The fantasy worlds of Middle Earth and Westeros will collide in College Station next month when the Texas A&M University Libraries welcome the 5 millionth volume to its collection.
George R.R. Martin, the author of the acclaimed A Song of Ice and Fire book series, will visit A&M's campus on Feb. 27 to gift a rare first-edition volume of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection in the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives. Martin will read excerpts from the volume, which features original Tolkien illustrations, for audiences at Rudder Auditorium before formally presenting it.
For Kevin O'Sullivan, Cushing Library's outreach and public services curator, it makes sense the gift comes at the hands of one of Tolkien's sci-fi disciples.
"Mr. Martin has been referred to as the "American Tolkien" so it's very fitting donation on his part," O'Sullivan said. "It's a wonderful acquisition in and of itself but it's even more special as a gift from him."
The tale of Bilbo Baggins' adventure will be displayed alongside the crown jewel of each 1 million novel benchmark, which include Don Quixote de la Mancha, Parts I and II by Miguel de Cervantes for the four-millionth volume and Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman for its three-millionth
"A millionth volume is a remarkable occasion and to make it to five million is remarkable, indeed," O'Sullivan said.
Library Science-Fiction Collection Curator Jeremy Brett said each displayed volume represents a different area of the massive collection. Brett said The Hobbit adds to an already impressive Tolkien collection that includes one of the first Lord of the Rings paperbacks sold in the United States, Tolkien letters, volumes from Tolkien's personal collection that include notes in books that helped form the fictional languages of Middle Earth.
"It's pretty interesting to have both sides of it," Brett said. "There is so much rich language he incorporates into his fiction."
The gift is a by-product of the long-standing relationship Martin has with A&M which began in the 1990s with the storage of manuscripts and drafts of the author's works. As the Game of Thrones HBO series rose in popularity, Martin handed over set replicas like Ned Stark's sword to the university for safekeeping that accumulated in Martin spending the weekend in Aggieland for the "Deeper than Swords" exhibit grand opening commemorating his work, which drew crowds from around the country in March 2013.
"It's really a wonderful relationship we have between Cushing and Mr. Martin," O'Sullivan said. "It goes back for some time and it's really an honor to be the repository for his collection."
• Friday, Feb. 27 at 11 a.m.
• Rudder Auditorium