Notable Returns, from Harry Potter to J.R.R. Tolkien

BY , APRIL 11, 2018, FIRST APPEARING IN Library Journal

Brian Selznick has created the 20th anniversary covers for the Harry Potter books. They are available starting June 26. USA Today reports “When placed side-by-side chronologically, the seven books create a single image that tells Harry’s story, from his arrival at No. 4 Privet Drive to the final Battle of Hogwarts.” A box set of all the books will issue in September.

 

A new book by J.R.R. Tolkien will publish in late August. Entertainment Weekly reports that The Fall of Gondolin, previously unpublished, furthers the stories of Middle Earth. It is edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee. It is currently soaring on Amazon.

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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?

MiddleEarth

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.

 

Examples:

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

Celebrate the fall of Barad-dur at the Moline Library!

Tolkien Reading DayAccording to The Tolkien Society, Sauron, the evil Lord of the Rings, was finally defeated on March 25. To celebrate this momentous occasion in fantasy literature (and later, fantasy film) March 25 was declared, by the people who declare such things, Tolkien Reading Day!

So stop into the Moline Library and grab a Tolkien book and find a comfy chair. It doesn’t have to be the LOTR either – The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, The Book of Lost Tales, whatever scratches the Middle-Earth itch.