Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bibliofile: The Face in the Frost

We have a double shot for those who love the Southern Kingdom – specifically, two editions of The Face in the Frost from overseas that we came across recently.

First, 霜の中の顔 was published in Japan by Tor Books in 1987. The cover art, which technically is printed on what we’d consider the rear cover, features a wizardly soul reading from his spell book with fist held high. In a way the scene reminds us of the frontispiece from The Pedant and the Shuffly: we see the interior of the wizard’s abode and all the flimflam scattered throughout. There are at least two cats, what looks like a bored stone sculpture of a troll (Loki comes to mind, for some reason), a metallic device, and a dragon-like creature sticking his head through the stone floor. In short, as often is the case with foreign titles, a scene that isn’t from the book per se but at least conjurers up some of the same atmosphere.

The German edition, Das Gesicht im Eis, was published in 2009 by Edition Phantasia. The artwork comes from Alexander Uhde and the cover appears to show a scene in the haunted forest, with the trees (and spaces between) forming eye sockets and a gaping, toothy grin.

According to Bibliotheka Phantastika.de, “each chapter is enriched by a colorful and enchanting illustrations. Small colored illustrations and decorative initials adorn the pages and the text starts. There is an illustrated dust jacket, also color printed endpapers with atmospheric matching card, decorative sketches and a stable processed slipcase with cloth binding. 250 of the copies were signed by the illustrator. [translation]” The website also features a number of colorful illustrations of well-known scenes from the book, including Prospero sailing in his miniature boat, sensing danger in the root cellar, and stumbling upon a strange scarecrow hanging from a tree. It’s almost jarring to associate such happy, colorful images with the dark ambiance found throughout John’s text, but we always enjoy seeing how contemporary artists interpret John's memorable passages.

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