Saturday, December 11, 2010

Barfly Post: On Salable Kingdoms

Somehow I ended up at a bar tonight, not drinking, with my wife and a bunch of people I've only met once before or not at all. This wasn't a bad experience - I like these people, even if I don't have much in the way of anything to discuss with them, and the bar has decent fries. It just kind of threw me off my blogging mojo. That and the brandy I had when I got home as a reward for being the designated driver.

So! Growing up one of the first "serious" fantasy books I ever read was Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold!, by Mr. Terry Brooks. The story follows Ben Holiday, a lawyer looking to escape from his life and a slew of bad memories. Enter Meeks, a mysterious man who offers to sell Ben a genuine magic kingdom named Landover. Ben takes him off on his offer, expecting something like a Renaissance fair... and then he meets a great damn dragon, and realizes that he might be in over his head...

The book is a real delight to read, full of humor and genuine emotion. Ben's struggle to become a hero is utterly believable, and the cast of characters are all well-fleshed creations, even though a lot of them are fairly standard fantasy characters (the incompetent wizard, the dragon, the witch, etc). The main villain isn't particularly compelling, but he's scary enough that you won't really mind; and when you get right down to it, the book is less about good versus evil than it is about a good man fighting against the urge to give up.

Now, the image at the top of this post is the cover of the printing I read when I was younger. Note the dog on the left. He is awesome. Note also that there is no indication that this book is part of a series. So imagine my joy when I check to see if the book is still in print and find these:

The Magic Kingdom of Landover Volume 1: Magic Kingdom For Sale SOLD! - The Black Unicorn - Wizard at Large  The Magic Kingdom of Landover Volume 2

Not only is the book still in print, but Landover has spawned a five-book series, available in a fine cheap omnibus format for the discerning consumer. And it even comes in e-book format, so I don't need to worry about finding space for it on my shelf! (If I don't mind reading them on my computer, that is.)

Needless to say, I'll be picking these up as soon as I have room in my reading schedule. Which, given that Prospero Burns is imminent, will probably be next month.

But I can be patient. Hopefully, Landover can too.

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