Mary Beard is the author of the best-selling The Fires of Vesuvius and the National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated Confronting the Classics and SPQR. A popular blogger and television personality, Beard is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. She lives in England.
In her international bestseller SPQR, Mary Beard told the thousand-year story of ancient Rome, from its slightly shabby Iron Age origins to its reign as the undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean. Now, drawing on more than thirty years of teaching and writing about Roman history, Beard turns to the emperors who ruled the Roman Empire, beginning with Julius Caesar (assassinated 44 BCE) and taking us through the nearly three centuries—and some thirty emperors—that separate him from the boy-king Alexander Severus (assassinated 235 CE).
Yet Emperor of Rome is not your typical chronological account of Roman rulers, one emperor after another: the mad Caligula, the monster Nero, the philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Instead, Beard asks different, often larger and more probing questions: What power did emperors actually have? Was the Roman palace really so bloodstained? What kind of jokes did Augustus tell? And for that matter, what really happened, for example, between the emperor Hadrian and his beloved Antinous? Effortlessly combining the epic with the quotidian, Beard tracks the emperor down at home, at the races, on his travels, even on his way to heaven. A sweeping account of the social and political world of the Roman emperors by “the world’s most famous classicist” (Guardian).Categories: Site News, Authors, Store News, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, New Releases, Author of the Month, History
What is Dune?
Dune is a science fiction novel published in 1965 by Frank Herbert. It was well received immediately, winning both the inaugural Nebula and sharing the Hugo in 1966. Dune is often called one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time; it has never gone out of print.
The novel is set in the far, far future when interstellar travel is possible thanks to “melange” or spice, a consumable substance which allows a specialist guild to navigate the complexities of faster-than-light travel. Galactic society is feudal in structure, with large Houses competing for economic dominance, all of whom hope to control the planet Arrakis, the only place in the universe where the spice can be found. The beginning of the Dune saga follows House Atreides as they take over stewardship of the planet only to be dismantled from within by spies planted by rival House Harkonnen. Duke Atreides’ son, Paul, survives the attack and goes “underground,” where he is trained in the ways of the desert by the Fremen people, the original settlers of the planet thousands of years earlier. Paul Atreides grows in power, fulfilling a prophecy thousands of years old that a Messiah who can see and think forwards and backwards through time would unite the galaxy. But first he must defeat Baron Harkonnen and his House and free Arrakis from ecological collapse due to demand for melange.
Herbert’s masterpiece is deeply philosophical, rife with deep thoughts about the nature of power, politics, religion, free will, technology and ecology. Dune has often been credited with bringing explicit ecological concerns to the field of science fiction. A deeply humanistic novel, Dune tries to consider how power shapes individuals and how individuals can shape society, for good or for ill.
Where Should You Start?
With the first book of course! Herbert’s universe is complex and somewhat daunting at first, but he lays out everything you need to know in the first few hundred pages of the first book. Armed with that knowledge you are ready to take on the rest of the action packed second half of the novel and the rest of the series.
After Dune, What’s Next?
Herbert took years and years to devise the sequels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, and the time and care he put into them show. Some folks argue all you need is the first Dune, but we think books 2 and 3 have their delights. Dune Messiah and Children of Dune should be read together, one after the other, not only because that’s the order they were published in, but because they were conceived as tightly bound, one plot flowing into the next. Dune Messiah follows Paul Atreides, the Muad'Dib, as the Emperor of the galaxy, but the remnants of House Harkonnen and new enemies conspire to remove him from power. Paul is tormented by foreknowledge: that he must do despicable things to set humanity on a millenia-spanning course with distant utopia as the goal. Dune Messiah is shorter than Dune, but more focused, with less worldbuilding and more intrigue and action. Children of Dune is longer, but not quite as lengthy as Dune. In it, Paul’s children have come of age and the religion around the Muad'Dib has coarsened and veered from the path Paul worked so hard to put humanity on; the utopia promised will never come to pass because Paul refused to make the necessary sacrifice. Leto, his son, has the same foreknowledge as Paul but does not shy away from what must be done. With Children of Dune’s denouement and end, the trilogy is complete, and the story can be closed.
Aren’t there more Books in the Series?
Yes, the fourth book is God Emperor of Dune, set 3,500 years after Children of Dune, with Leto still living as Emperor. This novel, published five years after the previous one, is a bridge between what Herbert envisioned as two trilogies: the first Dune trilogy, then a second, comprising Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune, and Dune 7, which was left unfinished after Herbert passed away in 1986. Dune 7 was completed by his son, Brian Herbert, and his collaborator Kevin J. Anderson as two books, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune. While the reception to these last two was decidedly mixed, completionists may want to delve in just to see how Frank Herbert saw the series ending.
There are quite a few adaptations of the books, despite their legendary status as impenetrable or difficult. First is David Lynch's 1984 version known simply as Dune. Critically reviled and disowned by its director, the 1984 version features Kyle MacLachlan as Paul and a score by the band Toto. Recently, the film was restored and reissued by Arrow Video in 4K UHD.
After that, the Sci-Fi channel did two TV mini-series with the intent of adapting the source material more closely. Frank Herbert's Dune and Frank Herbert's Children of Dune starred Alec Newman as Paul and then James McAvoy as Leto II, Paul's son. While these adaptations were closer to the book, a network TV-sized budget and rudimentary computer graphics held them back from being great.
Famously, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve adapted the novel into two parts: 2021's Dune: Part One and the forthcoming Dune: Part Two, starring Timothée Chalamet as Paul. Critical reception was high and more importantly, it reignited interest in the Dune books.
While the books have never been out of print, they have enjoyed a huge sales boost in the last two years and we hope to bring even more fans onboard! But how to start?Categories: Site News, Staff Pick, Fun, SciFi & Fantasy, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Book Lists, Literature
Peter Wohlleben is one of the world’s most notable foresters and a passionate advocate for tree conservation. Wohlleben lives in Germany, where he manages an ecologically conscious forest and runs an academy for education and advocacy. His books are bestsellers around the world.
In his beloved book The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben revealed astonishing discoveries about the social networks of trees and how they communicate. Now, in The Power of Trees, he turns to their future, with a searing critique of forestry management, tree planting, and the exploitation of old growth forests. As human-caused climate change devastates the planet, forests play a critical role in keeping it habitable. While politicians and business leaders would have us believe that cutting down forests can be offset by mass tree planting, Wohlleben offers a warning: many tree planting campaigns lead to ecological disaster. Not only are these trees more susceptible to disease, flooding, fires, and landslides, we need to understand that forests are more than simply a collection of trees. Instead, they are ecosystems that consist of thousands of species, from animals to fungi and bacteria. The way to save trees, and ourselves? Step aside and let forests—which are naturally better equipped to face environmental challenges—heal themselves. With the warmth and wonder familiar to readers from his previous books, Wohlleben also shares emerging scientific research about how forests shape climates both locally and across continents; that trees adapt to changing environmental conditions through passing knowledge down to their offspring; and how old growth may in fact have the most survival strategies for climate change. At the heart of The Power of Trees lies Wohlleben’s passionate plea: that our survival is dependent on trusting ancient forests, and allowing them to thrive.Categories: Site News, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, New Releases, Author of the Month
Victor LaValle is the author of six previous works of fiction: three novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories. His novels have been included in best-of-the-year lists by The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Nation, and Publishers Weekly, among others. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Book Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Key to Southeast Queens.
Crafted by a modern master of magical suspense, LaValle’s new novel Lone Women blends shimmering prose, an unforgettable cast of adventurers who find horror and sisterhood in a brutal landscape, and a portrait of early-twentieth-century America like you’ve never seen. And at its heart is the gripping story of a woman desperate to bury her past—or redeem it.
Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk opens, people around Adelaide start to disappear. The year is 1915, and Adelaide is in trouble. Her secret sin killed her parents, forcing her to flee California in a hellfire rush and make her way to Montana as a homesteader. Dragging the trunk with her at every stop, she will become one of the “lone women” taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can tame it—except that Adelaide isn’t alone. And the secret she’s tried so desperately to lock away might be the only thing that will help her survive the harsh territory.Categories: Site News, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Author of the Month
2021 marks the 40th anniversary of McNally Robinson Booksellers, as well as the 25th anniversary of our Grant Park store in Winnipeg!
In recognition of this, authors from around the world — all of whom we've had the pleasure of hosting for book launches and signings over the years — graciously reached out to send us virtual greetings and well wishes.
Thanks to all of the authors (and their publicists and publishers) who put those videos together. It warms our hearts to receive such kind words.
Due to the ongoing pandemic we are unable to host a proper anniversary party like we originally hoped, however instead we are celebrating the weekend of October 15-17, 2021 with special discounts and contests for customers! For all of the details on what we have planned, please see this page.
The anniversary discounts and contests are available in-store and online, so you may partake from wherever you are! Just make sure you visit us or submit your orders October 15-17 to receive the special discount and for a chance to win one of the prize packages.
A big thank you to everyone who has supported us these past 40 years. Like every business we've had our ups and downs over the years, and in particular 2020 was a hard time due to the pandemic, but it never ceases to amaze us how much passion for literature exists in our cities and across the Prairies, and how many of those passionate individuals come to us for all their bookish needs. Thank you for reading with us, and we hope to be your booksellers for at least another 40 years!Categories: Site News, Store News, Saskatoon, Winnipeg
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