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The Book of Ballads Hardcover – 26 Nov 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (26 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076531214X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765312143
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 1.9 x 27 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"A cloth of rare delight, rich with the perfume of the forest and its graces."--James Gurney, author of Dinotopia

About the Author

As an illustrator and as a collaborator, Charles Vess has worked with Neil Gaiman, with whom he shared a World Fantasy Award for the "Midsummer Night's Dream" issue of "Sandman"; with Charles de Lint on children's books and illustrated novels; and with Jeff Smith on the Bone prequel "Rose." Vess has won the World Fantasy Award twice. His Ballads series won him the comic-book industry's prestigious Eisner award. He is currently illustrating a special limited edition of George R. R. Martin's bestselling "A Storm of Swords."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Turner VINE VOICE on 19 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a stunning book, the illustrations by Charles Vess are incredible, and the array of authors, from Charles de Lint - a personal favourite - to Jane Yolen and Emma Bull is a mouthwatering feast. The ballads range from The Selkie of Sule Skerrie to Sovay, and any lover to traditional folk and,or fantasy fiction is missing out if they don't have this book to curl up with on a dark winter evening. Log fires and tankards of ale are optional! Why can I only give it 5 stars?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
BEAUTIFUL 17 Dec. 2004
By K. Carroll - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is absolutely gorgeous and I hope Mr. Vess makes more like it. His stunning illustrations and ability to tell a story through pictures weaves a music all alone. Mr. Vess's art coupled with stories inspired by ancient and new ballads and written by some of the greatest storytellers of our time, such as Neil Gaiman and Charles De Lint, makes for a one of a kind book that can be enjoyed on many levels. A great read for anyone who likes Art, music, good writing or needs some more magick on their bookshelf.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great holiday gift book! 17 Nov. 2004
By Robert Pickering - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Along with Kaluta and Wrightson, Charles Vess is one the great fantasy artists of today. If you've seen his work in Gaiman's Stardust or Sandman or the Charles de Lint book covers, then I've sure you'll agree.

If you're not convinced yet, then I challenge you to go to your local book store, sit down and read the first story (also by Gaiman). You'll leave with book in hand!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great graphic novel 25 Nov. 2004
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Fantasy and comic book illustrator Charles Vess (see his work on the early Sandman comic books) provides thirteen illustrative stories written by eleven different highly regarded authors that are based on famous ballads. The tales are cleverly conceived as Mr. Vess and a renowned fantasist take a well known verse and turns it into a delightful illustrated story. The original ballad follows the animated tale for those who seek the complete package. The pictures are in black and white, but that brings a historical feel to the retelling of the ballads; thus this enhances the conversion as color would make it prettier, but subtract from the wonderful total affect. A rather different type of anthology, fans of graphic tales will appreciate this marvelous unique collection that contains wonderful interpretations of famous ballads like the Black Fox and Thomas the Rhymer by a who's who of fantasy.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Purchase Worth your Money and Time 5 April 2009
By R. Royer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Charles Vess's art since I first saw him in Sandman and Stardust, and to be honest this book was not only a delightful display of his talent but also an enjoying book of ballads and tales from yore.

Although is black and white, Charles is able to use this on his favor, from exquisite textures to intricate patterns; he surely knows how to visually please his readers. Also each story ends with the original ballad or tale it was based upon, which was a nice addition in order for the reader to get an idea from where it came from and enjoy this past tradition.

So if you are into Charle Vess (which you should be!!) and also enjoy vivid tales from ballads and fairy folk, this book is definitely worth your money and time!! So go ahead and enjoy!!
Beautiful artwork, mediocre retellings of fantasy themed Ballads 7 May 2013
By Karissa Eckert - Published on
Verified Purchase
I have had this graphic novel on my shelf to read forever. I finally got around to reading it; I originally picked this up because I love Charles Vess's artwork and thought the concept of him illustrating a whole bunch of traditional ballads sounded really awesome. It was a very good read. Some of the ballads were retold in really wonderful ways, others were just excerpts from the original ballads.

This book consists of a series of traditional ballads. The ballads are first told via graphic novel format. Some are retellings and some are pretty much word for word from the original ballads. Then after the graphic retelling, the ballad is printed in its entirety.

A lot of these were just the ballads with pictures without much retelling done by the authors. There were a couple that really stood out though with excellent retellings done by the authors. The Two Corbies by Charles de Lint was a very well done retelling and delivered a fantastic story while still referencing the original ballad. The Black Fox by Emma Bull was also very well done, Bull gave an American twist to this traditional ballad.

Most of the Ballads feature supernatural being like fey or witches. All of the Ballads have fantasy or faerie tale bent to them.

Charles Vess's artwork is as stunning as always. I was a bit disappointed that everything was in black and white, because I love what Vess does with color. Still the drawings were wonderful and did an excellent job of portraying the mood of the story. His artwork ranges from cartoonish (in the Galtee Farmer), to stunningly beautiful (in Tam-Lin and Savoy), and even to disturbingly ugly (in Alison Cross).

I also really enjoyed reading the poems in their original format. I love epic poetry and folklore and these were fun and interesting to read.

Overall an enjoyable read. I was a bit disappointed that so many of the "retellings" were just excerpts of the original ballads/poems. Still there were some excellent retellings in here as well. Charles Vess's illustration was absolutely stunning and really set the mood for the stories. Recommended to those who enjoy fantasy graphic novels or are interested in folklore/fantasy poetry.
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