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.

December 16, 2017

Recommended Geek Goodies for Christmas

Hard to believe that that time of year is nearly upon us again. Where has the rest of December gone??

Anyway, I'll share with you some suggested items that I believe are essential to any geek.

Though it may be late, here are some ideas (last minute it seems) for the geek on your list - even if it's you. 

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. TolkienISBN: 9780007458424

The beginning of the re-invention of the fantasy genre as we know it. I highly suggest this paperback edition of The Hobbit if you need a replacement copy, or are starting someone on Tolkien. 

Here are the other books that will match this one:


~ The Fellowship of the Ring: ISBN 9780261103573
~ The Two Towers: ISBN: 
~ The Return of the King: ISBN 
~ The Silmarillion: ISBN 
~ Unfinished Tales: ISBN 
~ The Children of Hurin: ISBN 
~ Beren and Luthien: ISBN 
9780008214227 [coming 2018]


~ Tales From the Perilous Realm: ISBN 
~ The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun: ISBN 
~ The Fall of Arthur: ISBN 
~ Beowulf: ISBN 
~ The Story of Kullervo: ISBN 
9780008131388 [coming 2018]

The Complete Harry Potter Collection by J.K. Rowling

If you, or someone you know, hasn't read the Harry Potter books yet, needs their own set etc....then this is the item to get. You get the entire series in one shot. Boom - done. 

A Game of Thrones
by George R.R. Martin (and the other books in the series)
Definitely one of, if not the greatest post-Tolkien (and "Tolkien-style") fantasy series there is. The first book is pretty close to the HBO series, but from then it gradually gets different. At the point of the Red Wedding (don't look that up - spoilers) onwards, both the books and the HBO series are completely different.

Here are the other books in the series, from Book 2 onwards, in a 'readable' format:

~ Book 2: A Clash of Kings: ISBN 
~ Book 3 (Part A): Steel and Snow (A Storm of Swords Part A) ISBN 9780007447848
~ Book 3 (Part B) Blood and Gold (A storm of Swords Part B) ISBN 9780007447855
~ Book 4: A Feast For Crows ISBN: 9780007447862
~ Book 5 (Part A) Dreams and Dust (A Dance With Dragons Part A) ISBN 9780007466061

~ Book 5 (Part B) After the Feast (A Dance With Dragons Part B) ISBN 9780007466078

. If you (or 'they') are waiting for either the final season of the show, or the next installment of the book series, there's a prequel to tide you over....

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, ISBN 

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Another terrific fantasy series! Philip Pullman is working on an 'equel' trilogy (not a 'sequel' nor a 'prequel' but one that runs with the original trilogy) called The Book of Dust. The first book just came out this past fall, with Book 2 and Book 3 to follow sometime hopefully soon. So get up to date with the original trilogy! Or, if you (or 'they') are looking for something new to read.

 The Lord of the Rings Special Edition blu-ray Trilogy

Without a doubt, the best way to watch these films. In the boxed set, you get the special editions of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King PLUS all supplementary material. They may be over 15 years old, however they still hold up, and remain among the best films of all time.   


The Lord of the Rings
 Trilogy Soundtrack

You get all three soundtracks from Howard Shore: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

Dragon Bookends

https://www.amazon.com/Design-Toscano-Dragons-Sculptural-Bookends/dp/B003M0DQTC/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1513457944&sr=1-1&keywords=B003M0DQTC Pretty neat looking way to hold up your books (or other items) on your shelf. Attractive yet functional! 

December 14, 2017

Some Thoughts on the Middle-earth Amazon Series


Since the announcement of the Amazon Middle-earth series (which will take place after The Hobbit: Part 3 but before The Fellowship of the Ring) I’ve been mulling things over.

First off, all the major news announcements etc have said “Lord of the Rings”. In terms of plot, that is simply not true – we are not going from Hobbiton to Mount Doom with Frodo etc. HOWEVER, the material in which the Amazon series will be based on is found within the pages of the book known as The Lord of the Rings, or to be more precise, The Return of the King. It will be based on what is found within the Appendices, most likely.

A re-boot or remake of the Peter Jackson films to me would be a terrible idea. Any adaptation has changes from its source material from one medium into another. The films have been very well received by both critics and fans. The Hobbit films, is another manner. Opinion on them is a bit more more…divided. Since the Amazon series will most likely ‘supplement’ both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings film trilogies.

“Now…where to begin?”

It would be great if the Amazon series strove for the same look and feel as the Jackson films. Moreso Rings than Hobbit (due to CGI, mostly). The series doesn’t need to be ‘mature’ (here’s no explicit or graphic nudity and / or violence in Tolkien. It’s there but it’s not a focus.). Because of that, I can see the show being violence-heavy. Say, a late-night prime-time network show, or ‘tame’ for HBO /AMZ / Starz type of premium cable. My point is, it doesn’t need to be graphic in any sense of the word, but if it were to be, it would most likely be due to the violence.

Now with that out of the way, let’s have a look at specifically what the show can be about.

There was a video game that came out a few years ago called War in the North. The plot was that it occurred during The Lord of the Rings, but it wasn’t a re-telling of the books. In fact, the story somewhat “supplements” The Lord of the Rings, because of the fact it takes during the same time, but in other areas of Middle-earth, and focusing on other aspects of the lore. It would be neat if the series wasn’t based on the game exactly, per se, but taking a similar approach – showing us events and locations that have only been mentioned in passing, and showing us other locations and how they connect to the main story and the overall picture.

Also, one of the bigger questions will be whether or not this Amazon series will be connected the 'Jackson-verse' of Middle-earth. Because it's not a "re-telling" of The Lord of the Rings (Hobbiton - Mordor) or The Hobbit, it would make sense that it would. However, would WETA etc still be involved? There is a lot more "unknown" than "known" at this point. Chronicling the events in the North of Middle-earth between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring would be interesting, indeed.

Either way, we will have to see closer to its release. Synopsis, trailer etc have yet to be revealed and that will give us a better understanding of what to expect.   

November 14, 2017

"Oathbringer" (Stormlight Book 3) Published Today

Today is a big day for fans of fantasy - Oathbringer, the third book in Brandon Sanderson's 10-book Stormlight series is published today.

Sanderson is one of the best new(er) authors in fantasy, proving himself with a strong debut (Elantris) the Mistborn series, and now with Stormlight. The first two books, The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, have both been well-received.

The Stormlight series is a different type of fantasy, with immense world-building and lore. It is the spiritual successor to The Wheel of Time series. They are both apples and oranges, however Stormlight follows down the path that The Wheel of Time began. They are not related by any means, I mean to say that the vein of fantasy is close. Please note that you can't (and shouldn't) compare Sanderson with Martin, or Stormlight with Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones.

So whether or not you've read The Wheel of time, if you like fantasy period, be sure not to miss the Stormlight series. Book 4 is expected in 2020.    

November 8, 2017

Another Update

Well, I promised you all an update, so here it is!

My lady and I took a one-week trip to Nova Scotia and Quebec City mid to late October. We drove from Ottawa to Quebec City, then Quebec City to Nova Scotia.

We enjoy taking trips, and thought we were due for one. Also, my uncle had a wedding during then. So, the purpose of the trip was for the wedding, although we greatly elaborated on it by doing more sight-seeing and vacationing. Needless to say, we both want to retire to Cape Breton Island [seriously – hop on google images. Or rather…don’t….the less people there the better!]

It was great, great fun – the entire trip. Our Escape performed admirably and kept us going along the way. As did McDonald’s – their coffee, muffins and other things for ‘road travel’ were definitely welcome. Plus, they also have the Monopoly going on, as well. So there’s that.

That aside, “life” has been happening! Hard to believe we already into November. Winter, and Christmas, are coming.

On the reading front: currently reading Exploring the Hobbit at home, as a book. When ‘on-the-go’ it’s The Heritage of Shannara on the e-reader. Will keep you posted about my reading habits following those books.
On the TV front: currently working my way through Ray Donovan Season 3 (I switch between that and Suits, once I finish a season of each.). Looking forward to the final season of Longmire coming next week, as well as The Crown in December.
On the movie front: This weekend is Thor 3, or “Marvel Movie #___”. Looks like it should be good.

The next “big” movie I’m really looking forward to is Fantastic Beasts: Part 2. The key thing is, that I’m “looking forward to” and that I’ll definitely see at the cinema. Sure, I’ll see Justice League and Star Wars: Episode VIII, but on ‘at home formats.’ One has to budget! Though of course there are other films I’ll see before Fantastic Beasts: Part 2 (which is out next November) at the cinema, I’m just really looking forward to what they’re doing with the IP. 

Let me think of what other ground I wish to cover…

Oh yes, video games.

Still not sold, or convinced, of Nintendo and the Switch. Couldn’t get a SNES Classic. Still hard to get amiibo. Sorry, guys – I’m finished now. I’ll keep getting 3DS games that interest me, but following that, my Nintendo support ends when the 3DS ends. Because of that, I won’t give them money for a Switch.

I beat Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Ganon, that is. With all the Divine Beasts, my Ancient Armor fully upgraded, as well as an Ancient Bow and Ancient Arrows…I made short work of him. Plus, Stasis+ does briefly work on him! Not long, but long enough to get a shot in.) Primarily, because a little bit more of the game opens up once you do so (a few more pictures, ‘boss’ tracker, etc..) as well as I believe the upcoming DLC#2 is meant to be played after the main game. So really, it was spoiler prevention, as well as being up-to-date. Sometime in the future I’d like to play it again, from scratch, with both DLC’s already being out to see how it differs.

For quick half hour gaming sessions I’m going through Mario Maker on expert, with the intent of unlocking more amiibo Mushroom characters. I really wish there was a way to filter out some crap courses. It’s a very good concept, Mario Maker – though more could have been done with it; primarily the ability to ‘fill in’ parts of a level with water. Or, choose what music you want to hear when. It’s no biggie, but it’d be neat to hear the different music tracks when playing through different level types. And speaking of Mario Maker, the wii u, etc – farewell, miiverse!! I’ve never really used you, but I enjoyed seeing the drawings, as well as the feedback on my levels that I’ve designed. So to anyone who has played my through my levels and contributed feedback and/or art via miiverse – thank you. My goal with the game was to create ‘faithful’ Mario levels while throwing in a few new elements here and there, primarily in regards to the tools available, as opposed to types of levels.  

I have decent backlog of my some 3Ds and PS4 games. The next games I’d like to get are: Fire Emblem Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, Mario Kart 7, New Mario 2 and Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete Edition. I’d also like to add Shadow of War, though the ‘complete’ version. Oh, and there’s the new Secret of Mana.

So that’s pretty much all I have to say….. Or can think of.

I owed an update. I could have done a few blog posts here and there, but, as I said – life!

Oh yes, and I’m working on a book on top of all that I mentioned.  

November 7, 2017

New Editions of "Fantastic Beasts" Published Today

I owe you a general update, but first up, is the info about the new illustrated editions of Fantastic Beasts.

The newly illustrated edition is now available in both hardback, and a special edition (hardback with slipcase).

“This glorious new edition of Newt Scamander's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (considered a classic throughout the wizarding world) features an extraordinary array of magical creatures, from Acromantula to Yeti via ten different breeds of dragon - all beautifully illustrated in full colour by the brilliantly inventive, Greenaway Medal shortlisted Olivia Lomenech Gill.
Famed Magizoologist Newt Scamander's years of adventure and exploration have yielded a work of unparalleled importance, admired by scholars, devoured by young witches and wizards, and even made available to Muggles in the early years of this century. With this dazzling illustrated edition, readers can explore the magical fauna of five continents from the comfort of their own armchairs. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is essential reading at Hogwarts.
This new edition features the fully updated 2017 text - which includes new profiles of six magnificent beasts that inhabit North America and a new foreword by J.K. Rowling, writing as Newt Scamander.”

The description for the deluxe edition adds: “This deluxe edition is a must-have for any Potter fan. It comes with a gorgeous art print in a beautiful slipcase”. 

Here is the cover art and info for the standard edition:


ISBN: 9781408885260
And for the special edition:


ISBN: 9781408890288

As you can see, they look as if they’ll match the illustrated Harry Potter books (both in hardback and special edition formats). As mentioned above, it features new and updated text compared to the original edition. The Tales of Beedle the Bard will also receive a new illustrated edition, as well [in both hardback and special edition formats.] which will arrive next year. Although, nothing yet for Quidditch Through the Ages, though it may be too early to tell at this point. Also, it’s too early to know if Beedle the Bard will have any changes to the text.


Also for next year, is the illustrated edition of Goblet of Fire.

It definitely looks like a great piece of art, much the same way that Jemima Catlin’s illustrated edition of The Hobbit is.