Title: Secrets Of My Kingdom-Return to Dimensions Unknown
Publisher: Crypt Publications
Reviewed: May 2018
A few months back (March, 2018) I had the great pleasure of interviewing Mortiis and now, I’d like to review his most recent book SECRETS OF MY KINGDOM.
Mortiis, perhaps best known to Metal fans as a former member of Emperor back in the day, has had a long and prolific solo career, outside the realms of traditional Metal. Back in 2001 as a companion piece to his current album at the time THE STARGATE he released a book called SECRETS OF MY KINGDOM. Limited to 850 copies it quickly sold out and has been in extremely high demand since, fetching hundreds of dollars from secondary sellers. Working in conjunction with Dayal Patterson and Crypt Publications, Havard Ellefsen (aka Mortiis) felt it was time to resurrect this moldy old tome. Early 2018 saw its release.
This large, hard cover, coffee-table book is very attractive. It carries a new sub-title; ‘Return To Dimensions Unknown’ and new cover art courtesy of David Thierree. It is expanded, updated and revised. There are now over 80 pages of additional features.
So what is SECRETS OF MY KINGDOM actually about? To be blunt, it is a collection of poetry. Don’t let the ‘P’ word scare you my fellow Metalheads! I had not read (nor even seen) the original pressing either so I had no idea what it was about. For those of you not familiar with the active imagination and fertile brain of Mortiis, over the aeons he has loosely developed an entire world, an ancient fantasy kingdom. These words, lyrics, poems, musings and ramblings are the secrets of his kingdom. Now with fully updated (and amazing!) art by Mark Riddick and half a dozen more, the book is brilliantly illustrated in black and white. Pictures of ancient creatures permeate the book and if you appreciate or understand the aesthetic of Mortiis you may appreciate that it is more than just ‘pictures of orcs’. It is an interesting journey into his realms.
In addition there are many fine bonus features. There are pages of his original hand-written notes, lyrics and doodles, many of them now accompanied by an explanatory note. There is a long and comprehensive interview with Mortiis. There are nine more interviews with the various collaborators on this project, among others. There are even more sketches and alternate art that was not used specifically the main portion of the book.
SECRETS OF MY KINGDOM is really special. It’s not just another ghost-written ‘Rock Star’ autobiography, nor a gushing, glossy Metal encyclopedia. This understated work really delves into the creations of the mind of Mortiis. It is a quiet book, if that makes any sense, one to be enjoyed, slowly, contemplated and appreciated like much poetry and finer art. It is tough to give an accurate score because your own interpretation and appreciation of this book will perhaps depend on your fondness for the author. I’m scoring high on this, and some Metalheads who don’t like poetry, which is fully understandable, may not enjoy this as this book is unconventional, much like Mortiis. And that is the whole point. SECRETS OF MY KINGDOM is a true gift to the fans.