07 May 2015

4 Companion Volumes for Fans of Series: Reading on Topic

I admit right from the start that I'm kind of cheating because the featured books don't share subject matter but instead share a genre of sorts.

Today's Reading on Topic is compendiums, encyclopedias, and annotated editions of favorite series. It's in these tomes that we discover the inspiration for and deeper history of the stories and worlds that have found a place in our hearts. Turn to such companion volumes to see familiar characters and landscapes in a new light.

Pamela Smith Hill, ed., Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Before Wilder published her famous children's books about her childhood as a pioneer on the High Plains,  she wrote an autobiography. Although never published, it formed the foundation of her later novels. In this volume, Hill supplements the details of Wilder's real-life tales with period photographs, maps, historical research, and more. This is an absolute must for all Little House fans. (South Dakota State Historical Society, 2014, ISBN: 9780984504176)

George R. R. Martin (with Elio M. Garcia Jr. and Linda Antonsson), The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. Fans of the Ice and Fire series are well aware of the complex politics and history of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. This beautifully designed and illustrated companion volume fills us in on the kings, the prominent families, the lands, and the castles of Martin's beloved series. Impress your friends by learning the names of all the major dragons and the history of the most obscure corners of Westeros. (Bantam, 2014, ISBN: 9780553805444)

Jess Nevins, Bill Willingham, and Mark Buckingham, The Fables Encyclopedia. This amply illustrated volume provides fans with all kinds of fascinating background material for the long-running Fables series. Willingham comments on specific characters and panels, and Buckingham reveals the inspiration behind some of his drawings. No matter how many times you've read the trade volumes of this popular comic, the encyclopedia is bound to give you new insight and information. Spoiler alert: You'll want to have read up to issue 121 as well as 1001 Nights of Snowfall before starting. (DC Comics, 2013, ISBN: 97814012439510)

Diana Gabaldon, The Outlandish Companion: Volume One. Newly updated, this companion volume to the first four Outlander books offers hours of escape into Claire and Jamie's dual-time-period world. You'll find synopses of the books, family trees, theories of time travel, and FAQs. I particularly loved the guides to Gaelic vocabulary and pronunciation. Even better, the new edition includes information about the making of the hit TV series based on the books, complete with behind-the-scenes photographs. (Delacorte Press, 2015, ISBN: 9781101887271)

Bonus Reads: Last year I wrote about Elizabeth Peters and Kristen Whitbread's Amelia Peabody's Egypt, which is the companion volume to the fabulously funny historical mystery series starring a world-famous family of archaeologists. Outlander lovers should be on the lookout for Diana Gabaldon's The Outlandish Companion: Volume Two. This volume is scheduled for a fall 2015 release and will cover the remaining books in the series plus the Lord John Grey books.


rhapsodyinbooks 5/7/15, 6:53 AM  

I think companion books are a great idea, especially when they include cultural history or geographical data or other ways to learn more about the background of a book.

bermudaonion 5/7/15, 8:04 AM  

I have a friend who needs The Outlandish Companion!

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/7/15, 9:29 AM  

This is such an interesting post. I have been noticing more companion books lately, and Pioneer Girl has caught my eye.

Unknown 5/7/15, 10:11 AM  

Pioneer Girl is already on my TBR. I'm afraid to tackle the GOT companion, but I love the books.

Bree 5/7/15, 2:32 PM  

woohoo! there is going to be an Outlander book 2? Yippee! #outlanderaddict

OnDBookshelf 5/8/15, 4:49 PM  

I am finally getting my copy of Pioneer Girl that has been on backorder for over 3 months. Can't wait to delve into it.

Tina 5/8/15, 9:54 PM  

Many many years ago my sweet husband bought me a signed copy of the Outlandish Companion. Love it!

Nise' 5/12/15, 10:12 AM  

I've got the Outlandish Companion. Looks like I may need the updated version!

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