Tag Archives: books

Things to Do in Denerim When You’re Dead.

For those of you who were blissfully unaware, Friday was MMO Hard Disk Drive Destruction day. It seems that I’m one of the few people who celebrate this holiday, and it was with great excitement and anticipation that I got home from a long hard day at work, entertained my daughter for the evening and popped her to bed, before turning on my PC and finding that the HDD which was home to all of my MMO games had decided to retire from this life. Insert your own favourite line from Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch here. I don’t know why these things always happen on a Friday, but the fact that it is currently the one day of the week where I get together with a bunch of friendly others from the pool of Van Hemlock static group gamers and enjoy some hot MMO group action, probably has something to do with it. Thankfully I managed to recover the data from the expiring drive by using a little bit of trickery involving other operating systems less fussy than Windows, external cables, a Big Hammer, lots of swearing, and the customary blood sacrifice of a virgin – although I didn’t have one to hand, so I just used virgin olive oil instead; you can also use sesame seed oil if you prefer your sacrifice to have a more ritualistic smoky aroma. So I saved myself many gigabytes of downloads and many hours of painful UI customisation for my various characters across the multitude of MMOs that I play, but in the meantime I had some time on my hands, so I got around to finishing a few non-MMO projects.

Firstly, I finished reading The Wise Man’s Fear, the excellent follow-up to Patrick Rothfuss’ first book The Name of the Wind. It’s not hard to describe why I like the books so much, I think Rothfuss has a style of writing that is very easy to read, compelling without taking itself entirely too seriously, while maintaining a healthy balance between light and dark subjects. I put him very much in the same camp as Joe Abercrombie in this respect, although Rothfuss’ story tends towards the lighter side of fantasy, it serves only to make the dark moments that much more intense and emotionally fraught; Abercrombie’s tales, on the other hand, tend to run towards the dark side of human nature, while occasionally punctuating the darkness with bolts of light humour and joy. The character of Kvothe is pitched just the right side of brilliant and self-assured, without being obnoxious, and the world which he inhabits is fascinating, from the systems of magic, to the hand-talk of the Adem mercenaries, all the way down to the myths and legends, of which Kvothe himself is destined to become a part. If you haven’t tried Rothfuss’ books yet and you’re a fantasy aficionado, I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. And as evidenced by Rothfuss’ latest blog post, where he points out that The Wise Man’s Fear is currently number one on the New York Times Bestsellers list, it seems that many other people are in agreement. What’s more, towards the end of his post, Rothfuss describes how he feels that he needs to do something a ‘little bit rockstar’ in order to celebrate this success, and so what does he propose?

“Maybe I will also drink some rum while I play Dragon Age. Because… well… because I can. And because that makes it just a little bit rockstar. It doesn’t hurt to be just a little bit rockstar sometimes…”

Which brings me nicely on to the second thing I did in-between hitting a hard disk drive with a virgin while sacrificing a hammer to the gods (what can I say: it was late, I was a bit drunk, and I got the instructions upside down): I finished my first play-through of Dragon Age II. I enjoyed the game a great deal, but I’m very much a story person when it comes to Bioware games these days; I couldn’t really discuss the combat in much detail because I set the difficulty to casual, and as such there were perhaps only three fights which required me to drink a potion, let alone worry about tactics other than ‘Darkspawn? We attack! Huzzah!’. I found the companion characters to be interesting takes on standard fantasy tropes, and I enjoyed the voice acting on the whole; as I stated on Twitter, my favourite line in the game having to be Isabela’s “I like big boats and I cannot lie”. The city of Kirkwall is breathtaking (be sure to look up and take in the sights on occasion), and although the locations within it become familiar to the point of being mundane once you’re running through them for the eleventeenth time, I felt that the city never lost its sense of scale. Other than that, it’s a standard Bioware RPG, if you’re any sort of CRPG gamer then you know what that means, and you’ll also know whether it will appeal to you or not. If you want me to try to sway you, I’ll simply say: decent plate armour for female characters, woo! And I’ve included a screenshot of my Melantha Hawke in a favourite armour set from the game.

Contrast that with my High Elf warrior in Rift, who could be fighting off death invasions, or modelling for the cover of Heavy Metal Illustrated, hard to tell. I’m still not finding myself excited by Rift. I’m enjoying it as a dabbling diversion when other games aren’t drawing down my attention, but there’s something about the game that prevents me from being infatuated with it to the point of ignoring all other games, as I have done in the past with, for example, World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online. Part of my issue is the global cool-down system for combat, which I don’t find to be the purported system which ‘allows me to carefully consider my options’, but instead something which restrains me and constantly calls me to heel. I imagine it’s the same sort of frustration felt by two dogs trying to have a loud and tooth-filled debate on who is the best at being a loud tooth-filled debater, while both are muzzled with their owners constantly yanking them away from one another by their leashes. It’s a shame, because the reactive abilities that the game includes – which are off the global cool-down and thus allow you to do something useful while waiting for your main abilities to come off their European Work and Time Directive mandated 1.5 second tea break – are an excellent way to break the system up, giving the player something to do in the meantime. Make the reactive abilities less powerful, maybe make them short duration buffs, say, and you could give players something to do during the global cool-down which would help during combat without unbalancing it. A two tier system, with the main abilities all on the global cool-down, but with a wealth of secondary abilities off the global cool-down, could create quite an interesting system, and one where I don’t feel frustrated at having to spend thirty seconds of a one minute fight chin-on-hand and staring at little glowing clocks counting down on my hotbars. There are reactive abilities in the game, but never enough to make the system as interesting and engaging as I feel it could otherwise be. My other issue at the moment is the fact that I decided to play a Guardian, mainly because being utterly agnostic in real life, I tend to veer towards heavily religious groups in my fantasy escapism, much as being utterly male in real life, I tend to veer towards heavily female characters (read into ‘heavily female’ whatever innuendo you so choose) in my games. The problem with the Guardians is that the first area in the game proper where they adventure is Silverwood: a big bright ancient fantasy forest, full of elves and goblins and ruins, straight out of the fantasy cliché text book. Not a problem, this is a fantasy MMO after all, but after you finish with Silverwood, the levelling conveyor belt passes through border control and takes you into Gloamwood… a big dark ancient fantasy forest, full of wolves and ghosts and ruins, or Silverwood II: The Gloomening, as I have come to call it. My character is level twenty four, and I’m really starting to struggle to carry on with the Kill Ten X quests interspersed with the occasional frantic frenzy of fighting a rift, which alas is nothing more than a zerg wrapped in the illusory cloak of cooperative game-play. Adventuring in Gloamwood feels like I’m still stuck in Silverwod after all this time, only someone has turned the gamma down, presumably to enhance the feeling of depression the player experiences as they’re told to go and find some bat wings because Random Quest Giver X needs them to create Token Artifact Y, in order to progress Arbitrary Plot Device Z.

Still, I’ve got plenty to be getting on with elsewhere, which is another reason why Rift is perhaps not capturing my imagination like I feel it should. I’m starting my second play through of Dragon Age II, this time as a mage, to see how the sissy-robe-wearing set like to live. I’m also still enjoying my time in Lord of the Rings Online, with the Burglar coming along nicely, albeit a bit slowly what with the abundant distractions provided by single player games, books and spontaneously exploding hard disk drives.

Reviewlet: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

Following Zoso’s post regarding the freebies available for a short time on Tor, I took the opportunity to grab a couple of the books on offer and have myself a bit of a read. Unfortunately the books listed didn’t have any descriptions listed alongside, and being the lazy bugger that I am I couldn’t be bothered to research each one on Amazon. So I went for the <voice style=”reverb: on; volume: booming; pitch: low”>random click of destiny</style> and hoped that I’d picked something I could get in to.

The first book was John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, a decent enough space romp with a slightly different take on the ‘downloadable personality’ theme as seen in Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon and elsewhere. Scalzi has created a universe that is both interesting and believable, with compelling races and individuals that leave you wanting to find out more about them, and although the main story is a little uninspiring, the secondary storyline – based around the main character himself, his history and the moral dilemmas he faces as life as he knows it is turned on its head – allows the reader to really engage with the book as a whole and to be immersed in the ideas and themes that Scalzi presents. Obvious comparisons can be drawn to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and, as mentioned earlier, Morgan’s Altered Carbon, so if you enjoyed either of those two books then you probably won’t be disappointed with Old Man’s War.

The second book was Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire, a really rather excellent fantasy story that pleasantly surprised me with its well presented world, its likeable-without-being-mawkish characters and the real star of the show: Allomancy.

Allomancy is the system of magic that Sanderson has created, and instead of having it as some innate unseen power that requires hugely bearded men to sit hunched over dusty old tomes for years on end to achieve, Allomancy instead manifests itself as more of a mutation that is powered by various metals that the Allomancer must ingest and then ‘burn’ to activate the power. There are a number of known metals that can be used in this way, each giving the Allomancer a different power when they burn the metal, but they gain this power only for as long as the metal lasts since it is consumed as the Allomancer uses the power, hence the term ‘burning’ to represent the use of the power. Unlike magic in many other books though, the art of Allomancy is still not entirely understood, and this leaves the door open for things to be twisted around and for plenty of surprises to be unleashed on the main characters and the reader.

The world of the Final Empire is one of a class of nobles who rule over an underclass of slaves known as Skaa, all of whom are presided over by the Lord Ruler, the hero of a past age, who is now immortal – a shard of God – and controls the land with an iron fist. The lands themselves are a depressing affair, with what little vegetation that manages to grow under the ash-filled sky being nothing but dull brown; nobody knows what colourful plants look like, although it is hinted that they did exist in the time before the ascension of the Lord Ruler.

The story is nothing out of the ordinary, with the standard framework of the underclass rising up to overthrow their oppressors through the efforts of a select band of unlikely heroes, but it does throw some nice twists in along the way. However, there is an undercurrent of another story which is not fully expounded upon, and The Final Empire clearly leaves the door wide open for the second and third books to sate the reader’s desire to find out more about the trials of the Lord Ruler a thousand years ago: what was this Deepness that he faced? And if he succeeded in defeating it as we are led to believe, why did the land change so much for the worse afterwards? There are some answers in the first book, just enough to whet the appetite and keep the reader wanting more as the main story of the first book comes to its, perhaps inevitable, conclusion.

I could best describe Mistborn: The Final Empire as having a strong bouquet of Eddings, with a light fragrant sensation of Jordan on the palette and subtle undertones of Lynch and Gemmell.

It’s a credit to Tor, and hopefully in its own small way encouraging to authors and publishers out there, that I’ve already ordered all three books in the series, and I’m certainly keen to find out what the story is behind this fascinating world that Sanderson has created. I bought the first book because, although having read it, I’d like to give the author the sale, and there’s nothing like having a paper copy of a book, the creased and wrinkled spine and loose well-fingered pages a simple testament to one’s enjoyment of the story within. So putting a free copy of the first book in the series on to the web has resulted in at least one new fan, and a few sales, and more importantly I’d like to think that I’m not out of the ordinary in doing so. Not only that, but it has also inspired this little reviewlet which I hope, in turn, might turn some of you on to the idea of trying this excellent little trilogy yourselves.

Well done Tor for seeing the advantage in this sort of marketing strategy, and I hope it works out well for the authors involved.

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.

Let’s see, other than spending copious amounts of time covered in poop and vomit (have I mentioned the baby at all?), what have I been up to that might be marginally more interesting to those of you who come to read this blog on occasion.

Well time really has been at a premium so MMOs were the first to suffer the +1 Pendulous Axe of Time Management. It’s hard to find an MMO that one can dip into and play with very little commitment; it’s not just the relatively small slices of time that I am afforded to play at the moment, where travelling time in some MMOs would consume ninety percent of my play experience, but also the fact that it’s very hard to just abandon an MMO at the drop of a demanding baby’s +2 Hat of Vocalised Attention Seeking. In a single player game it’s very easy to hit a pause button, press escape to pull-up the options menu (which I suppose is the modern game equivalent of the pause key), or to just abandon the game very quickly wherever your character currently stands, knowing that when you return they will be standing where you left them, perhaps picking their nose or tapping their foot impatiently, but otherwise unscathed. Not so in an MMO: if you leave your character for even a fraction of a second, turn your head to look at something on the television, say, or look briefly out of the window at all the young healthy people soaking up their daily dose of vitamin D, perhaps bend down to rub some life into the numb slabs of jelly that pass for one’s legs, or so much as blink for longer than the requisite human system requirement of four hundred milliseconds, and a thousand angry mobs will have rained down upon your character and have reduced them to zero health points before you can say “By Chronos’ hairy arse! I glanced away for no more than the duration of the blanking period of my monitor! It’s not even visible to the human eye for crying out loud!”.

Having said all that, I have been dipping into City of Villains on occasion, for a quick half hour blast here and there, generally teaming-up with Zoso and or Elf; I’ve created a new character on which I can experiment with the power-set proliferation that occurred in the I12 ‘Midnight Hour’ update, and being that my love for the Earth Control power-set is unhealthy, and in fact illegal in twelve American states, I decided to create an Earth/Thorns dominator, and thus the Iron Cactus was born. Part man. Part machine. Part succulent spiny plant.

I may have also rolled an Electric/Willpower Brute, a Dual Blade/Regen Scrapper and a Willpower/Super Strength tank, although I haven’t played any of those characters at all yet.

But I’m not an altoholic![1]

I’ve also dipped into Guild Wars on occasion, essentially because, like a saucepan of dark chocolate and cream melted over a stove, it’s very, uh, dip-inable. I have a dervish, Wur Lin (WUR LIN! Whirling! As in whirling derv… ok, I was slightly inebriated and it sounded clever at the time) a monk, Mun Ki, (MUN KI. Monkey! As in monk eee… er, eh?) and an assassin, Tri Badism (TRI BADISM. Tribadism! As in… Ah. Well. Look it up some time, ey? Possibly not from work. And not if you’re under 18). Anyhoo, I think that’s plenty enough evidence of my, to be expected, curious naming conventions for my many characters.

But I’m not an altoholic![2]

Guild Wars is terribly easy to just hop into and play a mission or two, with the option of being able to drop it in an instant should a delightful ickle pink bundle of rabid screaming poo projection require one’s immediate attention. Admittedly most of my characters are in the early teens of the level progression cap of twenty, and this essentially means that they’re hardly anywhere at all in terms of game progress, but as with my never having reached the level cap in City of Heroes/Villains, for me it’s a game about the play, rather than the progress.

What makes City of Villains and Guild Wars so readily accessible to what I dub the Radical Casual player, the “It takes fanatical dedication to be this non-committal to a game” gamer? I think it’s a combination of things:

  • The short time it takes to travel anywhere. Both games have travel systems that mean you can get where you need to go, and be slaughtering your way through bags of XP in no time at all.
  • The short time it takes to make some progress. In both games, quests are readily available, relatively quick to complete, and generally not terribly complex. Yes, both games have deeper, longer, more complex missions at the higher levels, but they maintain this quick-access, easy goal, mission structure throughout a large portion of the levelling curve.
  • The time-minimal death penalty. Both games make it very quick and very easy to get yourself back into the fight, especially when you don’t have a rezzing character in the party. Both have penalties that could perhaps be considered more harsh than that in, say, WoW, because in WoW if you make the run to your corpse you suffer nothing but a little damage to your equipment which is easily repaired, but it is the length of that corpse run that hurts the Radical Casual player because it’s time wasted, and time is the defining limiting factor in their enjoyment of a game.

So that’s it for MMO, or MMO-like, games at the moment. As Zoso mentioned, many bloggers, of which we are no exception, seem to be experiencing the Anticipatocene era of the MMO timeline, sub-heading: “What We Do Whilst Waiting For WAR”.

My other gaming action in recent times has been Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, a Final Fantasy-alike, with the various elements of a JPRG but with the rude, crude and not-for-the-prude humour that any fan of the online web comic would come to expect. With the speed of encounters, and the fact that they are not sprung on the player, but initiated by them at their choosing by walking into an area containing enemies, it’s again an ideal play style for those of us who have to regularly acknowledge a priority interrupt, we who experience random encounters of the tot kind. The game was entertaining enough to keep me playing until the end – the humour quite successfully treads that fine line of juvenile puerility without being obnoxious – but I found the combat mechanics a little frustrating, perhaps dull is the better description. I seemed to spend most combat encounters waiting for the most powerful combos to charge, and just blocking or healing damage the rest of the time, which essentially consists of pressing the spacebar a lot, or clicking a few menu options. I’m not sure if this is just indicative of the JRPG style of combat – it’s been a while since I last played Final Fantasy VII or Chrono Trigger – but seeing as the combat constitutes the bulk of the game-play, I think there could have been a greater emphasis on tactical decisions, perhaps the Tactics style of play might have been more engaging. Nevertheless, the story was fun, the writing and art direction excellent, and the game-play was certainly not tortuous, indeed the idea of having mini-games to play through to get the maximum damage from your high-power combos was a nice touch. I’ll certainly be purchasing the next instalment when it arrives. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is available on Steam and also through PA’s Greenhouse.

In non-gaming related activities I’ve been trying to read when I can, which seems to be predominantly in those periods where one hand is occupied in holding a bottle to Mini-melmoth’s chasm-like, gorging mouth hole. I fair blasted my way through The Lies of Locke Lamora, an easy to read fantasy heist with likeable characters told through fluid, playful prose. Charles Stross’ Halting State got me through many a late night feeding session. It is, however – like Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother – one of these near-future novels that rubs one’s nose in the techno-jargon of today, tweaked slightly in attempt to appear 1984-like in its predictive nature. Which, frankly, just annoys the hell-fired pants out of me, because it’s just a jarring interruption to show how clever and techno-savvy the author is, rather than a commentary on anything in particular. Constantly having your protagonists use ‘weird’ and ‘wonderful’ futuristic Google applications, by having them (in some sort of Star Trek parody) hax0r in an improbable fashion an application to produce an inverted BitTorrent flow through Google’s forward deflector shield, in order to undermine the authorities in that hip, cool and subversive manner that only asocial computer nerds can manage, is just tedious, frankly. If you want to see a near-enough-to-be-scary prediction of the future that was written in recent times (1984 is still the unassailable granddaddy, and the story that every author of this type of book should strive to achieve), then you read Gibson’s Neuromancer. No Google, no 5000 jiggerbyte iPods or Xbox 2020 editions, but it still predicts a future that we can overlay on our current reality, like a virtual map, and plot the route, as clear as the neon-bathed streets of a Chiba district at night, that humanity is taking.

Having said all that, Halting State isn’t a bad book, other than for that minor personal nitpick, which probably nobody else shares. Oh, and it mentions Scotland far too often to be subtle, often enough to be blatantly jarring after a while. Yes, we get it, you’re Scottish, and a big fan of Scotland and you believe in it as a nation, and you probably hate the English, and all that, so it’s not the UK, because that would include the English and they don’t deserve any advertising unless it’s in a bad light, such as a Hollywood villain. So it’s a story about how the Scottish police were called into investigate a Scottish crime in the heart of Scotland’s Scottish hi-tech infrastructure, or Scotlandstructure, as they call it in the Scottish suburbs of Scotland’s Scotlandscape. There’s a subtle subliminal message in there, but I’m just not quite getting it.

In other news, Mrs Melmoth and I are taking Mini-melmoth to Scotland on vacation this year. No idea why, it just seemed like a good idea.

[1]May be a lie. Regulations and guarantees apply. This statement does not affect your statutory rights.

[2]Yeah, ok, it’s a lie.

Reviewlet: Iron Council by China Miéville

Well, the intention was to write a little reviewlet of Miéville’s Iron Council, but to be honest, in browsing around to see if anyone else thought, like myself, that the book was the expression of an incredibly imagined world of wonder wrapped in a story that dragged like the hind foot of a zombie on fright night, I stumbled into the Debating Iron Council blogstravgansa over at Crooked Timber.

Warning, spoilers abound! I’m putting the warning here, after the link, to punish all those of you who have shot off to read somebody else’s post before finishing with mine. The Internet really doesn’t teach the best of social graces when it comes to the art of conversation, it teaches us more about how to… Ooo, look, goldfish everyone! Goldfish!.

What really interested me was the link about two thirds of the way down the post which pointed to China’s responses to the points raised by several of the bloggers. It’s an interesting read, and gave me an insight into the man behind the book which coloured my opinion differently after having read his point of view, and more importantly showed that he felt that there were some valid criticisms, some of which he had received in the past, which he had tried to correct in Iron Council, obviously with varying success depending on each critics point of view.

But that’s not the really great part, the fun comes further down. In the mire that is the comments. Anyone who has blogged, read a blog, or once knew a man whose auntie’s dog was featured on a blog, will understand what happens in the comments. Generally, you get the nice people, writing to share their thoughts and perhaps heap a little praise on you for being able to do no more, if we’re honest, than string a few sentences together in a vaguely entertaining fashion. Then you get the Commentards; these are the people that have to pick a hole in something that you’ve said – not really justification in itself: debate is, after all, the art of war refined into a slightly less ‘head cleft in twain by sword’ fashion – but crucially, should you dare to respond and attempt a defence of your position they will essentially resort to calling you a Nazi and correct everything you’ve said as though you know nothing about the subject under discussion and that you’re simply trying to oppress them, even if the subject at hand happens to be the best selling book that you wrote.

Fun side-entertainment, head on over to China’s response post, and see if you can spot the point where the poor author’s soul is sundered into a thousand tiny little pieces. Hint: it’s his last post to the comment thread.

Those of you who stayed to finish this post before heading on over there, well done, award yourselves a biscuit and a small caffeinated beverage of your choice. Those of you just coming back from the other thread where you shot off like a puppy after a stick, those of us here who stuck around are now ignoring you like the bad puppy that just peed on grandma’s favourite Victorian winter shawl. While grandma was wearing it. That’s some mighty fine projectile peeing you’ve got going on there.

The wonder of it all though is this: more and more authors are making their presence felt online, and I’m not talking about the stand-offish token page, where you get the impression that the author is wearing industrial marigolds and a face mask, and holding the page out to you at arms length pinched between their finger and thumb so as to make sure that the amount of time that they will be in contact with you, via the page, is as little as possible. No, these authors, the Gaimans and Abercrombies (and I’m sure many others, these are just two of the prominent ones that I happen to read) of the online world, respond to readers either directly in comments or as the focus of their own posts. This rather brave behaviour gives an ‘indirect direct’ access to them that provides insight into the mind behind the stories and the person behind the characters, such that all of their works are enhanced tremendously from knowing them that little bit, as much as you can know anyone online. As much as you know me. For all you know I could be a fifty year old transvestite boxing champion with a walrus moustache, called Marjorie.

I did feel a tinge of sadness though. It was the idea of having such access to luminaries of the past, contact which in the past would have been reserved for only a close circle of friends, that triggered the melancholy; specifically I was thinking of the inimitable Bard himself, seeing as I find myself endlessly marvelling at his wordsmithing. I wondered what he would say to us if he had a blog and could respond to our questions and comments, briefly I marvelled at the possibility of contact with that mind and what insight we could have garnered, until I pulled-up short and realised the inevitable, the one and only comment that he would post: he would tell us all to fuck off, because he was fed-up with having to answer to the griping pedantic diatribes of a bunch of ingrates.

But it would be the most beautiful blog comment ever composed by man.

Reviewlet: Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

No spoilers here as, amongst other people, Zoso hasn’t had a chance to read it yet.

I’ve just finished reading the third book of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. The entire series has been an astonishingly enjoyable read from start to finish. There’s plenty to talk about and I hope to craft a more substantial discussion later on, once more people have had a chance to read it. However, if you’re looking for a new fantasy author to try, I couldn’t recommend Joe Abercrombie highly enough.

This is, however, a reviewlet, so how to describe the book without giving things away? Well, Abercrombie helps with that too (the man thinks of everything), by having one of his characters provide a small description of what the book is not:

‘I’ve been trying to get through this damn book again.’ Ardee slapped at the heavy volume lying open, face down, on a chair.
The Fall of the Master Maker,’ muttered Glokta. ‘That rubbish? All magic and valour, no? I couldn’t get through the first one.’
‘I can sympathise. I’m onto the third and it doesn’t get any easier. Too many damn wizards. I get them mixed up one with another. It’s all battles and endless bloody journeys, here to there and back again. If I so much as glimpse another map, I swear I’ll kill myself.’

In the First Law trilogy there are wizards, but not too many; there is but one traditional heroic journey, and although it is bloody, it is not endless; there is little magic, but also little valour; and there are no maps.

Joe Abercrombie has taken many of the best parts of Tokien’s work and turned it on its head, creating an audacious adult fantasy work that would be better suited to the direction of Quentin Tarantino than Peter Jackson if it was ever adapted for film (one can only hope).

As I mentioned earlier, I hope for further discussion in future posts, but for now take this as one highly recommended trilogy.