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Old 05-12-2009, 12:48 PM   #41
davem
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Originally Posted by Mithalwen View Post
I havent ordered this yet - I wonder if there is a way of getting an US edition shipped? Or would it have funky spelling...?
You can get it through Amazon UK Marketplace, or from the Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book...urd-and-Gudrun

Mind you - I did read a review of HM's 70th Anniversary Hobbit hardback on Amazon.com complaining that the glued binding was terrible.....

I suspect we're now at the stage of having to buy the 'super-de-luxe' Harper Collins editions for Ł250-350 if we want decent Tolkien hardbacks (not that I'm planning to indulge myself.....). The only modern hardbacks that don't leaving me feeling ripped off are the Folio Society volumes I occasionally treat meself to. I can't help feeling that all publishers are trying to push us towards e-books by churning out the most attrociously produced, over-priced volumes they possibly can. I can't recall the last hardback I saw with a proper sewn binding that wasn't produced by Folio.

S&G, contents-wise though, is amazingly good.
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:05 PM   #42
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I havent ordered this yet - I wonder if there is a way of getting an US edition shipped? Or would it have funky spelling...?
Well, the binding on the U.S. HM edition isn't that great . . . it's not about to fall apart or anything, but neither is it the sturdiest book I've ever owned. Paying for overseas shipping probably wouldn't be worth it unless the HC is truly awful.

No funky spellings, though - fortunately, HM doesn't inflict any 'Americanization' on us, unlike the U.S. publishers of certain other English books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? Oy vey!)
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:14 PM   #43
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And a negative review, citation courtesy of our friends over on TheOneRing.net:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/b...en-review.html

It would seem someone peed in this guy's Cheerios. "Flogging a dead Norse", although somewhat witty in an LOL, internet-chat sense, is quite inane in a critique of a serious work, and his continued reliance on name-dropping Peter Jackson and the fans of the movie is rather missing the point. Everyone knows the fans of the movie can't read.
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Old 05-13-2009, 02:42 AM   #44
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Shield

That is a quite outrageously irrelevant review by this Sanderson guy. No critical worth whatsoever.

Shippey's review was highly enjoyable to read; a man who knows and enjoys the subject, so clearly he can tell the reader a little something.
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:23 AM   #45
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There's already been a fair bit of discussion of these reviews on the thread which announced the publication of S & G: Oh My Goodness Me!!!. You might want to check it out.
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:25 AM   #46
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That Shippey review is brilliant. In fact, I think I'm in love.
Two highlights:
Quote:
Where Norse clashes, English tends to patter
Oh yes.
And:
Quote:
But if you need everything spelt out, Eddic poetry is not for you, and nor is Icelandic saga: read Trollope instead. You must listen also for slight but significant changes in repeated wording, sometimes made more significant in meaning by the slightness of the verbal change.
yes, yes, yes. Not terribly fair on Trollope: 'watch Peter Jackson instead' might have been more appropriate...

Meanwhile, my computer is refusing to load the Telegraph review. Judging by what you guys have said about it, my computer clearly has taste...
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:27 AM   #47
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Given these comments about the poor binding of the hardcover, I'm thinking of waiting for the paperback, although I am very interested in reading this.

Anyone have any info on when the paperback might be out?
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:43 AM   #48
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Ok, I've just read the Telegraph review. How embarrassing. ...."based on the Norse saga, the Elder Edda". About as well-informed as saying "based on the epic poem, Oliver Twist."

Anyway, back to the much more interesting Shippey review.
Quote:
Why should Gudrún wish to protect the brothers who murdered her husband? Is that just because kinship is stronger than love?
This is a very interesting point and, IMO, the answer is yes. The vengeful sister is a recurring theme in early North Europe, and brother/sister links in royal families were very strong - look at the Picts, and at Arthur's ties to his sister's sons, Gawain and co....

And this:
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Once they have been captured, why does Gunnar refuse to speak until he has seen his brother Högni’s heart
Shippey answers this himself.
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a touchstone for the true heroic temper: proud, mean, contemptuous, ending in silence.
This is spot on, and Tolkien got it....Jackson didn't, with all his silly angsty stuff around Aragorn in the films. In heroic epic, less is more, emotions-wise. It was THE huge flaw of the films.
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:03 PM   #49
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Not terribly fair on Trollope: 'watch Peter Jackson instead' might have been more appropriate...
Depends if he means Anthony or Joanna.... if Anthony I will growl and it is an odd choice since he is another author, like Tolkien, whom the literati like to sneer at...
*retreats imagining a face off between Dr Theophilus Grantly and Gandalf...*
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Old 05-13-2009, 01:20 PM   #50
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I am not understanding the issue people are having with Sanderson's critique. Compared to Shippey's it is pretty juvenile, but they are writing to two different audiences.

Shippey is a leading Tolkien authority and is an expert in this field, naturally you expect not only a good, but honest, review of the book. However brilliant of a review he writes, it is for a specialized and smaller audience. It's for people who seriously want to engage and hold a scholarly conversation about the book. I don't know who this Sanderson guy is, but he is writing for a national newspaper, a different and larger targetted audience. To compare the two and discount one as being completely irrelevant is something I don't understand.

Sanderson mentions Jackson twice, he does not "continually" drop Jackson's name. He brings up film's success in the beginning and at the end makes a statement that refers to the Jackson 'fan franchise' probably going to be confused by the two stories. I don't like his tone in the first paragraph, but overall his review does bring up a poignant point.

The movies targetted a larger, more general audience, and film fans will most likely not find it interesting, because The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun is for a specialized audience, not like the Lord of the Rings (book or film) which attracted a wide, diverse fanbase. Whether his assumption that if the films were not successful this book would not have the hype around it, is accurate or not, I really don't know. However, the point is worth considering, because of the burst in published works by Tolkien (or books about Tolkien/LOTR) has grown since the success of the movies.

So, you do wonder whether this is a marketing ploy that is attempting to capitalize on the film's fan base - Tolkien is a contemporary popular author, and has remained one since the popularity of LOTR. What I took from Sanderson's review is you can't overlook the burst in getting "everything Tolkien" since the movies, and the attempt to capitalize on his sustained popularity. Plus, his opinion that the general film fan base will not be interested in this book.

That might not be true, and it might not really seem necessary to say, but the review shouldn't be immediately discounted because you don't agree with the review, or it's not at the level of Shippey. What are you going to expect from a publication in a national newspaper? I have seen just as many reviews giving positive reviews on books that make me wonder if the reviewer was the author's spouse! However, that doesn't mean these should be discounted as simply being popular hogwash not worth the time of serious "intellectuals."
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Old 05-13-2009, 01:49 PM   #51
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The books were enduringly popular before the films came out - LOTR was voted book of the century in the UK before and The Hobbit is one of the booksellers old faithfuls....

Yes the films probably did bring new readers - I seldom go to the cinema these days (logistical nightmare)and I can't be the only person who coughed up the cash for the love of Tolkien rather than an appreciation of the works of Peter Jackson. No one ever seems to consider mind that the films may have benefitted from a strong pre-existing Tolkien fanbase....

I am glad if the films meant that old books were reissued and new ones published but the films aren't the reason I buy them - I waited a couple of decades to get my mitts on the Road goes ever on and to complete my HoME.

Tolkien bashing is terribly fashionable amongst the British Intelligentsia and they love to use the films as another stick to bash him with. Tolkien never expected everyone to like his work and nor do I, but when critics make basic errors of fact and gear their review to an irresistible pun you do have to suspect lazy journalism rather than objective reviewing. One of the reviewers of CoH said that Thingol was the silliest name in all Tolkien thereby proving just how little he must have read
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Old 05-13-2009, 02:15 PM   #52
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Quote:
but he is writing for a national newspaper
Shippey is writing for the Times which is also a national newspaper.
I've no problem with a reviewer saying the book's mass-market targeting might be misguided given rather scholarly niche of the subject matter. However, when he starts trying to give a literary response to the poetry the it becomes rather painful:
Quote:
Thanks to the rhythm you can hear the approaching horses.
I've seen better from 14-year-olds.
And then...
Quote:
It is some kind of achievement to bulk up the equivalent of 500 Twitter messages to 377 pages but there is no disguising the fact that everyone involved is simply flogging a dead Norse.
What the hell has Twitter got to do with anything?
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Old 05-13-2009, 02:31 PM   #53
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No one ever seems to consider mind that the films may have benefitted from a strong pre-existing Tolkien fanbase....
-Mithalwen
I have and I do realize that Hollywood, long before Jackson, had intentions to cash-in on Tolkien's success.

But my point about Sanderson's review is exactly what you bring up:
Quote:
I am glad if the films meant that old books were reissued and new ones published but the films aren't the reason I buy them - I waited a couple of decades to get my mitts on the Road goes ever on and to complete my HoME.
That is also a fact we have to realize, the movies were extremely successful and Sanderson basically argues that if the movies were not successful, contributing to the sustaining (and arguably increase) of Tolkien's popularity, would this book have come out now? Maybe he is wrong, but it is not an entirely unfounded, or insignificant opinion.

Beyond assuming the film fanbase would be left confused by the book, he doesn't use the movies to bash the books. That make the review at least worthy of conversation and debate, and that is why I didn't understand why it has been easily discounted.

It can't be held up to the level of Shippey, because this is Shippey's area of expertise and he always gives worthy, honest reviews, as he did for the movies. It is a superficial review, but what can one expect when you write a review for a newspaper. Ink costs money, and you are expected to state your point and move on, there is no luxury to provide an in-depth thoughtful review.

What Sanderson brought up was a reasonable question and logical opinion that the movie fan base will probably not like the book - because it is not like LOTR and it could be confusing. He comes off sounding condescending in the first paragraph, but he gave his review and brought up some things I thought were worthy to mention. And he did not even have to revert to making "Turin" jabs.

Edit:

Quote:
Shippey is writing for the Times which is also a national newspaper.
-Lalaith
But the Times has a different readership and when Tom Shippey is asked to review something about Tolkien, you expect exactly what he gave - there is no disagreement, he did write a worthy review. I was just trying to understand why the other review was quickly discounted, when I found it brought up some important questions, the delivery ehh, but I did find it relevant.

Quote:
I've seen better from 14-year-olds.
But he was complimenting that part.
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Old 05-13-2009, 02:54 PM   #54
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Most of the later works were issued pre-film (Silmarillion, UT, HoME...). I don't see that this one would not have been issued without the films though maybe with a lot less fuss.

The Telegraph is a broadsheet newspaper and has a huge circulation (and I am a subscriber!) - it should at least get its facts right.... slightly disturbing considering it's main current field of activity...
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Old 05-13-2009, 03:01 PM   #55
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Quote:
The Telegraph is a broadsheet newspaper and has a huge circulation (and I am a subscriber!) - it should at least get its facts right.... slightly disturbing considering it's main current field of activity...
-Mithalwen
It's probably better than the Record Courier or Kent Stater that are my primary options out here. Maybe that's why I see the points with Sanderson, it looks juvenile compared to Shippey, but compared to the Courier it is a stroke of literary genius.
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Old 05-13-2009, 03:11 PM   #56
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The Telegraph is the biggest selling "quality paper" with an average daily circulation of over 840,000 - ok some of them probably get it mainly for the crossword, Matt, and the sport coverage, but it is big enough for some accuracy to be expected.
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Old 05-13-2009, 03:14 PM   #57
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Not many reviews of S&G worth reading so far. Certainly, John Garth's http://entertainment.timesonline.co....cle6193162.ece is very good & Christopher Tolkien's Q&A is a gift http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009...rd-gudrun-poem.
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:53 PM   #58
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I am not understanding the issue people are having with Sanderson's critique. Compared to Shippey's it is pretty juvenile, but they are writing to two different audiences.
For whom is Sanderson writing, exactly? Usually book reviews are not so impertinent. The book reviews in my local paper, the Detroit Free Press, are certainly not on par with the New York Times, but they too have a different audience; however, the Free Press' reviews are merely more concise and generic, not jocose and insincere. It would seem to me that Mr. Sanderson is misguided regarding the audience for 'Sigurd'. The book's appeal is certainly not for the average film fan, anymore than a republishing of Tolkien's Beowulf translation would be. In a banal effort to be witty, Sanderson missed the point completely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent2010 View Post
Sanderson mentions Jackson twice, he does not "continually" drop Jackson's name. He brings up film's success in the beginning and at the end makes a statement that refers to the Jackson 'fan franchise' probably going to be confused by the two stories. I don't like his tone in the first paragraph, but overall his review does bring up a poignant point.
Peter Jackson is the first person mentioned in the piece, and receives primary mention in the conclusion of the review. Go back to your Essay Writing 101 class, and you will find that, from a strictly technical standpoint, the piece is about Jackson and not Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien is not even mentioned in the introduction, nor is he mentioned in the conclusion, which is a summation of the writer's points. In any case, Sanderson seems to believe that 'Sigurd' would not have been published if it weren't for the films. He seems to have overlooked The Silmarillion (1978) and the 12 volume HoMe series (1983-1996), both hugely popular and neither requiring cross-pollination from the films to find a wide readership.
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Old 05-14-2009, 04:19 AM   #59
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Silmaril Moderator's note

Two threads on this subject have been merged here to make it easier for all to keep up with the discussion. Enjoy!
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Old 05-15-2009, 08:47 AM   #60
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Well, I've read it and rather enjoyed it. I was surprised initially by how different in tone and effect these lays are from Tolkien's Middle-earth-related lays, the 'Lay of Leithian' and, particularly, the alliterative 'Children of Hurin'. Tolkien's comments on the differences between Old English and Old Norse verse could equally well describe the differences between his lays of Middle-earth and of the old North. 'Sigurd' and 'Gudrun' are far shorter, more terse; they make use of quick, bold strokes and flashes of imagery rather than fully fleshed narrative. Even the individual half-lines are shorter; there's nary a syllable more than is absolutely needed in any of them. This produces a far more markedly rhythmic effect than in Tolkien's more English alliterative verse, but this comes at the cost of a great number of inversions and un-proselike word orderings; there was the occasional sentence that I had to read twice to parse.

I agree with some of the reviewers linked to that the 'Lay of Gudrun' is the better of the two. I think the reasons for this may be related to the stylistic points mentioned above. The action of 'Gudrun' is far more concentrated, limited to just a few episodes, than that of the 'Lay of the Volsungs', and it seems to lend itself to the style of this verse more than the latter. I thought several times as I was reading it that the 'Lay of the Volsungs' might be served better by Tolkien's English-style alliterative verse (the kind used in the alliterative 'Children of Hurin'). This is certainly not to say that I didn't enjoy it; and some episodes (e.g. the death of Sigurd) were very well done. On the other hand, one episode that I thought a little disappointing was the slaying of Fafnir. As a matter of fact, I was a bit surprised at how little a mark Fafnir himself makes upon the poem, considering Tolkien's opinion of him as 'the prince of all dragons'.

The chief element that Tolkien added to the story, the role appointed for Sigurd in the Ragnarok, is a well-placed stroke. It at once lends an overarching purpose to the narrative and explains the sometimes confusing role that Odin plays in it. It also makes the story less of an 'amoral' one (whether that's good or bad is, I suppose, a matter of taste). And, of course, it only strengthens the association between Sigurd and Turin. With other, smaller, changes, Tolkien does a very good job of making sense out of confusing or contradictory points in the sources.

The commentary and explanatory material provided by Christopher Tolkien (and largely drawn from lectures and notes by his father) is wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the appendix on the origin of the legends, which is better than all the other brief treatments of that topic that I've read combined. In the commentary, Christopher Tolkien compares in some detail the stories found in these Lays with those in their sources, the Volsunga Saga, the Edda of Snorri Sturluson, and various poems from the so-called 'Elder Edda'.
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Old 05-16-2009, 03:29 PM   #61
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Well, the binding on the U.S. HM edition isn't that great . . . it's not about to fall apart or anything, but neither is it the sturdiest book I've ever owned. Paying for overseas shipping probably wouldn't be worth it unless the HC is truly awful.

No funky spellings, though - fortunately, HM doesn't inflict any 'Americanization' on us, unlike the U.S. publishers of certain other English books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? Oy vey!)

Thank you ... I have had a look at the volume in the bookshop and wil probably risk the normal hardback unless I can find and amazing deal on the special edition.
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:40 PM   #62
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Oh, the HM isn't remotely a "high-quality" binding; simply that their mass-market bindings have remained essentially unchanged since the 70's, whereas HC (and other UK publishers) have been getting progressively cheaper and shoddier.

My ca. 1973 H-M trilogy after years of use/abuse suffered broken backs, and I had to rehang them; and the size and weight of the 1992 one-volume Alan Lee was too much for the binding to handle and didn't last long at all.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:01 PM   #63
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Oh, I didn't want to pick on HC in particular (though even their 'de-luxe Collector's editions' of Tolkien's works are shoddy - 'quarter binding' is supposed to be either cloth or leather, not paper!). As I've stated, Folio Society editions are uniformly well produced, with sewn bindings, & often at half the price of the HC 'de-luxe'. Luckily their LotR, Hobbit & Silmarillion editions are widely available from dealers - often for less than the cost of the HC hardbacks. If only they produced editions of all Tolkien's works.....

If Folio can produce quality books at not much more than the cost of HC's 'standard' hardbacks & still turn a profit one has to ask why HC can turn out such poorly made volumes.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:55 PM   #64
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William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
'quarter binding' is supposed to be either cloth or leather, not paper!
Wow! Even H-M's massmarkets are cloth fullbound- I have decried Random House's cheapness in going to cloth quarter bindings!

H-M's 'deluxe' LR 50th is pretty nice- not up to Eaton standard, but fully bound in decent if thin leather, nice paper, with signatures sewn the old-fashioned way and hung flatfoot, and gilt edgesl to boot. I understand that there were quality-control problems with early examples (esp. those shipped to Amazon), but those apparently had been worked out by the time I got mine.
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Old 05-17-2009, 02:44 PM   #65
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(Hoping that this thread is not going too far off topic...) I think its about time that publishers bit the bullet & forgot about the usual hardback release followed a year later by a paperback. Go for paperback/ebook/high quality hardback simultaneous release (sorry to bang on about the Folio society but if you look here you can see how a publishing company can produce high quality books at a decent price - between Ł25-Ł50 in most cases, & so much less than the HC 'collector's' editions. Leave the mass market hardback out altogether. http://www.foliosociety.com/pages/crafting-fine-books - ). That way the collectors can go for decent books & the general reader can get hold of the text straight away at an affordable price. If Folio can do it at that price so can HC.
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Old 05-21-2009, 09:03 PM   #66
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Thumbs up My own personal take...

...from the perspective of somebody who is an utter novice when it comes to Norse mythology.

As a general rule I don't enjoy poetry very much (I know, I'm an insufferable cretin) so I have to admit that I was approaching this book more as a learning opportunity. It didn't take long, though, before I really started enjoying myself. There truly is a vigor in these verses that I was not expecting that carried me away to the "unnamed North"...at least for awhile. Once familiar historical places and personages started to be mentioned my historically geared brain started taking over. I do seem to be in something of a minority in having enjoyed the Lay of the Volsungs more than the Lay of Gudrun as I enjoyed the epic sweep of time and characters the first encompassed.

I did notice a number of parallels or at least similarities with the Turin story, particularly with the slaying of Fafnir and the dwarf Andvari's ransom...particularly with some of the earliest versions of the Turin story.

I echo Aiwendil's sentiments about the general all-round awesomeness of the commentaries.
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:14 AM   #67
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
There is an online review on Global Comment, written by David King, a member of the Tolkien Society who may be known to some Barrow-Downers from Oxonmoot. As a scholar of Viking and Anglo-Saxon studies, he is knowledgeable on the subject, and his positive review is based on more than "mere" Tolkien fanship.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:59 PM   #68
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Back to the Binding (never mind the text, feel the leather)!

I have just opened the super deluxe offering of the 'Legend', which comes at Ł100 less than 'The Children of Hurin' super deluxe.

Choice of leathers is superior to 'The Children of Hurin'. The clamshell case looks expensive and the book leather feels better than a top quality Gucci handbag.

This time they've use proper marbled endpapers (they were fake last time) and the text block has rounded corners to match the binding.

The whole thing has the feel of the best of old bindings.

Complaints? The gold stamping could have been cleaned better (residual goldleaf at the edges of lettering), and the clamshell case is a bit tight.

Too damn nice to read so I'm waiting the paperback release too!
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