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Barlowe's Guide to Fantasy: Great Heroes and Bizarre Beings from Imaginative Literature

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Until now, many of the greatest creatures and characters from fantasy and horror have been seen only in the minds of their creators--and their readers. At last these bizarre and beautiful beings have been brought magnificently to life by acclaimed artist Wayne Douglas Barlow, who has often been called the "Audubon of the Otherworld". This book is a sequel to the bestsellin Until now, many of the greatest creatures and characters from fantasy and horror have been seen only in the minds of their creators--and their readers. At last these bizarre and beautiful beings have been brought magnificently to life by acclaimed artist Wayne Douglas Barlow, who has often been called the "Audubon of the Otherworld". This book is a sequel to the bestselling Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials. 50+ four-color illustrations.


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Until now, many of the greatest creatures and characters from fantasy and horror have been seen only in the minds of their creators--and their readers. At last these bizarre and beautiful beings have been brought magnificently to life by acclaimed artist Wayne Douglas Barlow, who has often been called the "Audubon of the Otherworld". This book is a sequel to the bestsellin Until now, many of the greatest creatures and characters from fantasy and horror have been seen only in the minds of their creators--and their readers. At last these bizarre and beautiful beings have been brought magnificently to life by acclaimed artist Wayne Douglas Barlow, who has often been called the "Audubon of the Otherworld". This book is a sequel to the bestselling Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials. 50+ four-color illustrations.

30 review for Barlowe's Guide to Fantasy: Great Heroes and Bizarre Beings from Imaginative Literature

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.T. Katzmann

    Almost as perfect as the first, except when you get a case of . . . While Barlowe does what he sets out to do, he created a book I can't quite love as much as Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials: Great Aliens from Science Fiction Literature. His choice of title is pretty key here: "Great Heroes and Bizarre Beings." In the Guide to Extraterrestrials, each page focused entire on the alien in question. Hell, sometimes you didn;t know whether the species in questions was a bit character or the ba Almost as perfect as the first, except when you get a case of . . . While Barlowe does what he sets out to do, he created a book I can't quite love as much as Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials: Great Aliens from Science Fiction Literature. His choice of title is pretty key here: "Great Heroes and Bizarre Beings." In the Guide to Extraterrestrials, each page focused entire on the alien in question. Hell, sometimes you didn;t know whether the species in questions was a bit character or the backbone of the story. Narrative importance was ignored in favor of "Lookit! Lookit!" Not so much here. Each subject is a representation of its story. The information page may actually spend most of its space explaining the source material before it even details the creature or person. The creatures I know are rendered perfectly. I look at her and instantly hear drunken skeletal Constable Odo screaming in my head. Gug! A Gug! It's one of H.P. Lovecraft's smegging gugs! I have a plush one. And . . . this dude. That's my main complaint. With the GTE, even if you didn;t know the story an alien came from, you could lose yourself examining the bizarre biology it represented. With this volume, it's more . . . Don't get wrong; I love the amazing variety of sources Barlowe uses, from the story of Grendel to Jewish legend (I'm positively biased towards golems, y'know. I did write a mystery about them. Still, the inclusion of heroes make it less enjoyable than Extraterrestrials on a flip-through. Still, it's an amazing piece of work. You can judge your interest for yourself by the table of contents. It ends with Barlowe's wonderful sketches, as always, many of them showing scenes from the life of the painting subjects. Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugs! :Cough: Okay, I'm better now. Last note: I unfortunately cannot keep this in my classroom, as I do Extraterrestrials Yes, BGTE may contain lion-centaur vagina, but few middle schoolers understand the import. There's one or two more humanoid instances of female nudity, in case that affects your intended use.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Rosas

    After reading "Gods Demon" from Wayne Barlowe I just had to see what else he's done, which is how I ended up finding this book. What's great about this guide is that accompanying the beautiful paintings of each creature, character, etc. is a physical description of each, plus a little something about the world they live in, and the books they derive from. On top of everything else this book has introduced me to so many more books now, for that I can't thank Wayne enough. After reading "Gods Demon" from Wayne Barlowe I just had to see what else he's done, which is how I ended up finding this book. What's great about this guide is that accompanying the beautiful paintings of each creature, character, etc. is a physical description of each, plus a little something about the world they live in, and the books they derive from. On top of everything else this book has introduced me to so many more books now, for that I can't thank Wayne enough.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    If you have always wondered what some of the critters in your favorite Fantasy book looked like here is the art book for you. Great reference book, Barlowe does an excellent job rendering these monsters of popular fiction. Recommended

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    As others have noted, it's not quite of a piece with the "Extraterrestrials" book in regards to its choice of subject matter. What's particularly interesting, however, is the sheer breadth of source material - not just the post-Tolkien* Fantasy Epics that have come to define the genre, but also semi-contemporary horror and urban fantasy novels, pulp-era greats, and some surprising choices from a century's worth of children's literature. *noteworthy by his absence, along with his colleague C.S.Lew As others have noted, it's not quite of a piece with the "Extraterrestrials" book in regards to its choice of subject matter. What's particularly interesting, however, is the sheer breadth of source material - not just the post-Tolkien* Fantasy Epics that have come to define the genre, but also semi-contemporary horror and urban fantasy novels, pulp-era greats, and some surprising choices from a century's worth of children's literature. *noteworthy by his absence, along with his colleague C.S.Lewis.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Col

    Great, but not as great as Barlowe's previous guide. Part of this is probably nostalgia speaking, since I only got this book once from a library as a child, but a big part is the selection. There are a lot of really crazy creatures in here that fit Barlowe's skills perfectly, like this: or this: but then you flip a page to this dude: Now, I have nothing against the picture of Bran here. It looks nice. I'm sure he's plenty cool within the context of his story. But the great thing about the Guide to Great, but not as great as Barlowe's previous guide. Part of this is probably nostalgia speaking, since I only got this book once from a library as a child, but a big part is the selection. There are a lot of really crazy creatures in here that fit Barlowe's skills perfectly, like this: or this: but then you flip a page to this dude: Now, I have nothing against the picture of Bran here. It looks nice. I'm sure he's plenty cool within the context of his story. But the great thing about the Guide to Extraterrestrials was that you didn't need to know anything about the stories to appreciate the book. Each page was a new alien with a little bit of info about him. Some were more or less interesting, but I can't say any didn't deserve their spot in the book. Here, two thirds of each writeup is devoted to the world and story of the book each figure is from, with a tiny little bit actually about the being itself. This isn't a fatal flaw: the vast majority of the entries are strange creatures, and most of the human figures have enough fantastical elements to make them worth looking at, like Chuz here: Still, this is a flaw where the previous guide was near flawless. The artwork in general may even be a little better than the previous guide, since there is a wider variety in textures and styles represented. But what I love about Barlowe is not his ability to produce a realistic human figure clothed in finely rendered cloth and leather. What I love him for is his boundless creativity in creature design, that has won him acclaim and imitators worldwide. He clearly loves drawing monsters or he wouldn't have built his entire art career on it, which makes me feel it's a bit of a waste that there's even one human figure in here. But who knows, maybe he really loved these stories and there was nothing better to illustrate in them. Another improvement is the wider range of selection. It's still mostly contemporary fantasy novels from the 70s to 90s, but there are entries from the early 20th century and the late 19th, as well as a few mythological creatures, some horror and scifi novels, plus some classic children's books. The extraterrestrials guide was almost entirely books from the 50s to 70s, and a couple books from the 30s-40s that I suspect got reprints in the former period. I realize that science fiction and especially aliens don't have nearly as long a pedigree as fantastical creatures, but the extraterrestrials could've really used at least Wells' Selenites or something. Like the previous guide, this one is a mix of very famous authors along with some more obscure ones, C.J. Cherryh and Lovecraft being the only authors to have entries in both books. Interestingly, the hulking giant of the genre, Tolkien, is excluded from the selection. The introductions don't say anything about it, but I'd guess that he was seen as a pretty mined out subject for illustration. I made the perhaps ill-advised pledge to try every book featured in the previous guide, but I sure as hell won't be doing that here. That's partly due to my readings trying to complete my previous pledge, but also because I'm biased against the genre. From what I can tell, despite having fewer limitations than science fiction, fantasy novels seem hidebound and slavishly imitative of Tolkien, even 25 years on from the publication of this book. I'm not saying all science fiction books are masterpieces of creativity, but it's a form that's undergone many changes over the years, whereas fantasy is still dominated by conscious imitations or rejections of Tolkien. For a genre that's so much more popular than science fiction, it seems to have produced far fewer masterpieces than its sibling. Still, quite a few titles here sound interesting. Maybe Barlowe can help correct my impression.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    I discovered a few fantasy novels to add to my want to read list in this short yet fun and informative book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    B.

    I love this book and I wish more artists would do this sort of thing. Seriously, I wish Barlowe would do more books...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    One of my sons favorite monster books!

  9. 5 out of 5

    flannery

    Bought this for my 12 year old son! He got a real kick out of it! Hahaha.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Stuart

    50'50 on whether these work. Many of the more monstrous and animalistic images are the strongest. The hero's are not that great. Even accounting for the fact that a lot of fantasy heros are perhaps a little done and cookie cutter, here they are "correct" but many of them feel static and of the ones I'm familiar with, many of the mild asethetic choices in armour, weaponry, accessories, posing and expression all feel a little.. eh? There are sketch-plans towards the end of the book sowing Barlowes 50'50 on whether these work. Many of the more monstrous and animalistic images are the strongest. The hero's are not that great. Even accounting for the fact that a lot of fantasy heros are perhaps a little done and cookie cutter, here they are "correct" but many of them feel static and of the ones I'm familiar with, many of the mild asethetic choices in armour, weaponry, accessories, posing and expression all feel a little.. eh? There are sketch-plans towards the end of the book sowing Barlowes development and nearly all of the sketches are more interesting versions of the human heroes than the final pictures. The faceless monsters seem to be feeling and expressing more than many of the human figures. And the monsters are really good, gradually getting better and better the stranger and more monstrous they are. Strangeness, intensity and otherness seem to set Barlowe free and he can command much greater energy through the raw construction of flesh than through its fine subtleties in face and feature.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This book is fascinating, and it made me write down titles for other books I might want to read, but overall was a disappointment compared to his Guide to Extraterrestrials. The art here often seemed to not mesh with the story summary, and the write-ups were not as interesting as the previous books. The Guide to Extraterrestrials read like a believable exobiology text, giving you an immersive sense of the creatures and worlds it explored, and bringing with it the sense that you might see one of This book is fascinating, and it made me write down titles for other books I might want to read, but overall was a disappointment compared to his Guide to Extraterrestrials. The art here often seemed to not mesh with the story summary, and the write-ups were not as interesting as the previous books. The Guide to Extraterrestrials read like a believable exobiology text, giving you an immersive sense of the creatures and worlds it explored, and bringing with it the sense that you might see one of those creatures at any time. I read that book for fun at least once or twice a year! This book, oddly, felt more like an illustrated book report. Not bad, and the art is still very skilled, but a definite let-down for me compared to the excellence of the first book. Would rate it closer to 2.5 stars; would not re-read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diana Toole

    There is no doubt that Barlowe is a talented artist. My brain just disagreed with some of his renderings. . .

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Pyles

    Not as great as the SF version, because these are more fantasy characters rather than creatures. Some of them listed here were just straight up humans too. Kinda disappointing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    Surprisingly, I found the text of this book as valuable as the paintings, perhaps more so. There is no doubting Barlowe's talent and I have enjoyed some of his other books, like Expedition, greatly. This one however ... I found myself "disagreeing" with a lot of his visualizations. Some of them contained errors that, knowing the source material well, I had trouble getting past. The Gug, for instance, was missing it's characteristic doubled forearms. And Grendel's page depicts some sort of expand Surprisingly, I found the text of this book as valuable as the paintings, perhaps more so. There is no doubting Barlowe's talent and I have enjoyed some of his other books, like Expedition, greatly. This one however ... I found myself "disagreeing" with a lot of his visualizations. Some of them contained errors that, knowing the source material well, I had trouble getting past. The Gug, for instance, was missing it's characteristic doubled forearms. And Grendel's page depicts some sort of expandable dragon-hide glove? Where's that from? Even so, the paintings were wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the griffin, which builds its illustrative veracity on the findings of old beaked dinosaur fossils (protoceratops) that inspired the legend in the first place. So, about the writing. The cool thing about the write-ups for these creatures is that they serve as a pretty cool introduction to a bunch of fantasy worlds, some of which I have never read. I enjoyed that quite a bit and marked half a dozen down for further exploration.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Bennett

    Enjoyed this book. It was full of wonderful illustrations. With each illustration is a bit of a description and from what the picture was drawn from. A lot of these drawing are from books. I ended up going through this book and whatever creature caught my eye, a book was put on my list that I wanted to read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Even better than glimpsing Barlowe's artistic imaginings of some of the most famous fantasy beings created in literature: taking a peek at different fictional worlds and passionately adding to your to-read list. Even better than glimpsing Barlowe's artistic imaginings of some of the most famous fantasy beings created in literature: taking a peek at different fictional worlds and passionately adding to your to-read list.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dereck

    It's a fun book, and whether you're into fantasy books or not, the art and character design is amazing. He really brings characters to life, and he picks up on nuances that many people just run over. It's a fun book, and whether you're into fantasy books or not, the art and character design is amazing. He really brings characters to life, and he picks up on nuances that many people just run over.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adam Vine

    One of my favorite books when I was a kid.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lola Nelinson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Lutz

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lucasthegray

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris Youngblood

  24. 5 out of 5

    Neil Shelley

  25. 5 out of 5

    Riftmann

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Bowman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Davis

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Driscoll

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brad

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Sipila

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