Epic Fantasy Recommendations

Originally posted at Geek Girl Authority

If your reading tastes are anything like my own, you enjoy a meaty, epic fantasy. Like me, you might be wondering what the hell you should read next while you wait (possibly in vain) for the next installment from the Song of Ice and Fire series. To help pass the time, I’m here to recommend a few other epic reads (this is by no means a comprehensive list and I could easily recommend many more!) that might slake your thirst.

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Lost in Translation?

Recently I uploaded a Judging post for one of the most beautiful (dare I say, maybe even the most beautiful?) books I own – my hardcover, full color, illustrated, German edition of The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear. That’s the catch though – it’s printed in the original language, and since I can’t read German, I can never technically read this copy, and must settle for admiring all the brilliant artwork, typography and colors (okay, that’s not even really settling, but you know what I mean.)  Fortunately, I do own a copy that has been translated into English, which I’ve read and enjoyed. I’m grateful that this book has been translated, but this all had me thinking, what am I missing? What is being lost in translation?

Walter Moers is an excellent writer, one of my favorites, and I love his creativity and humor. Despite not knowing the source material, I think his translator, John Brownjohn, has done an excellent job. That being said, there are certainly phrases or feelings that simply don’t make it into the English version. In an interview I found on The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review blog with Brownjohn, he even discusses the difficulty of translating some of Moers’ original phrasing:

Producing English versions of Walter’s made-up names certainly taxes one’s ingenuity. Sometimes I have to diverge completely from the original German. Elsewhere I often draw on the remnants of my classical education and resort to Latinizing bits of them. For instance, the “Living Books” in German became the “Animatomes” in English.

I would hazard a guess that there are less faithfully translated books in existence. Not just books, but poetry, instruction manuals and even signage – I’m sure some of you have seen those books with pictures of signs that are poorly translated into English and say things like “slip carefully” and “no spitting everywhere.”  I myself have tried translating song lyrics with whatever translation service I find quickly online and find myself scratching my head a jumble of words that make no sense to me, despite now being in English.

However, technology is always improving and I’ve recently discovered Smartling, a translation software service that uses a blend of human and computer technology. I think it’s probably impossible to perfectly translate something from one language to another, because every language has its own intricacies and quirks. But with resources like Smartling, it makes all sorts of information more easily accessible to those who speak a language other than the original material.

As a bibliophile, I hope that a lot of care and effort goes into translating any work into another language – there is so much excellent literature in the world and I think that everyone should have the opportunity to read it, regardless of the language they speak (or read, in this case). It saddens me to think of the magic I’d be missing if no one had translated Walter Moers’ work into English. Since joining the book blogging world (as well as Instagram), I’ve met a few bibliophiles from around the world – it would sadden me to think they couldn’t access some of my favorite literature if it hadn’t been translated from English, for example, Jane Austen’s work. Maybe some of Austen’s wit is lost when translating Pride and Prejudice – I’ll never know – but at least translations of her work exist so that others have the chance to discover the brilliant writing that I’ve enjoyed for many years. I don’t even want to think of all the literature I’d miss out on if nothing was ever translated from its original language!

So, fellow bibliofriends, what do you think about translation? Do you read many books that have been translated from their original language? Are there any books you wish you could read that haven’t been translated into your native language?

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Die 13 1/2 Leben des Käpt’n Blaubär

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

I love Walter Moers. If you haven’t heard of him and you love fantasy and strange creatures and books and awesome illustrations, I’d recommend picking up the City of Dreaming Books (which I’ve also featured in a Judging Post). I own all his novels and recently discovered that a full color, hardcover copy of The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear exists (thank you Instagram!) so of course I had to have it! His illustrations are too fantastic to pass up in color! However, this edition is only available in German….so…I bought it anyway! I’m so glad I did because it’s utterly gorgeous and I really wish I could sit down to read it so I could fully absorb everything again in vivid color. Instead, I frequently flip through the pages and gaze longingly at all the fantastic imagery, wishing I’d magically develop the ability to read German. If you’re a big Moers fan, I’d suggest picking this baby up. Personally, I found mine on Amazon, but it was through Book Depository. I’ve noticed that the price has gone up since I purchased it, but here’s the ISBN with a link to Amazon in case you fall in love: 9783813505726.

Do you Auto-Buy Your Favorite Authors?

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We all have our favorite authors – those writers whose work we need to own, or read, all of. I’m moving soon and my blogging has taken a back seat, but I wanted to post a little something anyway. Talking about my favorite authors is easy, and I’d love to hear some of yours!

I have my autobuy group – I will buy any new works of theirs that come out, because I’m sure I’ll love it. I supposed if I read the description and it sounded awful, I wouldn’t buy it, but I haven’t had that happen yet. If they have a larger body of work, it means that I’m usually hunting for any of their work I don’t own, so I can have a complete collection.

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Tanith Lee – in my world, she’s the goddess of fantasy and sci-fi. A lot of her work is out of print, so I often find her novels in used bookstores. She has a very large body of work, but someday I hope I’ll own it all!

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Charles de Lint – he’s excellent at urban fantasy and also has a large body of work that I’m doing my best to own. If you’re into fairies and other characters from folklore living in cities and making human friends (or enemies), check him out!

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George R. R. Martin – we all love A Song of Ice and Fire (or we should!) but I actually want to work on reading more of Martin’s other fantasy works, and his sci-fi stuff too.

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Philippa Gregory – I own all of her Tudor Court and Cousin’s War books so I just need to work on a few smaller series that she has as well as her one-offs. She also has a young adult series that I’d like to check out.

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Walter Moers – Moers has created the fantastic world of Zamonia and at the moment I own all of his works. I’m eagerly awaiting the next City of Dreaming Books sequel and I have my eye on a full-color German edition of Captain Bluebear because his illustrations are fantastic.

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Gregory Maguire – I love his fairytale retellings and while he has other works, those are what I’ve been focusing on so far.

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Michelle Moran – she is my other go-to author for historical fiction. I just recently reviewed an ARC of her latest book, Rebel Queen and I plan on buying a physical copy once it comes out in paperback.

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Paolo Bacigalupi – He needs to write more books in the Shipbreaker universe!

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Christopher Moore – I own all of his novels and I’m eagerly awaiting more. He’s a master of comedy and…I guess you could call it modern fantasy and if you haven’t read any of his work you should check him out.

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Jane Austen – okay, so I realize she’s not going to be releasing any new novels, but I have her original novels and a couple of volumes of her other works. But in addition to just constantly buying new copies of Pride and Prejudice (like the most recent cover-buy featured in this post), I also hunt for books about her work or inspired by her work. I don’t automatically buy anything that’s based on Jane, because frankly, some of it sounds terrible, but it’s always something I’m looking for more of.

So tell me, whose work do you automatically go after? Do we share any favorite authors?

Judging A Book By Its Cover: The City of Dreaming Books

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This is my weekly post where I choose to appreciate a book for its cover art or overall design – to me, a well designed book is like a piece of art. We all judge book covers to some extent. Personally, it’s usually a title/cover combination that pulls me in when I’m browsing in a bookstore. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers (looking at you, Penguin!) wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers is one of my favorite books of all time. The world of Zamonia and specifically the city of Bookholm that Moers has created is utterly fantastic, fun and engrossing. To top it all off, his books are illustrated as well! This is another book where I want to show you each illustration because they’re all fantastic. I am eagerly awaiting the third book in this Bookholm series and if I don’t at least get a release date soon, I may go insane. For those of you interested in finding out more, the paperback ISBN is 9781590201114 (I’ve also purchased this in hardcover since photographing, and yes, I’m keeping both copies!) Just writing this post makes me want to immediately re-read this book.

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