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Paladins and morale

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Back when I got Warcraft III, one of the first things I did was reading the manual. I'm a big fan of game lore and Warcraft has one of the best, IMO. One of the things that caught my attention was this passage about the Death Knights, a hero unit in WCIII (emphasis's mine):
Death Knights were once virtuous defenders of Humanity. However, once the Paladin ranks were disbanded by the failing Alliance, many of these holy warriors traveled to the quarantined lands to ease the suffering of those left within the plague-ridden colonies. Though the Paladins were immune to disease of any kind, they were persecuted by the general populace who believed that they had been infected by the foul plague. A small band of Paladins, embittered by society's cruelty, traveled north to find the plague's source. These renegade Paladins succumbed to bitter hatred over the course of their grueling quest. When they finally reached Ner'zhul's icy fortress in Northrend they had become dar…

Your fantasy real estate: Neuschwanstein Castle

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So I was farting around on Wikipedia last month and stumbled across this article about a castle in Bavaria called Neuschwanstein Castle. Built in the late 19th century by King Ludwig II as both a personal retreat and as an homage to composer Richard Wagner.

Seeing the castle immediately got the hamster running in my head and I started to speculate what this thing would be like in a fantasy setting. The first thing that jumps out at you is that Neuschwanstein is not a military fortification. There are no outer walls or any kind of protection save for the hill it's built on top of. So clearly not meant to withstand a siege or hold territory. It wouldn't need to do either if it was located within the interior of a kingdom or empire where having a military fortress wouldn't be needed.

But like I said at the beginning, Ludwig II built the castle as a retreat and that's how I see it function in a fantasy story or roleplay setting. A nice getaway place for the monarch and ro…

2016 has been a pretty good year for fantasy reading

I decided today to do a tally of all the fantasy books I've read this year and I'm sitting at 11 right now. That's not bad, considering that I've read 24 books this year so far and that's a significant increase over what I read last year. Here's the list:

Stardust - Neil Gaiman
Storm Front - Jim Butcher
A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab
Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey
He Drank, and Saw the Spider - Alex Bledsoe
Magician: Apprentice - Raymond E. Feist
Magician: Master - Raymond E. Feist
Silverthorn - Raymond E. Feist
A Darkness at Sethanon - Raymond E. Feist
Arrow's Flight - Mercedes Lackey
Arrow's Fall - Mercedes Lackey

I'm pretty happy with this list. I know that some of them aren't considered "top shelf" in quality and that there are other books and series out there that run circles around them, but I love every one of these books. Stardust is probably my favorite of the lot. I didn't think I would like the Arrows books bec…

And two more books fall

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When we last left our hero, he had just finished reading Silverthorn. But what happened after that? Some say he was assailed by a group of kobolds and bugbears. Others say he was eaten by grues, while still others claim that he was last seen riding into the sunset on the back of an owlbear.

And none of these are correct. The last one would have been pretty friggin' awesome, though. No, after finishing Silverthorn, I took a short respite from fantasy and read two sci-fi novels: Ender's Game (actually a re-read) and Parable of the Sower. I returned after that and dived straight into A Darkness at Sethanon and Arrow's Flight.

A Darkness at Sethanon is the fourth in the Riftwar Cycle and the final in the Riftwar Saga. The plot focuses on the story arc began in Silverthorn with the rise of Murmandamus, a moredhel warleader of a massive Brotherhood of the Dark Path army and probably a greater threat to the Kingdom than even the Tsurani were in the first two books, and the extra-d…

Another Riftwar book bites the dust (spoilers)

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Boy howdy, am I ever on a roll! I kept forgetting to post about it, but I started Silverthorn almost immediately after finishing Magician: Master and finished it just the other day.

A poisoned bolt has struck down the Princess Anita on the day of her wedding to the Prince Arutha of Krondor.

To save his beloved, Arutha sets out in search of the mystic herb called Silverthorn that grows only in the dark and forbidding Northlands, home to the moredhel, the deadly Dark Elves.

Accompanied by a mercenary, a minstrel, and a clever young thief, he will confront an ancient evil and do battle with the dark powers that threaten the enchanted realm of Midkemia. So how was it? Better than what I had been lead to believe. I actually owned a copy at one point, but got rid of it because I had read some posts on the blogosphere about how it wasn't worth reading and I was easily swayed. I regret that now because Silverthorn was pretty good.

Some thoughts:

Jimmy the Hand is one of the best characters…

Moving on from Magician: Master

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I finished Magician: Master on Wednesday and I'm still surprised by how fast I blew through it. While four days isn't a speed record for me, I'm still happy. What's more impressive is how much of the book I read in a relatively short amount of time: 324 pages in the span of about 24 hours, give or take. 125 on Tuesday and 199 on Wednesday.

As for the re-read, it was about as good as the one for Magician: Apprentice. Like I said in the previous post, there were plot details that I'd forgotten or had rearranged in my memory so the end result was that I got the same amount of enjoyment out of Master as I did the first time around. I basically forgot about damn near every character in the Kelewan plot line along with the plot itself!

The all too brief exploration of Tsurani and their culture is definitely one of my favorite parts of the book. Their culture is so different from the standard "European Middle Ages" setting of The Kingdom of the Isles and I'…

Finished my re-read of Magician: Apprentice last night (spoilers)

And I can honestly say that I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. I think the re-read benefited greatly from the four years since I read Apprentice the first time. I had forgotten large chunks of the plot and certain events got switched around in my memory. Like, I thought that Pug's capture had happened at the very end, but it doesn't. Instead, he ceases to be the main POV character for the rest of the book and the POV switches over to Tomas, Arutha, Carline, Martin, and briefly a Tsurani. I think this was a very clever way of ensuring that readers would continue reading the entire book back when it was just Magician. It actually becomes an even better hook after the book was split into Apprentice and Master because you're almost compelled as the reader to immediately pick up Master just to see what's become of Pug. The ploy is still effective after a re-read because I'm just about to jump into the next book today!

But yeah, Magician: Master ought to be as…

Re-visiting Midkemia

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So for whatever reason I decided to do a re-read of Raymond E. Feist's Magician: Apprentice, the first (half) book in the Riftwar Saga. I originally read it and it's sequel (second half), Magician: Master back in 2012 and boy, did I ever need a refresher. Like, I'm reading Apprentice and there are just huge, huge chunks of the plot that I simply forgot. I remember important events, but not what happens between them.

An oddity about Magician: Apprentice is that it's only the first part of a book. Both it and Magician: Master are actually a single book call simply Magician, but when it was published in the U.S., it was split into two parts for whatever reason. I'm guessing it was due to size and printing big ass doorstoppers back in the day wasn't optimal. If that's the reason, then it shows how far both book making and the fantasy genre has come because the two halves combined would probably total less than a thousand pages, or one Wheel of Time book. Easil…

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