The Fifty Year Sword

Published by:

ISBN: 978-0-307-90772-1
Edition size: 1,000 signed, unserialized
MSRP: $100.00

Review and Pictures by C. Thomson

A book I have been waiting for since I saw it for sale.  So naturally, the release date just had to be delayed a few weeks.  I will preface this review by saying I have never read MzD's work, although I look forward to the experience after doing my homework.

A lot of effort went into this edition and it is all extremely exciting.  Striving for excellence has its advantages: premium binding, good quality papers, illustrations etc.  And so, when a publisher strives for this mark and misses one crucial component, it is set into sharp relief how very UN-excellent the final project.  First the good:

The exterior is a pumpkin orange cloth clamshell "slipcase" (although to me, I would call this a traycase).  The cover can be explained as very acronymatic (if you will excuse the word), portraying both the title and author in as few letters as possible.  Around the edges are five metal crescent latches, as described in the story.  Indeed, the case is made to resemble the case holding the sword within the text.  Near each latch are the following words: Tarff, Iniedia, Micit, Ezade, Sithiss.  The back has a nice quote.  First impression of the latches is great and, as I don't foresee myself opening this thing every day for the rest of my life, I would be inclined to say, "Great quality on the latches, Pantheon."

Once opened, the book is nestled rather snuggly in the box, wrapped in a parchment-like paper.  A ribbon pull allows for easy removal.  The dust jacket has many holes/poke through marks.  This is intentional and adds to the uniqueness.  But, once taken off, the mystery of "Nepalese, exposed binding" is explained.  Two boards in white with red string artwork in a high gloss are bound to the collected signatures without a spine cover.  This allows for the red stitching used to sew the binding to be seen.

Within the text is a variety of artistic ways to showcase the story: each character is represented by colored quotation marks and the text is aligned in a unique way, with myriad illustrations littering the pages throughout.  For a short story expanded to 288 pages, the book itself is quite heavy, especially since it comes in at only 9" x 5".  And, of course, because this is a deluxe edition, a signature page is provided with a big letter Z signed in marker.  So, that's all the good, but now to the one killer:

As stated on the publisher's page, this edition is limited to 1,000 copies.  A rather high number, but given this author's fan base, I doubt many of these will be circulating for any great length of time to come.  However, this book has no limitation inscribed, printed, pasted, or otherwise.  Who is to say there are only 1,000 copies?  And if the limitation came in the outward cardboard packaging, then shame on both the publisher for printing it that way and me for already tossing it.  Without that limitation, the signature to me means nothing.  The publisher may as well have just sold me a deluxe edition, had me go track down MzD, and have him throw his Z on that book instead.  Limitation notwithstanding, this is an excellent book, and I am happy to add it to my collection, but I thought just for a moment I had a new #1 book to finally dethrone my collection of Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.

Based on the above I find myself between ratings.  Recommended because it is a good production with the traycase and unique binding.  Passable because it does retail for $100 and the 288 page count included pages that are entirely a picture or just one word on the entire page, so the actual story is very short indeed.  I suppose I would ultimately give the Recommended rating to this book with two caveats: you can find it and buy at or below retail and that not having an actual limitation is not a deal breaker for you.

- N U M B E R E D -

Front of traycase.

Side of tryacase.

Back of traycase.

Case opened to reveal ribbon pull and protective paper.

Front of dustjacket.

Dustjacket spine.

Back of dustjacket

Front board.

Spine binding.

Back board.


Signature page (note lack of serial).

Half-title page.

Title page.

Copyright page.

Interior sample 1.

Interior sample 2.

Interior sample 3.