Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rings of Power

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
-- The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien.

(via The Lord of the Rings Wiki)

Friday, December 30, 2011

I would hate to run into a Charr Knight

A Charr Knight from Guild Wars 2.
Source: Creative Uncut
I can't even begin to imagine how you could defeat such a thing. Its neck seems to be unarmored, which is odd. On the other hand, actually getting close enough to its neck without being killed would be a feat onto itself.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Enjoy Blind Guardian's epic ballad "Lord of the Rings"

So who wants to read a chapter from the next A Song of Ice and Fire book, The Winds of Winter?

Because George R.R. Martin has it up on his website. As pointed out by Topless Robot, the excerpt contains spoilers for the end of the previous ASoIF novel, A Dance of Dragons, so fair warning. I'm surprised that he's started on The Winds of Winter, seeing as how it took him years just to finish the last ones. Maybe Game of Thrones reinvigorated him, or perhaps he just decided to finish the series before winter comes.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting back in the saddle
So after an entirely unintended absence from Swords, Dragons, and Nerds, I am back! The reason for the absence was due to my worst fear when it comes to reading: burn out. You see, I got into a bit of a binge this summer, reading something like ten books from June until about October. Of those ten, all but three were fantasy. Well, it looks like I hit a point where my brain just said "Okay, too much swords and magic! I need starships!" so I decided to take a break and read some science fiction to clear the Orcs and Grue from my head. Now, I'm back and I've decided to tackle one of the biggest hurdles in my nerd life: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I've made numerous attempts in the past to read the series, but could never quite get the ball rolling. I can't tell you why I could never get into what is largely considered the greatest of fantasy fiction, I just never could. I'm equally baffled as to why I'm reading it now, but I'm 43 pages into The Fellowship of the Ring and not feeling the urge to drop it for something else.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RIP Anne McCaffrey

Sadly, Anne McCaffrey, the writer of the Dragonriders of Pern series has passed on at age 85. Rest in peace, lady.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gravity is going to make that guy regret jumping

I believe I can fly...
An R. Kelly song was the first thing to come to mind when I saw this picture over at A Fantasy Reader. It's the cover (credit: Todd Lockwood) of The Straits of Galahesh by Bradley P. Beaulieu. I like the wood and sail airship in the background. Can't say much for that guy's decision to disregard gravity though.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hit my first wall

Forgotten Realms Wiki.
Unfortunately, last week I hit a wall in my fantasy reading: Canticle. I started reading it almost immediately after finishing Mort, but a hundred pages in, I gave up. The book just didn't hook me like all the prior books I've read have. The book looks interesting, it has clerics (both good and evil), druids, wizards, martial artists, and more, but still, I just could not get into it

Malazan Wiki.
This sent me into a bit of a reading funk, thinking that maybe I was starting to get burned out on fantasy, since I've read nothing else since about July. I checked out some "regular" fiction, but somehow found myself back at fantasy, reading Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon. Liking it so far, but after I finish it (which at almost 700 pages is going to take awhile), I might shift back to science fiction for a bit.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This quote by George R. R. Martin sums up why I am a fantasy nerd

The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real... for a moment at least... that long magic moment before we wake. Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smoke-stacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the song the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever, somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I'd sooner go to Middle Earth.
(via George R. R.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

AD&D boners for everybody!

The Retroist
I have never played Dungeons & Dragons, let alone the Advanced version, and I know those tomes are all very outdated, but goddamn, I would love to have them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Currently reading: Mort

Both as part of my continued quest to read all of the Discworld novels and because it's relatively short, I've decided on Mort, the third book in the Discworld series. According to the back, the book concerns Mort, a human who becomes Death's apprentice. This ought to be good.

The People of the Black Circle

I just finished reading the first story in the Bloody Crown of Conan and it was good. The reason why it took me so long was because I would stop, go back and reread parts of it in order to absorb the story and really enjoy it. The plot of The People of the Black Circle involves the death of the King of Vendhya and at the hands of the Black Seers, powerful magic users that no one wanted to tussle with, and the swearing of revenge by his sister and subsequent Queen of Vendhya, Yasmina. Conan gets involved because seven chiefs of the Afghuli tribes he leads are captured and held prisoner by a regional governor. Yasmina arrives in secret with the intent to use the hostages to force Conan to hunt down and kill the Black Seers. Conan, on the other hand, just shows up the same night and kidnaps Yasmina, intending to use her as a bargaining chip to get his people released and what follows is one big ole adventure that takes both through treacherous mountains, against wild hill tribes and evil wizards. I don't want to spoil what happens, but I highly recommend reading it.

I've also decided to skip the other two stories in the book, since a quick Google shows that they're not as good as the first. I'm still deciding what the read next, but that shouldn't take long.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another book down and finally the Cimmerian will be read!

I finished Equal Rites, the third book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, last night. I give it an "eh". It was a bit too short for my tastes (213 pages) and sort of meandered off from the plot. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't all that good either, the weakest of the three Discworld books I've read so far.

Now though, I can move on to a book I've been wanting to read for a while - The Bloody Crown of Conan by Robert E. Howard. It's part of a three volume series that was released a number of years ago, collecting all of the Conan stories Howard wrote for magazines. Unfortunately, The Bloody Crown is the second volume and my local library doesn't have the first and third, which is a shame because the first volume contains notable Conan tales like The Frost Giant's Daughter and Tower of the Elephant. Oh well, still enjoying it. The book contains three stories: The People of the Black Circle, Hour of the Dragon, and A Witch Shall Be Born, along with some extras, like the synopsis that Howard had written for the three stories, an untitled draft and a some other things. I'm probably just going to read the three stories and maybe peruse the other stuff.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (spoilers)

Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the first book in the Dragonlance Chronicles and written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, follows a group of heroes as they reunite after spending five years apart, looking for signs of the gods of old and of impending war. Their reunion and the chance encounter with a barbarian and her lover leads them on an adventure that turns into a quest to save the world of Krynn.

Just finished Dragons of Autumn Twilight

 Review coming tomorrow, since it's too late now. Good book though, was worth the read. Now I have to decide what to read next: Equal Rites (Discworld), a Conan story collection, or take a break from reading fantasy and read a history book. I'm leaning towards the first two.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Topless Robot's Ten badass women from fantasy lit is worth checking out

Admittedly, I've never heard of some most of the women on the list, being somewhat new to the fantasy scene, but I recognize a few, like Eowyn and Arya "HBIC" Stark. I don't much like Polgara; I read Pawn of Prophecy and she came off as a bit of a...well, she came off as a bitch, to be frank. In my opinion, she dragged the story a little.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Getting that writing Jones.

You'll fear the kilt almost as much as the halberds.
I've been thinking about writing lately. I used to do it a lot, about ten years, until I stopped about a year or so ago. Nothing ever came of it, just random fantasy and scifi stories that never got anywhere. However, since getting into fantasy fiction and starting this blog, I've been tempted to write again - not full length stories and probably not even short stories, just bits and pieces of whatever comes to mind. How does this relate to the above picture? I'm toying with the idea of writing a brief tale about a group of halberdiers during a battle. Obviously, it won't be LOTR quality, but that's not the point. The point is just to write something that's fun to both write and read. Anyway, if I do go through with it, I'll be sure to post it here first and only.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Amorphous Drake by Lucas Graciano

Game Informer
It's no wonder Lucas Graciano recently won the Chesley Awards for achievement in art, specifically for drawing this utterly badass picture of a dragon for Sony's Legends of Norrath game. I really dig everything about this picture, from the dragon to the spears jutting from offscreen. The mental imagery is invokes is interesting: A dragon appears in the great hall of a castle, the guards surround him, wondering how exactly they're going to take down a dragon. Love it.

Watch this axe-wielding warrior bird lay waste to its enemies

Verily, he is a mighty warrior worthy of song!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Knights of the Silver Hand

The Knights of the Silver Hand is one of the coolest aspects of Warcraft. A paladin order, they debuted in Warcraft II, was destroyed in Warcraft III, and recently had a resurgence in World of Warcraft. What's interesting about the Knights though is how they came to be in-universe. In the first Warcraft, you had Clerics of Northshire, priests with powers to heal, become invisible, see far away, and one offensive spell called holy lance.

In Warcraft II, clerics were replaced with paladins, an upgrade for knights that gave them the ability to cast spells similar to what the clerics had. Now, in the manual for the second game, it was explained that the clerics had suffered heavy losses during the First War (the first game), due to their lack of martial training and that two figures - Uther Lightbringer and Archbishop Alonsus Faol - came up with the idea to create an order that would meld the dual roles of warrior and cleric into one, thus the Knights of the Silver Hand was born. I like how Blizzard actually took the time to give an explanation for the clerics replacement in Warcraft II, it really does give the games more depth.

Edit: Did some picture swapping.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor

Just found this blog on Tumblr and I'm digging it! Unfortunately, many women in fantasy art are cursed to wear the much derided chainmail bikini, an outfit that can't really provide any protection at all in a fight. Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor instead posts pictures of ladies in armor that's a bit more realistic than the kind you would normally see in a Frank Frazetta painting*. There's too many awesome pictures to post, but here's two of my favorites so far.
She reminds me of Star Paladin Cross from Fallout 3. Not a bad thing.

Apparently, she's supposed to be a cleric. First time I've ever seen one wield a sword before.
 *Nothing wrong with a Frank Frazetta painting, mind you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MC Frontalot - Charima Potion

Fair warning, there's an F-bomb at the beginning.

The book and the two games that set me off on the fantasy path

Out of all the things I've experienced, read, watched, and played during my nerd life, there are three things that got me interested in fantasy.

Book: Saint George and The Dragon. I remember reading this when I was a little kid and then, rereading it several times before it eventually got packed away. I uncovered it every few years while cleaning or moving boxes and always took the time to read through it. It's a retelling of Saint George and The Dragon, part of a larger poem called The Faerie Queene. The artwork is beautiful and has that fantasy feel. Sadly, both Margaret Hodges and Trina Stuart Hyman are dead, but their work lives on.


Games: Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Warcraft II: Edition. They were not the first computer games I had ever played, I had traveled the Oregon Trail and got dysentery. My parents had picked up an older than hell computer at a yardsale, one of those rigs that predated GUI and could only do text based adventures and so I had dabbled in Kings Quest, but only once. Then in 1999, my world changed. We had just gotten a second hand computer that was just powerful enough to handle some older games o the time. Sometime later, my mom came home from Walmart and handed me a copy of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. A week later, Warcraft II followed. Out of the two, I liked latter more, as it had an easier control scheme and interface. I, like many kids back then, cheated like a demon, using all the cheat codes I could find. I still play it sometimes.

What I liked about the games was the plot and the background story. I probably read the fluff in the manuals so many times, that I could recite any part of it from memory back then. One of the things I especially like is how Blizzard has added dimension and depth to the Orcs in Warcraft III, showing that they were once a noble race that had been corrupted and twisted by a race of demons called the Burning Legion. They didn't become heroic, but shifted towards anti-heroes instead.

These three things didn't turn me into a fantasy nerd, but they helped set me on the well beaten path towards that fandom and I will always appreciate them for it.

Oh look, I created another blog

And with that, welcome to Swords, Dragons, and Nerds, three things, as the subtitle alludes, should never be in mixed company. I created this blog as an overflow for my newly increased interest and love (platonic, of course, but it's burgeoning into something more) for fantasy. As you may or may not now, I also run Nerd Lyfe, which primarily focuses on nerdery and well, I'd rather keep it at that and not have it turn into a fantasy only blog. I have some posts in mind that would have done that very thing, so I created Swords, Dragons, and Nerds as a way to preserve Nerd Lyfe, yet post all my fantasy related things. Soo...yeah. Let's start, shall we?


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