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Book Reviews 2011-07-08 08:12:15 Reply

Because if you have any aspirations to be a writer, you're going to need to read books, for inspiration, for a break from your own writing, or because you really like reading.

Basically, the gist of this thread is for people to submit their own reviews to books they have read. Hopefully, you will find something in here that you've not read before and you want to read. I'll put the standard form at the top, so that people can see what we want from a review - this makes things easier to read through and find something they're looking for:

Title
Author
Genre
Publication Date
ISBN

Please provide a review for the piece and if possible, fix a picture to the bottom of the past, so that people can see what the cover of the book looks like - it's another mechanic for people to get drawn into your reviews. Try not to spoiler the plot and also to give hooks in there that might draw in potential readers.

Feel free to discuss people's reviews in the thread - we're all for discussion, particularly if it encourages other people to review works by the same author.

I'll get things started, I guess.

**********

Title - Troy : Fall Of Kings
Author - David & Stella Gemmell
Genre - Historic Fantasy
Publication Date - August 2007
ISBN - 978-0593052259

The battle of Troy rages on and the forces of Agamemnon sweep forward in search of the mighty treasure of King Priam. Prophecies abound, but can the men of Troy stand against the advancing Mykene horde?

The battle of Troy was one of the most enthralling battles and indeed legends of the ancient Greeks, first told in Homer's Iliyad and Odessey, but the late, great David Gemmell has given a touch of Drenai Legend to the proceedings, with last stands, graphic battles and epic tales, worthy of the Fat King Odessyus himself.

The characters are lovingly formed, given life to and as a reader, you develop an affinity with them, getting to know them across three large volumes - Andromache's beauty is very evident, even as a "plain" girl being led from the temple to be betrothed to Hektor in book 1 (Lord of the Silver Bow), all the way to the end of her part of the tale. Her heart-wrenching choices are felt by the reader most and the path that she takes questioned keenly at every opportunity.

Poetic licence is used liberally and in particular the more modern take on the "Trojan Horse" ploy was one that I personally found delightful, despite the fact that there was no wooden horse used to conceal Achilles and the Myrmidon, the whole effect was left unspoiled. As we know, the battle of Troy was some 3,200 - 3,300 years ago, so the details are sketchy in places. This is where an author as great as Gemmell can step in and supplant his own versions of famous named characters over the top, leading to a much more dramatic telling of the tale.

Myth blends in well with biblical texts here, as there is more than just a polite nod to the bible and various figureheads from those tales, with prophets and so forth being called upon and no stone is left unturned with the tie-in between Greek, Egyptian and Roman mythology, which was tidied up well, towards the end. Neither Gemmell has openly stated names or anything, just left enough of a clue to ring a bell and at points, I found myself leaping up from the bed to research something on the computer, regarding names, dates, or something similar.

I like to think that there is more than just a little of David Gemmell in Odessyus, the Liar King - he tells an epic tale, his loyalties are often tested beyond breaking point (If a reader can get so emotional at the death of a character, how badly must the author be affected?) and of course, his love for the fair Penelope, queen of Ithaka. This leads me to the tragedy of the book's author:

Gemmell preferring to go to bed late, with his wife favouring an early start, on July 28, 2006 she was surprised to wake up to discover the bed empty. "I thought, 'Oh good, he must be working', and went to take him a cup of tea in his study." Finding him slumped over his desk, she "hoped he was asleep but I knew, really, that he was dead."

The death of Gemmell ultimately stopped the story, but with the bond that he shared with his wife Stella, she took up his notes and finished the tale. The transition was practically seamless, though there were passages that had me considering if this was actually David Gemmell's writing, or that of his journalistic wife. I am eternally grateful for her taking up this mantle, as it has presented me with a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that I would have been denied, had the work been allowed to die with him.

And now, David Gemmell can sit there in the halls of heroes, drinking wine alongside some of his own heroes - Druss the Legend, Hektor, Odessyus, Helikaon, Andromache, Banokles, Kalliades, Gershom, Waylander and Sigarni, to name but a few. He will sup wine with them and regail them all with tales of heroes, villains and battles of times past.

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Response to Book Reviews 2011-07-09 10:36:30 Reply

At 7/8/11 08:12 AM, Coop wrote: Because if you have any aspirations to be a writer, you're going to need to read books.

I hate that phrase. I've heard it before and respectfully disagree. I think a good writer can appreciate any form of story, including but not limited to books.

Also Jennifer Government was p. good I liked that book.

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Response to Book Reviews 2011-07-10 06:47:45 Reply

At 7/9/11 10:36 AM, EnactJudo wrote:
At 7/8/11 08:12 AM, Coop wrote: Because if you have any aspirations to be a writer, you're going to need to read books.
I hate that phrase. I've heard it before and respectfully disagree. I think a good writer can appreciate any form of story, including but not limited to books.

If you have an aspiration to write a book, you will need to have read a book, to at least have an idea about how it is put together. Why is this so wrong?

Also Jennifer Government was p. good I liked that book.

Wow, what a detailed review.


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Response to Book Reviews 2011-07-12 16:28:31 Reply

Title: The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Genre: detective story (investigation)
Publication Date: ---
ISBN: ---

I'm sorry about the lack of info. in Publication and ISBN, this was a book for school which I got from a friend just to read and I had to give him back of course. Still, I think you can find the book to read at the internet.

--------------------------

This is a really good book for who likes investigation and detective stories, one of the first in the genre, principally of the category "Whodunit?"--category which the main objective of the protagonists is find out who was the murderer, which is only revealed at the end.

The story is about a brutal murder that happened in an apartment, which two people--a lady and a girl--were killed. Police starts the investigation and find that there was a money bag in the house and this was probably the killer's objective. They end up arresting a man and consequently they end the case. But a man called Dupin thinks that the man who have been arrested--it is innocent and opens the case again investigating clues of the murder, helping the police and interrogating all the people around.

It is an awesome book with an awesome narration, not without mention the dialogues.

* DON'T READ WHAT IS BELOW IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN READING THIS BOOK!!!
* WARNING *
* WARNING *
* WARNING *
THIS CAN BE A SPOILER*************************!!!!!!!!
!!!:
THIS CAN BE A SPOILER*************************!!!!!!!!
!!!:

I loved the book but hated the end of it. Just to say...

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Response to Book Reviews 2011-07-13 01:14:32 Reply

At 7/10/11 06:47 AM, Coop wrote: If you have an aspiration to write a book, you will need to have read a book, to at least have an idea about how it is put together. Why is this so wrong?

I just don't see why a good story has to be limited to literature. I see your point only in the fact that its necessary to at least have a few books as reference.

Wow, what a detailed review.

sorry I was too busy not reading your giant wall of text to write a giant wall of text.

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Response to Book Reviews 2011-07-13 18:17:38 Reply

At 7/12/11 02:25 PM, agustana wrote: Title: Zeitoun

This sounds an interesting title - did you do much bonding and were any of the people on your course from Louisiana?

At 7/12/11 04:28 PM, Spysociety wrote: Publication Date: ---
ISBN: ---

I'm sorry about the lack of info. in Publication and ISBN, this was a book for school which I got from a friend just to read and I had to give him back of course. Still, I think you can find the book to read at the internet.

Yeah, I did a bit of digging and came up with the following:

Published 1841
ISBN (for one print run at least) 0752847708

I think this is one of those tales that I should really give a go at some stage. I've been getting into crime again, but then again, with tales like "The Toyminator" bieng ones that I've been focused on of late, I might need to ease myself back into the genre, before taking on something so serious.

At 7/13/11 01:14 AM, EnactJudo wrote:
At 7/10/11 06:47 AM, Coop wrote: If you have an aspiration to write a book, you will need to have read a book, to at least have an idea about how it is put together. Why is this so wrong?
I just don't see why a good story has to be limited to literature. I see your point only in the fact that its necessary to at least have a few books as reference.

How about because a good story is literature? The only place a good story is found other than in the fiction section of the library is the reference section, under "religion". I tend to view those as tall tales anyway.

Wow, what a detailed review.
sorry I was too busy not reading your giant wall of text to write a giant wall of text.

That's the sort of attitude that I will not tolerate here. If you don't want to take part in the thread, don't. There is a wonderful thing in your browser called a "back button". Try employing that.


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Response to Book Reviews 2011-08-08 08:03:27 Reply

Title : Empire of Silver
Author : Conn Iggulden
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publication Date : 2nd September 2010
ISBN : 000720180X

With Ghengis Khan dead, the nation enters a time of reflection. His third son Ogedai is heir apparent, building the city of Karakorum, pains in his chest reminding him almost constantly of his own mortality. His older brother Chagatai broods away from the city, his own desire for power plain to see, while their younger brotehr Tolui serves as regent, until Ogedai can take the solemn oath and assume the khanship.

This book covers a transitional period of unrest in the Mongol empire and shows how history could have been vastly different, were one or two people to die sooner, or live longer. The intrigue is such that working out who pulls strings with whom can be difficult from time to time, with power plays and politics taking an increasingly important role, since the time of Ghengis, which would have seen nothing stand in the way of the tumans sweeping as far west as France and having an empire which stretches all the way from the Pacific to Atlantic.

As an observer, I was not aware of the role played in this dynasty by Ogedai Khan. His short-lived khanate was very eventful and while those who casually study Mongol history would be aware of the names Ghengis and his grandson Kublai, we are not privy to the information on Kublai's uncle and to a lesser extent his parents, who both had a major role to play.

Compiled with historical notes at the end of the piece, we are confronted with a sprawling mass of information, which one could expect from an empire that dominated the world of the 13th century. Conquest ranging from Eastern China all the way through Russia, Afghanistan, Persia, Hungary and even threatening Austria just goes to show the scale that the Mongols waged war on.

As we know, the death of Ogedai does not cause the empire to crumble, but it does cause issues for the four princes, away on campaign with Ghengis' famed General, the Orlok Tsubodai. Batu, Guyuk, Mongke and Baidur are all grandsons of Ghengis and they must make a choice when they hear the news - do they ride for Kharakorum, to make Guyuk Khan and possibly fight Chagatai (Baidur's father, who was spurned from the Khanate in favour of his younger brother some years ago)

I won't spoil the ending, the intrigue and the setting, but anyone with a passing interest in this will work out where it all ends.

This book shows off the innovations that Mongols introduced as well - yam stations, where riders could take a message along a road for a hundred miles in a day. Riding twenty five miles and stopping for a fresh pony, messages could be sent to the front with great haste. 2 months to get a message 5,000 miles from Karakorum to Budapest was a grand achievement, which was emulated in stagecoaches and the like for centuries until the industrial revolution changed all of that.

Amazingly well researched and in depth, Iggulden gives us a tale akin to his hero David Gemmell, yet he still finds time to make sure the facts are as true as he wishes them to be. He apologised for not fitting one of the key battles in and makes a footnote of it in his historical notes chapter, which is a fitting tribute for a nation such as the Mongol empire.

Two very similar authors, with the genre they focus on, yet the end products are very different. I like both, but for differing reasons - Gemmell's seem like epic tales which we know the characters are not real and he has strayed further from hard fact, while Iggulden seems to use the characters to bring the facts to life. I would love to see his take on Troy, but for now, I will concentrate upon his Rome series.

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Response to Book Reviews 2011-08-08 23:30:32 Reply

Coop we already have a book club for the same thing. http://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1895 55/


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Response to Book Reviews 2011-08-09 14:22:00 Reply

At 8/8/11 11:30 PM, J-Rex wrote: Coop we already have a book club for the same thing. http://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1895 55/

Yeah douche, if you'd noticed, I used to be a member there. Since it was pretty much dead (last post in 2007, before you chose to revive it), I left it alone. There is also the literature lovers thread in C&C, both of which I am happy to leave as they are.

This is not supposed to be for discussion, it's more aimed at people that wish to write a quick expose on the book they have just read.


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Response to Book Reviews 2011-08-10 10:05:18 Reply

I love reading, and I hate seeing threads get derailed. So here I am!

Title - Frangipani: A Novel
Author - Celestine Vaite
Publication Date - February 2006
ISBN - 978-0316114660

I found this book at Barnes & Noble with a sticker that said "On Sale- $3.95." The cover was what really caught my eye, and I started flipping through it. I was immediately hooked.

The story is the second, but only one published in the U.S., in a trilogy about Materena Mahi, a typical Tahitian woman. The book covers her travails in raising her first daughter and her attempts to impart her traditional and common-sense knowledge gathered as a cleaning woman. The story within is packed with little parables ranging from the hilarious to the heart-string tugging. While it is a book about a mother and a daughter, there was plenty to entertain anyone, and enough humour to keep the tone light. The entire novel is happily and lovingly written, with a million fascinating insights into life on the island of Tahiti. I'd reccomend it to anyone, especially anyone who wants to understand mothers or daughters better.

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Response to Book Reviews 2011-10-17 13:52:21 Reply

At 8/8/11 08:03 AM, Coop wrote:

Title : The Toyminator
Author : Robert Rankin
Genre : Surreal Fantasy
Publication Date : 2006
ISBN : 0-575-07010-2

Eddie Bear is no longer mayor of Toy City. He was outed, but for good reason. He did a bad job. Now, he's back to his old business, running Bill Winkie's detective agency alongside his friend Jack. Jack has been busy too, seducing dollies. Jack is a very naughty boy.

I've read this book and I'm still not entirely sure of the plot. I know what happens and I don't want to tell you, because it would only spoil it... I think. That said, Robert Rankin is a fantastic author, who really does think of everything, crossing the fourth wall at frequent intervals and messing with the collected heads of his readership at every turn.

There's something to do with 1940's Hollywood and for some reason sprouts as well. Will Jack and Eddie work it out in time? Will they work out who is the comedy sidekick for whom? And will I ever dare to pick up another Robert Rankin. Yes, I will, but not for at least one title, to say the least.

You will need to read The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse forst, it will help this one make a tiny degree of sense. But then, even Winnie the Pooh was a bear of very little brain and he viewed himself as superior to otehr stuffed bears - the ones that couldn't run riot in some child's imagination, for example.

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Response to Book Reviews 2011-10-17 14:13:18 Reply

Title: The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear
Author: Walter Moers
Genre: Fantasy

This is an incredibly zany story about a blue bear (obviously) who goes on a journey through a magical land called Zamonia. If it sounds childish to you, it's about 400 pages long and contains swearing, not to mention some strange scientific hypotheses.

All bluebears have 26 lives, and this story includes half of them. Narrated by Bluebear himself, the story tells of his first memory: floating in a nutshell in the middle of the ocean, heading toward the world's largest whirlpool. He is rescued by miniature pirates, who must later abandon him on an island of Hobgoblins due to Bluebear's increasing size. The story progresses from there, as Bluebear meets a talking pterodactyl, is whisked off to a boarding school in the mountains, and finds his way to Atlantis, the capital of Zamonia. I have barely just covered a fifth of the action and adventure in this book. I promise you, it's like nothing you've ever read. There's a sequel called Rumo and his Miraculous Adventures. Both are incredibly zany and fantastic. I definitely recommend reading this book.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-01-02 11:19:47 Reply

Title : The Many-Coloured Land
Author : Julian May
Genre : Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Publication Date : 1982
ISBN : 0-330-26656-X

"Will eventually rival the Lord of the Rings and the Foundation Trilogy" is the tagline greeting you on the front cover of the book, which bodes well, but is a fickle double-edged sword, raising the bar to infeasible levels.

Aliens have come to planet Earth and the Galactic Milieu has welcomed humanity with open arms, claws and tentacles. Being six races, the Milieu strives to accommodate one and all, regardless of their disposition or their background. Humanity has achieved "operancy", regarding metapsychic powers, such as telekinesis, telepathy, coercion, redaction (healing) and creativity. Science has afforded a great many breakthroughs, not least, a discovery in the south of France on Old Earth.

A time portal, to some six million years in the past has been made and sustained. When the scientist dies, his widow is convinced to run her home as a tourist attraction, sending thousands of people back to Pliocene Earth. The catch is there there will be no coming back. Our story focuses around a bunch of misfits, known as Group Green, their stories that led them to taking the step back in time and what happens to them when they get there.

With no communication between the times, no-one is aware that there are alien lifeforms in the past, willing to exert their will upon the stupefied time travellers. The graceful Tanu and the monstrous Firvulag. Humanity is but a pawn to the will of these two races, but knowing that your race will emerge triumphant some six million years in the future, can make your torture more bearable.

May sets the scene beautifully, with the open countryside of southern France, Germany and other alpine nations giving way to a backdrop of huge potential, allowing us to see the potential for humanity in this Many-Coloured Land, if they can overthrow the Tanu oppression. Will they convince the Firvulag to help them, or was the time portal just a dead end for criminals and low-lives to be fed to?

There are eight books in a mobius loop of a series (two series, actually), but this is the start, for want of a better description. The first book to be published, followed by "The Golden Torc"; "The Nonborn King"; "The Adversary" makes up the saga of the exiles, while the Galactic Milieu series covers life for humanity from the 1940s up to the great rebellion. More information to the readers actually willing to pick this series up and read them from start to finish. (Those books are Intervention; Jack The Bodiless; Diamond Mask and Magnificat)

The series is enthralling, though as it is now out of print, the bold assertions of the publishers or critics were a little wide of the mark.

Still, well worth a read if Sci-Fi is your thing and even moreso if you are after good quality discount literature.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-01-02 23:05:12 Reply

Would someone do a review for The Newgrounds Writing Anthology when it comes out?


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Response to Book Reviews 2012-01-13 02:52:50 Reply

Codex Seraphinianus
Luigi Serafini
Fiction/Fantasy/Encyclopedia
1981
0-89659-428-9

Quite possibly the strangest book in the world. It's the encyclopedia of a non-existant parallel world depicting its plant-life, animal-life, laws of physics and cultural diversity; all described in the (indecipherable) Saraphinian script.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-01-28 15:29:46 Reply

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE VIDEOGAME***

Title : Assassin's Creed - Renaissance
Author : Oliver Bowden
Genre : Video Game / Fantasy / Historical
Publication Date : November 20th 2009
ISBN : 978-0-141-04630-3

As you may be aware from the title of the book, this is based wholeheartedly on the rather successful game series of the same name. Assassin's Creed seems to be taking the entertainment world by storm, with games, figurines, a movie or two, clothing, cosplayers and now a series of books to go with it. I tend to approach such things with a degree of cynicism, as upon my first view into it, Oliver Bowden has just piggy-backed the majority of the plot of his book from the game, Assassin's Creed II. Why not start with Assassin's Creed I, you may ask? Well, since that game focused around the assassin, Altair ibn La-Ahad, as opposed to Ezio Auditore, these books seem to have focused on Ezio's journey. Since this covers three games, you could be forgiven for thinking that it were a greater cash cow to milk.

To say that the majority of the plot is already written would be a little harsh, though no less true. Bowden does give flesh to the bare bones of the characters, although the team at Ubisoft, it can be argued, have already done so for the games. I'll admit that I've read other historical fiction and the fact that it seems from time to time that I was reading an officially sanctioned fan fiction... almost in the way that reading Henry V or Richard III feels similar.

The events have stayed faithful to real life and documented events, such as the ascension of Rodrigo Borgia to Pope Alexander VI. Dates are given and lovingly adhered to, which puts things in good context. The Sistine Chapel had been built, but not painted, for example. Raphael came after Ezio's first visit to Rome, which adds a certain degree of depth to everything. I knew it personally, but it was something that was not dwelled upon during the game, though you could find out, from reading the encyclopaedia excerpts. These are added as asides in the descriptions of Renaissance Florence, Venice, Forli and Rome.

While someone not so enamoured with the games may view them as unnecessary, the texts themselves would make for brilliant stand alone novels, though without prior knowledge, someone may give undue credit to Bowden, which I feel unfair. I note that in the back of the book, there is a note to thank the Ubisoft Legal Team, who I would assume read this text and removed anything potentially libellous toward the Catholic Church, who seem to be painted as largely innocent bystanders, hijacked by the ambition of the secretive Templars. A role that I would usually say is not reserved for them - that of the victim.

The pace is a little slow to start with, as it was with the game and you can get bogged down with introductions to the main characters and the assassination plot against the Duke of Milan, Galleo Maria Sforza, which Ezio's father tried to prevent. Ezio gets thrust into politics and the trial by blade, when his father and brothers are hanged for treason. He seeks vengeance and the chapters shorten as a result, picking up the pace and my overall enjoyment of it.

I feel that the addition of a cast of various famous individuals from the time was nice and Bowden carries this on, by name-dropping a few more, such as Boticelli, Michelangelo and Raphael, for what they did during the time. As per the game, it is left like a cliff hanger. Some of the parts that I were getting ready to give credit to Bowden on writing alone seem to have been additional plot, but I have since found that they are from some of the smaller games. In this case, Assassin's Creed : Discovery is the story of Ezio attempting to recover the Apple from a fanatical monk, who has become the ruin of Florence. A little additional plot and it stretched the book by about 75 pages, but the game could seem surplus to the enjoyment of that franchise.

I like the books, I love the series of games and I wouldn't necessarily say that you should read these first, before you play the games, but if you are considering them, play first, as it could reduce your enjoyment of them.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-01-28 15:46:19 Reply

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE VIDEOGAME***

Title : Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Author : Oliver Bowden
Genre : Video Game / Fantasy / Historical
Publication Date : November 25th 2010
ISBN : 978-0-241-95171-2

Book two of a series, currently four novels (though more are in the pipeline, due to the ongoing nature of the series) The book itself is largely the plot of the game of the same name, so if you have not played the game yet (or it's predecessors) and may have the desire to, I would suggest that you play the game through first, to give a better grasp of the plot, since this is not entirely the work of Bowden. Granted, when loose ends are tied up, that are not done so in the game, Bowden does give us a certain flair for the dramatic, while also staying true to the original plot, which is nice.

The characters are well crafted and they come alive even more so in the book than in game, because you spend more time immersed in the plot of Ezio's life. The interactions between himself and Caterina Sforza is given much more added depth and it can be truly heart-wrenching, when it becomes apparent that Ezio has spent most of his life alone and will not settle down with a wife and children, as his earlier desires may have been (See Assassin's Creed Renaissance).

The pace of this work is quicker than the predecessor - 50 pages longer and over twice as many chapters causes the reader to become more easily engrossed, via the "just one more chapter" method, which did cause me to lose a bit of sleep. I love the interactions between the main characters, including Niccolo Machiavelli, who seems even darker and more mysterious than he was in the game. New characters are introduced and the concept of the brotherhood, as exposed in Renaissance is truly exposed, where Ezio pits his wits against the Catholic Church and their bankrolled army, led by Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. Now advancing in years, Alexander is not seen as the head of the household any more, though with the nature of internal politics, there are a great many power struggles going on.

Ezio is advancing in years, as he was in the game. Now approaching his forties, he struggles to achieve some of the feats he managed in the earlier game and new tactics are called for. New characters have been introduced and older ones have left, some by force, others of their own volition, maintaining a nice balance and lending weight to the argument that the Assassins and Templars is an eternal struggle. They are two sides to one coin and the reader is unaware of the game developments with Desmond, which is not thrown into the mix at all. A book on that would really show the writing capabilities of Bowden, though seeing one forthcoming could be a stretch.

Some game reviewers may have said that Brotherhood was merely an add on to Assassin's Creed II, which I disagreed with. Personally, reducing the size of the typeface and condensing some of the plot would have enabled this whole trilogy of books (Renaissance, Brotherhood and Revelations) to be condensed into two books, which reflected the plot of three games. I am yet to play the third instalment, though with the way it was written in these two books, I was not entirely encouraged. Maybe the games will reflect differently to these.

Do not get me wrong, they are good books, but it has a "stale" feel to it, where the plot has largely been piggybacked by Bowden and nothing else has been added to it, by describing the moves of a Master Assassin and putting a few words in his mouth does not compensate. For me, I feel it can be regarded as licenced, published fan fiction, which seems a little wrong, as I know there are authors out there that could do better, by staying away from the main plot. Still, this is Ubisoft and they have allowed, nay encouraged it to happen, so what do I know?

Read it and let me know what you think.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-04-05 10:30:18 Reply

Title : The Dangerous Book Of Heroes
Author : Conn Iggulden & David Iggulden
Genre : Historical / Factual
Publication Date : 2009
ISBN : 978-0-00-726092-8

At first glance, the only reason for me to pick up this book was the name of the authors on the front. Conn Iggulden has become synonymous with historical fiction over the past decade, due to his works dedicated to Julius Caesar and Ghengis Khan. Picking up the copy in the local bookshop, I was surprised to see how little I knew about the heritage of the British Empire and some of the heroes that the two brothers had discovered as children, through to their current ages or around 40.

There is little in the way of order for these figures to be thrown at the reader, which helps to break the timeline up - a casual reader may become bored by reading about a glut of Victorians who all went to India, fought the natives, signed up with the East India Company, left and still managed to cement a lasting legacy in British history. (Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, Robert Clive and James Brooke - Rajah of Sarawak were the three mentioned in this text.) It is a text that you can read a chapter on, become immersed in the folklore of one individual, turn the page and find yourself romping with the next hero, halfway around the globe, two hundred years before.

Each tale is different, plus some have exceptionally graphic detail, such as Sir Ranulph Feinnes' attempts to self medicate his frostbitten finger tips with a Black & Decker fret-saw and Charles Napier getting hit in the face with a musket ball, only to have it popped out from the bone without anaesthetic, by some surgeon's thumb inside his mouth. You find three "classes" of heroes in this book - Military heroes (Born soldiers, who were destined for greatness from an early age.) We all know the type - Nelson, Wellington, Douglas Bader, for example. Enduring heroes (explorers, for the most part) Such men and women as Alcock and Brown; Gertrude Bell and Sir Edmund Hilary. Then there are those that did what they felt was right on the spur of the moment, such as Lisa Potts and Edith Cavell.

Some tales make your breast swell with pride at being a member of the same race of ingenious creatures to have accomplished such feats, others will bring you close to tears. The brothers have done a wonderful amount of research, to debunk a few popular myths about various individuals, such as the cruelty of Captain Bligh on board HMS Bounty. Like any good historians, they care about the facts:

"The men and women in this book were in some cases possessed of superb self-confidence and personal belief. Others doubted their every action to the point where they could hardly act at all. For some, their heroism is contained in a single moment, while others seem to have lived a life that stands out like a thread of gold.

Some names have been passed from generation to generation - the Duke of Wellington, Walter Raleigh, William Bligh, Douglas Bader. There are others you may not know, quiet heroes such as the Women of the S.O.E, the men of Bristol, the Few. Yet each of their lives illustrates how far wild courage, single minded obsession and self-belief can take you.

They are all our stories. Who we are today and who we will be depends on those golden threads; on those who didn't turn aside when it really, really mattered."

I heartily recommend that you get a copy of this book - you may learn a thing or two from it.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-06-25 05:25:21 Reply

Title : The Once & Future King
Author : T. H. White
Genre : High Fantasy
Publication Date : 1958
ISBN : 0-441-00383-4

The original Arthurian novel, this piece was adapted by Walt Disney to make the film "The Sword in the Stone". Actually comprising four novellas, this is probably the most difficult piece to read that I have ever encountered. Recommended by a friend, I was quite excited to read a piece revolving around Artuhurian Legend. Now I view the whole saga with a completely different light.

Drawing on my childhood experience of watching the Disney Film, I managed to work through the boggy, tangential progress that White made through the tale, getting easily distracted and spinning notes on inconsequential matters. Much like listening to a drunken old man, recounting a tale in the local tavern, these tangents peter out and, having prompted the bard to continue where he left off. We carry on the tale of Wart and Kay, the two young boys, being tutored by Merlyn, though as previously mentioned, the going is tough, with outlandish terms being used and a writing style akin to Tolkein's for Tom Bombardil in Fellowship of the Ring - another notorious pitfall for the unwary reader.

Sadly, I gave up on this piece, preferring to take my chances with Bernard Cornwell's tales of Arthurian adventures, which have also come with recommendations, but from different sources. I did not manage to reach the tales of "The Queen of Air and Darkness"; "The Ill-Made Knight" and "The Candle in the Wind", but I feel from White's style, I would have been left desensitised by the whole experience, so I decided to cut my losses.

In a nutshell, we can summarise that the three tales to follow detail King Arthur's reign as king, through various stages, his relationship with Sir Lancelot (and the love triangle with Queen Guinevere), then the closing acts of the King, as his reign draws to a close.

I did like the reference to the reign of King Uther Pendragon - 1066 - 1216, being the dates of the ascension of William the Conqueror (Uther the Conqueror was mentioned) and the death of King John, at the end of the Robin Hood era. Robin does make an appearance in Sword in the Stone and was the focus of a couple of chapters for detail, albeit going by the name of Robin Wood.

Potentially an enjoyable read, but requires a lot of patience to work through. Patience, which I am not possessed of.

Next up: Thief of Time, by Terry Pratchett

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-06-30 06:58:49 Reply

Title : Thief of Time
Author : Terry Pratchett
Genre : Fantasy
Publication Date : 2001
ISBN : 0-552-14840-7

Now, I may be biased when I say this, but Terry Pratchett is a master of comic satire - one who has been quietly plying his trade for 30 years, with one of the longest running and most successful series of novels ever to be released.

This book features a host of returning characters, from Death and his granddaughter, Susan Sto Helit, to Lu-Tze, the sweeper and Nanny Ogg, witch. Certainly a story that will make you think, but not one that will trouble the reader to get along with. His mind as mercurial as ever, Pratchett draws many parallels to our world of today, which make you sit up and think.

The tale focuses around the very secretive History Monks, in the valley of Oi Dong, where the cherry trees are eternally in blossom. Lu-Tze accepts a young man, by the name of Lobsang Ludd to be his sweeper. What can a sweeper possibly hope to teach a young man, in search of enlightenment? "This is a broom, copy my stroke!" would be a good place to start. Oh, that and the way of Mrs. Cosmopolite.

In an altogether less... romantic setting, Jeremey Clockson has been approached by a strange lady, flanked by two trolls. She has asked him to create a clock for her. Nothing strange, for a graduate of the Clockmaker's Guild... except the idea for this one comes from a fairytale, deep within the strange land of Uberwald. Lady LeJean sends an Igor to assist with the creation of such a clock and Jeremey sets to work.

Lobsang must work quickly, in order to prevent time from ending and history being shattered... again. Auditors have taken on human forms and still, Ronnie manages to get the milk delivered on time - nice and cold, just how people like it at 7am each morning. The Discworld is not as it seems.

A thoroughly enjoyable read and, if you hadn't guessed by the speed with which I went through compared to the previous review, something that I would gladly do again. I love the way that Pratchett has taken a simple concept - in this case time and the metaphors that people use about it - and extrapolated a fantastic and compelling plot into his own little world.

I've had a soft spot for Discworld for 17 years now. I'd love to see these tales go on forever, as I feel that the only limit to Pratchett's creativity is his own mortality and sadly his Alzheimer's. At some stage, I will read all of the Discworld Series, from Colour of Magic, all the way to Snuff (Or whatever the latest novel is at the time of his retirement from writing the series)

Next Up: Storm Front, by Jim Butcher

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-01 22:46:31 Reply

This is my favorite thread on the forum.


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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-03 17:52:32 Reply

Title: God Emperor of Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: May 28, 1981
ISBN: 0-575-02976-5

This is the fourth book in a series, so I apologize if this review seems to make little sense. Reading the first three Dune books is mandatory to understanding God Emperor.

More then three thousand years have gone by since Leto II seized control of the Empire. Dune is a verdant planet, known as Arrakis. The deserts are gone and with them the sandworms. With the source of the Spice, necessary for interstellar travel, gone from the universe, Leto sits on the only stockpile of the precious substance. During the course of his 3500 years of rule Leto has transformed himself into the God-Emperor of Mankind. Worshiped throughout the universe as a deity. His body is only vaguely human, having been joined with the sandtrout thousands of years earlier. In his mind he holds the memories of every single one of his ancestors, going back to the dawn of humanity.

Leto's rule, while considered barbaric by many, has been peaceful. None dare oppose him as he controls the sole means for travel between the stars. Guided by his prescient visions, Leto plans the future of humanity, his Golden Path, which he promises will save humanity from destruction. But at what price? To ensure that humanity is free from control by and safe from the threat of extinction at their own hands, what must be sacrificed?

God Emperor of Dune is seen as the beginning of the second saga of the Dune universe. With so much time passing between the third and fourth books the setting seems completely different. A few characters remain from the Children of Dune, notably the Ghola Duncan Idaho, and Leto himself. Herbert does an excellent job of filling in the missing years.

As with his previous works, Herbert has created yet another masterpiece of social commentary wrapped in one of the most intricate and believable science fiction universes ever created. Herbert was an expert at filling in a world with believable details and causing it to move in a natural way. The Dune universe is incredibly vivid and has served as the basis for many other science fiction works, such as Star Wars and Warhammer 40,000.

The novel touches on the themes of religious control, military culture, social stagnation, and governmental bureaucracy to name but a few. Leto's memories give him limitless historical perspective with which to critique society, and Herbert uses this magnificently to offer commentary on our own world.

The dialogue is the heart of the novel, each exchange containing mysteries and profound revelations. Unfortunately it can be a bit difficult to follow at some times and I found myself wondering just what it was Herbert was trying to say. This however merely encourages rereading the story in order to better understand the characters' various motivations.

The characters within the novel are all masterfully written, never seeming two dimensional. Herbert uses Leto's abilities at reading human emotions to draw out the inner thoughts and feelings of characters in natural way which adds to the story. As the characters grow over the course of the book it is impossible not to become captured as tensions rise and the seemingly random threads move towards the climax.

This book will make you think, and it'll make you pause while reading to consider what you've just read. It is considerably lighter on the action side of things when compared to the earlier Dune books, but it makes up for this with cosmic intrigue. If you can make it through the first three books in the series, God Emperor of Dune is well worth the time and effort.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-06 05:13:42 Reply

At 7/1/12 10:46 PM, EKublai wrote: This is my favorite thread on the forum.

I'm looking forward to the Anthology being released, as I intend to review it and post here :)

Please, give us some reviews of the books you're reading as well.

At 7/3/12 05:52 PM, starwarsjunkie wrote: Title: God Emperor of Dune

I really need to read Dune - I kind of bypassed the game and came to the film really late, never having encountered the books. Something that I may well enjoy, so I'll give it a go at some stage.


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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-06 06:00:57 Reply

Title : Storm Front
Author : Jim Butcher
Genre : Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Publication Date : 2000
ISBN : 0-451-45781-1

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is a down-on-his-luck wizard, living in Chicago. No, he's not a children's entertainer, he's more someone who can do phenomenal thinks with a gesture, a few words of faux latin and something to focus on.

Suddenly, Harry is thrust into three job offers, within the hour. A grisly murder, with obvious magical overtones (consult for the police, give his insight, that sort of thing), a missing person (from a woman, who appears to be witholding information, for one reason or another) and an offer from Gentleman John Marcone, to do... well, nothing. If that doesn't make you suspicious, I don't know what does. Oh and all this time, Harry is being watched, by the good guys. One who suspects him of being a crazed killer, weilding a massive sword, ready to exactue Dresden at a nod from the White Council. Harry walks a dangerous path.

From the outselt, this seems a little like half-baked detective fiction, but then you go deeper and the psychoanalysis that the characters are subjected to makes for a compelling web of intrigue. Buthcer is clever with introducing mechanics for the Wizards at a slow pace, so as not to confuse the reader, with the already slightly confusing plot.

Written in the first person, as Harry sees it, I love the read. I got sucked into the plot and just had to finish it as quickly as possible. So much so, that I've had to pick up the next one and have a go at that now.

Not as good as Christie, but in some places, better. I can't imagine Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot being a wizard - it just wouldn't work. His writing needs to tighten up a little on what made the plot a little easier to see through, but for a debut novel, this is very good.

From this, I can see that I need to read more crime novels. This genre could go a long way for me.

Magic. It can get a guy killed

Next Up: Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-10 22:28:55 Reply

At 7/6/12 06:00 AM, Coop wrote: I can't imagine Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot being a wizard - it just wouldn't work.

Poirot already is a wizard. They don't just hand out those mustaches anywhere.


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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-14 17:08:55 Reply

Title: Cain's Last Stand
Author: Sandy Mitchell
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication: November, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-84416-555-1

This book is part of a series so I apologize to those who haven't read the previous books.

The sixth novel in the Ciaphas Cain series, Cain's Last Stand, concludes the second arc of Cain's story. The series is set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000, a popular tabletop strategy game. Chronologically speaking this story is the last to occur of all those written so far.

Commissar Cain is over 100 years old and has retired from active duty. His reputation has ballooned considerably and he is an official Hero of the Imperium. He now teaches cadets at school on the planet Perlia, the same planet he helped save from an Ork invasion in Death Or Glory. He only wishes to see out the rest of his days in peace, avoiding the media and all possible danger. These hopes are soon dashed when word reaches of the 13th Black Crusade being launched from the Eye of Terror. Cain gets word from his Inquisition contacts that a Chaos fleet is making a bee line for Perlia to take the Shadowlight, a powerful warp artifact buried for centuries on Perlia, which Cain has had the misfortune of getting caught up with. (See the previous two novels for more about that) If they get their hands on it the Black Crusade will be the least of the Imperium. Will this be the aging and reluctant hero's Last Stand?

The Ciaphas Cain novels are one of the only truly humorous endeavors into the Warhammer 40k universe. Presented as secret memoirs written by Cain himself they are a welcome and stark contrast to the sometimes overly serious tone of the source material. Cain is painted as a man who is constantly in the wrong place at the wrong time. His attempts to avoid danger often make him seem more heroic and warlike in the eyes of those around him, giving him a hero's reputation, which causes him to be put in more dangerous situations, so on and so forth. He downplays every one of his own actions as merely self-preservation, but perhaps he does not give himself enough credit. His cynical personality makes him one of the more likable and memorable characters you'll find in the WH40k universe who isn't encased in power armor and over 8 feet tall.

That being said, by the sixth book I am beginning to grow tired of Mitchell's writing style. He is notorious for reusing the same phrases over and over again. His favorite is: "Of couse, if I had known what truly was happening, I would have been running for my life." or some variation on this theme. There are others of course, and having read six books of them, a little variation is becoming a necessity. I can't count the number of times Cain says he smelled his aide before he saw him. This phrase literally occurs every few pages in one form or another.

Ciaphas Cain is also a bit of a "Mary Sue, or Canon Sue". I can only read about him defeating Hive Tyrants single handedly with just a chainsword and a pistol before it starts to seem ridiculous. In Cain's Last Stand the Chaos Warmaster is described as a rather short man with a tiny mustache who favors giving theatrical speeches which include wild gesticulation. So now, in addition to the myriad enemies within the WH40k universe, Cain also defeats Space Hitler.

Cain's aide Jurgen, an unkempt man with terrible hygiene, also falls prey to unlikely skills and luck. Jurgen can be counted on to save the day at just the right moment so often that fans of the books have coined the phrase "Jurgen-exmachina".

The trend of constantly defeating foes takes away their power as villains. It's like a saturday morning cartoon where the same bad guy gets beaten every week. After a while the audience no longer fears them. The casual way the Cain novel's sweep aside Tyranid hive fleets, ork Wauughs!, and even entire Necron tomb worlds destroys the urgency and tension we should be feeling when he has to face these foes. Instead the audience only wonders when the inevitable third act miracle will occur to save the day.

Cain's Last Stand continues the format of the previous books. Chapters are interspersed with entries from the Inquisitor who is editing the memoirs. They provide context as well as humorous commentary. Throughout the text numerous footnotes also interject the Inquisitor's personal insights and additional information. My favorite one of these so far makes a reference to Lovecraft's The Whisperer in the Darkness when it mentions a scientist named "Migo Yuggoth".

All in all I recommend Cain's Last Stand for anyone who is looking for some light Sci-fi/action with some humor thrown in. Those looking for a more engaging read should look elsewhere.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-19 07:35:49 Reply

At 7/10/12 10:28 PM, starwarsjunkie wrote:
At 7/6/12 06:00 AM, Coop wrote: I can't imagine Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot being a wizard - it just wouldn't work.
Poirot already is a wizard. They don't just hand out those mustaches anywhere.

If he were a wizard, he would long since have learned how to display his moustache, without the application of tar.

Besides, Dresden looks a very different man, wandering around Chicago, with various magical items about his person and a leather duster. I'm not sure why the book covers picture him with a Dick Tracy hat, though... Monsieur Poirot is a fine mind, always calm. Dresden is not that, usually getting severely beaten in the process, because some things play by different sets of rules.

Title : Fool Moon
Author : Jim Butcher
Genre : Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Publication Date : 2001
ISBN : 0-451-45812-5

Picking up a few months down the road from where we left off after the goings on in Storm Front, Harry Dresden is still struggling to make ends meet, as the only Wizard for Hire in North America... in fact, in the whole world.

Just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise. A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon.

Take three guesses. And the first two don't count...

From the mundane of eating a lovely steak dinner in McAnally's Bar, being quizzed about some supernatural sigils by a friend who knows a little too much and yet somehow not quite enough, through viewing a crime scene with the increasingly wary Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, brewing potions with a skull posessed of a minor spirt called Bob, to consulting with demons in the security of his basement (purely for information, you understand). The piece can be viewed as a complete mind screw, when it appears at one point that everyone is trying to kill poor Harry... Oh and the various werewolves (Oh come on, how can that be a spoiler?!) are willing to kill one another to get at him, before Murphy does.

Some parts look a little mundane, as he calmly files the report on all things werewolf to Lt. Murphy, but Buthcer is a fantastic when it comes to pacing a story. I couldn't put the book down and will soon be picking up the next one, to find out what happens to out dashing (and increasingly injured) hero. I loved the intrigue, the questions about who is working for whom, why they would do that and the worry over what will happen and who will die this time (Yes, it's werewolves, there will be lots of corpses in this one)

And don't forget "Gentleman" John Marcone, the crime lord of Chicago's seedy underworld. His character is more fully developed in this piece, showing us a few good suggestions of how he came to be in control of most of the Underworld in Chicago and that even the FBI can't seem to make anything stick to him.

Perhaps there's a connection between all of these things. Perhaps someone in the White Council is trying to set Harry up? Perhaps he just doesn't know his true enemies all that well, yet. Don't let them know your full name, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, will you?

Fast paced, exhilerating and something that I want to read more about. Fortunately, Jim Butcher is a young man, so I'd hope that we can expect a good few more of these books to show up, in the fullness of time.

Next Up: Grave Peril. Hmm... this one sounds a little Zombie like, doesn't it?

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-22 17:56:44 Reply

Title: Starship Troopers
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: December 1959
ISBN: 0-441-78358-9 (Might be out of date, I have an old edition of the book)

Bugs, sir! Zillions of 'em!

I read this novel for the first time when I was in 6th grade. At the time I only read it because I had seen the movie and wanted to read the book as I was sure it would be filled with action, gore, and a coed shower scene. Much to my surprise the book and the film are similar only in their settings and the names of the characters. The book is much better. Even without the aforementioned shower scene. Rereading it ten years later I am amazed at how much I failed to comprehend the first time around. (I also remember it being longer. Back then 260 pages was HUGE)

But I digress.

Set in a future where humanity has developed faster than light travel, colonized the stars, and is unified under the Terran Federation, Starship Troopers tells the story of Johnnie Rico, a young man who joins the Mobile Infantry in order to become a citizen. He endures harsh training and learns the high price of citizenship. Rico is soon swept up in an interstellar war with a hostile race known simply as the "Bugs".

Before the name Starship Troopers was famous for a cheesy science fiction film, it was famous for the level of controversy it stirred. In it, Heinlein creates a human culture based around the idea of responsibility to the whole. In this world, only those who have done a term of federal service are allowed to vote, all others being considered "civilians".

This is the most interesting part of the book. Heinlein outlines why the Federation has the laws it does and then actively proves why they are superior to those we have now. Having survived the decline and fragmentation of what Heinlen describes as the "foolish unlimited democracies of the 20th century", (The United States broke apart in 1987) the Federation uses flogging and hanging as punishment for crimes, and is run by the military. Heinlein points out the faults in complete democracy without any responsibility and the failures of the justice system. He instead advocates immediate and harsh punishment and concentration of voting rights to those who want them so badly that they are willing to risk their lives.

And that's what Starship Troopers is really about. The Bugs make an appearance every so often, and we are reminded of the threat they pose. But the real message here is that a society as undisciplined as our own is bound to fail, (in Heinlein's opinion) and without a greater degree of personal responsibility we will be destroyed by a foe who can cooperate better and out compete us.

Interestingly enough, Starship Troopers doesn't have a central plot, there's no obstacle to overcome and no real enemy to be vanquished. Johnnie Rico tells his story matter of factly and that is all. No great triumph. No come-from-behind victory. Just life in the Mobile Infantry and the war against the Bugs.

Heinlein was a military man himself, and it shows in his realistic and human way of making you care about each soldier. The soldiers are never charicatures, even the gruff drill sergeant, and they are treated as individuals. Another sign is his absolute adoration of women. They are treated like goddesses within the book, and are worshiped, not lusted after.

Starship Troopers is a very interesting read, filled with lots of commentary on society and its rules. Recommended for anyone who loves military fiction, history, and discussion of society. If you're looking for coed shower scenes, you will be disappointed.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-07-29 22:29:02 Reply

Title: Desert Raiders
Author: Lucien Soulban (I hope that's not a pen name, because its one of the coolest names I've ever heard)
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Publication Date: December, 2007
ISBN: 9781844164929

When an Imperial astropath receives a distress call from the uninhabited desert world, Khadar, the 892nd Tallarn are sent to investigate. The regiment is made up of the remnants of two other divisions, who harbor a tribal blood feud going back centuries. Can the new regiment stop from tearing itself apart long enough to unearth the mystery of Khadar and stop a Tyranid invasion?

The Imperial Guard novels from the Warhammer 40,000 universe are a complete mix of quality. Some are are amazing and some are instantly forgettable. This one falls somewhere in the middle.

Focusing on the Tallarn, the psuedo-Arabs of the 41st millenium, this novel already sets itself apart from most Warhammer fiction. The Tallarn are a somewhat refreshing change from the legions of pseudo-British and pseudo-Romans who populate the majority of the Imperium of Man. That being said, the business of their tribal blood feud gets old quickly.

The two factions spend so much time bickering over a conflict hundreds of years in the past that it is almost a relief when the Tyranids inevitably show up and start eating everyone. While maybe this is a reference to our own world, it does not make it any less tiresome to read about.

The writing itself is neither great nor terrible. His characters have some depth, but not a whole lot. Many are introduced to us moments before their death. This makes it hard to care about anybody other then the core group. The dialogue can be cliched at times, while being very poignant at others. The battle scenes are decent, but again, noting really stands out. The Tyranids can make for an interesting foe, but Soulban writes them as if they are the Bugs from Starship Troopers (The movie version, where they're mindless cannon fodder). The ending makes up for most of this however. It introduces a certain uncertainty about the whole affair which it does not really address. Many questions are left unanswered. Whether that's good or bad depends on the person I guess.

I recommend this book to anyone who's looking for some insight into one of the lesser known groups within the WH40K mythos. Otherwise you can probably find more entertaining Military SF elsewhere.

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Response to Book Reviews 2012-08-07 13:06:16 Reply

Title: The Primarchs
Editied By: Christian Dunn
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Publication Date: May 2012
ISBN: 9781849702072

This one is an anthology of 4 short stories, so I'll give a review for each of those separately and then give an overall impression of the book as a whole. This is part of the Horus Heresy series, which is a prequel to the Warhammer 40k universe. This anthology is the 20th book in the series so.... this review probably won't make much sense. Sorry.

#1. The Reflection Crack'd by Graham McNeil

The first story deals with Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children Legion. Set immediately following the massacre at Isstvan, the story details the Emperor's Children's descent into madness. Ordered to attack Mars by his brother Horus, Fulgrim instead decides to raid resource rich planets for his own benefit before following the Warmaster's orders. Some within the Emperor's Children do not believe that Fulgrim is who he says he is anymore.

I liked this story a lot because it deals with the change of a legion from stalwart defenders of the galaxy into hedonistic monstrosities. We also see the final struggle between Fulgrim and his demonic allies, warring over his soul. The majority of the plot revolves around the belief that Fulgrim is now possessed by demons, and his most trusted advisers seek to cast this demon out. This leads to a rather disturbing torture scene in which it is unclear whether it is Fulgrim who is being tested, or the marines.

#2. Feat of Iron by Nick Kyme

This story is set before the outbreak of Civil War and focuses on Ferrus Manus and his Iron Hands Legion. A frustrated Ferrus seeks to destroy an Eldar world with the aid of his brothers Mortarion and Vulkan. In the course of the battle he is kidnapped by Eldar farseers who seek to warn him of Horus's impending treachery. But will the primarch heed their call?

This short is related to the first one as it was Fulgrim who slew Ferrus at the massacre at Isstvan. (As is previously mentioned in the novel Fulgrim) Here we see the same Eldar attempt to warn Ferrus about the impending attack in order to prevent Chaos from engulfing the Universe in unending war. It is interesting to see how they attempt to use symbolism to show Ferrus the future, but I feel that the whole section is a bit silly and the plan not well thought out. The symbolism is so vague that only someone who already knows what happens could understand it. All in all the plot is a reference to events which occur in other books and so this story is probably the least interesting of the bunch.

#3. The Lion by Gav Thorpe

While engaged in a campaign to destroy the traitorous Night Lords Legion, Lion El'Johnson, primarch of the Dark Angels Legion receives word that a vital Imperial installation containing a powerful warp device is caught in the middle of a battle between the Iron Hands and the Death Guard. Not knowing who to trust, the Lion goes to ensure that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. But where do the loyalties of the Lion lie?

This is the third story focusing on the Dark Angels and their primarch with the silly name. It is somewhat frustrating reading about the Lion's efforts to determine which legions are on which side in the civil war and his obstinate refusal to commit to helping because of his distrust. But this is all building towards something larger, hopefully something that will make all the rest of it worth it. The novel ends cryptically with the Lion's next moves shrouded.

#4. The Serpent Beneath

The Alpha Legion's twin primarchs, Alpharius and Omegon, plot to weed out spies and traitors in their own ranks. They must infiltrate one of their own facilities and destroy it completely. The Alpha Legion's motives remain unknown as they seek to carry out their plan to save the galaxy from a future of total war, no matter the cost.

The Alpha Legion are one of the more tragic groups in the Horus Heresy as their intentions are noble but their methods are not. This story is my favorite as it alternates between the Alpha Legion's attack and the planning of it. This story also deals with a warp device which could change the tide of the civil war. The traps within traps style of the plot is also very enjoyable to read.

Overall:

The first two stories are related as they show the two brothers and how they react either to accusations of treachery or the consequences of that treachery. While they don't add a whole lot to the overall story of the Horus Heresy they offer peeks into events which have previously only been alluded to, especially in the case of Fulgrim.

The second pair of stories both deal with devices of alien design which both sides seek to possess as they could change the fate of the war, the Imperium, and the whole galaxy. While it is not yet clear what significance these stories will play in the grand scheme of things, it will be interesting to see how they play out.

I recommend this book if you have read all of the previous novels and short stories leading up to it. Otherwise it is going to make little sense. Like my review.

Book Reviews


Grungy Mech action in 1940s Russia! Read Iron and Ice!