Prince of Thorns (Mark Lawrence 2011)

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Aww… an adventure about a fourteen year old kid? How cute. This kid just butchered a village? Associates with rapists, and implied to be one himself? Okay…. maybe this kid isn’t so innocent after all. Prince of Thorns, follows fourteen year old Prince Jorg Ancrath, who was forced to watch the death of his mother and younger brother. The experience left him bitter and in the present he leads a gang of outlaws, and intends to become King. This leads him to return home to confront his father, Olidan Ancrath and his uncle Count Renar and ascend to the throne of the Broken Empire. Read More »

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A Game Of Thrones (George R.R. Martin 1996)

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The A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, is probably one of the largest fantasy series in living memory. This is in part due to its television adaptation, which has experienced a surge in popularity. Having just finished A Dance of Dragons, the latest book, now would be the best time to start reviewing them. The A Song of Ice and Fire series is one of my favourite fantasy series, and I cannot wait to review them. Starting things off is the first book, A Game of Thrones.

For a little background, A Game of Thrones and its sequels are set on the fictional continent of Westeros, home to the Seven Kingdoms and the neigbouring continent of Essos, which is host to the Free Cities. Plot wise A Game of Thrones is not simple, with many running plot threads. However in this first book the focus is on the Starks, seen primarily through Ned Stark and his wife Catelyn Stark. Their plotline focuses on their rivalry with the Lannisters, and Ned Stark’s investigation into the killing of Stark ally, Jon Arryn. This is arguably the book’s main plotline. Read More »

The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien 1937)

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The Hobbit is the predecessor to Tolkien’s smash hit, The Lord of the Rings.  However at the time of its publication, The Hobbit itself was subject to great critical reception. The book was so popular that its popularity is the sole reason The Lord of the Rings even exists. Originally conceived while Tolkien was pursuing an academic career, the work went on to be a seminal work of children’s literature and fantasy and was rewritten numerous times to tie into The Lord of the Rings.  The book follows the adventures of Bilbo Bagins and thirteen dwarves, lead by Thorin Oakenshield as they journey to reclaim the lost dwarven gold from the dragon, Smaug.Read More »

The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson 2006)

51nIafKiQ8LIt was only a matter of time before one of Brandon Sanderson’s works made it onto this blog. As an avid fan of fantasy, I felt  this would be an appropriate work for the blog’s first fantasy review. The Final Empire revolves around one simple concept, what if the Dark Lord won? The work revolves around the dystopian Final Empire, ruled by the tyrannical Lord Ruler. The plot follows the street urchin Vin as she is drawn  into a rebellion against the Lord Ruler, lead by the charismatic Kelsier.

The book is unusual in that the work is confined mostly to the city of Luthadel, the capital of the Final Empire. The focus is mostly on city politics, and at times the work feels like a fantasy version of a heist movie. As someone who is tired of seeing the same style of plot over and over again, this came as a huge breath of fresh air to me. The planning that goes into breaking into the Lord Ruler’s palace takes up a significant portion of the book. Read More »

Batman: The Killing Joke (Alan Moore 1988)

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Ah, The Killing Joke, the definitive Joker storyline. There is a lot that can be said of this one. I should start out that the version I will be reviewing will be the 2008 reprint as opposed to the original since that is the copy I own. Hence my commentary on the art applies to this specific edition only.

In terms of plot the story starts out strong. It starts off with the Joker having escaped custody via a body double, with a fake interrogation setting up the conflict between the Batman and the Joker and the former fearing that one may one day end up killing the other. The story focuses on two main narratives, one where the Joker tries to drive Jim Gordon insane by injuring his daughter Barbara, unwittingly ending her career as Batgirl in the process, and mentally torturing him inside a run down amusement park. The other narrative thread explores a possible origin for the Joker which may or may not be fiction. The story revolves around a poor man who tries to keep he and his wife afloat, making a deal with some gangsters to lead them into an old chemical plant where he used to work. During the raid, he is placed into the iconic red hood suit to act as a scapegoat, causing him to become a target for Batman. He is knocked into a chemical bath and is driven insane upon seeing his new face.Read More »

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams 2015)

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This will be my first film review, and what better to start with than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Before I begin I should state that the following is my own opinion. It should also go without saying that there will be massive spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t seen the film.

I’ll start off by saying just how spectacular the effects are in this movie, it surpasses even the prequel trilogy in terms of visuals. Although there were a few questionable choices in set design which bugged me. The starting planet Jakku, looks an awful lot like Tatooine. While, yes, it is a call back to the original trilogy it also begs the question. Why hell didn’t they just use Tatooine? It would be interesting to see what became of the planet after Luke defeated the Hutts, not to mention it would be a stronger call back to the original. Either way, I felt it a bit strange that they would create an entirely new desert planet to set it on. However the planet is beautiful all the same and the effects gone into its construction allow me to forgive what seems to be a rather strange design choice.

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World Without End (Ken Follett 2007)

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Since my last review was of Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, it is only natural that I follow it  up with the 2007 sequel, World Without End. The book is set in the same fictional city of Kingsbridge over a century later, beginning in the year 1327 and covering a large portion of the 14th century. Many of the characters are also descendants of characters from The Pillars of the Earth, with the main character Merthin and his brother Ralph being descendants of the protagonists, Jack and Aliena. Amonst other things, World Without End covers the subject of the hundred year war and the plague, with the latter forming an important part of the plot. The plot begins when Merthin, Ralph, Merthin’s love interest Caris, and other girl Gwenda encounter knight Sir Thomas Langley, who hides a letter and instructs them to dig it up in the event of his death. From there, years pass and like the last novel the characters become entwined in the life and politics of the era.

The first thing to note is how similar the characters are. Merthin is basically the same character as his ancestor, Jack. He is indecisive, and is hopelessly in love with Caris. Caris is the same strong independent woman character as Aliena, but is not a noblewoman. Like their predecessors, events seem to conspire to keep the two from hitching up for as long as possible. Merthin even moves away and has a child before finally returning to Kingsbridge after said wife dies, a plotline which I felt unnecessary. Even after returning he has to deal with the fact that Caris is now a nun, and as a whole the two seem to have far too many obstacles to deal with.Read More »