Thursday, January 12, 2012

WINNER: 2011 Esoteric Book of the Year

Balkan's Arcane Bindings (BAB) is proud to announce its pick for the English language 2011 Esoteric Book of the Year.

The BAB 'Golden Talisman Award' for '2011 Esoteric Book of the Year' goes to....

Scarlet Imprint's Crossed Keys translated by Michael Cecchetelli (Sable et d'Or Edition).

This book is simply jaw-dropping.  Bound together for the first time are two complimentary Late Renaissance works, the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III and The Black Dragon.  Contents range from spirit summoning to folk charms.  It is appropriately bound in scale-patterned, black, goatskin with inset dragon figure on marbled background.  Gilt edges and ribbon bookmark.  It is lavishly presented in a golden leather case with ribbon closures.  Amazingly, the Sable et d'Or Edition of Crossed Keys sold out in a single afternoon.  To meet the incredible demand, a handful of extra copies were added to the print run (totaling 55), and were quickly snatched up. It is sure to become a legend.  Mr. Cecchetelli has done a tremendous service for grimoire magic by introducing a new generation of magicians to these historic (and more importantly, useful), texts.

In second place, the BAB 'Silver Talisman Award' goes to...

Ixaxaar's The Red King by Mark Alan Smith (Thaumiel Edition).

Second volume in the 'Trident of Witchcraft' series, The Red King is as regal as its name implies and a fitting tribute to Lucifer.  It is bound in full crimson goat and bears the 'Cardinal Crown of Thaumiel'. Gilt edges and ribbon bookmark.  Fascinating and powerful interior artwork by Namtaru Creations.  Each copy (66 total) is consecrated, signed, and sigilized by the author using ink that was ritually infused with his own blood.  They say authors put a little bit of themselves into their work.  In this case, Mark Alan Smith did so quite literally.  A truly talismanic work, one that the author claims will never be reprinted.

In third place, the BAB 'Bronze Talisman Award' goes to...

Scarlet Imprint's Pomba Gira and the Quimbanda of Mbumba Nzila by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold (Rainha da Figueira do Inferno Edition).

The Rainha de Figueira do Infero Edition is a feast for the eyes.  With its rich silk boards, speckled crimson quarter-leather binding, and end papers marbled in dark rose and gold, the book reflects the sensuous trappings of a bordello.  Gilt edges and ribbon bookmark.  Its assertive and luxurious presentation, as well as the unrestrained bawdiness of some of the content, perfectly captures and honors the nature of Pomba Gira.  A demure presentation would have been completely inappropriate.  Thus, Scarlet Imprint's artisans chose wisely when deciding on its rather burlesque design.  Limited to 70 copies.  Keep an eye on Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold; he is quickly becoming one of the most important voices in occult publising.

2011 Honorable Mentions:
  • Children of Cain by Michael Howard (Special Edition), published by Three Hands Press.
  • The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet edited by David Rankine (Hardcover), published by Avalonia.
  • Coagula: A Graphic Grimoire by Orryelle Defenistrate-Bascule, published by Fulgur Ltd.
  • Magic Secrets translated by Philippe Pissier, published by The Society of Esoteric Endeavour.
  • Liber Falxifer II: The Book of Anamlaqayin by N.A-A.218, published by Ixaxaar.
  • Lux Haeresis - The Light Heretical by Daniel A. Schulke, published by Xoanon Limited.

Stay tuned for full reviews of this year's winners.

Considering this blog did not exist a year ago, and because 2010 was such an amazing year for esoteric books, I have decided to retroactively award three very special books with the awards they deserve.

The Golden Talisman Award for the '2010 Esoteric Book of the Year' goes (retroactively) to:

 Geosophia - The Argo of Magic (2 volumes) by Jake Stratton-Kent (Draco Edition), published by Scarlet Imprint.

The 2010 Silver Talisman Award goes to:

The Occult Reliquary: Images & Artefacts of the Richel-Eldermans Collection edited by Daniel A. Schulke (Special Edition), published by Three Hands Press.  See my full review of this book here.

The 2010 Bronze Talisman Award goes to:

Gullveigarbok by Vexior 218 (Deluxe Edition), published by Fall of Man.  See my full review of this book here.

2010 Honorable Mentions:

  • XVI: Bringing Down the House of God edited by Alkistis Dimech & Peter Gray (Kill All Kings Edition), published by Scarlet Imprint.
  • Queen of Hell by Mark Alan Smith (Trident Edition), published by Ixaxaar.
  • Restorations of Masonic Geometry and Symbolry by Henry P.H. Bromwell (Quarter-Leather), published by Lovers of the Craft.
  • A Gathering of Masks by Robert Fitzgerald (Deluxe Edition), published by Three Hands Press.
  • Palo Mayombe: The Garden of Blood and Bone by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold (Mayimbe Edition), published by Scarlet Imprint.
  • Sepher Raziel transcribed by Stephen Skinner and Don Karr (Leather Edition), published by The Golden Hoard Press.

I apologize in advance to authors and publishers of books I may have overlooked.  Within a classification as broad as 'Esoteric' there are a LOT of exceptional books published each year, making it impossible to evaluate them all.  Thus, some will inevitably elude me by 'flying under my radar', as they say.  If an unknown and exemplary title is discovered at a latter date I will add an additional category titled, 'Year's Overlooked Gem' and give credit where due.

I want to thank the authors and publishers for their incredible efforts in the world of talismanic publishing.  Thanks to them, the grimoire tradition is truly experiencing a new Golden Age.  Already 2012 looks to be another very promising year for esoteric books with the forthcoming release of Theatrum Chemicum Britanicum from Ouroboros Press; Mark Alan Smith's third book in the 'Trident of Witchcraft' series, The Scorpion God, published by Primal CraftThreshold: Black & Shattered Geometry by Ryan Anschauung & the Temple of THEM, published by Fall of Man.  Last but not least, be sure not to miss David Chaim Smith's The Sacrificial Universe, to be published by Fulgur Ltd.  Having some familiarity with Mr. Smith's graphic work, I expect this to be a very important book of  kabbalistic and alchemical revelation.  It is my opinion that David Chaim Smith is the Dionysus Andreas Freher of our day.  I am in awe of his artistic ability and vision.

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