Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Goodreas Book Review - The Last Threshold

The Last Threshold (Forgotten Realms: Neverwinter, #4; Legend of Drizzt, #23)The Last Threshold by R.A. Salvatore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With this book, the conclusion to the four-part Neverwinter Saga, R. A. Salvatore again shows why he's been one of my favorite authors for the better part of the last two decades. This is officially the 23rd book in the Legend of Drizzt series (26th if you count The Sellswords Trilogy, which, considering some of the characters involved, I certainly do) and this installment feels just as wonderful and vibrant as the first... and even moreso than the last few novels. I can't say too much more because there is almost nothing to say about this book that wouldn't be a massive spoiler, but to sing it's praise in a way, I read this novel over three days after reading the one before it, Charon's Claw, in a four-day span. That's seven days devoted to just this one story, and I was fully drawn along by the emotional triangle of Drizzt Do'Urden, Dahlia Sin'felle, and Artemis Entreri. I don't think I've ever seen three characters so fully developed sharing such a complex relationship' the relationships here actually outshine the action scenes, and we know action is one of Salvatore's trademarks. Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but after the conclusion of this, The Companions cannot come soon enough...

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gwyneth Paltrow is the World's Most Beautiful Woman?

So People Magazine has named Gwyneth Paltrow... the World's Most Beautiful Woman. Now, I'm not saying she isn't beautiful or anything, but...

...World's Most Beautiful? Really? Really? This is what I have to say to you, People Magazine:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Charon's Claw

Charon's Claw (Forgotten Realms: Neverwinter, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #22)Charon's Claw by R.A. Salvatore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fifteen months really is way too long to go without reading a Salvatore novel. I was admittedly harsh in my review of the last book in the series, Neverwinter; I felt that Salvatore was over-dependent on his (admittedly awesome) action scenes to the detriment of any actual character development in the story. I don't know if I was right or not, but that is definitely not the case here. His trademark action is present, but the character development on display is just brilliant, especially as it relates to the two triangles going on... I won't say between who to prevent spoilers. This book is so good that I couldn't put it down, devouring it over the course of four days, and it only took that long because of my ridiculous work schedule. I will say that the possibility of Drizzt losing his last real friend is a heart-breaking one, as heart-breaking a possibility as the reintroduction of the drow as a major threat to Drizzt's life is a thrilling one. The stage is set wonderfully for the conclusion of the series, a novel I am comping at the bit to dive into.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

It... Was... SPARTACUS!

R.I.P. to Andy Whitfield, the show's amazing original Spartacus

It's taken me a little over a week to get to writing this blog looking back at Starz' hit Spartacus show, which is actually fitting as it took me awhile to give the first season, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, a chance. Initially I thought the show was little more than an excuse to have an hour each week filled with sex and overly-stylized violence; don't get me wrong now, I have nothing against either of those things, but I need more from a show than that and that's all I thought Spartacus was.

You'd think, as an avid reader and writer, I'd know not to judge a book by its cover.

The show's second season, a prequel series, introduced my favorite character, the awesome Gannicus

The Spartacus series was about so much more than sex and violence. It was about deep characters on both sides, the mostly heroic slaves and the mostly despicable Romans. I qualified both camps  with "mostly" because they were each filled with characters that were both complex and richly developed. While we knew that, to their slaves, the Romans were vile taskmasters, but to the Romans, that was society. They didn't know any better. Sure, some of them were absolutely vile... like the entire house of Batiatus as seen throughout the first season and the prequel second season, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena... but they loved and they hurt and they were flawed. Some of them, like Crassus in the final season, Spartacus: War of the Damned, was noble to a fault, something that was easy to both hate and respect. Likewise, while the slaves were easily the heroes of the piece, they weren't always noble and lovable, oftentimes submitting to their bloodlust and thirst for vengeance in truly horrible ways. It seemed to me especially that one of the themes of the final season as well as the third season, Spartacus: Vengeance, before it was how far could the rebellion of gladiators and other slaves go before they became just as bad as their former taskmasters. Complex and compelling characters on both sides of the aisle is definitely a key ingredient in great television, which Spartacus was.

Liam McIntyre stepped into Spartacus' sandals started in the third season and did a phenomenal job

I would be remiss in talking about Spartacus if I didn't mention my absolute favorite part of the show: the language. When I first started watching it in my erroneous first attempt at viewing, I found the language, which to me, having taken years of Latin in high school, sounded very much like an overly literal translation of Latin to English, to be very clunky. Again, though, I stood an idiot, brain addled by quick judgement unduly harsh.

That last sentence was an example of how dialogue was spoken on Spartacus. When you really look at it, it's beautiful; there's a very poetic aspect to it both in the word choice and cadence, and the way it's shaped without excessive articles gives it the feel of urgency. it gets right to the point, showing more emotion without all the fluff. Here are a few examples from the show itself:

Split heavens with the sound of his name! Let it carry to Crassus and Pompey as distant thunder promising storm and blood!

Time conspires against will of the heart. We shall break words again when battle is won.

Once again the gods spread cheeks and ram cock in fucking ass!

I just had to include that last one... for an evil prick, Batiatus was awesome.

Much has been taken from us. Soon we will face the legions of Rome and we will return bitter favour.

It isn't easy to fictionalize real historical characters and events, but that's what creator Steven DeKnight and his incredibly talented crew did here with a cast that included such figures as Spartacus, Crixus the Undefeated Gaul, Gannicus, Crassus, Pompey, and even Gaius Julius Caesar himself. It can be difficult to make events like the Third Servile War whose outcomes are already known thrilling and suspenseful, and even more difficult to get people emotionally invested in characters whose fates are known from the start (although judging from the number of people on Twitter shocked and outraged that Spartacus and friends pretty much all died in the series finale makes me seriously worried about society...). Despite knowing that Spartacus' fate was sealed from the moment he became a slave in the first episode, we rooted for him and the rest of the slaves; we felt their every battle and their every love, and we experienced their hard-won freedom with them, regardless of how it ended. As I always say about TV shows when they end and, I suspect, even life in general, it isn't the end that matters but the ride.

Any show that could make us feel that much along the ride when we already knew how the ride was going to end deserves a place in television history. Or, as Spartacus' trusted lieutenant said,

One day Rome shall fade and crumble. Yet you shall always be remembered in the hearts of all that yearn for freedom.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: X-Wing: Mercy Kill

Mercy Kill (Star Wars: X-Wing, #10)Mercy Kill by Aaron Allston

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have to start off by saying that while I've read a lot of EU novels, I only started back in 2005 or so, so I missed the whole X-Wing series. but I've read plenty of other EU books by Aaron Allston and enjoyed them all... which makes me wonder why this one fell pretty flat with me. There are a few good scenes here and there, but for the most part I was bored. I think a large part has to do with how there's a fairly large number of characters and, with a few exceptions, not only to most of them get no real characterization to speak of, but they feel interchangeable. Whenever they speak, it felt to me like it could have been any one of them. The only exceptions were Piggy and Scut, only because of their respective races, and Myri Antilles, and she only stood put for her name. All in all, for the first book to take place after the big Fate of the Jedi story arc, this was a pretty big letdown.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Mets Monday - More Important Than Baseball

Now that the 2013 baseball season is in full swing, I was all set to blog about a few of the things surrounding my much beloved, much maligned New York Mets. I wanted to talk about what a beast Matt Harvey is. I wanted to talk about how if you only win games when two of your starters are pitching you aren't going to have a very good record. I wanted to talk about how freeing it is to not have any real expectations, how fun it is to just watch baseball when winning is a bonus instead of a goal.  I was going to talk about how unproductive a trip to places like Minnesota and Colorado can be in April. Two games in a row snowed out? Really?

Seriously, that just isn't baseball weather.

But sometimes things happen and baseball just doesn't seem that important. Sometimes tragedies strike, like what happened at the Boston Marathon today, and a day of celebration turns into a dark day filled with pain and suffering. The kind of day it seems like we have way too many of lately. It's days like these when we have to remember all the things that are more important than baseball. On a day like today we aren't Mets fans, or Yankees fans, or Red Sox fans. No, to paraphrase my favorite captain, Malcolm Reynolds, on a day like today, we're all just folks.

The thing about all of us being just folks is, for every one evil person with a bomb out there who wants to blow something up into a horrifying mess of smoke and fire, there are hundreds, thousands, millions of folks who will, without a second thought, run into that mess of smoke and fire to help anyone who needs it. For every one of these dark days caused by just one soulless degenerate, there are hundreds of good days filled with those good people.

And here's the thing that's really more important than baseball, folks... more important than anything else. Us. We are. And all we have to do to make sure the good days outnumber the bad ones is to just be good. Be loving. Be there for each other. We don't all have to be the people who will run into the smoke and fire... not everyone has that in them. But we can all do something. We can all do something good.

In the end, that's all we can do. And all we have to.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Elminster Enraged

Elminster Enraged: The Sage of Shadowdale, Book IIIElminster Enraged: The Sage of Shadowdale, Book III by Ed Greenwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first two books in this series didn't do too much for me. I felt Greenwood's penchant for a lot of background characters with weird names ran amok and detracted from the story a bit too much. Thankfully, he reined that tendency in a lot for this book, and it's much stronger for it. the focus is on Elminster and the people helping him, as well as his enemies. While there are a few asides with background characters, by the end of the story almost all of them have tied into the plot instead of distracting from it. And the ending is just explosive... literally. Lastly, it leaves the story in a good place for future installments. Hopefully there's more to come.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury (The Govenor Trilogy, #2)The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book is nominally a sequel to Rise of the Governor; I say nominally because we don't see an of the characters or plot threads from that book until this one is about half over. So in that regard, right off the bat this book disappoints. What about in other regards? To be honest, it isn't very well-written. The characters are deeply stupid and the writing is incredibly repetitive, and that is a bad, bad combination. I lost count of how many times the narration would point out that because of what they were doing, the characters didn't notice walkers around them and suddenly they were in danger. It just got boring and annoying after awhile, as did the poorly developed romances and sudden changes in a character's personality. Honestly, the only reason I could give anyone to read this book is that it provides a bit of back story about some of what goes on in Woodbury... but other than that, there's not much value here. And since even the back story really isn't necessary, you can skip this book entirely.

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