Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Middle-earth Minstrel now available

According to Amazon, the release date is April 21 (next Wednesday), but the book is available now on the McFarland website. You might still want to (pre)order with Amazon, though, since the price of the book will qualify you for free shipping. Ordering direct from McFarland will cost you $4 more. That’s in the U.S.; I’m not sure which option is better for international collectors.

I got a review copy in yesterday’s mail*, so I’m holding the book in my hands at this very moment. The cover is even nicer than it looked in photographs; it’s got a beautiful glossy finish, and the text and illustrations are sharp. I’m not wild about the spine (poor color contrast between the background and the author and publisher’s colophon), but I suppose I’m being picky. Inside, high-quality 50# alkaline paper in a pale cream color, sharp ink, expert design and layout. Some readers may find the type just a bit on the small side (especially that of the notes and bibliographies). The book is 207 + [viii] pp., but considering the size of the type, this is probably the equivalent to 250 or even 300 pp. from most other publishers.

I also skimmed through the two lists of errata I had sent to Brad Eden during the galley proof stage, and I was very pleased to see that nearly everything I caught was corrected before the book went to print. One typesetting error that was not corrected was my use of the Greek word γνώμη. The galley proof had acute accents over three letters (?!), and it had the second letter as an upsilon instead of a nu. The first letter looked then (and now) more like a Roman wye than the Greek gamma, but it’s close enough. The final book corrects the second letter, but there are still two acute accents (over the omega and the eta). Ah, well, I suppose a few errors will get through no matter what you do.

The only thing I hadn’t seen yet was the index. At a fairly quick look through it, it’s pretty good. I spotted a few oversights, e.g., the entry for Cynewulf misses the reference to him on p. 66, perhaps because the name was misspelled in the galley proof. I pointed it out, and it was corrected in the final book, but maybe not before a draft of the index was laid down. Also, the index has Eärendel [sic] for Eärendil. I’ve noticed a few other idiosyncracies and omissions, but overall, it appears to be a good, serviceable index. One nice feature is that Brad identifies (parenthetically) which entries in the index are music bands — helpful, because there are many.

Having read the book already, I can recommend Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien as a very good collection with much to offer readers with an interest in Tolkien, music (modern as well as medieval), or all of the above. I realize I have a bit of a bias, of course, and I look forward with great anticipation to the comments of disinterested reviewers. But I’m a reviewer myself, and as such, I read a lot of Inklings studies book. I can therefore say honestly that this is one of the good ones. Please share your opinions here in the comments when you’ve had a chance to read it yourselves.

* This is not my contributor copy, but rather a copy sent to me as the editor of Mythprint. When I have identified a suitable candidate to review it, I will be sending this copy out to him or her. If you’d like to volunteer to do the job, drop me a line.


  1. Have the contributor copies gone out? Am looking forward to it. I also have made SK Thoth aware of its availability though he is no longer in the US. I cant say I am entirely satistfied with my own final edit, I will have to see what Brad, and yourself,ended up with.

  2. I haven’t received mine yet, Anthony, so I’m thinking that Brad hasn’t gotten that shipment. Review copies are frequently the first ones out — hence the A in ARC. :)

    I thought your essay was very interesting, by the way. Far off the typical path, but a nice essay to close with because it takes a look at somebody strongly influenced by Tolkien and motivated to follow his sub-creative example (however, through an entirely different expressive medium). But I think readers may have a mixed reaction: some will be (as I was) fascinated by SK Thoth; while others may be thinking, what the heck does this really have to do with my main interest in Tolkien? We’ll see, I suppose.

    And ... SK Thoth has left New York?! Where is he now?

  3. He has been touring/living all over Europe, Africa and other countries, check out his exploits here:
    and Thoths work has always gotten mixed reviews, I think it a live experience of his work--as David Bratman had, illustrates it best --words can only do so much.