Here, There Be Dragons and The Dangerous Alphabet

My reading seems to have sloooooooowed down at the end of April, but I ended the month with an awesome book that I think everyone should read if you haven’t already – Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen. It’s book one in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica and there’s not much not to like about this series from what I can see.

Owen has put together a fantasy lover’s dream with this one. Throughout the book there are not only references made to other books and authors that we have come to love, but we actually visit their lands through the Archipelago of Dreams, a world that exists parallel to ours that consists of many islands such as Avalon and Byblos to name a few.

The book opens during WWI in London with the murder of a professor who has been protecting a book called The Imaginarium Geographica. The book is an atlas to the Archipelago of Dreams and 3 caretakers have been unknowingly assembled to bear it’s burden. Their names are John, Jack and Charles. After being questioned for the murder they meet at 221B Baker Street (recognize that address?) and are suddenly visited by a man named Bert who tells them that they must leave as there are otherworldly beings coming after them who will kill them. They of course don’t believe this because they know nothing but the London that they’ve always lived in….until they see these dark creatures looming towards them. Bert hurries them towards a ship with the head of a dragon. It is one of 7 dragon ships and it is alive…it’s able to cross between our world and the Archipelago of dreams.

Once inside the Archipelago of Dreams, they learn that The Winter King is slowly erasing many of the islands in the Imaginarium Geographica and claiming the shadows of it’s residents. He wants to rule over the world and claim his seat as the rightful king. But to do this, he needs the book that John, Jack and Charles are now the caretakers of.

I won’t say anymore about this book except that it was quite an amazing ride and that the last chapter will blow you out the water! I can’t wait to read the next installment of the series. Oh and more thing…Owen also did his own illustrations for the novel which were top notch! One for each chapter and I really like the cover of this one. I loved Orson Scott Card’s quote on the back of the book: “Is there anyone who wouldn’t enjoy reading Here, There be Dragons? If there is such a person, I haven’t met him, and I doubt that I would like him if I did….” Classic :p

The second book that read today was the new Neil Gaiman! Yes, the new Neil Gaiman…No, it’s not a novel, it’s a new picture book illustrated by Grim Grisly called The Dangerous Alphabet and it was great. I don’t think that I’ve seen Grisly’s illustrations before, but I loved them. His monster drawings remind me quite a bit of Ralph Steadman’s art and I’d consider that a compliment. This was quite a fun little ride. It’s the story of a brother and sister and their pet gazelle who sneak away from their father with a treasure map in tow and go on quite the creepy adventure. Along the way they are greeted with all sorts of ghastly apparitions, dead things, soon to be dead things, and strange devices. The story is told in rhyming couplets by Mr. Gaiman with each part of the couplet starting with a letter of the alphabet…though there’s no guarantee that they’ll always be in order…but for the most part they will be. Whenever I have kids, they’ll most certainly get a copy of this book, but they won’t be getting my copy πŸ˜‰ We can’t be having jelly all over it…

Next up is Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife!

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17 Responses

  1. So glad you enjoyed! I probably will want to reread this one (maybe?) before heading off for the second book. Part of me is curious to see how it will reread since I’ve read some of those books it references since the original reading. (I didn’t know H.G. Wells before hand. In fact this book inspired me to pick up Wells.) I’m hoping to get to the second book soon. But there are just so many books all yelling read me, read me, read me now. So I don’t know what I’ll end up with.

  2. You know, I had completely forgotten that The Dangerous Alphabet was coming out so soon until I got the Author Tracker e-mail yesterday. I need to include it in my next book order! I’m not familiar with Ralph Steadman but I love Gris Grimly, so I have to check him out now.

    As for Here There Be Dragons, well, the only reason why I’m not adding it to my wishlist is because it’s already there. I’m really looking forward to reading it. And lol! I love that Uncle Orson quote.

  3. Oh, I almost wish I didn’t read this post! Wonderful reviews…too wonderful, in fact! Now I really want to go dig out Here, There Be Dragons! And I’ve got so many other books I “should” be reading. I tell you, I really need to stop committing to so many challenges…I feel like I’m drowning with so little time to read on a whim. And The Dangerous Alphabet…I’m so jealous! Oh, but wouldn’t that make a wonderful present for my children to buy me for Mother’s Day! I’m not familiar with Grim Grisly either (though my husband LOVES Ralph Steadman), but the cover is wonderful!

  4. I am so happy you liked Here There Be Dragons!!! I can promise you that you will love book 2 , Search for the Red Dragon, also !.. and the James said on his blog that he finished the Indigo Dragon !.. so… there you have it!
    His artwork is awsome isn’t it?!! But then He did the Starchild series quite some time ago.. so it seems the art came before the “writing” ! sorta.. kinda.. anyway James seems to do it all and do it well !!

    (its different from what you’ve been reading but I think you will like the Wood Wife!! :o) )

  5. Damn it! Another fabulous sounding book to add to my reading list. πŸ˜‰

    I love the mixture of real world and fiction..of including real life characters in fictional adventures (see looking glass wars!). And its the first in a series..those are the magic words I like to hear!

  6. I am really looking forward to reading Here be Dragons soon and the follow up Search for the Red Dragon. I love it when authors do their own illustrations, my favourite being Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch series πŸ™‚

    I am hoping to read The Wood Wife next month too, I have been looking forward to it for ages…

  7. I had a feeling stopping by here today would be a bad thing for my bank balance. *grin* Here, There Be Dragons is now on my list, which I think has taken on a life of its own.

    My copy of The Dangerous Alphabet arrived yesterday, and I will be blogging about it very soon! Utterly gorgeous isn’t it? I love the illustrations. If/when I have children, this is exactly the sort of book I want them to be reading.

  8. I’ve seen this book and picked it up a handful of times already but I always tell myself maybe next time. With this post I think I shouldn’t visit the bookstore anytime soon because I think I should wait for the paperback release πŸ™‚ I hope that’s soon.

    Ooh, The Dangerous Alphabet. Maybe I should visit the bookstore soon. A new Gaiman out is always a cause for celebration (and the ultimate depletion of what passes for cash in my wallet). Hahaha!

  9. Of course now I want to buy The Dangerous Alphabet for my niece! But I think she’s still a bit young…now I have a gift for her third birthday though!

  10. Becky, This is definitely one that I can see being a reread before reading the second one. It’s one that I want to read already all over again now that I’ve read the ending!! So cool, huh? Isn’t HG Wells great? I’ve always loved him ever since first reading the Time Machine….one of my favorite books…I’m sure it always will be!

    Nymeth, You are going to LOVE love love The Dangerous Alphabet πŸ˜€ Such a fun little book and it’s beautiful. The illustrations are so deliciously creepy. Hope you get it soon! Here, There Be Dragons is just amazing and I can’t push it on people enough! I hope you get to it sometime soon (saying that a lot, huh :p) And “Uncle Orson”, eh? someone’s becoming a fan!! πŸ˜€

    Debi, You should most definitely dig out Here There Be Dragons and read it as soon as possible! πŸ˜‰ You’ll love it. It’s a wonderful book and Annie will love it as well, I’m sure. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel now! And I definitely think that you need to start dropping hints that you want The Dangerous Alphabet for Mothers Day πŸ˜‰ It’s a fantastic little book all around.

    Deslily, I’m going to have to check out the Starchild series. I remember you mentioning that on your blog some time ago. I’m so jealous that you’ve had contact with this guy! Like you said, he really is quite the talent all around. His illustrations are amazing and the writing was just top notch. And I remember in that video that you sent that there’s talk of a movie!! How exciting πŸ™‚

    Mariel, Sorry :/ But to be fair, you’ve already added quite a few to my list :p lol…I’ve heard a lot about The Looking Glass Wars lately and it’s definitely a series I want to check out now. There were a lot of mixed reviews on it at first, but all I’m reading is positive now!

    Rhinoa, You’ll most certainly love this series!! It’s a great one! Ah yes, the Worst Witch…Is it the same as the little movie with Faruza Balk and Tim Curry? I used to love that when I was a kid :p Haven’t read anything from the series though! I’ll have to check it out!

    Quix, Sorry 😦 Glad to see you over here though! I completely understand about wishlists taking on lives of their own. Mine is horrendous at the moment. It’s frightening to even look at it! The Dangerous Alphabet really is gorgeous!! I must have read it 10 times already and I catch something different in the illustrations each time. Such a great little book. I love children’s books when they’re done right!

    Lightheaded, I think it’s out in paperback already! At least Amazon says that it is, so you may have better luck now. It’s really a great read…I thoroughly enjoyed it and I want to tell everyone the ending so bad, but I can’t 😦 But trust me, you HAVE to read this one πŸ˜‰ Completely agree with you on the Gaiman statement!! I’m always at the bookstore the day of the release of one of his books and there’s always a little party…even if I’m the only one in attendance and it is in my head :/

    Eva, She’ll love it!!! And so will you, I promise πŸ™‚ It’s a great little book. I missed you and I was starting to worry about you. I just thought about you the other day at work…glad to see you back!

  11. Here There Be Dragons is yet another book that I bought because it looked so darn cool and I grabbed it the second it came out and it sits unread on my bookshelf. Bad me, especially since I want to buy the sequel! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much.

    I really enjoy Gris’ work but hadn’t decided if I was going to pick up the Gaiman book. Which is laughable because of course I’ll pick it up.

  12. Carl, All I can say about this one is pick it up right now and start reading πŸ™‚ You’ll love it! Seriously…go read it! lol…And yeah, you need to go get the Gaiman book :p It’s a great little book…like an artbook really!

  13. There there be dragons sound like great fun!! I never thought of reading it to be honest but now it has to make the wish list! i know they’ll make a film,i hope it’ll be good.

    The dangerous alphabet is really cool! I’ve looked at it just few days ago, especially ordered by me from the states, I hope we sell loads:)

  14. Valentina, It’s really a great book, I do hope that you read it!! i heard that they’re making a film out of it and I can’t imagine it being bad. I’m so glad that you ordered the Dangerous Alphabet for your bookstore! I’m sure you’ll sell loads…It’s Gaiman after all πŸ™‚

  15. I’m very happy you liked HTBD… and as Deslily said, more are on the way!

    Best,

    James

  16. I have to say I was disappointed with both of these books. Here there be Dragons just felt kind of flat to me. I felt like the concept could have been put to much better use than it was.

    I didn’t get the ending of the Dangerous Alphabet at all. I read a lot of Neil Gaiman and this one just didn’t work for me.

  17. […] was treated towards the end, and felt the language was a bit too old-fashioned for World War I. Chris from Stuff As Dreams are Made On absolutely loved it, though, especially praising Owen’s gorgeous illustrations. Sounds like it’s at least […]

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