My Thoughts on the Stand Alone Naomi Novik Novels – Uprooted & Spinning Silver

Alright people, I had been on holiday most of September, so apologies for the lack of posts from me since, but I am back. And whilst away I have been doing a lot of reading which is what I am sharing with you today. So, fantasy novels lovers, today is your day, because here I bring you my 2p on two novels from Naomi Novik: Uprooted and Spinning Silver. Most of you, I suspect, would know this author for the series Temeraire, so let me tell you this: my first experience of reading anything from Novik was Uprooted, therefore I didn’t come to it with any baggage or expectations. In fact, I had never heard of her series and work before. It was only that because of secret Santa at work, one of my colleagues gifted me the book and I decided to give it a shot. So if you are expecting me to do comparisons between the 9 volume series and these two…Well, not gonna happen. Sorry. In fact, I can tell you already, that, as much as I am a historian and a fantasy nerd, and by proxy Temeraire should totally be my thing; I am not interested. The Napoleonic Wars have never appealed all that much to me…and I am not sure if I am willing to invest into 9 books of this stuff to figure out what is going on. 

Continue reading “My Thoughts on the Stand Alone Naomi Novik Novels – Uprooted & Spinning Silver”

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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition – A Quick Look

Recently the latest edition of the Warhammer Fantasy RPG was released, and with this being one of the two RPGs I’ve been looking forward to in recent years, I had to pick it up and have a look! I fully intend to play and perhaps run a game of this at some point in the future, but for now instead of a solid review I will share some of my initial thoughts and impressions.

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Now I’m not the most hardcore of Warhammer fans, I’ve never actually played Warhammer or any of the previous editions of the RPG, but since getting into a few of the videogames I’ve become more interested in the lore of Warhammer Fantasy. I say this because clearly this is an RPG based on previous versions. This 4th edition seems to have been based more heavily on the 1st and 2nd editions of the game, while clearly making many improvements. This is something of a revival for the system, as the 3rd edition made by Fantasy Flight Games was a complete departure from the mechanics of the previous two.

Having been published by Cubicle 7, a company I have grown very fond of, especially due to The One Ring RPG, I fully expected this book to have a great presentation and artwork. I wasn’t wrong, the layout is very clear, all the tables and little info boxes are easy to interpret. The book is crammed full of brilliant art, with something every few pages at least, but it doesn’t make things look messy or take over from the text too much. The art direction and some of the art is done by C7’s own Jon Hodgson whose style im very familiar with from the excellent art in The One Ring, and he does a similarly great job here even with such a different tone of fantasy aesthetic. In particular I love the character art done for each of the 64 careers you can choose from, all done in a suitably gritty and grimy style for Warhammer. I also like how the cover art for the book is clearly a callback to the cover of the first edition of the game from 1986. Overall the presentation really makes this a pleasure to read through. Continue reading “Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition – A Quick Look”

Zombillenium – A French BD for Millenials, Geeks, Monsters, and those Who are Exploited

With the news (LONG AWAITED NEWS!!! YEARS!!!) that volume 4 is finally coming our way, the fans of the work of Arthur du Pins can finally put their minds at ease: the cliffhanger will end! We will know what happens with the park, and what´s up with our favourite, sassiest witch, Gretchen and the poor man who is Aurelien. And the others of course. However, it has recently come to my attention – mostly due to my super hype and the lack of response back –  that, apparently, this is not so well-known and received in the comic sphere as I thought it would. Which is bizarre (IMO) considering that the author has just projected the animated adaptation of the entire thing at Cannes just last year, and the new comic coming back, you´d think we´d be on it…But apparently not. Apparently, for some strange reason I do not fully comprehend, the BD market in the UK is rather non-existent, even for something that came as a direct commission from the director of Spirou. That is, btw, how this all started. Arthur du Pins was given this job for a Halloween special edition for the magazine. But the thing became so popular, by 2010 the first volume was already out under the publisher Dib>buks. 

So, why do I care so much about this? This BD came right as the recession of the late 2000s hit us, and the themes resonated with me at a very personal level. For starters, who doesn´t want to read a comic about a Halloween-like theme park, where the monsters are for realsies?! Well, that is what you get in Zombillenium. Understand that to a teen Goth, obsessed with roleplaying games, this was the dream: monster and magic. Awesome. It wasn´t just the imagery, though, but the obvious message that attracted me as I started reading: the outsiders, the left overs of society, the people who live in the fringe that are freaks for your entertainment in a circus. That was, and still is, a very real issue in our modern societies – and this is something you have heard me talking about a different comic for similar and different reasons: Rat Queens, and you can find my update here:

Continue reading “Zombillenium – A French BD for Millenials, Geeks, Monsters, and those Who are Exploited”

Everlasting Wet Palette Review (English & Español)

Today I bring something that I thought may be of use/interest for the wargammer and minis collectors. I don’t know about you guys but I am not the greatest painter – I have been accused of being a crime against painting brushes and paints alike. Back in the day, I used to take the lids of Pringle boxes and use those as my pallets for mixing and thinning paint. These days Games Workshop, and the likes, have made their own pallets where you pour your paint and there you go. BUT! As you may know, this has a slight issue: your paint will eventually go dry. Also, it is a bloody pain in the rear trying to get that Citadel paint out of the pallets…Well some nice chaps on the internet decided that they were gonna put a solution to this by creating an everlasting wet pallet. This project started out as a Kickstarter, and after successful backing, here I can show you the results.

Hoy os traigo algo de interés para aquellos que os dedicáis a los juegos de miniaturas, tipo Warhammer y demás. No se vosotros, pero yo la verdad es que no soy la mejor pintando, y se me acusa de forma abundante de no tratar mis materiales de buena forma. Cuando era mas joven y pintaba con mi mama, utilizaba las tapas de los botes de Pringles para mezclar colores, y sin embargo la juventud de hoy dia puede ir a la Games Workshop y comprarse lo que ellos llaman una paleta de pintura apropiada para este hobby (márquetin, Ejem!). En cualquier caso, el problema con tanto mi DIY como el producto licenciado es que la pintura se seca – y bueno no se si habéis intentando limpiar pintura Citadel seca de cualquier cosa pero vamos, que ni el Cillit Bang! En fin, que a algún genio en internet se le ilumino la bombilla y decidió empezar un Kickstarter para solucionar este problema. Y aquí están los resultados: La Everlasting Wet Pallete.

 

Continue reading “Everlasting Wet Palette Review (English & Español)”

Geek Etymology – The Lich

Today I bring you yet another post in the Geek Etymology series. This time we will be exploring the origins behind the name of another fantasy creature: the lich! Credit goes to Lilly for the suggestion of this word.

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To start with, what exactly do we consider a lich to be today? It is generally described as an undead creature, usually a human corpse in various states of decay, from zombie-like to completely skeletal. The main distinction between a lich and other undead or zombies is its higher level of intellect and powerful magical abilities. Liches are usually formed from the bodies of powerful mages and sorcerers who use necromancy to cheat death and remain for eternity to continue growing their power and gaining knowledge. Another key feature of liches is that they keep their essence or soul separated from their body in a container, usually referred to as a phylactery. This is often used as a weakness that needs to be sought out by heroes looking to defeat the lich, especially in roleplaying games. . In nearly every fantasy setting in which liches appear, they are evil or at least antagonistic, although there are some exceptions. Continue reading “Geek Etymology – The Lich”

Medieval Spawn and Witchblade – first taste of the mainstream lines in a long while!

Ok so today I bring you something that perhaps will be a bit bizarre for me. You know how I don’t really follow these days much of their mainstream coming book lines? Well! The thing is just a couple of months ago – in fact to be precise as of May this year – Image decided to do a wonderful mashup of two of their main characters I love: SPAWN and Witchblade. And I have been thoroughly enjoying this so far – I think I am one number behind, but even so. The thing is mediaeval or dark ages spawn was always cool with you know the metal armour, weapons, the cape that flows like an absolute badass that sometimes you don’t really get the texture of it quite right in the more modern comic storylines. And of course Witchblade has always been cool through and through, no matter what – she’s awesome. And simply because of the very nature of the Witchblade and and how this evolves and interacts with the user this fits perfectly into the medieval setting. It just draws you in: armour, metal, shine, grip, monsters, death, Darkness – you know the drill.

So, of course I was not expecting it would disappoint, not at all, but I was certainly curious to see how they were going to take it because, well, the personalities of SPAWN and Witchblade could be somewhat conflicting and I wasn’t entirely sure of exactly what excuse they were going to give for the characters to join up storylines. And perhaps – as far as my reading goes – this is my hardest criticism. The first volume essentially tells you the story as to how SPAWN appears in this mediaeval setting which, by the way, doesn’t have any specific real Middle Ages locations to it. They leave it fairly vague which I’m cool with cause, you know, the scenery and the characters scream medieval of some form and that works. (You don’t really need to know the exact world/timeline names and background, the bits and bobs suffice if you see what I mean). The second volume is specifically dedicated to explaining how which plate comes into this story, which is fair, but because of the ascetics and introduction of both characters at separate stages, it is not the easiest thing to relate and assume they are in the same place/time/story. There is one only thing that ties them up together which is the presence of this particular villain, but that’s about it. In my opinion, perhaps it would have worked out better if instead of splitting them in #1 SPAWN #2 Witchblade, they would have put them together. I think it would have made it flow a bit better just so the reader could actually understand that these two storylines are happening in parallel correlation to each other. That is really that one thing that I thought “hmm, okay, I guess”. Well, that and the fact that, unlike in the case of Witchblade, you do not get a clear definite reason and to why and how is SPAWN here. (Neither at the end of either volume which I found a bit irritating but that could be the completionist in me…plus, like I said, one volume behind…though if I have to wait for #3 to get what I perceive to be an important part of the story…it better be decent plot development…anyway, I ramble!).

In any case, I think it’s pretty cool and I am really enjoying it. I really like the art work: but that is obvious, you know, a classic Brian Haberlin piece. He is a legend and has developed this aesthetic over years. I believe it’s the reason why it fits the medieval setting so well: not because of the dark and gloomy feel, which we could agree to a point to be cliche. But I think he adds to that romantic, stoic, hard core valiant epicness, full of blues and shiny silvers and golds. The balance and contrast in colour is delightful, even in scenes where you could get a certain feeling of monochromatic look, everything is distinct, and outlined to fit together harmoniously. In fact, at stages the general graphic composition starts reminding me of videogames of a fantasy setting – I’m particularly thinking of Skyrim here. It is difficult to explain without showing you the pictures, so just go buy the thing. The other thing that I liked was that with just a few lines of succinct and precise text, all the characters are well defined and understood. There is a bit of.an archetypal thing going on in that regards, but it does suit the genre and makes good use of tropes and motives in the medieval/fantasy sphere so, it works 🙂

Therefore, if you want something current, mainstream, and yet with a twist to read and enjoy visually, go get ’em Medieval Spawn and Witchblade – and then drop by tell me what you think.

Old Games I Want a Sequel To: Shadow of Rome

You ever think about those old games you used to play and wonder what happened to them? Maybe you wonder why there was never a sequel, or what the dev team moved onto. They probably never sold enough copies, went out of business, or got consumed by one of the giant publishers (probably EA…). But we can at least dream about them! And that’s what I intend to do right here. Somet of games from the past that I always wished for a sequel to actually came true, but they almost never meet expectations (Star Wars: Battlefront…), so what I really want is probably just a remaster of old games so I can play them again with better controls and modern graphics. Instead for now I will make do with some good old fashioned reminiscing!

51H2J80TC7L._SY445_The first game I decided to talk about in this topic had to be Shadow of Rome. A historically themed hack and slash / stealth game made by Capcom in 2005, one year before the PS3 but still a height of the PS2 era. This is a game that I find creeping into my mind on a regular basis, worryingly often actually. I think it was an absolute gem, and yet I’ve never met anyone else that has played or even heard of it. Continue reading “Old Games I Want a Sequel To: Shadow of Rome”