Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Children's Fantasy - Lloyd Alexander & Susan Cooper

It is many years since I have read these books, but both series - Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain sequence and Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books - are excellent, and could give the Harry Potter novels a run for their money.

The Chronicles of Prydain novels were originally published in the 1960s but I discovered them in 1973 when I first came across The Book of Three in an Armada Lion paperback edition along with its sequel The Black Cauldron. They tell the tale of Taran, assistant pig keeper to oracular pig, Hen Wen, and how he is forced into a dire adventure by her disappearance. The series continues in The Castle of Lyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King, the last three of which I have in Dell Yearling paperbacks.

alexander_bookof three alexander_blackcauldron
alexander_castle alexander_taranwanderer alexander_highking

Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series is highly regarded though I'm afraid I can't tell you much about them as I have forgotten the story, but the blurb at the back of the first volume Over Sea, Under Stone indicates that the story begins with "the discovery of an ancient map and a search for a buried Grail." The story continues in subsequent novels, The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King and Silver on the Tree.

All, except The Grey King, are Puffin paperbacks. The Grey King I bought in hard cover, no doubt impatient for the story to continue.

cooper_dark_is_rising1 cooper_dark_is_rising2
cooper_dark_is_rising3 cooper_dark_is_rising4


Next CS Lewis - Narnia and Tolkien

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Children's Fantasy - Moomins & Wolves

When I first started buying books as a student at University, I had very little spare cash with which to do so. Somehow I managed to buy a few paperbacks a week from my meagre allowance. Children's books were the cheapest - you could get 4 books for $2.00 - and in many cases were more interesting, story wise. Naturally I was drawn to the more fantastic books in the range.

Tove Jansson's Moomin books were of course among those I purchased.

Here's a selection of covers of the Puffin books editions, with cover art by Tove Jansson.

jansson_moomins2 jansson_moomins1jansson_moomins3
jansson_moomins4 jansson_moomins5

Another children's book author whose books I keenly looked forward to right up to her death in 2004, was Joan Aiken. Her alternate history series which began with Wolves of Willoughby Chase were a particular favourite, though all her children's adventure stories are first class. She was a wonderful writer, her stories being marvellously eccentric.

I am missing the second book, Black Hearts in Battersea, in the "Wolves" sequence but I have all the rest. The Puffin books editions are all illustrated by Pat Marriott as are the Red Fox editions.

aiken_wolves aiken_nantucket
aiken_mountain aiken_lake
aiken_limbo aiken_cuckootree
aiken_dido aiken_is

Cold Shoulder Road has cover art by none other than Edward Gorey.

The last two books in series (alas) are Midwinter Nightingale and The Witch of Clatteringshaws are both US editions, published by Dell and Delacorte Press.

aiken_nightingale aiken_witch

Next - Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fantasy Trilogies & Other Related Books

I must admit that this blog has certainly brought to light books I have not looked at for decades. They have mostly all been hidden behind other books more recently purchased. No wonder I hardly buy anything new these days, I've got enough to keep me going until the day I die.

This post will concentrate on fantasy trilogies, the foremost of which is the Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, a superior fantasy trilogy by Patricia McKillop. It has worn well through the years and I do enjoy rereading it every so often. As usual my sets are a mix of US and UK paperbacks.

mckillop_riddlemaster mckillop_heir mckillop_harpist

I still reread Meredith Ann Pierce's Dark Angel trilogy, as I have always loved it. The paperback covers are quite lovely. I could never find the final volume Pearl of the Soul of the World anywhere in paperback, so eventually bought the hard cover in order to know the end of the story.

pierce_darkangel pierce_gargoyles pierce_pearl

I discovered the following Marian Zimmer Bradley books in the Science Fiction part of the bookcase. They are more fantasy than Science Fiction, so I'm including them here - more DAW paperback originals. They are part of the Darkover series, which I failed to read in any order and didn't collect in any way.

zimmer_bradley_hawkmistress zimmer_bradley_ruins_of _isis zimmer_bradley_stormqueen

Marion Zimmer Bradley did write a best seller, that being The Mists of Avalon, a fictionalised biography of Morgan Le Fay.


Another Arthurian type trilogy is Gillian Bradshaw's Gawaine trilogy. Very well written, I remember being very impressed with this series way back in the 1970s

bradshaw_hawkofmay bradshaw_kingdom bradshaw_winter

This post basically concludes the adult fantasy section of my bookcase - or the selected bits I've revealed here.

The next few posts will cover a selection of children's fantasy paperbacks - Tove Jansson, Joan Aiken etc.

More Fantasy - A Miscellany

This post will show an assortment of individual novels. Some are quite rare these days I should imagine.

The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders by Isidore Hailblum is purported to be the first Yiddish science fantasy, and The Rainbow Annals by Grania Davis is a charming version of the Monkey legend. David Johnston is the cover artist for "Tsaddik"

tsaddik rainbow annals

Next, an unusual and very dark version of Cinderella in The Coachman Rat by David Henry Wilson and E Hoffman Price's Chinese fantasy The Devil Wives of Li Fong.

coachman rat devil_wives_price

Cover art by Don Maitz and Rowena Morrill.

Two books from the Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult published by Sphere - The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams and The Curse of the Wise Woman by Lord Dunsany.

williams_trumps dunsany_wisewoman

An omnibus volume containing of Phantastes & Lilith by George MacDonald - two very strange fantasties. Also Jorge Luis Borges Book of Imaginary Beings.

macdonald_lilith borges_imaginary_beings

Next John Bellairs Face in the Frost and William Goldman's famous Princess Bride.

faceinthefrost goldman_princess_bride

And last but not least William Browning Spencer's totally wonderful fantasy Zod Wallop.

Spencer_zod wallop

Coming next - trilogies and other interrelated fantasy novels.