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Weekly Shhhout-Out

Roaming librarians file dispatches from the world of information.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Discovering Discworld

Did you ever wish you could visit the world created by a favorite author? Maybe to wander the streets and grab a pint in the local pub or to visit with a favorite character? I recently had the opportunity to do just that! Well, sort of.  I recently went to the North American Discworld Con (or NADWCon. “Con” having nothing to do with the Thieves’ Guild http://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/index.php/Thieves'_Guild but rather being the abbreviation for convention). The NADWCon was a chance to spend a long weekend in a hotel with nearly 1000 others who adore author Terry Pratchett and the Discworld he created as much as I do.


Pratchett is one of my favorite authors because of the sometimes goofy and sometimes sly humor, the sheer variety of characters with distinct personalities, the layered way a reader gains knowledge and insight about the characters and the Discworld itself as they read more and more of the books and the (not-so-subtle at times) satire of our own world that occasionally makes you want to pause in your reading to reflect on the magnitude of the idea that a seemingly silly book is really putting across to you. Discworld books are most generically classified as humorous fantasy but they offer so much more than that simple description can convey. Author Brandon Sanderson wrote a great description of Pratchett’s appeal recently (click here to read it).


Attending a Con of any type really didn’t cross my mind before this opportunity came my way. Mostly because I thought of Trekkies at Star Trek conventions (which were some of the first gatherings of fans for pop culture reasons) or thought only of the CosPlay aspect (i.e., costuming yourself as a character) of Comic Cons in New York or San Diego. The NADWCon had plenty of costumed attendees (more on that later) and die-hard Discworld fans, however it also had a very welcoming feel and plenty of friendly people who made it easy to relax and enjoy the experience. During the Con, I got to present as part of two discussion panels and I attended many others including the Guild of Thieves Good Practice Session (first rule: Always Leave a Receipt) and How to Commit the Perfect Murder (as sponsored by the Assassins Guild). Sir Terry connected with fans through video calls during which audience members could ask questions. My favorite question came from a young girl who asked about “the thing on the shelf” visible (but not clearly identifiable) behind him. (It was a black full-face motorcycle helmet, which drew laughs and cheers from the crowd.) I spent my days going to so many different panels or talking to different people that I usually forgot to eat lunch! 


And the costumes!  There were ladies wearing beautiful hand-crafted Victorian style gowns and men in dapper suits of a bygone era representing the Lords and Ladies of Ankh-Morpork, city watch members in chain mail and bits of armor, dwarves (some taller than you might think), wizards and witches aplenty, Tiffany Aching with her frying pan and some Nac Mac Feegle, the Unseen University Librarian (ook!) and I believe I caught a glimpse of Death once or twice. I didn’t have the extra money to spend for the Gala Banquet but I gathered with others also not attending the banquet to form a slapdash paparazzi horde at the entry doors.


If you want to explore Discworld for yourself, here is a handy guide to help you get startedIt will help you to know that this is not the kind of series you have to read in strict chronological order! The guide shows groupings, each group with its own “starter book.” 


If you have already tackled all of Discworld, here are some other reading suggestions culled from one of the panels at NADWCon:

Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series (start with Heartless; Adult paperback fiction)

Tom Holt’s books, like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages (Adult fiction)

China Mieville’s books (Adult and Young Adult fiction)

P.G. Wodehouse’s books (Adult fiction)

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (Adult fiction and Reading List)

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern (Young Adult)

Going Bovine and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Young Adult)

The Elfish Gene by Mark Barrowcliffe (Biography: reflection on growing up playing Dungeons and Dragons)  

CATEGORIES: Characters , Fantasy , Reading , Tina R. , Books
POSTED: 11:40:00 AM |

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Clash of Kings Over a Game of Thrones

Clash of Kings book cover Game of Thrones book cover

Has the end of the second season of Game of Thrones, based on the book A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, left you with a void like me?  The show is based on his series Song of Fire and Ice.  I've read both A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings and agree that George R. R. Martin is the American Tolkien.  While the story overall would probably be categorized as fantasy it is much more.  The series is set in a medival King Arthur-esqe type landscape of kings, queens, knights, and dragons. It is a realm once united by seven kingdoms that crumbles as various factions vie to be the King or the Queen.  It's an epic tale of love, family, ambition, honor, murder, greed, and sacrifice.  There are characters you love and characters you love to hate. Which makes me think of other fantasy books with kings & queens, and maybe a dragon or two, I've enjoyed over the years which might help while away the time until next season.

Children's Fantasy Series

Prydain Chronicles: Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper to a prophetic pig, sets out on a hazardous mission to save Prydain from the forces of evil.

Chronicles of Narnia: An adventure story about kids who enter the magical world of Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures.

Septimus Heap:  After learning that she is the Princess, Jenna is whisked from her home and carried toward safety by the Extraordinary Wizard, pursued by agents of those who killed her mother ten years earlier.

The Underland Chronicles: When Gregor and his sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving men, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient prophecy.

The Blue Sword: Harry Crewe, a Homelander orphan girl who becomes heir to the Blue Sword that no woman has wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle. (Prequel) The Hero and the Crown.

Young Adult Fantasy Series

Inheritance Cycle: In Aagaesia, a fifteen-year-old boy of unknown lineage called Eragon finds a mysterious stone that weaves his life into an intricate tapestry of destiny, magic, and power, peopled with dragons, elves, and monsters.

Adult Fantasy Series

Lord of the Rings: A hobbit named Frodo Baggins is given a ring of unspeakable evil.  He and his companions, including hobbits, a dwarf, an elf, and a human, go on a quest to destroy the one ring.

Historical Fiction Books & History Databases

If you are looking for historical fiction books with British battles for the throne you can try some of Shakespeare's history plays or books like Philippa Gregory's (author of The Other Boleyn Girl) The Tudor or the Cousins' War series.

If you have a more informational historical bent about kings & queens who vied for the throne you can try our History in Context-World or History Reference Center databases.

If You Like Game of Thrones....

I wanted to find some books I haven't read that are like the Game of Thrones so I used the NoveList Plus database to search for Game of Thrones and then selected Title Read-alikes, Author Read-alikes, and Series Read-alikes.  I found some good suggestions like the Wind Through the Keyhole, Phantom, Robert Jordan, J. Gregory Keyes, the Acacia Trilogy, and the Alchymist's Legacy.

As King Henry IV says in Shakespeare's play Henry IV Part II: "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown."

Henry IV Part II 

Susan M.

CATEGORIES: Fantasy , History , Children's Books , Susan M.
POSTED: 10:44:00 AM |

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three Dragons for the Year of the Dragon

I've always been fond of dragons and always been fond of elegant drawings. With the year of the dragon just beginning, I found three beautiful drawings of dragons to share with you.  Click on the pictures to see them enlarged.  These three are Ottoman Empire dragons from The age of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent by Esin Atil.




To find more information and stories about dragons, click here on dragons.

To find fiction and non-fiction about the Ottoman empire, you can click here on Ottoman Empire.




To find books on how to draw dragons for yourself, particularly for younger readers, click here on drawing dragons.

For more on the year of the dragon and books and stories on dragons and the Chinese zodiac, click on Chinese zodiac.




CATEGORIES: Nell M. , Art , Fantasy , History
POSTED: 12:02:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/6/2007