling!

If you are feeling all nostalgic now, overwhelmed by the desire to dive back into the world of wizards and quidditch and death eaters and so on, then might I suggest you stop by the Moline Library and check out your favorite Potter book today. Or, if you have been there and done that, but still want some exciting wizard action you could stop by our sci-fi/fantasy section and see what else you can find. The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, starting with the book Storm Front, is about a wizard living in Chicago. Or, if you prefer your magic to come with a British accent, you could take a look at the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka -it’s set in modern-day London and starts with the book Fated. Or anything else you’d like – there is plenty of magic to go around at the library.



July 20, the day man first walked on the moon, is Moon Day!

Little known fact, it's actually chock-full of aliens

Hello, neighbor!

Come to the library and celebrate Moon Day by learning about our closest neighbor, celestially speaking.

After all, libraries and moons are a lot alike. Both are quiet, unassuming things, but we are constant; always there for you to enjoy, just waiting for people to come and visit. And our gravitational pull causes an ebb and flow of the Earth’s bodies of water creating the tides. I am a little fuzzy on the science but I am pretty sure I am right on this. Happy Moon Day!

Big Birthday Week

In light of the sheer number of birthdays this week we will be going with a brief, “what are they best know for” write-up for our beloved authors. This is in no way meant to be a reflection on them or their work. It is only a reflection of this humble blogger, who regrettably only has so much time. Also, I skipped breakfast so I would like to be done in time for lunch.

Hunter S. Thompson (b. July 18, 1937, Louisville, KY; d. February 20,  2005, Woody Creek, CO)

Selfie?“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Reporting for Rolling Stone Magazine, inventing “gonzo journalism,” writing Hell’s Angels, The Rum Diary (made into a Johnny Depp movie), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (also made into a Johnny Depp movie), “drugs, alcohol, violence, [and] insanity”

For more on Hunter S. Thompson, click here.

Stephen Coonts (b. July 19, 1946, Buckhannon, WV)

Executive Air“All really great flying adventures begin at dawn.” Find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a naval aviator in the Vietnam War, writing military, action, techno-thriller novels and creating the character Jack Grafton

For more information on Mr. Coonts and his books, click here.


Petrarch (b. July 20, 1304, Arezzo, Italy; d. July, 19, 1374, Arqua Petrarca, Italy)

Nice leaves“Five enemies of peace inhabit with us – avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a Renaissance scholar and poet, beginning the humanist philosophical movement as well as the concept of the “Dark Ages,” writing Canzoniere, Trionfi and Africa

For more information on Petrarch, click here.


Cormac McCarthy (b. July 20, 1933, Providence, RI)

The lighting makes you look slightly sinister in spite of the smile.“My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold, and anything else is just a waste of time.” More McCarthy quotes here.

Best Known for: Being named Cormac (seriously, how many other Cormacs do you know?), winning the MacArthur Genius Grant, being one of the most respected American novelists of the last 50 years, writing Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses (movie), No Country for Old Men (movie) and The Road (another movie), and… oh yeah, winning a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

For information on Cormac McCarthy and his books you can go to his website, here.


Ernest Hemingway (b. July 21, 1899, Oak Park, IL; d. July 2, 1961, Ketchum, ID)

What is he looking at?“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Fighting in multiple wars, living it up in Paris, going on safari and in general leading a life of adventure and being the model of modern masculinity; he also wrote The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize for Literature for his efforts – not too shabby

For more on Ernest Hemingway, click here.


Raymond Chandler (b. July 23, 1888, Chicago, IL; d. March 26, 1959, La Jolla, CA)

Pipes - the most distinguished way to get mouth cancer“I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year just on principle, so he won’t let himself get snotty about it.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being an oil executive that lost his livelihood during the great depression and had to turn to writing detective stories to make a living, co-authoring several Hollywood screenplays (including the Oscar-nominated Double Indemnity), creating the character Philip Marlowe (later played by Humphrey Bogart), and writing several masterpieces of the hard-boiled detective genre, including The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye

For more Chandler information, click here.