Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess and Others


Books Completed: 9
Date Completed: January 7, 2009
Pages: 192
Publication Date: September 30, 2004

Reason for Reading: Graphic Novel Challenge

Illustrated and presented by one of the leading artists in modern fantasy, here are the great songs and folktales of the English, Irish, and Scottish traditions, re-imagined in sequential-art form, in collaboration with some of today's strongest fantasy writers. Here are New York Times bestseller Neil Gaiman with "The False Knight on the Road"; popular mystery author Sharyn McCrumb's version of "Thomas the Rhymer"; acclaimed children's writer Jane Yolen with "King Henry" and "The Great Selchie of Sule Skerrie"; popular novelist Charles de Lint's contemporary reworking of "Twa Corbies"; Bone creator Jeff Smith with "The Galtee Farmer"; Emma Bull's version of "The Black Fox," and much, much more. Introduced by award-winning editor and writer Terri Windling, and finished with full lyrics and discographies of the classic versions of these songs and tales, The Book of Ballads is an event in the worlds of fantasy and graphic storytelling alike.
Luck was with me when I was at the second-hand bookstore on Tuesday! I have tonnes of credit there, but haven't been having much luck finding books that interest me lately. Tuesday, I brought home quite the pile! When I found this book I almost did a happy dance right in the store! Think about it... This book is illustrated by Charles Vess, who is an amazing artists. The stories included in each comic are retelling ballads, which are something that I love! And, then, there are the authors of each comic. They are some of the best fantasy authors out there. Add in the fact that Terri Windling does the introduction, and you have everything that this folk tale fangirl needs! I mean, the book is second-hand, so it is not as nice as it would be if I had bought it new, but it is hardcover and has a beautiful cover! I hope the rest of 2009 is as wonderful reading-wise as this first week has been!

The book includes stories by Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Sharyn McCrumb, Midori Snyder, Lee Smith, Elaine Lee, Delia Sherman, Charles de Lint, Jeff Smith, Charles Vess, and Emma Bull. Charles Vess is the main illustrator. Jane Yolen and Charles de Lint have two stories included. The best thing is that they not only rewrite these ballads, but the actual ballads are also included. I thought that was a great idea! If that is not enough for you, also included is a discography so you can actually find singers that sing these ballads and hear them for yourself! So, yes, I loved this book! It took so many wonderful things that I love and brought them all together! I am so happy that I went to the bookstore because this is a book that I will be holding onto for years to come. I also intend to spend some time looking up some of the music so I can hear it myself.

13 comments:

  1. What did you think of the way most of the ballads were retold? For me that was the weakest part of the book. It's possible I missed something, but most of the retellings felt like they didn't add anything new to the ballad. My best guess at why is length restrictions caused by the format.

    I did like the book, mind, partially for the discograhpy and the inclusion of the original ballads, but I just feel that a lot more could have been done with most of those ballads.

    Also which retelling was your favourite? I'd have to say mine was Twa Corbies, retold by Charles de Lint. It's followed by Emma Bull's retelling and Yolen's selkie myth retelling. Of which I've forgotten both titles. *sigh* Swiss cheese memory, me.

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  2. yeah, there were a few that I didn't really see why there needed to be an author. The lines were taken right from the ballads. It didn't really work for me... I suppose if it was just the re-tellings and not the originals, I wouldn't have liked it as much. Charles de Lint's Twa Corbies was my favourite too! I guess I forgot that in my review. :)

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  3. Sounds good, I might hunt this one down! Thanks, great review.

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  4. It was good! Different...

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  5. Oh yes, since I saw this on Chris's blog I'd been wanting it, and now you've made me remember why I want it! My husband better not see me making more lists up, after all the books I bought in England! and how have you read 11 books already????

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  6. I don't remember Chris reviewing this. It must have been during my mark all as read period... As to how many books I have read... I have had a lot of time on my hands, I guess!

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  7. Yes, this is a fantastic book. Lovely illustrations and richly realized stories. It has a real kinship to the Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke, and not just because of the shared art. I read this a couple of years ago and I really need to pull it out again this year, perhaps during the Once Upon a Time III Challenge.

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  8. Kailana, I gave you an award.

    http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2009/01/butterfly-award.html

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  9. Carl: I figured you had read it before. I was so happy to find it second-hand, it is not my normal second-hand find. :)

    Teddy: I will be over to check that out! Thanks!

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  10. I have no idea why I haven't read this yet! Well, I do, actually...the good old I-have-to-buy-every-book thing :P This sounds worth it, then, even if for the art alone. But I'm sure I'll enjoy the retellings too. And how cool that you found it second hand!

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  11. I was very lucky to find it second-hand. I don't know if I would have bought it new.

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  12. I've had this on my list for awhile now...

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  13. I didn't know I wanted it until I saw it.

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