Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Catching up with old friends

I like to think of the books I read in my teens and early twenties as old friends.  They are familiar and reliable; I know what they're going to say on a subject.  I can share their pain, their struggle and eventual triumph.  It's important to look after old friends.  

I became aware that there was going to be another filum of Doon/June/Djoon in the middle of last year.  Oh crikey, I thought, I'd better re-read it so I can pompously pontificate (as is my want) from a position of less ignorance than I'm under right now.  I remember that the Lynch film was a bit like the pop video of the book; that it was well produced etc but due to being less than 14 hours long, failed to capture the nuances of the book.  Re-reading the book, I was right.  Compared to most space opera epics, not much really happens in Dune.  What you do get is a fascinating insight into certain aspects of the his world(s) that Hubert wanted to talk about.  It's good.  It's attention grabbing enough even if it's not as utterly compelling as Abnett.  There's certainly a lot of Dune in the 1984 RT book.  And the Daniverse, for that matter. 


My old Dune and Dune Messiah were the older, green cover types.  I've obviously lent them out at some point, possibly back in another life when I was a Tom.  So I had to buy the new one.  Which is nice.  I'm kinda hoping that I can pick up a copy of Dune Messiah in the same style/imprint.  

For Christmas 1983/84, my mum bought me Magician.  I suspect that she asked in the FLBS what the hot sellers in fantasy were and picked it that way.  I was more than happy that Christmas Day and certainly cannot remember what else I might have got.  The adventures of Pug/Milamber and Thomas/Ashen Shengaur were more immediate and accessible than Tolkien's more Edwardian characters.  Of course I now realise that I possibly have more in common with Aragorn and Bilbo than with Milamber and Thomas, but meh, they were great.  And even the midst of the riftwar was sometimes preferable to the real world.

Decades later I saw the revised edition in Waterstones somewhere and instantly grabbed it.  It sat on the shelf with it's much loved older self for over a decade until, putting Dune away, I picked it up.  Once again, the transformation of the two young boys into their adult selves and the machinations of Macros the Black (is Pug ever going to find out that he is Macros ?  Who knows...) and the clash of Kingdom of the Isles and Tsurani Empire sucked me in like quicksand in Harold Lloyd film.

So that arc pans out with these two books, tying all the loose ends up, restoring Guy the Bastard, making Jimmy the Hand, securing the succession in the Kingdom and generally proving that former foes can be allies etc.  Epic.  All the subsequent books are up there as well, But it's got to be daughter/servant/mistress of the empire next. 

Ok, you're thinking, fair enough, but what brought this on in the first place ?  A couple of blogs I frequent from time to time had mentioned that they were re-reading old favourites in lockdown and making observations/suggestions etc.  I commented on one that I might go back over the Belgariad, as it's a comfortable read which does not demand of it's reader in the same way that LOTR or Dune does, it's a much easier ride. Which it is.

So after Midkemia, it was off to the Alorns and Murgos and poor ol' small kitchen boy Garion being fed to Torak, the Dragon God of the Angraks. The humour is outstanding, the characters are ace, the dun- dun- daaARR ! is there.  I hadn't previously spent quite so long considering the implications of the theological aspects.  Still a lovely journey with old friends.  The Mallorean is up there on the shelf as well, so I'll have to have that out as well soon.

The only 'new' read here.  Once again the ghosts, forlorn, sent on another one way trip.  For what, I ask you ?  I suspect that real answer by now, decades after the great enemy destroyed Tanith, is that they have forgotten how to do anything else.  But again, the nods to the rest of the 40K universe - Gaunt remembering seeing DKK engineers using Hades breaching drills as a cadet etc - make this another ripping yarn from Kent's favourite sleep-thief. 

Which brings me to here.  Having put The Victory (part 1) on the shelf and assured myself that (part 2) is not yet available, my hand strayed those few inches to where my love/hate relationship with Abnett started.  Oh my god what a rollercoaster.  As I write this, the whole lot of them have been captured and the baddies are going to crash the wounded Hinterlight into a local star.  This is still as good as when I first lost a weeks sleep to it decades ago. 

So, rather than a page about airbrush failures, I thought I'd share this with you all.  After a decade or so of nothing more than military histories, revisiting fantasy and sci-fi is great.  There's a bit of 70s stuff in there, L Sprage deCamps, Harry Harrison, Ursula LeGunn, Michael Morcock, Fritz Leiber, Eric Vanlustbader.  So I might try a bit of that next. 


  1. Fabulous! Ive been considering reading Dune, or listening to its Audiobook at work, though the amount of books in the setting has put me off somewhat to fully committing for now, so Ive decided to re read the LOTR books again for the time being while I mull over diving into the Dune Universe.

  2. I did enjoy the original Dune book very much. Any particular recommendations for the later books?

    1. I have chatted about this with Impcommander. Unfortunately, I really cannot remember anything about Dune Messiah and Heretics of Dune except that Duncan Idaho makes a re-appearance. And I'm pretty sure that I never got around to reading the books after that. But maybe it's time to do that. And hopefully, there might be some kool toys or models coming out with the film which might have conversion potential (?)

  3. Did you ever read any David Gemmel? I was thoroughly entranced by his stories and characters as a teen.

    You do have me thinking tho that I need to revisit the Belgariad and Malorean. Been 25-30 years since I read those series.