Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Father of Modern Fantasy that Inspired Tolkien
(And a Chance to Win a Free Book!)

“The Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme. They owe more to William Morris and his Huns and Romans, as in The House of the Wolfings or The Roots of the Mountains.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

I've written before on this blog about William Morris, and how the industrial revolution inspired the original fantasy game, and I pointed you (at the bottom of that post) toward a couple of online editions of his books. One of the books I didn't mention at the time was The House of the Wolfings. And now's the perfect time for me to do just that.

Warriors, dwarves, gods, epic battles, magic armor, and a ring. If this all sounds a familiar, it’s for good reason. In The House of the Wolfings, the first of the author’s many great fantastic romances, William Morris weaves the traditional with the supernatural, and establishes a precursor to the modern epic fantasy genre. Based on a translation of an old Norse saga, Morris reconstructs a portrait of the lives of the Germanic Gothic Tribes galvanized into action againts the attacks of imperial Rome. Thiodolf, the leader of the Wolfings, is one of two men chosen as War-Dukes to lead the tribes against their enemies. Thiodolf may be supported by his lover the Wood-Sun and their daughter the Hall-Sun (both of whom are related to the gods), but he also possesses a dwarf-made mail-shirt that, unbeknownst to him, bears a curse.

Based on two different editions of the book (both over 100 years old), I've taken the text (which resides in the public domain) and put together an edition of the book perfect for the gamer's bookshelf (and at a better price than almost any other current print edition I've seen around).

Well, William over at Ramblings of a Great Khan is doing a Roman-themed adventure design contest. And given the theme of the contest, and the subject of Morris's book, it seemed like the perfect prize for me to donate to the cause (in addition to all the other cool prizes William already has lined up, like PDF copies of the 43 AD RPG, roman numeral dice, and custom illustrations courtesy of his wife). But you've got to hurry, because the contest deadline is the end of this month.

Some free eCopies of the book can be found at these locations:
- an audio version at Archive.org
- the 1890 Roberts Brothers edition (various formats)
- text version of the 1910 1904 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition

No comments:

Post a Comment