Saturday, August 17, 2019

Here, have a hodge podge of D&D articles

One of these is several years old, but the rest are from within the last couple of months. Interest in D&D seems to be on an uptick, which I'm sure is delighting the sales departments at Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro.

From Polygon: We asked a simple question about the D&D timeline and got a wild answer

The Guardian: No more nerds: how Dungeons & Dragons finally became cool (I'm not a fan of the headline)

io9: ​The 20 Most WTF Magical Items in Dungeons & Dragons (The Wand of Misplaced Objects would be useful if facing a well equipped foe, wouldn't it?)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Review: Devlin's Justice is an only okay ending to the Sword of Change trilogy (SPOILERS)

Click the links to read my reviews for the first two books, Devlin's Luck and Devlin's Honor.

First off, let's talk about that cover. The only thing accurate about the cover (besides the title, author's name and such, obviously) is the Sword of Light, which matches the description of it in Devlin's Honor. Everything else isn't remotely accurate, including the blurb. "His own magic"? Aside from the Geas spell that binds him to his duties as Chosen One, Devlin has no magic whatsoever. I feel like whoever did the cover didn't read the book beforehand. But that's just the cover, let's talk about the book itself.

It's only okay. Going by the blurb on the back of the book, I was expecting a lot of excitement, drama, and adventure. Unfortunately, expectations slammed into reality like a race car into a wall at 190 miles per hour. Devlin's Justice felt rushed, as if Ms. Bray was just trying to get the thing done and out the door or she was trying to meet a specific word or page count. As a result, a lot of meat was left on the bone. There were so many ways the story could have been expanded or enhanced and none of them were used.

Before I go on, let me tell you what happens in this book. Devlin is returning to Kingsholm after successfully retrieving the Sword of Light in the previous book. Upon returning, he's betrayed by King Olafur of Jorsk and handed over to the Selvarat Empire as part of their deal to send "aid" to help the Kingdom of Jorsk stave off an invasion by an unknown enemy, along with like a third of the kingdom itself as it turns out. So Devlin spends a good chunk of the book imprisoned and tortured by the main antagonist while his friends believe him dead and struggle to find a way to save the kingdom from both the Selvarats (who, "shocker", are the unknown enemy) and the king himself. Four of them - Drakken, Stephen, Didrik, and Oluva - are forced to escape the city and go in search of Devlin once they discover that he is in fact still alive. Devlin eventually escapes, joins up with the others and the rest of the book is them leading a guerrilla campaign against the occupying Selvarat forces and setting things to right.

All of that sounds exciting, but as I said, a lot of meat was left on the bone and what we got instead didn't live up to the potential. For example, there's never an explanation given for why King Olafur did anything he did. Yes, he was led to believe that there was a major threat to the kingdom and yes he had a big legacy to live up to, but betraying Devlin and giving away a huge chunk of the kingdom for aid just doesn't make any sense and there was no indication that he was being manipulated by the Prince Arnauld, the main antagonist of the series or anybody else for that matter. It also doesn't explain his slide into despotism which is both sharp and sudden.

There are other examples I could point out but I don't want this post to run too long, so we'll leave off them. The other thing that I found disappointing is the lack of a big finish. I was expecting to see Devlin and Arnauld face off in a big fight, but it never happened. It was a letdown given that Arnauld was the mind-sorcerer that had been plaguing Devlin since the first book. Instead, he's brushed off like some mid-level villain and we're denied the payoff that should have been.

The ending was also lackluster as it felt rushed. Olafur commits suicide just before Devlin arrives back at Kingsholm to confront him and Devlin names himself regent until Olafur's daughter is old enough to rule in her own right. He also marries Stephen's sister which comes straight out of left field and makes about as much sense as Olafur's actions. Devlin also secures the independence of his homeland of Duncaer which I liked.

All in all, I found Devlin's Justice a letdown. It had a lot of potential that was largely squandered. I would rank it as the weakest of the trilogy.

Rating: 5/10.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

So I might own a first edition of Tad Williams' The Dragonbone Chair I guess?


I found a hardcover of the book at a Goodwill last month and just started reading it today and one of the things I noticed immediately is the year of publication listed is 1988 and no other dates or markings that would indicate that it's a reprint or anything. It also has Tailchaser's Song as Williams' only book published up to that point. The inside flap of the dust jacket says "Book Club Edition", so that probably disproves it as a first edition. A relief and preference, honestly, because I don't like the idea of owning first editions of classic SF&F series or really books in general.

Friday, December 14, 2018

THE SLUMP GOT WORSE

As some of you might recall, 2017 was not a great year for my fantasy genre reading with all of five books read that entire year.  I was hopeful that the slump was just a fluke and 2018 would be the year I bounced back.

Dear reader, IT GOT WORSE. I'll finish this year with all of three fantasy novels under my belt. Three, as in more than two and less than four. Yikes. So what were the three books?

The Fifth Season was a fantastic book and easily one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read. The hype surrounding this book is real, folks.

A sure sign that I love a book is when I re-read it. I don't think I'll ever get tired of doing so.

I've seen this series recommended on the interwebs and I decided to take the plunge. While I felt that the part of the book with Sonea hiding out from the eponymous Magician's Guild was stretched a bit too long, I could not put this book down and the trilogy is definitely on my "to read" list for next year.

Having said that, I have been reading different novels over the past year. More like sampling, really. One of those books is Raymond E. Feist's newest work, King of Ashes. It's different from the Riftwar books I've read. It feels more, I don't know, up to date?  It's much more violent and adult than what the Riftwar trilogy felt like.

Brandon Sanderson is another writer I've been checking out. Warbreaker looks interesting and I want to give Mistborn another shot. The Way of Kings is daunting because of it's sheer size, but I'm willing to give it a try.

I'm currently reading The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. Different in some ways, familiar in others, both mixed in a way that's appealing.

2018 has been a pretty crappy year in general and so all I can is here's to a much better 2019.

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.

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