- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Collectors, Deluxe, Expanded, Revised, Reissue edition (October 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0810995867
- ISBN-13: 978-0810995864
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 1 x 12.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 201 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Faeries: Deluxe Collector's Edition Hardcover – October 1, 2010
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About the Author
Alan Lee is an Academy Award–winning movie conceptual designer and illustrator. He is well known for his illustration of Tolkien’s Middle Earth books and The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Jane Yolen has written more than 200 books for children and adults, including the acclaimed The Devil’s Arithmetic.
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Lovers of Celtic culture and lore alike come few and far between, and have therefore built a very small and obscure community all unto itself (yet ironically enough without Celtic (and Norse, which is oftentimes lumped together with Celtic) mythology everything ranging from Disney fairy tales to Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings-INFAMOUS works mind you - probably wouldn’t exist today.). That being said, Froud and Lee’s book would be a welcome and treasured addition to anyone’s library.
Originally released in 1979, Faeries has been rereleased thirty years later in its Deluxe Collector’s Edition form, complete with eloquently written forewords and essays by Jane Yolen and the artists themselves. I’m fortunate enough to have received this deluxe edition as a gift recently. The book took to tackling a topic as vast and varied as mythology itself- and despite the fact that the concept of faerie mythos contradicts complements and blurs from one culture to the next, they have tackled it successfully. As Betty Ballantine puts it in the notes at the beginning of the book, “Nomenclature is difficult in Faerie (faerie can be used to name a being, a place, OR describe either of the two). The same faerie species may have various names according to the region. The denizens of Faerie are so varied that in the past some have been wrongly or carelessly categorized. One species shades into the next, so it is difficult to state precisely where a Bogie ends and a Bogle begins.” Ballantine goes on to elaborate on the complexity of these interlocking and interchangeable technicalities. But despite how complicated and confusing the material may be Froud, Lee, and company have done a marvelous job of organizing a piece of art that is both mesmerizing and comprehensible.
The book has been carefully organized into three sections: the first being legends and lore of faerie which ranges from curious tales from isolated regions, to more universal superstitions, to well known legends like The Isles of the Blessed or Will-o-the-Wisps; the next focusing on the different species of faerie (consider the term faerie to be used much like the word bird or dog, where there are many different types and sub-species of said animal), and the last exploring the flora and particular haunts of the little folk. I applaud the authors for sourcing so many different cultural interpretations- exploring faerie lore from Celtic, Norse, Scandinavian, Anglo, and even some contemporary additions. Each section is rich with artwork that is filled to the brim with vitality, and to the life behind the clever witty and sometimes scary principle of faerie.
Both Brian Froud and Alan Lee have done extensive work in this field. Froud, born in 1947, is an English fantasy illustrator along with his wife, and is well known for his work on such films as Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal. He is also known for his beautifully illustrated explorations in works like Goblins and many other faerie related journals studies and references. Lee, also born in 1947, is an English illustrator and concept artist. He is best known for his conceptual work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and most recently on his work for The Hobbit. Both men are deeply inspired by nature, particularly in Dartmoor.
Unlike many other books covering this field Froud and Lee specifically sought to avoid the generic and tiresomely overused motif of beautifully winged ladies and happily ever afters. Oh no… Froud and Lee honored and upheld the integrity of Celtic lore, embracing the essence of faerie, in which it is just as wild, mysterious, carnal, and sometimes as deadly as it is beautiful, and unforgiving like the earth itself. Faeries are the elements and energy incarnate- they embody everything that is life and death, enchanting and macabre, morose and witty. It is a world that is in constant contradiction with itself- symbolizing the fantastical unpredictability we all experience in life.
This is probably the only illustrated book on faeries that captures the qualities of Celtic folklore properly. As a lover of mythology, particularly Celtic, and as an artist, it is an absolute pleasure to find a book that is imaginative without delving out of the boundaries of the integrity of the topic. My only qualm with Faeries is that it isn’t longer. The only qualm I might find readers experiencing is that the authors created a world so vivid and tangible, realists may be turned off by the sheer novelty of it. While there is nudity in the book- it is not done in a distasteful or inappropriate fashion… It captures, for want of a better word, the nakedness of nature.
For all its secrets, Froud and Lee have shed light onto the mysterious nooks and crannies of our world. Despite the fact that this book is to bursting with information on many different aspects of such an expansive yet unknown field, it is a delightful and comprehensible book for seasoned folklorists, casual onlookers, and curious newcomers alike. This book is worth every penny. “So go softly- where the rewards are enchanting, the dangers are real (Betty Ballantine).”