Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman

booksmagic.jpgI hadn't read a graphic novel in what seems like ages, so it was really nice to kick of Dewey's Graphic Novel Challenge with Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic. It's one that has been sitting on my shelf now along with a few other graphic novels just waiting to be read...but unfortunately, they always get looked over. But today I wanted a break from normal reading, so I broke this one out and I was so happy with it. The Books of Magic follows Timothy Hunter, a young boy who is skateboarding one day when four men in trench coats approach him. Needless to say, he's a bit suspicious of these men, but they offer something to him that few teenage boys could honest magic trick - they turn his yo-yo into an owl. With that, they ask him if he is interested in becoming a magician; a true magician, not one who deals only in illusions. It is his choice to make, but they feel that he could be one of the world's greatest and most powerful magician's ever. If he chooses magic, he must leave the world he knows and not look back. In order to make this choice, they bring him through the history of magic. Timothy is first taken back in time to the days of the first practicioners of magic. He visits ancient Egypt, Atlantis, he meets Merlin, angels and demons, the Salem witch trials and more. He then spends time traveling around the world in it's current day meeting the modern practioners of magic and slowly learning that their is a price on his head as it leaks out in the magic community just how much power this one boy could hold. After this adventurous volume we follow Timothy into the land of Faerie where he's nearly tricked into slavery at a fairy market, thrown into the clutches of Baba Yaga and meets the beautiful queen Titania. There's also a guest appearance by Dream from The Sandman in this section! And finally, Timothy travels into the future, first in the near future continuing til the end of time where he meets Death from The Sandman. Throughout all of this, he must sort out his feelings of what is magic? What does it cost? And is it worth it to me? The story is wonderfully written by Neil Gaiman. I read all 190 pages of it in one sitting unable to put it down. He writes comics just as well as he does novels and the art was just amazing for the book. The artist for the first book (the past) was John Bolton, the second book (the present) was Scott Hampton, the third (Faerie) was Charles Vess, and the final book (the future) was Paul Johnson. I've seen collaborations between Bolton and Gaiman and Vess and Gaiman before but the other two artists were new to me. Of course I'm extremely partial to Charles Vess' work as he's one of my favorite living artists and that book was just beautiful. It was perfect that he illustrated the section that took place in Faerie and I'm sure it wouldn't have been done any other way. There was also a wonderful introduction by Roger Zelazny at the beginning of the book who is obviously another fan of Gaiman's. I've heard that there are some other books out there that tie into this one...In a very strange coincidence, Debi happened to review one of them today! It's called The Books of Faerie. I'll definitely have to check that one out as I'd like to read more about Tim Hunter's experiences.

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