Sunday, October 7, 2018

Photo dump: The amazing photography of Douglas Herring

I came across one of his pictures several weeks ago on Tumblr and absolutely loved it. Check out his Twitter and Tumblr accounts for more.

Model: Dawn Vice.

Model: Alicia Archer.



Models: Maria Kountz and Rhiya Prater.
Model: Shaniqua Ogletree.
Herring has tons more on his Tumblr, so be sure to comb through the archive.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

By Crom! Amazon's doing a Conan the Barbarian series!

So apparently this was announced at some point in the past, but then nothing was heard about it until now. According to Syfy Wire, the show is being developed by Ryan Condal, the co-creator of the SF TV show The Colony and screenwriter of the future Academy Award-winning movie Rampage (you know, the one with Dwayne Johnson and a giant mutant gorilla? Yeah, that one.) and will adapt the short stories written by Robert E. Howard.
According to Condal, the first episode of the Conan series will adapt “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter,” one of the primary tales in Howard’s canon for his signature character.

“I think the Conan purists will be very pleased,” said Howard, while setting the stage for Amazon's pilot episode. “If anybody knows and follows the saga [‘The Frost-Giant’s Daughter’] is... the earliest story in Conan’s life. He’s basically just left Cimmeria and he’s running around as a mercenary with this Viking band of warriors called the Aesir... I’ve put [the Conan stories] back in [chronological] order and the idea is to tell Conan’s story over the time of his life.”
I'm intrigued. The idea of following the Cimmerian's life in proper order rather than just random points I think is a good idea. Condal also says that the show will have a serial element to it, which I guess means that each episode won't be a self-contained, standalone. I wonder if that means that all the events in each episode will build up towards something big near the end of the first season?

So what do you folks think? Does the prospect of a Conan the Barbarian series pique your interest? Will Amazon screw this up or will it strike gold?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My fantasy book collection isn't great, but it doesn't exactly suck either

I've been taking pictures of my various bookshelves lately and thought I'd share the ones of my fantasy books.


 I got the cabinet itself by swapping with one of my parents.



 It's worth noting that this isn't the whole entire shebang. I could only fit so many in the cabinet, so I had to be choosy with what went in it and I chose books that I'm planning on reading if not this year, then the next. The ones that didn't make it are probably going to end up boxed up with the rest in the closet.

I think it's a nice collection, though. It shows where my tastes in the fantasy genre lay which is mostly in the more standard and maybe "generic" territories. I also favor books that aren't doorstoppers. That one Sanderson book is giving me the stink eye, but it's true otherwise.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Holy moly guacamole: Forgotten Realms edition

I got myself a nice little book haul at a thrift store yesterday. I was scanning through their book section when I stumbled upon books 6-16 of The Harpers series, what I think might be the original paperbacks of The Icewind Dale Trilogy, and a book from The Lost Gods series called Tymora's Luck. The whole lot, sixteen books in total, cost me nearly twelve dollars, but I figured it was worth it. For the most part, the books are in surprisingly good condition. The exception was The Crystal Shard. It had something stuck to the cover that I'm cleaning off.

I'll take pictures of them at some point and post them here.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Revisiting The Belgariad (again)

First, an apology for the lack of updating on this blog. Sadly, my fantasy reading slump from last year has carried over to this one and at this point, I'm prepared to upgrade it from a slump to a drought. N.K. Jemisin's excellent The Fifth Season is the only fantasy book I've read this year to completion. I made a worthy effort with Robin Hobb's Royal Assassin, but even that couldn't hold my attention. Strangely, the fantasy genre is the only thing affected, as I've no problem reading SF and other genres.

So I've decided to go back to basics and start afresh by reading (or re-re-reading in this case) some classics of the genre, which brings us to my current book, Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings.

This would be my second read through and much like the prior two times, I'm enjoying it. Indeed, I'm almost finished with it and I only started it the other day! I don't know what I'll read after PoP. Queen of Sorcery, the second book in The Belgariad would be an obvious next step but I'm not sure if I want to jump straight to it. I could finally sit down and read The Sword of Shannara or venture to the Underdark with the first Drizzt book, Homeland. The Last Wish would be another choice, but might be too "new" be the kind of classic I want to read right now. The whole idea is to ease my way back into reading the fantasy genre, basically.

Fellowship of the Ring by Mike Ploog

Credit: Mike Ploog.
It's Lord of the Rings, but it has a very D&D feel to it too.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

You can('t) go home again: Devlin's Honor by Patricia Bray (The Sword of Change #2) (Spoilers)

This review took longer to get around to than I had expected. Add to it that my memory is piss poor, and this shouldn't be a long review.

Devlin's Honor is the second book in Patricia Bray's Sword of Change trilogy and while a good story, it doesn't quite match-up with its predecessor, Devlin's Luck. Still, it's worth reading.

The story picks up four months after the events of the previous book. Devlin has spent those months trying to shore-up the defenses of the Kingdom of Jorsk against the threats that he feels are imminent. Unfortunately, he hasn't had that much success and every attempt at strengthening the kingdom is a struggle due partly to the usual power plays and politics you see in most any fantasy novel, but with the added invective that Devlin is still looked down upon because he's a member of a conquered people and not a Jorskian. He later discovers via one of his few friends, the minstrel Stephen, that his very status as Chosen is questioned in the Jorsk circles of power because he lacks the Sword of Light (the sword on the covers of all three books and a pretty accurate description to boot).

The Sword of Light is one of the badges of office of the Chosen, but was lost during the conquest of Duncaer, Devlin's homeland. We get a brief rundown of how the conquest happened: Basically, the Caerfolk practiced a form of elective monarchy where a woman would be elected queen for a term, then either re-elected or replaced with another queen when their first term ended. Duncaer's final queen was a two-termer who wasn't going to get a third and so she went full asshole and "invited" the Jorskian army for a *ahem* visit. It's explained that only one city, Ynnis (or Yniss, I can't remember the proper spelling) resisted the invasion. That's not because the Caerfolk were a docile people but because the rest of the country was more focused on waging a bloodfeud against this queen and her entire family tree. And man, I'm not even exaggerating about that. Caerfolk are dead serious when it comes to blood feuds and the resulting conflict really didn't end until every single member of Queen Asshole's family going as far as distant relations were six feet under.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

2017 was not a very good year

And that's putting it mildly. I read like a demon last year with a grand total of thirty books by year's end, but the number of those books that were in my beloved fantasy genre number...five. YEAH. I was fine everywhere else, especially on the SF front where fully half of that thirty was science fiction, and the rest being mysteries, thrillers, and classic lit. I can only describe it as a drought and pretty severe one at that. How bad? There's a five month gap between the second and third books. Yikes.

Here's the list:

1. Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb.

Loved it and can't wait to read Royal Assassin this year.


2. His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik.

Surprised me because I thought the premise - dragon-based air forces during the Napoleonic Wars - was more than a bit silly, but it turned out to be a highly enjoyable and fun book.

3. The Baker's Boy - J.V. Jones.

It was okay. It bothered me that the eponymous Baker's Boy (I forget his name) and Melisandre (I think that's how her name is spelled) didn't play much of a role in the book's plot. All of the action revolved around a few other characters and that's fine, but the boy and Meli were all but irrelevant.
4. Devlin's Luck - Patricia Bray.

One of those books that you don't think will be all that good because of the cover but turns out to be very good. Loved it.


5. Devlin's Honor - Bray.

Honestly, this was weaker compared to Devlin's Luck, but it wasn't bad. It felt more like one of those filler episodes that TV shows do sometimes. Having said that, I didn't regret reading it.

So there you have it, five books in twelve months. I have no idea why I hit such a dry spell, but it happened and I'm going to try and get around it. I'm currently reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and should finish that by the end of next week, so that will hopefully get the motor running. After that, I don't know. I'm looking at The Warded Man (which I started reading last year, but never finished it) or maybe The Witcher series. Hopefully last year was just a fluke.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Devlin's Luck (The Sword of Change #1) by Patricia Bray (spoilers)

This year has been a tough one for reading fantasy. I've spent most of 2017 in a slump that for some strange reason, only dulled my interest in fantasy fiction with almost every attempt to jump back into it turned into a route. Thankfully, I've finally managed to break the slump, thanks in no small part to Devlin's Luck, the first book in Patricia Bray's The Sword of Change trilogy. I'd seen the book on the shelf at the local public library several times, but always ignored it because of the slump. Then about two weeks ago, I had the sudden impulse to take it home and damn near devoured it I would have torn through it like dysentery in a medieval army camp if not for the fact that I was reading a Jules Verne book at the same time, but once I was finished with that, I turned my full attention to this tome and finished it off in double time.

So what is Devlin's Luck about? It's a story of a man broken by tragedy who desires nothing more than to make amends for a past tragedy and die with dignity. At the beginning of the book, Devlin arrives in Kingsholm, the capital of the Kingdom of Jorsk, to take the office of Chosen One. It's a bit hard to explain what the Chosen One is, but essentially, they're the kingdom's official problem solver. If something needs to be investigated, for example, the Chosen One could be dispatched to do it. The same goes with quests and any situation that may require their services. The position itself was quite prestigious in days past, being equal to King's Champion and subservient only to the ruling monarch.

But those days are long gone. By the time Devlin arrives to take the oath, the office has declined into largely a ceremonial position so undesirable that the kingdom has to offer ten gold disks¹ in order to get anyone to take the job. Why? The office is seen as certain death because all of Devlin's immediate predecessors have lasted less than a year, each typically dying during or after their first quest.

And that's exactly why Devlin wants the job. As I said, Devlin is a man broken by tragedy. I don't count it as a spoiler since you find it out pretty early, but Dev's grief stems from his wife, their daughter, his brother and his son being killed by creatures called banecats. Even though he avenged them by hunting down and killing the banecats, he still blames himself both for their deaths and not being there to defend them. By the time he recovered from fighting the banecats and returned to civilization, he found himself named kinslayer by his sister-in-law and forsaken by all of his kin, a major thing in his people's culture. He goes into exile shortly thereafter and literally walks all the way to Kingsholm to become the Chosen One.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

To battle!

Artist: Pierre Joubert.
Found on Tumblr.
There's a lot about this that I like: The dude hacking away at the chains, the other dude who's either going to get skewered on that polearm or give its owner a good solid thwacking, the knight charging into the fray, and look of "I didn't sign up for this bullshit" on the horse's face. The weapons and clothing is great too because it looks accurate or at least what I assume to be accurate.

Great picture, overall.

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