The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

4.08 (4,241 ratings by Goodreads)
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Winner of the Best Book Award at the 2014 British Comic Awards
Readers! This book is not a real encyclopedia!

It is an epic work of fiction, detailing the many tales and adventures of one lonely storyteller, on a quest for Enlightenment and True Love. This book contains many stories, big and small, about and pertaining to the following things: Gods, monsters, mad kings, wise old crones, shamans, medicine men, brothers and sisters, strife, mystery, bad science, worse geography, and did we already mention true love?

Critics are saying it is probably the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe even since bread knives.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 219 x 303 x 22mm | 1,025g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • col. Comics
  • 0224097199
  • 9780224097192
  • 111,887

About Isabel Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg is a London-based illustrator and writer. She studied illustration at the University of Brighton. She won the Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize in 2011 with `Love in a Very Cold Climate'. Her debut graphic novel, The Enyclopedia of Early Earth, won two Eisner Awards and was a New York Times bestseller.
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Review quote

"There's much myth and magic in the pages of this colossal work of illustrated fiction." * Monocle * "This is a hugely enjoyable and remarkable book, with much to discover below the surface." -- Jess Richards * Guardian * "It's a whimsical, light-hearted book that reads like the best kind of bedtime story - a new take on something familiar and much loved." -- Teddy Jamieson * Glasgow Sunday Herald * "There is a pleasing unity to these far-flung stories appearing alongside one another. Greenberg is clearly fascinated by the universality of myth." -- George Pendle * Financial Times * "Timelessly brilliant... Isabel Greenberg is clearly destined to make a big contribution to British comics." * Starburst *
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Review Text

"It’s a whimsical, light-hearted book that reads like the best kind of bedtime story – a new take on something familiar and much loved."
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Rating details

4,241 ratings
4.08 out of 5 stars
5 36% (1,516)
4 42% (1,787)
3 18% (754)
2 3% (145)
1 1% (39)

Our customer reviews

What do Greek, Scandinavian, Jewish and Christian mythologies have in common? That none of them seem to exist in Early Earth, but actually they all do, conforming the history of the lands of Nord, Britanitarka, the Bavelian Empire and the South Pole. And above all, watching them from the Cloud Castle, the Eagle God BirdMan and the Ravens, his children, Kid and Kiddo. Let us, then, enter the worlds of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARLY EARTH, by Isabel Greenberg. ____________________________________ Juxtaposed, self-referential narratives in an endless spiral whose ultimate goal is to tell a love story of great visual beauty (and apparent simplicity) between a storyteller and his (literal) soulmate. This is the premise and the primary framework of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth which, as noted from its back cover, is not really an encyclopedia but an �????�???�??�?�¢??epic work of fiction�????�???�??�?�¢??, where stories intertwine creating their own microcosm, taking the origins of civilization as an excuse to tell the equally epic adventure of love. And what is most surprising is that this graphic novel is the debut of its author, since Isabel Greenberg had not published anything more than short stories so far, among which stands out the foundation for this book, "Love in a very cold climate" , which won the Graphic Short Story Prize for 2011 awarded by The Observer in collaboration with Jonathan Cape Ltd. That is, we have a newcomer taking the front gates of the comic world by storm. After this prologue featuring the representational framework for the various stories contained in this book, we are presented with a supernatural twist to the myth of King Solomon and the famous trial of the child of two mothers, three in this case. From here we get to one of those multiple references, reflecting the long journey of the main character as Homer�????�???�??�?�¢??s Odyssey, facing cyclops and sirens. The connection with that piece also comes from the profession of the protagonist: he is a storyteller, participating in that same oral tradition of the poets of Ancient Greece, who memorized passages of Homer to be sung afterwards from town to town, from contest to contest. In the same way, when referring the myth of the region of Britanitarka, Greenberg uses a concurrence of Greek and Norse mythology, presenting the gods repelling and confining the evils and abominations (or Titans) in an icy prison; or upon explaining the formation of the planet Earth as a sphere of mud from which grows, to hold the sky, a powerful and gigantic tree (did someone say Yggdrasil, maybe?). And the succession of hypertextual references to various myths occur tirelessly on this new mythology of Early Earth, using even the Bible by portraying the conflict between Cain and Abel reinterpreted to include a woman as a reason for the dispute, while feelings are also key to the revision of myths like Noah, the Tower of Babel, Jonah and the Whale�????�???�??�?�¢?�????�???�??�?�¦ And if the leitmotif of the book is the search by the protagonist for a fragment of his soul, that is, in a way, his soulmate, this very graphic representation of the portion of the soul as an absence, an irrepressible need for filling its place, should be taken back to Plato and the myth of the Androgyne, in the Symposium , where Aristophanes proposed: �?????�????�???�??�?�«In the first place, let me treat of the nature of man and what has happened to it. The original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman, and the union of the two, of which the name survives but nothing else. Once it was a distinct kind, with a bodily shape and a name of its own, constituted by the union of the male and the female: but now only the word �????�???�??�?�¢??androgynous�????�???�??�?�¢?? is preserved, and that as a term of reproach. In the second place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and he had four hands and the same number of feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond.�?????�????�???�??�?�» As divine punishment, the primitive men were separated by Zeus into two halves and Apollo, god of love, healed their wounds, took pity on them, and he transferred their reproductive organs to the front. Thus, despite being separated for all eternity, if ever successful in finding their other halves, they would have a way to be one back again: �?????�????�???�??�?�«There is not a man of them who when he heard the proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of his ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.�?????�????�???�??�?�» This is what motivates, with the protagonist not knowing yet, the great journey that conforms the work of Isabel Greenberg. And as if the multi-referentiality of the book were not enough, I have already anticipated that it iss also continuously self-referential, turning on itself through various points of connection with a significant degree of meta-story. Storytellers encountering storytellers telling stories about storytellers that tell more stories. All this injects The Encyclopedia of Early Earth with a, coincidentally, encyclopedic feel, since it lays the foundation of this world, imagined through recycled mythology and copious information in the form of tales about the various tribes and clans that populate it. However, far from being cumbersome or excessive, Greenberg uses these resources to narrate a great range of stories, wide both in genre and form, paying attention to small details and forming a whole as attractive as it is cohesive. When the book is finished, the reader itself may feel a void, a need to know more, to travel with the protagonist to the unvisited corners of the maps displayed, to meet the storytellers of those distant lands and, in short, to discover new stories. The finesse, imagination and complicity emanating from the pages of Isabel Greenberg, getting the reader involved, making him go back to remember or relive certain nuances, interrelating stories and keeping the corpus of tales narrated as a homogeneous whole�????�???�??�?�¢?�????�???�??�?�¦ All this makes The Encyclopedia of Early Earth a well-rounded product that revels in its perfect imperfection and conquers the heart of the reader, irrevocably. [Originally published in REVERING COMIC BOOKS]show more
by Ander Luque Garcí­a
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