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My Quest

I enjoy quests. They liven up the otherwise repetitive and generally boring Chicago-in-winter atmosphere. Quests in summer are fun too, as one can go more places without feeling like the elements are waging war on humanity and you, yes you, have been especially targeted, but there's more to do in summer and they thus lose some of their specialness.

 My latest quest -- and I should warn you in advance, it has no happy questy ending -- began on a whim, as all my quests do. I decided, one day last week at work, that I wanted to read at least the first of Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy (it's now much more than a trilogy, but that's beside the point). It seemed delightfully trashy, and I've been reading too much serious stuff. So off I went to check the Chicago Public Library's website. Do they have the first one? No. They had, what I would encounter again and again on my travels and soon consider to be something along the lines of "the Gorgon impeding my path, which I wouldst smite," namely,

It's an unwieldy tome (yes, it merits tome) and it is inconvenient to A) Carry in one's bag and B) Hold up to read while lying down, which is basically the only way I read. Therefore, it is useless to me. And every store had a copy.

My quest began at the Ogilvie Station Waldenbooks, where they had books 2 and 3 in the series, as well as the above collection, but of course did not have the first one. Who on earth would want to read the first book in a series? My GOSH, let's all be reasonable and start with the fourth.

I then went to a lovely and wonderful used bookstore, the proceeds of which go to promoting literacy, Open Books. They have a ton, and because their books are donated, they're relatively cheap. But no, no Black Jewels book 1 for me. This was about the point when I determined myself to be on a quest. The weekend came, and I visited Myopic Books in Hipsterville, as well as After-Words, a really random used bookstore near the Loop. I have no idea how it stays open, unless it's through random people like me going in for one book and coming out with Grand Opera: Mirror of the Western Mind.

 Almost needless to say, neither of the above stores had it. They all had that damn compendium, though. I'd get to the sci-fi/fantasy section, scan the shelves, see Terry Brooks and back up, then, as if it had followed me from the previous store and dashed onto the shelf right when I got there for no reason other than to taunt me, I'd see the massive book that contained what I wanted to read, but which left me no practical way of reading it. They'd also have some other random book from the series. "Look, Alice! If you'd read 1-6 already, this might hold some interest for you!" This even proved true at Borders.

 At this point, I am sorry to admit, I got home and ordered a paperback copy off Abebooks for $3.95, including shipping. I had failed my quest. But, like other questers, I had tried my hardest (or at least the hardest that didn't involve taking an El line that wasn't near my apartment), and ventured one, two, three miles beyond my apartment, to parts previously known but not gone to in times recent because, again, it's fricking cold in Chicago in the winter. So although I failed to get my questing item through true questing means (i.e. not on the internet), I feel I accomplished most of the purpose of a quest.

 Now I want to force my army of appx five readers to quest themselves and then tell me about it, because I enjoy stories. If you meet wizened old men and sprite-like ladies, that'd be appreciated.


  1. After-Words? Never heard of it. Weird.

    I was reading through the Aubrey/Maturin series last time I was in London, which I thought was perfect because there are like 15 books in the series, and I figured every used book store in town would have them. I spent many days (even research days, shhh) going from used book store to used book store trying to find the next one and they never seemed to have the right one. And of course I'm too anal retentive to skip over one. Twice I gave up and bought them new at Foyles. Ummm, and then there was a sprite-like lady, the end?

    Also, speaking of quests:

  2. Goodness me! I kind of want to participate in that.

    And I thoroughly approve of your quest.


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