I have always liked reading fantasy books because they lead me to other worlds with different rules, boundaries and beings; what is impossible in reality becomes the norm in their magical worlds. The unexpected happens, the characters display real human traits and the landscape is carefully crafted with mountains, seas and forests, usually with a medieval feel. I have an obsession for all things medieval, and each time I encounter something medieval, even if it is only vaguely so, I feel compelled to recreate it in my own way so that I can always go back and linger in that atmosphere for a while. I keep a diary with blank pages for recreating the imaginary places or people that I would like to meet again.

Here are three pictures that I copied from three different books: House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers and Peter and Max by Bill Willingham, all of which are curiously not set in a medieval world (except for certain parts of Peter and Max).

Copy of the illustration in the first chapter of House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, illustrated by Tim Stevens.

Copy of the illustration in the first chapter of House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, illustrated by Tim Stevens.

 

Copy of an illustration of Lindworm Castle from The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books written and illustrated by Walter Moers.

Copy of an illustration of Lindworm Castle* from The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books written and illustrated by Walter Moers.

* The quotes in the illustration are:

“A place accursed and forlorn
with walls of books piled high,
its windows stare like sightless eyes
and through them phantoms fly.

Of leather and of paper built,
worm eaten through and through,
the castle known as Shadowhall,
brings every nightmare true.”

– from p. 38

and

“A root can survive without blossoms, but never a blossom without roots.”
– from p. 353

 

Copy of an illustration from Peter and Max by Bill Willingham, illustrated by Steve Leialoha.

Copy of an illustration from Peter and Max by Bill Willingham, illustrated by Steve Leialoha.

My favourite book of these three is Peter and Max probably because it has a bit of that medieval setting and it is about two minstrels, and I love anything that has to do with minstrels. It is a fast-paced re-imagined tale of the Piped Piper. The novel, a spin-off of the Fables comic series, is a story about sibling rivalry and the power of envy. The flashbacks of the main characters, the accompanying illustrations and the references to legends surrounding pipers and other well known fairy tales quickly suck readers into a magnificent world of music and magic that alternate between the medieval and the modern.

Putting aside my love of reading fantasy books, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that I could actually learn to draw from the accompanying illustrations and decorate my diary with them. And since I borrow books from the library and have to return them, these drawings are nice ‘souvenirs.’ If fantasy is your cup of tea, try picking up one of these books.