Sunday, January 12, 2020

Fantasy-themed bookplate inside "Shardik" paperback

This bookplate, replete with unicorns, faeries and elves, appears on the inside front cover of the 1976 Avon paperback edition of Shardik. It shows that the book once belonged to Deborah Frownfelter. I think it's possible⁠ ⁠— likely, even ⁠— that Deborah blacked out the original owner's name and then wrote her own name in silver ink atop the black. In that case, she would have just "inherited" the bookplate. According to Ye Olde Internet, this bookplate was produced by Antioch, one of the biggest names in that niche market. I wrote about another one of their bookplates in October 2018.

Richard Adams' Shardik, published in 1974, was his second novel after his amazing debut, Watership Down. Shardik didn't get nearly as much acclaim as Adams' first novel, and the reviews of the 600-plus page book were decidedly mixed.

Even this 2018 five-star review on Goodreads says the book is tough going: "It’s dense, philosophical, poetic, and sometimes reads like scripture. It took me a long time to get through, putting it down and picking it up again often. But it is also insanely ambitious, successful, and deeply beautiful. It’s a difficult read because it’s pace is almost real-time, but the level of detail in every aspect of it is impressive. It’s epic fantasy that reads like religious history. If you’ve got the inclination to stick with it, it’s rewarding."

Those most common rating on Goodreads is three stars. A 2013 reviewer there wrote: "This was a very thorough novel, though I had trouble keeping pace with it because of some of the absurdly long descriptive paragraphs. Adams is an amazing storyteller and his exploration of the human mind and religious reaction to a prophecied return are commendable. I simply found it difficult to follow along after a while because the paragraphs got so absurdly long sometimes (there was one paragraph that spanned three pages) and often the bigger paragraphs were largely descriptive of the milieu."

One can wonder if Deborah even read or finished the book after annexing the nameplate. An examination of the spine creases and interior pages would seem to indicate that the answer is no.

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