Another long due pending read, A Reader's Guide to R. A. Salvatore's the Legend of Drizzt is a 170 pages book written in 2008 that serves as a reference for all things related with The Legend of Drizzt book series by R. A. Salvatore.
It is a big book, full of beautiful illustrations, always accompanied by text explaining them. From maps of the Underdark and the drow cities, to every character (both main and secondary ones) in the first 12 books of the series, magical items and creatures, it serves as indeed a good reference. The descriptions are sometimes either too brief or too focused on a specific situation (e.g. how character XXX died, instead of what his/her role), but overall give you a good reminder if you've read the books. I have at least read the first 5 or 6 ones and I should read the rest...
The drawings are really good, specially those that come from the book covers, but as they come from varied artists, same as with comics sometimes the representation of the characters is... quite different. Drizzt might appear too big-headed, or too tiny, Bruenor sometimes appears to be a bulky human instead of a dwarf... But as I said is just how your mental images of the characters sometimes "clash" with how an artist portrayed them.
Drizzt early books alongside some of the Dragonlace novels kept me awake until late quite a few nights when I was young reading the adventures, so my nostalgia kicks in, and kicks very hard. It is difficult to not be subjective when Drizzt has always been one of my favourite fantasy characters, but still I highly recommend the book to any fan of the lore.
More old book readings available on the Internet Archive, the other day I finished Pyramid, which as you could guess by the title, explains how pyramids were built in ancient Egypt. Similarly to Castle, we're told a story of a fictional character (a Pharaoh) who requests a huge pyramid to be built before he dies, complete with a smaller one for his wife.
Again beautiful black & white hand-drawings and concise but clarifying diagrams and maps whenever needed help to narrate how the titanic structure was built. Very interesting and a quick reading (more than half of it's less than a hundred pages are full-page pictures).
When you're young you don't usually notice who are authors of most books you read. Then, you grow up and, sometimes accidentally sometimes deliberately, you discover that the author of one of your childhood most interesting titles (The Way Things Work, which I plan to read again soon), David Macaulay, is the same of other book you loved and had stored since far far away in time: Castle.
Castle is a small book (around 80 pages) where, with small fragments of text and huge hand-drawn, black & white images, we're explained the design and construction of a fictional castle. All the techniques, way of doing things and way of living of the people inside and around it are realistic, just the castle itself is invented.
I grew up with these kind of books and loved passing the pages and watching things get built step by step, without even needing color. The drawings are excellent and very detailed, with maps or diagrams where needed to clarify some part of a building or some procedure, and it will probably entertain equally both children and grown ups.
The Art of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, from Brian Wood and Pat Harrigan and published by Fantasy Flight Games, is yet another book I had (since circa 2006 in this case) pending to read and enjoy. Nearing 200 pages, it features hundreds of art pieces, both from FFG products (card and board games) and from Chaosium's classic Call of Cthulhu RPG.
The book is divided by sections, from places to survivors (detectives and gangsters mostly), monsters, great old ones. It is a beautiful reference guide to spark your imagination if you need to visually figure how a certain monster of character would look. Excepting some old Chaosium images everything else is in great and vivid colors.
A great art book that made me want to read H. P. Lovecraft books again.
The first volume includes seven compilations, exploring from a classic human-colony-gets-attacked-from-both-alien-species or a futuristic human predator hunter, to quite a few stories showing us more details about the predator race (don't want to enter into spoilers territory). They feel fresh, different and some continue ideas and characters presented on previous ones. I really liked this volume.
My problem came when I started reading the second volume. At least half of it consists of the series "Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species", a futuristic tale involving Aliens and Predators, yes, but way too bizarre for my taste. I tried to follow it but goes too much into dreams and other storytelling techniques that, combined with an uninteresting story (to me, at least), made me skip all of it. The remaining contents are a few more series, some of them really brief (4 issues with few pages per issue), so you'll get mostly short stories. Some of them are interesting but overall don't justify purchasing the whole book to ignore half of the contents...