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on 1 June 2012
Today I have finally received my copy of the new Collins Fungi Guide, a book that was announced a long time ago by Collins. I am always trying to find the best side of any book, but in this case I must say that I am really sorry for my money, although I got a substantial discount.

If I remember right, I first came across this title in 2007. Being impressed by the previously published by Collins fungal guide, authored by Courtecuisse & Duhem, I immediately put down this one on my wish list, being much impressed by the shiny description provided by the publisher. But the time was going on and the guide was put off from year to year. I will remind that the book was first announced as "The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain and Europe". I think that from the last year this subtitle was discretely changed to the more humble "The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain and Ireland". I have also heard a word that the American Amazon started rejecting preorders, and the book is not sold now by them except by third-party sellers. Those facts might have been enough to ring a bell and prevent me from buying it.

Now when I hold it in my hands, I cannot hold my disappointment. I will not comment on any fungal group other than boletes, but I consider boletes to be very good sample for the entire edition.

First of all I will draw reader's attention to the illustrations. Most of these leave the impression that they were painted in a hurry, which is quite possible, especially having in mind that from some point onwards Collins contracted second illustrator besides C. Shields. Nonetheless, the quality of the illustrations is unsatisfactory and far beyond the expectations from such renowned artists.

It is clear for me though, that the bad quality is not only due to artists' mistakes. What I see tells me that there has been bad choice of material to be illustrated in first place, everything talking of rather humble knowledge in the fungal group in question. We all know that colours of the flesh are crucial for the determination of boletes. Therefore a good field guide will show a fruitbody of a bolete together with a section which will show the flesh. Not this guide though. The sections of fruitbodies are scattered throughout the illustrations and I do not find any sense in the way they were chosen. I would expect every species to be illustrated sectioned, but moreover I would expect this in Xerocomus, where this is vital. But only 6 of 15 species of Xerocomus are shown with sectioned fruitbodies, for the rest you have to carefully read the text and try to find this information. I say "try to find", because it is sometimes very misleading. For example, we all know that X. rubellus is characterized by the presence in the flesh of bright red dots in the base of the stipe. For this guide however, the flesh of this species is "deeper yellow towards base". And this is not the only case. If you do not believe me, pay attention to X. bubalinus. Even in the cases when there are illustrations of sectioned fruitbodies, they might be of little help for the recognition of the species, see e. g. Boletus appendiculatus and B. subappendiculatus, where both sections look the same, causing the inexperienced reader to suffer trying to find difference which is not there. Starting from the first page with boletes, I was nearly shattered to see that the illustrations of X. chysenteron and X. chrysonemus are switched. Well, such things happen sometimes, although I find this mistake rather unpleasant. But on the same page, the illustration of X. chrysenteron shows something that very much reminds me a network of the stipe. In fact at first glance I questioned myself if I see Boletus calopus. The same way I felt when looking to the illustration of X. moravicus, which suspiciously reminds Gyroporus cyanescens and has very little in common with the first species. The bad choice of material is also very well seen in Boletus impolitus and B. pinophilus, both of them being rather difficult to recognize.

Going further, I came to another interesting decision. Boletus reticulatus is placed on a separate page, far from its relatives B. edulis, B. pinophilus and B. aereus. Possibly because the illustration is rather similar to the one of B. edulis and would have caused the question "What's the difference".

Browsing through the pages, I stop on Leccinum and especially on L. aurantiacum, L. albostipitatum and L. versipelle, species that have more or less orange cap. The colours of these species according to this guide are however different, pushing much towards brown. There are also other mistakes, for example in the description of X. bubalinus there is a reference to Xerocomus communis, which in this guide is under the name X. engelii. I am wondering whether this is plain mistake or the author didn't know that X. communis and X. engelii are considered synonyms.

I could possibly go further and continue with the examples, but I do not see any point in doing this. I think that I have expressed my conclusion clearly in the title of this post.
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on 28 December 2013
I find this book useful. The illustrations of Mushrooms are an excellent reference source but I do feel that the section on resupinate and jelly fungi appear more clearly identifiable in photographic form rather than from sketch/paintings , so this section of the book disappointed me. ( that said I am fairly new to foraging ,so I may be missing something here ) The text descriptions are excellent and easy to follow. I will use this book in conjunction with others to help me in identifying species.Having an expert on hand during forays is very useful because book illustrations / photos don't always show the specimen you have found at the stage of development shown in a book, that's why text descriptions and expert advice are so important.
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on 2 December 2013
I'd give it only two stars except that means I don;t like it according to this form - I do like some things about it - the amount of info and more species. I bought the hard back version and hoped that the delay of 18 months on the paperback would mean they had corrected some of the mistakes - but no its exactly the same as the hard back. Its such a shame - all those who worked on this have let themselves down - they had a chance to produce one of the best fungi books for decades and they messed it up and continued to produce it 'messed up' ... If it had't got so many mistakes and mixed up genera I would have like it but still felt those involved had missed a great opportunity .....
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on 17 November 2012
As many of the other reviewers have said, this book is a disapointment. The descriptions are too brief, the pictures are too small, the colours of the fungi are sometimes misleading. So as an ID guide it fails in many ways. I understand the need to save space to be able to fit so many species into a single book, but it is not small so why not be a larger book to be a reference at home that is useful? Instead it is rucsack sized book (not pocket) and not as useful as some older less comprehensive books.

I'd recommend not to buy this, but have a look at the other books that are available.
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on 25 August 2012
I never like to say bad things about someone elses work which they have put an immense effort into, but in this case I must answer as I find and this book eagerly awaited has disappointed me enormously. On the good side it is full of extra information especially regarding encrusting fungi, which isn't found illustrated elsewhere. On the bad side is the number of mistakes which will fool the inexperienced and annoy those who already know their species and characteristics. It would appear that the delay in publishing and problems met have caused the publishers to finally give up and rush to publish. The illustrations must be beautiful but the printing of them is very poor - if I was the artist it would have broken my heart had I received this as a finished object ... I hope the publishers take note and set all this things right in the second edition - it would be too much to hope they will have done anything for the paperback edition which unfortunately I have on order and do not want ....
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on 18 March 2014
This was a long awaited publication with very high expectations among those interested in the subject. Given that the publication was delayed a number of times, one would would of thought, for production reasons , unfortunately this book fell short. Authors did not see the pictures being used for their descriptions and in many cases the illustrations are way off. Some genera fair better such as Agaricus and the Ink Caps but genera such as Russula and Boletus are not captured well. One big thing for me is the omission of colour description from the descriptive text, we are supposed to use the illustration for this, which is some cases are plain wrong. Still, I have used the book and found it helpful. This could have been so much better had all parties come together, to produce a more cohesive, solid publication.
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on 8 June 2015
Although I do not consider myself to be fungi expert I was disappointed in this book. I had really looked forward to reading this and was left disappointed. I think by biggest disappointed lay in the illustrations - for a nature based book they were not simply good enough,
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on 24 May 2012
I pre-ordered this item and it has now arrived. As a keen amateur mycologist I was hoping for a comprehensive well illustrated field guide on the lines of the Collins Bird Guide. This was not to be. Instead you have pages of poorly coloured illustrations, 1 fruiting body per species rather than the fruiting bodies at various stages of growth which can be distinctive. No illustration of key features like spores or cell structures. The illustrations are very poor, where they could have been so helpful. Key features and details are not highlighted or illustrated, if they had, this would be a great help in the field. I am unsure whether anyone would be able to make a confident identification (apart from Fly Agaric) of fungi from this book. Don't try and look them up in the index as the font is so tiny you will require your hand lens.

The text is bland and unhelpful with key identification features missing or hidden in the text and the text does not relate to the dreadful illustrations. Unlike the brilliant field guides that have been published over the last 10 years like Paul Waring's UK moths, this guide will only put people off Fungi as a difficult and opaque group.

My copy will be going to the charity shop next week. I expect this dud of a book will soon be appearing in clearance book shops for a fiver. At that price it may be worth having it a shelf filler although it would be of little use otherwise.
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on 8 November 2013
Many serious amateurs have this book in their car (to avoid carrying it around) and refer to it when their fungus isn't in Sterry & Hughes. It has 2400 species, the descriptions are precise, there are useful genus notes and a good index. The type's too small and the narrow margins prevent you reading the inner column with a handlens. There are 14,322 British fungus species and many of them can't be told apart in the field, so you're also told what to look for under your high-power microscope and what corrosive chemicals to try on your specimens.

If you want to identify fungi from pictures, buy Paul Sterry & Barry Hughes "Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools" - it's very good and half the weight.

Safety note: if you need a book to identify a fungus don't eat it.
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on 1 November 2013
A helpful guide to add to a collection but not completely definitive, I've already noticed a few omissions. The text for each entry is well written but the illustrations, which are coloured drawings or paintings, are not the best way to portray the fungi. They lack the clarity of photographs and do not show all parts, so not something a beginner could flick through to find lookalikes with ease. It has to be read with a knowledge of fungi terminology. That said, if you are interested in fungi you need to know your terms and keys anyway. So overall, a valuable addition to a creaking bookshelf!
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