Looks like a fantasy version of Dead Island.It should be for the PC, XBOX 360, and PS3.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Imagine a zombie Jack Sparrow trapped in Wonderland, with the wits of Locke Lamora and the vulgar mouth of a dirty sailor. You might get an idea of Marius Don Hellespont. The Marching Dead is the sequel to 2012’s excellent The Corpse Rat King by Aussie-Author Lee Battersby. While I didn’t post my thoughts on The Corpse Rat King here on the blog I will quickly note that I was thoroughly impressed and became an instant fan of Mr. Battersby.
The sequel picks up after the events of The Corpse Rat King, and once again Marius is on the run, this time in search of his beloved Keth. New characters include Marius’ parents, some ninja-nuns, (no typo there, you read correctly… ninja nuns!) zombie sailors, a busty pirate wench, and a warrior who wields armor made of card-board. It might sound crazy, but it just kind of works! The novel has a sense of whimsy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. You don’t really question the world, or how the physics work, you just hold on and go for the ride.
Marius Don Hellespont is a rising star in the fantasy genre and in my opinion, he deserves a bit more attention. Lee Battersby hasn’t written the next Name of the Wind, but he has written a fun novel that fans of cloak and dagger fantasy should enjoy. I haven’t seen any of the big book bloggers talking about Battersby yet, which comes as a surprise due to the fact that he is published by the increasingly popular Angry Robot. Check him out for yourself if any of the above sounds intriguing, it’s a quick read and was certainly entertaining. Marius Don Hellespont, I hope we meet again!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I was so blown away with Dark Souls that it quickly became one of my favorite gaming experiences of all time. I cannot wait for the sequel to come out! If you're also interested, then youtube Dark Souls 2 and you can find a 12 minute game-play demo! I've also updated the blog and blog links, and I hope to post more images, tattoos, and video game related fantasy stuff in the future! I'm feeling refreshed and motivated, so stand by!!! -Ross
Sunday, March 31, 2013
After reading The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart about a year ago I had kept my eye on Jesse Bullington. (I would also like to quickly note that Mr. Bullington might just have the best facial hair in the genre. Move over Patrick Rothfuss!!!) His newest book The Folly of the World caught my eye for two reasons. The first being the beautiful cover art… I’ve heard that many authors don’t have a say when it comes to their cover art, and if that’s the case then Mr. Bullington is a very lucky author because the covers of his books are all wonderful. The second thing that really drew me in with this book was the whole concept. “A deranged thug at the edge of madness, a ruthless con man on the cusp of fortune, and a half-feral girl balanced between them”. Combining these characters with the setting of a flooded medieval world and you have a recipe for a delicious read.
I should come out and say that while I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t perfect and to be honest I would have a hard time recommending it to many traditional fantasy fans. For starters Bullington isn’t writing stories that really sit well next to the likes of Terry Brooks, or George R. R. Martin. Instead he has created his very own niche in the fantasy genre. It’s hard to describe because you have elements of whimsical prose that give the story an almost fairy tale feel, but at the same time you have elements of extreme sex and violence. This creates a unique reading experience that I haven’t come across before so it’s hard to give a good comparison. One thing that I’ve come to appreciate with Bullington is his ability to make his medieval world feel very authentic. Bullington dedicates a lot of research into his work and you can really feel it over the course of his story.
The book suffers from a bloated “middle section” which is unfortunate because the opening and conclusion are both very well done. Some readers also might be turned off by the fact that two of the main characters are homosexuals, and they do have multiple sex scenes. There is also some pretty foul language (this is coming from a sailor mind you) but the violence wasn’t as harsh as it was in The Brothers Grossbart. So take that with a grain of salt, this isn’t a book for the faint of heart or for someone who is easily offended.
The three characters were all stellar and as I mentioned above Bullington has a way with words that really give the story a feeling of whimsy. Several internal monologues also had me laughing out loud, and these elements of humor shed some light on the dark watery world that Bullington has created. Overall if you enjoyed the crazy adventures of The Brothers Grossbart than you will enjoy the hot mess that is Sander, Jan, and Jo. It is clear that Jesse Bullington is becoming a cult favorite among many people and I can’t wait to see what he has next in store for us!
*Also worth noting… No Belgians were harmed in the making of this novel.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
As usual I’m late to the party that is Prince of Thorns, but now that I’ve read the bloody tale of Jorg I can honestly say that I’m a fan! The book had a lot of hype involved with it and I think it made matters worse when another reviewer compared the book to the works of R. Scott Bakker. Now I know that’s not really fair to compare two separate books by two separate authors, but I wasn’t the one who made the comparison! After I heard that The Prince of Thorns was reminiscent of The Prince of Nothing I was immediately intrigued. Having finished Prince of Thorns I can report that the two stories are nothing alike, but Jorg’s tale was nonetheless extremely entertaining.
The plot is pretty straightforward: A young Prince witnesses the brutal murder of his mother and younger brother and seeks revenge. This isn’t your typical coming-of-age tale though, nor is Jorg your typical 10 year old… One half Conan and one half Norman Bates, Jorg is one dude I wouldn’t want to piss off. The age factor, while completely unbelievable didn’t really bother me. I had to remind myself that Mark Lawrence is writing a trilogy and that Prince Jorg will be developing in the latter two books, so I took his age factor with a grain of salt.
The one thing that bothered me with this book was the subtle references of modern technology. This is literally my biggest pet-peeve in fantasy literature. Why would I want to read about a wizard that carries a shotgun and rides around in a convertible? In my opinion it just ruins the setting. Jorg and company stumble across a hidden compartment that is essentially a security door, and then the door utters, “External sensors malfunctioning. Biometrics offline”. I couldn’t help but be a little upset with this, but then again this is a personal pet-peeve and others might enjoy these genre-blending references. Personally I like my fantasy separate from my Sci-Fi and I will be greatly disappointed if Jorg stumbles across a machine gun or a spaceship in the next volume.
All in all I did enjoy the opening sequence to Jorg’s tale and will gladly read King of Thorns. Snappy dialogue, a love to hate main character, and some bloody good action scenes make this one a must read. Fans of PG rated fantasy should steer clear as this one would probably get a NC17 rating. Bring on King of Thorns!
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
“I have crossed an ocean to come here, but my journey is yet in its infancy. I stand at the cusp of a formidable expedition, and I cannot say to what far reaches my journey will take me, or what might be waiting for me. I can only say that I have come to discover a past that has remained hidden for too long. I have come to exhume an empire…”
I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled across Gideon’s Wall by Greg Kurzawa. I think I might have been browsing around Amazon looking for something new, but I honestly can’t recall how I heard about this small gem. The book is tragic in every sense of the word, and by the end you can’t help but set it aside and reflect for a while. I was recently browsing topics on a SFF forum, and one person was complaining about too many “heavy themes” in fantasy. He was arguing that fantasy should be an escape from the day to day grind, and that heavier themes should be reserved for works of nonfiction. I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement and I think fantasy is a perfect platform to explore human nature. Gideon’s Wall was exactly the kind of story that proves my point.
The ancient empire of Shallai has all but vanished from the face of the earth. What exactly happened has been lost to time, but an Archaist is determined to find out. The opening chapters really set the scene for the entire story. The first few chapters read like a journal and it fills the reader with a real sense of loneliness and unease. The archaist makes his way to the ancient city of Shallai and has a dream telling him that the answers to his questions lie at Gideon’s wall. After stumbling across an old map he finds a small speck that reveals Gideon’s wall’s location.
After arriving at Gideon’s wall the archaist finds it in ruins. Once the archaist and his team of explorers begin to excavate the surrounding area of Gideon’s wall the real fun begins. Strange dreams, hallucinations, and paranoia fill the crew’s minds as they begin their excavation. The archaist eventually stumbles across a small wooden idol. During the night the idol whispers to the archaist and this is where the actual story begins.
The story is essentially one big flashback, and although you already know the fate of Gideon’s wall, you can’t help but root for the characters within. This element really gave the story a tragic feel, because you already know the fate of the characters. The desert setting that Kurzawa describes is bleak and miserable, but it also has its own beauty. I was reminded of my deployment to Afghanistan during my reading, and I suspect that Greg Kurzawa has also spent some time in the desert, because he captured it perfectly.
The story is short and clocks in around 300 pages, I read it in two sittings. I’m puzzled as to how this one flew under everyone’s radar! I think fantasy fans of all tastes will find something to like here, but fans of Middle-Eastern settings will be especially pleased. I can’t help but feel like the archaist in the story because like him I stumbled across a story that is worth reading. Anyone who needs a break from the door-stopping epics of fantasy should cleanse their palates with this little treasure. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!
Friday, February 15, 2013
Ugh… Man I really really wanted to like Wings of Wrath so bad! I was kind of on the fence with Feast of Souls but after reading book 2 in the Magister trilogy I’m not sure I’ll have the strength to finish the series. Book 2 kicks off right where book 1 ended and we get to meet a few new characters. Rhys is a Guardian and half-brother to Queen Gwynofar. His story started strong, but once again he gets into a romantic relationship with the main character Kamala and it goes downhill from there. Look, don’t get me wrong I really don’t mind some romantic elements in my fantasy books, but I don’t want to feel like I’m watching a teen sitcom on abc family… That’s the vibe I got when reading about the relationship between Kamala and Rhys. Coliver was one of the shining characters of book 1, but he kind of gets the back seat treatment in this second volume, which is a shame because he was one of the best characters in the first book. Queen Gwynofar was by far my least liked character… She was just flat out boring! I had no interest in reading her chapters and continually found myself skimping them whenever they came up. She also magically fulfills a prophecy towards the end which felt rushed and pointless.
Book 1 was great because we are introduced to the world of the “magisters” and we slowly get to see their abilities on display throughout the novel. While the magisters are all powerful bad asses, book 2 handled their abilities poorly and some of them felt like cheap super heroes at times. There were scenes in the book that described how powerful these magisters were (essentially able to take on hordes of regular humans without any trouble) and yet Kamala decides to take on the shape of a small bird towards the climactic ending.
A very rushed and clumsy ending sequence didn't have any weight to it so the ending was a huge letdown. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away from the get go, but the ending was just awful. It felt rushed, and the movements and actions of various factions were handled in a very clumsy fashion.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
I have to admit that I’d never heard of C.S. Friedman before. I read several very positive reviews of her latest trilogy, and I’d heard that her previous venture into fantasy (The Coldfire Trilogy) was excellent, so I figured it was time for me to see what all the fuss was about. If there was one word I could put to Book 1 of The Magister Trilogy it would be “meh”. A strong beginning, a unique spin on Magic, and several intriguing characters fill the pages, but that’s about it.
The book centers around five different characters. A mysterious Magister by the name of Colivar, a terminally ill Prince named Andovan, Gwynofar the dutiful queen, and Kamala the first female to become a Magister. A Magister is essentially a bad ass wizard/sorcerer who gets their power from the souls of other people. The magic system is fairly simple to understand and it goes like this: every Magister is attached to a person’s soul. That person’s soul provides the fuel necessary to produce spells. So if a Magister whispers a spell to light a candle, the person attached to them looses a tiny portion of their souls. It isn’t as complicated as I just made it sound, but it does have certain rules. Females have never attained the rank of Magister until Kamala hit the scene.
Kamala is the main character of the series, and the first sections of the book show her apprenticing to an old reclusive Magister. The apprentice theme really worked for me, and I found those early chapters to be a lot of fun, almost reminiscent of Arya from A Song of Ice and Fire. Once Kamala becomes the first female Magister, she hits the road determined to make a name for herself.
Andovan is a prince who has more interest in hunting and the great outdoors than he does running a kingdom. Unfortunately he comes down with a very serious illness. Since he is of royal blood, his father seeks help from all corners of the land. This is when we get to meet Colivar, a Magister who serves under a rival king. Although his allegiance doesn’t lie with Andovan and his father, he is nonetheless willing to help out in any way he can. The illness Andovan is suffering from is known as “the wasting”. Sadly Prince Andovan has been chosen to be fuel for a Magister. His story arch centers around him trying to discover the source of his sickness.
These three characters were the most fun to read, but unfortunately the novel looses a lot of credibility when Andovan and Kamala meet. There was a touch of romance involved and the end result was super cheesy. This was probably my biggest complaint, but I was still intrigued enough to continue.
Overall the first book in this series was half excitement and half letdown for me. I’m going to continue the series but I’m really hoping that Friedman doesn’t dabble too much into the romantic relationships between her characters, but instead focuses more on the political intrigue which she defiantly excels at. Book 2 here we go!
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
So I finally beat the Dawnguard expansion the other day and I thought I'd share some thoughts! Dawnguard cost about 20 bucks and I think I probably clocked in about 15 to 20 hours of gameplay. I also completed a few random quests as well. You start the quest by talking to any Skyrim guard who then mentions the ancient order of the Dawnguard to you. After traveling to Fort Dawnguard you meet Isran the leader of the Dawnguard. Isran tasks you with investigating an ancient sarcophagus. Upon opening the sarcophagus you meet Serana the daughter of the Vampire Lord Harken. This is when you get the chance to travel with Serana and either stay with the Dawnguard, or side with Lord Harken the Vampire Lord.
I decided to go with the Dawnguard mostly because I wanted the crossbow and I had heard that the controls for the Vampire Lord were pretty rough. There were some new weapon and companion additions that come with siding with the Dawnguard. First of all we have the crossbow which is a two-handed weapon that fires bolts. Throughout the game you can upgrade your bolts by completing quests. Fire bolts, frost bolts, and electrical bolts are a few of the upgrades. I liked the crossbow, but in the end I resorted back to my "bound bow" because it was stronger. The Dawnguard also offer an "Armored Troll" as a companion which was pretty cool. The troll grunts and growls and can travel the depths of Skyrim right by your side. For most of the expansion though you are accompanied my Serana, and if you have the armored troll as well then there doesn't leave much combat for you to participate in.
The lore within Dawnguard is refreshing and it was more entertaining than I thought it would be. You get to sneak into Lord Harkon's court which is littered with dead bodies and has walls covered in blood. There was a true eerie feeling while traversing that place! You also get to meet a Snow Elf who gives you some interesting insight into the Snow Elf culture before they descended the depths to become Falmer. There is also a large portion of the game that takes place in an underworld filled with ghosts and mistmen. The mistmen were a cool creature addition to the game. It's essentially a skeleton with mist where it's legs would be, and eventually you gain a spell to summon these creatures to fight by your side.
After completing the main quest for the Dawnguard in which you defeat Lord Harkon, I decided to replay the expansion as a Vampire. The Vampire Lord perk was kind of a letdown. It felt to me that they rushed the elements that make up the Vampire Lord, and the player is left with a feeling that it just could have been better. You can change into bats, you can feed on humans, shoot spells, summon gargoyles, slow time, and even fight with your claws in a melee style gameplay. Unfortunately it is hard to aim and control said spells when you transform into the Vampire Lord. The story is essentially the same as well which is kind of a bummer.
Overall I thought the Dawnguard expansion was well worth the 20 bucks. I had finished all of the main quests before starting the Dawnguard story which I would recommend. It allows you to focus on the main quest at hand instead of getting distracted with prior quests. Gargoyles, ghosts, a land filled with the dead, an ancient vampire castle, and a load of new weapons and upgrades, Dawnguard is a worthy addition to the Skyrim world especially to fans of fantasy who like their worlds dark and creepy! Go download it and dive back into Skyrim, it's well worth it!
Saturday, January 19, 2013
I just had to share this image with you guys. This is a "Demon vs. Paladins" sleeve by artist Scott Trerrotola. I stumbled upon Scott's blog some time ago here http://www.scottso-newyork.blogspot.com/ He is always creating great tattoos, and a lot of them have a nice dark fantasy theme to them. This one isn't quite finished yet, but man it's coming along nicely!
Saturday, January 5, 2013
This is from the ASOIAF 2013 calendar. It's title is "A New Face" and its from Marc Simonetti. I thought I would share this one as its quite impressive. You can view more of Marc's work at http://marcsimonetti.artworkfolio.com/
Friday, December 28, 2012
I just wanted to give some fans of The Hobbit a quick heads up. This book is awesome, and if you're a fan of the films then this is a must have for your collection. I think the original US price at my local Barnes & Noble was around 36 bucks. I had a coupon plus my membership card, so I ended up saving some cash. Although its kind of expensive it is totally worth it. The book is FULL of amazing concept art, illustrations, and tidbits from the cast and crew. Probably the coolest aspect of this book is seeing some of the other designs creators had in mind for the dwarfs. I haven't even finished going through all of the pages, but I just wanted to announce how awesome it is! Hope everyone has a safe happy New Years!