Book Haul: Windfall Edition

It’s been a while since I did a book haul, mostly because I pick up books here and there and keeping track of them and setting them aside for a single book haul isn’t practical for me. But I’ve recently had two windfalls that brought me a bunch of books all at once: one full series of books was given to me, and I received some unexpected money that I decided to put toward a boxed set of books I’d been eyeing for a long time.

First off, the series:

An elderly man I know through my workplace has been going through his things and selling or donating them so his family doesn’t have to deal with them when he’s gone. I was talking to him a week or two ago, and he asked if I liked reading. Of course I said ‘yes’, and mentioned historical fiction. He came back about an hour later with a box of books– the entire thirteen-book set of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles series (the one the Netflix show The Last Kingdom is based on). Most of the books are hardbacks in great condition, though one is a paperback. It’s a UK edition, so I assume he got it during one of his trips abroad.

It fits perfectly on the lower shelf on the low bookcase in my living room, but Mina doesn’t like that she doesn’t have that little cubby to sit in anymore.

The Saxon Chronicles include:

  • The Last Kingdom
  • The Pale Horseman
  • Lords of the North
  • Sword Song
  • The Burning Land
  • Death of Kings
  • The Pagan Lord
  • The Empty Throne
  • Warriors of the Storm
  • The Flame Bearer
  • War of the Wolf
  • Sword of Kings
  • War Lord

So I guess I’ll be reading this in the coming months. I haven’t read many of Cornwell’s books in general, and I haven’t read one for quite some time. I’m curious to see what I think of these books.

As far as the money windfall goes, I decided to go ahead and order the boxed set of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy from Blackwell’s. The UK publisher, Fourth Estate, has a beautiful edition that I’ve been in love with ever since I saw pictures of it posted by some UK acquaintances I was in a reading group with when The Mirror and the Light first came out in 2020. I could never justify getting the set for myself, though, as I had the US editions of the books already.

That said, I’ve been disappointed with the quality of my copy of The Mirror and the Light since I received it. The paper is terribly thin (I worried I would tear pages just by turning them), and the first twenty pages or so were crooked when the book was bound (to the point where some of them were crunched when I put it away on the shelf).

When I got my unexpected windfall, though, I didn’t need the money for anything else and Blackwell’s had the boxed set on a bit of a sale, so I decided to take the plunge and finally get it and another book I’ve been considering getting, but could only get a physical copy of from a UK supplier, as it had been published in the UK and was only available as an ebook in the US.

They arrived on Saturday, neatly packaged and in excellent condition.

I am thrilled with the quality of these books. The paper is of good weight, the binding appears solid, and each volume has a silk ribbon bookmark. The dust jackets are coated with some sort of material that makes them feel so soft, and they have a nice matte finish to them. The box is solid, too, and the gold imprinting doesn’t look like it will flake off anytime soon. This is an edition that I will be able to read for years and not worry about damaging them by turning pages or putting them on the shelf. I’ll be selling my American edition of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy to the local used bookstore for store credit.

I also picked up a copy of Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims. He was the writer for The Magnus Archives, the horror podcast that I adored from episode one. This is his first book, and I wanted to give it a try because his writing for The Magnus Archives was excellent. He has another book, Family Business, that’s due out this Fall. I don’t normally read horror novels, but I wasn’t going to pass on Sims’s writing.

8 thoughts on “Book Haul: Windfall Edition

  1. The Saxon Chronicles deal with the time around Alfred the Great’s reign, when Vikings had nearly conquered all of England, and the Thomas Cromwell trilogy is about Henry VIII’s reign through the eyes of his councillor, Thomas Cromwell. I don’t know about the Cornwell books, but Mantel’s are brilliant!

  2. Cornwell is one of those authors whose works I keep seeing mentioned but I’ve yet to try. He’s written SO many I haven’t decided yet which series to try first. In fact I think I commended about that last time you mentioned reading something by him. And I’ve been hoping to try Mantel’s work since I started reading your thoughts on it. That boxed set looks great, and glad to hear the quality is much better than what you had. Love when that happens. I ran into that with Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man. The first edition I’d found was an old hardcover with terrible, thin, yellowed paper not well suited for a photography book. Then I found a slightly more recent paperback edition with much better quality with thicker, whiter paper that did a much better job showing the photos. 🙂

  3. I can’t recommend Wolf Hall enough! It’s such a fantastic book! I’m so happy with the quality of my new edition. I’d gotten Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies second-hand, so they were a little worn. And then there was The Mirror and the Light… Photo books can’t be made cheaply and be expected to last at all. They just need the heavier paper. I’m glad you found a higher-quality edition of The Family of Man.

  4. Wow – the Mantel books are gorgeous!! I do need to read the 3rd still, but at this point, I don’t know if I’ll be able to without a re-read of 1 & 2, so the whole idea sounds daunting to me. What an amazing coworker you have — that’s such a lovely set of books. Hope you enjoy!

  5. The guy who gave me the books isn’t a coworker. I just know him because of where I work. He’s a wonderful human. I can understand being reluctant to reread the whole of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy to get the third book, which is about 850 pages on its own. I so love the writing and the story, though, so it’s something I will be revisiting.

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