Today I'll be adding a new section to the Fantasy Castle Books website, which will also be tied in to a series of book reviews I'll be posting here. These will be reviews of classic works of literature, and each will feature links to download the book for free in several formats (both here and on the website), including e-Reader, Microsoft Reader, and reformatted standard text files.
I'm doing this for several reasons. One is that I read a lot of classics, but the free ebook files I tend to find on sites like Project Gutenberg or The Online Books Page are either poorly edited or in a generic text format that doesn't allow for such basic e-reader features as bookmarks or annotations, which I use a lot. And while Gutenberg is a fabulous repository of our literary history and culture, their text files often have quirky issues, such as hard return line breaks that don't allow for wrapping smoothly to my iPaq's window, or tabs that push the text too far to the right, and consequently I end up reformatting all their files as I read. Once I've done this I turn them into Reader files so that next time I can read them more comfortably. It occurred to me that I should maybe share these files so that other readers might benefit.
My other motivation for doing this is entirely self-serving, and has to do with my efforts in marketing my own work. One of reasons I've started doing book reviews on this blog is to increase the number of potential keywords readers might search for when they're looking for new books to read. And since my own name isn't well known yet, getting the names of other authors and their works inserted on my site will hopefully bring new readers who might like what they find. Even if they don't buy my book, the added traffic will increase my page rank and make it easier for other readers to find me.
But since I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction, preferring the works that have withstood the test of time, the number of reviews of new books I can offer here is minimal at best. I just don't find most modern authors have the skill in handling character and narrative as do the masters. I can re-read Homer endlessly, but it's all that I can do to get through a Cussler or a Clancy novel even once. After all, entire academic careers are spent on studying the Shakespeare canon, or even just the tragedies. But what modern author could fill even a single semester course? Perhaps Asimov or Orwell, but there again we're getting into classics territory.
I'll continue to do reviews of modern works I read as I see fit, but for the most part I plan to focus on the history of several genres, such as fantasy and science fiction (from the likes of Morris and MacDonald in fantasy, or Verne and Wells in sci-fi), as well as those that fall into the realm of folklore and mythology (such as the tales of Robin Hood and the Arthurian tradition, both of which I have researched extensively, and in the case of King Arthur, even done a public lecture on the subject). My intention is to provide something of a historical retrospective of these genres, with the texts and all the relevant background data provided for your perusal and enjoyment.