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The Sarban Omnibus: Ringstones, The Sound Of His Horn, The Doll Maker Paperback – July 22, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Black Mask (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596545526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596545526
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,724,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Rodriguez on June 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Up until 2008 here were your options. Option 1: Track down one of the tattered Ballantine copies of Sarban's three core works (Ringstones, The Sound of His Horn, and The Doll Maker) at prices that are usually reserved for regular hardback novels (about an average of thirty bucks) and sometimes up to three times that amount. Option 2: Track down one of Tartarus presses absurdly difficult to find and absolutely beautiful hardback editions. Option two is the way to go, but became more difficult almost as soon as the books were released (especially for the edition with "The Sound of His Horn"). So for quite a while one of the 20th century's greatest fantasy writers has been, for all intents and purposes, inaccessible.
Sarban (nom de plume of John William Wall) is a writer that deserves to never be out of print. Thank you Blackmask for ensuring this. What you get here is a sturdy, reliable, TEXTUALLY ACCURATE reproduction of Ballantine's three Sarban paperbacks. I don't know about you, but I'm the kind of reader who likes to engage my books. I write notes on the margin as they come to mind; I underline passages; I dog-ear the corners of particularly memorable pages. I cannot do this with my Tartarus copies (for the love of God, it would be like underlining a passage in a 1st edition Whitman) and my Ballantine copies are too brittle to withstand such treatment. I CAN do this, if I so choose, with the Blackmask edition. I can also leave it untouched and have a copy that will allow me access to great fantasy lit, knowing I will not have to worry about having to cover it in cellophane to make sure it doesn't crumble to dust. This is a GREAT reproduction of three great works of fantasy literature.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Craig Dickson on February 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sarban was a very distinctive and fascinating writer and I was initially pleased to see that these three novels were back in print. However, this new edition from Black Mask is a disaster. The impression it gives is very amateurish. It is riddled with typographical errors to such an extent that it is occasionally difficult to be sure what the author intended. Not only are there a great number of these errors, but some of them are so blindingly obvious that it is clear that nobody proofread the text before it was sent to the printers. For example, the symbol for the British pound [£] is more than once replaced with an ampersand [&] followed by the word "pound;" -- kind of hard to miss, assuming you actually do any proofreading. In addition to this, the typographic design is quite careless. The margins are too small (the page numbers nearly touch the bottom edge of the paper) and the inner margin seems to be no larger than the outer margin; the text disappears into the binding if you do not hold the book spread wide open. I find it hard to believe that anyone with any experience in professional publishing or book design was involved with this shoddy edition. It seems more like the sort of thing you expect when buying some would-be writer's self-published book from iUniverse.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Morales on June 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I decided to take a chance on this book based on the previous reviews, and I'm glad that I did. The closest comparison I can make is to the style and concerns of Arthur Machen, where pagan survivals imply glimpses into other aspects of reality of which we are normally unaware. Ringstones builds up a lovely evocation of such a pagan survival, paradoxically embodied by the children of a country family, only to undermine that reality at the end in what at first seems a disappointing way. On further consideration, however, the twist actually makes the story more interesting. In The Sound of His Horn, a certain psychological pattern that was implicit in Ringstones becomes much more explicit: an interest in relationships that involve absolute domination, whether of an underclass by an overclass, or more especially of women who are subjugated by men. The use of hypothetical future Nazis allows Sarban to pursue this theme in a blatantly fetishistic way that was probably a little shocking when these books first appeared (and actually is unsettling even now). Whether Sarban found such relationships to be titillating or appalling is an interesting question; both at once, would be my guess. The theme reaches a sort of apex in The Doll Maker, which explores the protagonist's perverse thrill at being absolutely controlled by a masterful man. But the story also addresses issues of the ethics and goals of art, and of the cost of not accepting our own mortality.

It's only fair to acknowledge, as a previous reviewer pointed out, that this edition is poorly edited and contains scattered typographical errors. On balance, however, I think Black Mask should be congratulated for making an inexpensive and clearly printed reprint of these works that are otherwise difficult to obtain. (Next time, it would be better still if they would hire a proof-reader!)
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