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New Treasures: The Birthgrave Trilogy by Tanith Lee

Monday, February 1st, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Birthgrave-small Shadowfire-small Hunting the White Witch-small

Tanith Lee passed away on May 24 of last year, and her loss was a major blow to fantasy readers around the world — especially fans of heroic fantasy. In the fast-paced world of modern publishing, the death of an author frequently means the death of their backlist as well, since without new books being released to drum up interest, older titles can quickly be forgotten.

So I was extremely pleased to see DAW, Lee’s long-time US publisher, re-release her first fantasy novel The Birthgrave in a handsome new edition last June, followed by Shadowfire, the second title in the trilogy, last September. The final volume, Hunting the White Witch, arrives on bookshelves tomorrow, completing the trilogy.

The Birthgrave (452 pages, $7.99 print & digital, June 2, 2015)
Shadowfire (304 pages, $7.99 print & digital, September 1, 2015)
Hunting the White Witch (304 pages, $7.99 print & digital, February 2, 2016)

All three covers are by Bastien Lecouffe Deharme.

[Click on any of the images for bigger versions.]

The Birthgrave follows a nameless protagonist as she seeks to discover who she is. It was rejected by multiple British publishers before Lee approached Donald Wollheim at DAW. Locus called it “An exciting, feverish, obsession-laden sword and sorcery epic, unlike anything then current — or, arguably, since.”

The novel was nominated for the 1975 Nebula Award, and its success in America allowed Tanith Lee to become a full time writer, and abandon “stupid and soul-killing jobs.”

The Birthgrave George Barr-small Vazkor, Son of Vazkor-small Quest for the White Witch-small

The books were originally published in the mid-70s, the last two with different titles. Here’s the original publication details:

The Birthgrave, DAW Book #154 (408 pages, $1.50, June 1975) — cover by George Barr
Vazkor, Son of Vazkor, DAW Book #272 (220 pages, $1.95, January 1978) — cover by Gino D’Achille
Quest for the White Witch, DAW Book #276 (317 pages, $1.95, February 1978) — cover by Gino D’Achille

Interestingly, DAW has maintained their original book numbers for all three of the new editions. I think that’s neat.

In the early 80s (1981-83), DAW re-released all three books with new covers by Ken Kelly. Here they are.

The Birthgrave Ken Kelly-small Vazkor, Son of Vazkor Ken Kelly-small Quest for the White Witch Ken Kelly-small

Our previous coverage of Tanith Lee includes:

The Novels of Tanith Lee: The Wars of Vis by John O’Neill
The Novels of Tanith Lee: Tales From the Flat Earth by John O’Neill
The Novels of Tanith Lee: The Secret Books of Paradys by John O’Neill
The Novels of Tanith Lee: Days of Grass by John O’Neill
The Collections of Tanith Lee by John O’Neill
The Books of Tanith Lee: Companions on the Road by John O’Neill
Tanith Lee’s Secret Books of Paradys by Matthew David Surridge
Return to The Flat Earth: Reviving a Masterpiece by John R. Fultz
Tanith Lee’s Lionwolf Trilogy by John R. Fultz

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

10 Comments »

  1. Not entirely sure why they changed the titles, but I’m glad they’re back in print. Interestingly, it looks like the Lionwolf books are also finally getting a US release, and I saw a new listing for Night’s Master (the first Flat Earth book), this time from DAW again.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 1, 2016 7:38 pm

  2. The Birthgrave is a book that absolutely blew me away. My only complaint is that Lee indulges in a frenzied bout of overexplicit overexplaining in (literally) the last three pages. But that couldn’t blunt the gorgeousness of everything that went before.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - February 1, 2016 9:56 pm

  3. And I too wonder why they changed the titles…except that maybe Vazkor, Son of Vazkor sounds a bit like a Saturday morning He-Man spinoff…

    Comment by Thomas Parker - February 1, 2016 9:59 pm

  4. > Not entirely sure why they changed the titles, but I’m glad they’re back in print.

    Joe,

    My understanding is that SHADOWFIRE was the original British title… so maybe that was Lee’s preferred title? Dunno. No idea why they changed the title of the third book, though.

    > I saw a new listing for Night’s Master (the first Flat Earth book), this time from DAW again.

    Really? I scampered off to Amazon to check, and all I could find was a digital version (without a cover), being released in August. Is that the one you meant?

    Comment by John ONeill - February 1, 2016 10:28 pm

  5. > And I too wonder why they changed the titles…except that maybe Vazkor, Son of Vazkor
    > sounds a bit like a Saturday morning He-Man spinoff…

    Thomas,

    That’s as good a theory as any!

    Comment by John ONeill - February 1, 2016 10:28 pm

  6. ” Interestingly, it looks like the Lionwolf books are also finally getting a US release, and I saw a new listing for Night’s Master (the first Flat Earth book), this time from DAW again.”

    Hmmm. Not finding any print listing for these. I did see Kindle ebooks on Amazon. I’m hoping DAW will continue to reprint more Lee in Mass Market Paperbacks. I’m loving the new BIRTHGRAVE trilogy editions. Have the old yellow-spined books but bought the new ones for the lovely cover art and larger type. 😀

    Comment by DrFated - February 2, 2016 11:03 am

  7. True — Well, I was checking Kindle listings, not print, since that’s where I do 99% of my reading these days. But I’d be very happy with print rereleases, just on general principles.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 2, 2016 11:32 am

  8. > I’m loving the new BIRTHGRAVE trilogy editions. Have the old yellow-spined books
    > but bought the new ones for the lovely cover art and larger type.

    DrFated,

    I was wondering how Shadowfire balloned from 220 to 304 pages!

    The real mystery is Hunting the White Witch. If the Amazon page counts are right, the new version is 13 pages shorter.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 2, 2016 2:03 pm

  9. John, I like that you always show all the covers. I have to admit that I like the Vallejo art the most. They are stunning.

    Comment by Wild Ape - February 2, 2016 7:43 pm

  10. Ape,

    You mean the Ken Kelly DAW covers? Yeah, I know what you mean. They’ve certainly striking.

    But I have a fondness for the Gino D’Achille art as well… and the new covers by Bastien Lecouffe Deharme are frankly fabulous.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 3, 2016 2:08 pm


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