Remember back (way back) to before you could find anything you’d ever seen or heard on the Internet? You know, when you listened to a song on the radio and had to hunt high and low to find the album in a store? Or when you found a new series of books but couldn’t the third one in the series? I first read Keith Taylor’s book Bard when I was a teenager heading on an ill-advised solo camping trip (wearing a rather uncomfortable leather jacket and carrying a tent with holes in the roof and missing pegs.) A number of things went wrong on that trip that resulted in being cold, wet, tired, and huddling in the dark to avoid a group of drunk and stoned teenagers. But from the moment I started reading Bard all of that disappeared and I was transported into a world of music, magic, and swashbuckling. Tailor’s love and depth of knowledge about his subject was remarkable and the chronicles of Felimid Mac Fal soon became some of my favourite stories. So, happy ending to my camping trip, right? Not so fast…
Flash forward a few years and I’d found and read Bard II, III, and IV. It looked like the series was over and though I wasn’t happy about it, I could live with it. But the series wasn’t over–Keith Tailor had written a fifth book! Joy and jubilation! The only problem was that I soon discovered the book was only published in the United Kingdom. Okay, fine, now I have to order from the Brits. No problem – they like Canadians. Unfortunately, the book went out of print too quickly and no one had copies. I couldn’t find any North American library with a copy and it wasn’t feasible to borrow one from across the Atlantic.
The Internet is supposed to fix all these things, isn’t it? Everything accessible all the time? An endless cornucopia of delights waiting to be purchased by anyone with a credit card and a web browser. So I start searching and, sure enough, eventually I find someone’s dog-eared copy of the book available for purchase for only $125. That’s right, they wanted one-hundred-and-twenty-five dollars and shipping. Part of me wanted to buy it anyway, but the thought of rewarding someone’s needless greed (none of the money would have gone to the author) prevented me.
Of course, an obvious solution presented itself: who needs to actually buy and ship a physical book? I mean, that’s so 2010. These days it’s all about the e-book, right? Wrong. None of Keith Taylor’s books are available in digital editions. I actually wrote Mr. Taylor himself and he kindly checked to see if he had a copy around but alas, no luck there either.
A couple of weeks ago, the literary gods finally smiled on me and a copy appeared at a very reasonable of $15 USD plus shipping. The day I came back from my vacation it was right there waiting for me in a Trans-Atlantic shipping envelope. Finally, after all these years I’m reading Bard V and learning the final fate of Felimid Mac Fal. The funny thing is, after all these years, my tastes have changed and it’s not the type of book I’d buy anymore, but there’s something wonderful about searching for a lost book and one day finding it.