Monday, December 11, 2017

MagicQuest: The First Juvenile Fantasy Series

**updated 20 March 2022**

While “Magic Kingdoms”—Lin Carter’s proposed circa 1972 series of juvenile fantasies—never got off the ground, the first published series of such books was the MagicQuest series, edited by Terri Windling (b. 1958) and published by Tempo Books, an imprint of Ace Books. MagicQuest officially published sixteen books, between December 1983 and March of 1985, with three further titles announced as part of the series but published in the “Ace Fantasy” series without the MagicQuest name. And there are a goodly number of associated titles that appeared after the series officially ended, again as part of the “Ace Fantasy” series, that if they were not at one time planned for the series itself, they are certainly among the same type of juvenile fantasy that the series did publish, and of undoubted interest to the fans of the MagicQuest series itself. Also, the “Ace Fantasy” series was edited by Windling, the same editor as the MagicQuest series. 

The series was announced without an overall title in the November 1981 issue of Locus. 

Ace Starts Juvenile Fantasy Line

“Ace Books have announced the formation of a juvenile fantasy line to be distributed through Tempo, the juvenile arm of Ace. The line will be edited by Terri Windling, who is also the fantasy editor for Ace.

“There are so many good juvenile fantasies we can’t do as adult books,” said Ms. Windling. Ace has published some of the really juvenile [Andre] Nortons plus other works such as The Borribles [by Michael de Larrabeiti] and The Face in the Frost [by John Bellairs] packaged as adult books, but this defeats the chance to reach the children’s audience.

“The first two titles signed are The Throme of the Erril of Sherrill by Patricia A. McKillip (Atheneum 1973) and The Seventh Swan: An Adventure Story by Nicholas Stuart Gray (Dobson 1962). Neither book has had a mass market paperback edition. Other books are in the negotiation stage, but contracts have not yet been signed.

“At the moment, Ms. Windling is only buying reprint rights, but she did not rule out buying original books in the future” (p. 1).

The series was slow to take shape.  In the June 1982 issue of Locus, it was noted that a sale of Ace to Simon & Schuster had fallen through, though an executive at Ace was expected to take over the company himself. The staff had been trimmed in anticipation of the expected sale, but it is noted that:  “A juvenile fantasy line will premiere in January 1983 with reprints of hardcovers. Later the fantasy line will publish some originals” (p. 5).

The series debuted nearly a year later with three releases dated January 1984, which arrived in bookstores in December 1983.  Nicholas Stuart Gray’s The Seventh Swan was not among them, though it had also been announced as a January 1984 release. It finally came eight months later.  One wonders if Gray’s death (his obituary, written by Terri Windling, appears in the same issue, November 1981, of Locus cited above) might have in some way contributed to the delay in publication.  Of the definitive sixteen MagicQuest titles, only one was an original publication, that being no. 13, Patricia C. Wrede’s Talking to Dragons.  

The MagicQuest series seems to have gone smoothly thereafter, until there was a note in the April 1985 issue of Locus, which reads:

“The MagicQuest line, formerly issued by Tempo (part of the Berkley/Ace group), will move to Ace in September. The August Tempo title was cancelled, The books sold well as sf/fantasy but did not penetrate the school market well enough” (p. 4).  

The situation was apparently worse than reported.  Three announced books were delayed about five months, and when they appeared they did so without any MagicQuest branding.  These titles, and others, were repositioned to the Windling-edited “Ace Fantasy” line. 

Windling had joined Ace in 1979, and was an executive editor before becoming a fantasy consultant in 1982. By 1985, she was responsible for twenty-four fantasy titles a year. When she left Ace around October 1987, she was working as a freelance editor, acquiring titles for the Ace Fantasy Specials line. Windling has edited many anthologies, often in collaboration with Ellen Datlow, and published novels, including the Mythopoeic Award-wining The Wood Wife (1996)

Here follows a chronological history of the books published in the MagicQuest series, and some further books, possibly first planned for the series, that Ace published in the months after the series was closed down.
No.1. January 1984 [Locus, out December 1983] [Reprinted February 1984]
Patricia A. McKillip. The Throme of the Erril of Sherill  [Originally published by Atheneum, 1973]  Cover art by Stephen Hickman. Illustrations by Judith Mitchell.  Also includes “The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath” reprinted from Elsewhere Vol. II (1982), edited by Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold.

No. 2. January 1984 [Locus, out December 1983]
Elizabeth Marie Pope. The Perilous Gard [Originally published by Houghton Mifflin, 1974] Cover art by David Heffernan. Frontispiece by Terri Windling.

No. 3. January 1984; re-announced for September 1984 [Locus, out August 1984]
Nicholas Stuart Gray. The Seventh Swan [Originally published by Dobson, 1962]  Cover art by Carl Lundgren. Frontispiece by Terri Windling.
No. 4. January 1984 [Locus, out December 1983]
Paul R. Fisher. The Ash Staff  [Originally published by Atheneum, 1979] Cover art by Don Maitz. Frontispiece by Richard Salvucci. Book 1 of The Ash Staff trilogy.

No. 5. February 1984 [Locus, out January 1984]
Peter Dickinson. Tulku [Originally published by E. P. Dutton, 1979] Cover art by Kinuko Craft. Frontispiece by Wendy Adrian Shultz.

No. 6. April 1984  [Locus, out March 1984]  [Reprinted July 1985]
Tanith Lee. The Dragon Hoard [Originally published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1971]  Cover art by Steve Hickman. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.
No. 7. June 1984  [Locus, out May 1984]
Paul R. Fisher. The Hawks of Fellheath [Originally published by Atheneum, 1980] Cover art by Don Maitz. Frontispiece by Richard Salvucci. Book 2 of The Ash Staff trilogy.

No. 8. July 1984  [Locus, out June 1984]  [Reprinted June 1986]
Jane Yolen. The Magic Three of Solatia [Originally published by Thomas Y. Crowell, 1974]  Cover art by Richard Courtney. Illustrations by Julia Noonan.

No. 9. August 1984 [Locus, out July 1984]
Diana Wynne Jones. Power of Three [Originally published by Greenwillow, 1977]  Cover art by Victoria Poyser.
No. 10. October 1984  [Locus, out September 1984]
Paul R. Fisher. The Princess and the Thorn [Originally published by Atheneum, 1980] Cover art by Don Maitz. Frontispiece by Richard Salvucci.  Book 3 of The Ash Staff trilogy.

No. 11. November 1984  [Locus, out October 1984]
Delia Huddy. Time Piper [Originally published by Greenwillow, 1979] Cover art by James Warhola.

No. 12. December 1984 [Locus, out November 1984]
Diana Wynne Jones. The Magicians of Caprona [Originally published by Greenwillow, 1980]  Cover art by Victoria Poyser. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.

No. 13. January 1985  [Locus, out December 1984]
Patricia C. Wrede. Talking to Dragons  [Original publication] Cover art and interior illustrations by Judith Mitchell.

No. 14. February 1985  [Locus, out January 1985]
Paul R. Fisher. Mont Can’t Gold  [Originally published by Atheneum, 1981]  Cover art by Don Maitz. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.

No. 15. March 1985 [Locus, out February 1985]
Tanith Lee. East of Midnight  [Originally published by Macmillan, 1977]  Cover illustration by Victoria Poyser. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.
No. 16. April 1985  [Locus, out March 1985]
Elizabeth Marie Pope. The Sherwood Ring  [Originally published by Houghton Mifflin, 1958] Cover illustration by Tricia Zimic. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.

[Three other books had been announced in the series. They were subsequently published as Ace Fantasy Books.]
[No. 17.] May 1985; re-announced for September 1985 [Locus, out August 1985]
Brian Stableford. The Last Days of the Edge of the World [Originally published by Hutchinson, 1978] Cover illustration by Don Maitz. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.
[No. 18.] June 1985; re-announced for October 1985 [Locus, out September 1985]
Richard Carlyon. The Dark Lord of Pengersick  [Originally published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980] Cover illustration by David Heffernan.
[No. 19.] July 1985; re-announced for November 1985 [Locus, out October 1985]
Robert Westall. The Devil on the Road  [Originally published by Greenwillow, 1978]
Cover art by Barry Jackson. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.

Other books that may have been intended to be part of the series, all published under the heading of “Ace Fantasy,”  probably include:
April 1985   [Locus, out March 1985]
Ursula Synge. Swan’s Wing [Originally published by the Bodley Head in 1981]
Cover art by Kinuko Craft.
December 1985  [Locus, out November 1985]
Lorna Baxter. The Eggchild [Originally published by E.P. Dutton, 1979]
Cover art by Tricia Zimic. Illustrations by Charles Vess.
January 1986   [Locus, out December 1985]
Alison Uttley. A Traveller in Time [Originally published by Faber and Faber, 1939]
Cover art by William Li.
January 1986   [Locus, out December 1985]
Diana Wynne Jones. The Homeward Bounders [Originally published by Greenwillow, 1981] Cover art by Neal McPheeters. Frontispiece by Charles Vess.
February 1986    [Locus, out January 1986]
Ruth Nichols. A Walk Out of the World [Originally published by Harcourt, Brace and World in 1969] Cover art by Tricia Zimic.
March 1986  [Locus, out February 1986]
Margot Benary-Isbert. The Wicked Enchantment  [Originally published by Harcourt, Brace and World, 1955] Cover art by Don Maitz.
April 1986  [Locus, out March 1986]
Penelope Lively. The Wild Hunt of the Ghost Hounds [Originally published by William Heinemann, 1971]  Cover art by Phil Hale.
May 1986  [Locus, out April 1986]
Nicholas Stuart Gray. Grimbold’s Other World [Originally published by Faber and Faber 1963] Cover art by Carl Lundgren.

Jun 1986
Louise Lawrence. Earth Witch [Originally published by Harper & Row 1981] Cover art by Winslow Pinney Pels.

June 1986
Jane Yolen. The Magic Three of Solatia [Reprint from MagicQuest series]

July 1986   [Locus, out June 1986]
Carol Kendall. The Firelings [Originally published by Atheneum, 1982]
Cover art by David Heffernan.
August 1986    [Locus, out July 1986]
Eileen Dunlop.  Robinsheugh [Originally published by Oxford University Press, 1975]
Cover art by [this edition not seen]. Also published as Elizabeth, Elizabeth (Holt, 1977).

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps in some cases the books' content deserved it, but it does seem a pity that this series dates to perhaps the worst decade of the 20th century as regards cover art for fantasy. With few exceptions -- what a bunch of eyesores!