Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Here, There Be Dragons and The Dangerous Alphabet

My reading seems to have sloooooooowed down at the end of April, but I ended the month with an awesome book that I think everyone should read if you haven't already - Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen. It's book one in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica and there's not much not to like about this series from what I can see. Owen has put together a fantasy lover's dream with this one. Throughout the book there are not only references made to other books and authors that we have come to love, but we actually visit their lands through the Archipelago of Dreams, a world that exists parallel to ours that consists of many islands such as Avalon and Byblos to name a few. The book opens during WWI in London with the murder of a professor who has been protecting a book called The Imaginarium Geographica. The book is an atlas to the Archipelago of Dreams and 3 caretakers have been unknowingly assembled to bear it's burden. Their names are John, Jack and Charles. After being questioned for the murder they meet at 221B Baker Street (recognize that address?) and are suddenly visited by a man named Bert who tells them that they must leave as there are otherworldly beings coming after them who will kill them. They of course don't believe this because they know nothing but the London that they've always lived in....until they see these dark creatures looming towards them. Bert hurries them towards a ship with the head of a dragon. It is one of 7 dragon ships and it is's able to cross between our world and the Archipelago of dreams. Once inside the Archipelago of Dreams, they learn that The Winter King is slowly erasing many of the islands in the Imaginarium Geographica and claiming the shadows of it's residents. He wants to rule over the world and claim his seat as the rightful king. But to do this, he needs the book that John, Jack and Charles are now the caretakers of. I won't say anymore about this book except that it was quite an amazing ride and that the last chapter will blow you out the water! I can't wait to read the next installment of the series. Oh and more thing...Owen also did his own illustrations for the novel which were top notch! One for each chapter and I really like the cover of this one. I loved Orson Scott Card's quote on the back of the book: "Is there anyone who wouldn't enjoy reading Here, There be Dragons? If there is such a person, I haven't met him, and I doubt that I would like him if I did...." Classic :p The second book that read today was the new Neil Gaiman! Yes, the new Neil Gaiman...No, it's not a novel, it's a new picture book illustrated by Grim Grisly called The Dangerous Alphabet and it was great. I don't think that I've seen Grisly's illustrations before, but I loved them. His monster drawings remind me quite a bit of Ralph Steadman's art and I'd consider that a compliment. This was quite a fun little ride. It's the story of a brother and sister and their pet gazelle who sneak away from their father with a treasure map in tow and go on quite the creepy adventure. Along the way they are greeted with all sorts of ghastly apparitions, dead things, soon to be dead things, and strange devices. The story is told in rhyming couplets by Mr. Gaiman with each part of the couplet starting with a letter of the alphabet...though there's no guarantee that they'll always be in order...but for the most part they will be. Whenever I have kids, they'll most certainly get a copy of this book, but they won't be getting my copy ;) We can't be having jelly all over it... Next up is Terri Windling's The Wood Wife!

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