Besides drinking far too much mead, eating the hearty food that the Kitchen loves making for me such as venison pie and Lifrarpylsa (Icelandic style Haggis), writing in my journals, and chasing that lovely piper lassie (who is far too easy to catch but I’n not complaining), I enjoy reading in the storytellers chair by the Falstaff’s Fireplace in the Pub where I can keep an eye on what is going on.
My first suggestion is The Lord of The Rings. One staffer notes that ‘Like me, most of the staff here have a deep and loving affection for the late Oxfordian Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon studies John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and his written works, a relation which is rumoured by many here to have started when he made use in the Thirties of our library for research and our pub for a good pint of ale while he had long conversations with many of the staff, musicians, and visitors there.’
The Lord of The Rings is definitely a work that I can read from night after night as it is both long enough and interesting enough to stand up to a yearly reading as I’ve done for decades now. And yes, I read The Hobbit first though I think that work is of a far lighter, less engaging nature.
Next up is Robert Holdtock’s Ryhope Wood series which is comprised of Mythago Wood, Lavondyss, The Hollowing, Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn, and the final work he did before his untimely passing, Avillion. There is nothing explicity that is of the darkness and cold, of grey skies and falling snow in the series but it is truly feels like winter reading.
Third up is Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series which is an interesting take on the Authuriam Myth. It’s a popular work around here. Indeed Elizabeth Hand, one of our Winter Queens, said when she ‘got a bit older, I read Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising and was enthralled by the notion of an endless snowstorm.’ Whatever you do not watch the really horrible film that was made off this wonderful series.
Last suggestion is one that Iain Mackenzie made over at Sleeping Hedgehog — the entire run of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror which one staffer once said ‘the strength of the YBFH collections has always been their ability to find the very best in short fiction in the fields of fantasy and horror… I don’t know about you, but I don’t see enough short fiction each year to have a feel for what’s the very best which has been published. Novels I see by the hundreds, single author collections, quite a few, but much of the really interesting short fiction appears in publications, both digital and hardcopy, that one never, ever would be expected to know about unless one was assembling an anthology like this.’
Now I’m off to see what Mrs. Ware and her kitchen staff are cooking up. I hear that they’re making a whole roast lamb over the kitchen fire pit for supper, a form of cooking I wholeheartedly approve of.