Tag Archives: fantasy

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

Over the past month my life seems to have been filled with George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. It all started when I was in a bookshop in the Science Fiction section (with all the cool kids) and I noticed that the top five bestsellers in scifi were all from Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fireseries. I then read a review of the first book – A Game of Thrones, which was pretty gushing about how great it was. The final thing that happened was mentioning on facebook that Sean Bean drinks in my local pub and suddenly everyone was talking about the Game of Thrones
TV show and its general awesomeness.

So I caved and read the first book and have to say, it was pretty damned gripping. Epic fantasy of epic proportions and not a stupid elf in sight. You can read my review of it here: http://scifiward.com/?p=235

I then watched the entire TV show which was equally epic and extremely well done. I love these big budget TV shows and the added fact that it’s HBO is always a mark of quality. The cast was superb and even though I knew what was going to happen it was thoroughly enjoyable. Perhaps all the violence and unnecessary nudity did it for me, who knows. Boobs and gore, you can’t go wrong.

I then read the second bookwhich was also epic and awesome and am currently eagerly awaiting the second series.

What Martin has done is write some very convincing (mostly) characters that you start to empathise with and you end up wanting to know what is going to happen to them. That’s why it works so well on TV and in book form. The main thing that concerns me though is that books four and five are apparently a bit dull. This puts me in a quandary because if I read book three – which is actually two massive books for some reason – then I will feel the need to read books four and five. Especially if it turns out that the final two books are exciting.

As you may have gleaned from the book review on my scifi site, it isn’t without flaws. But it is bloody good fun and I won’t hesitate in recommending it. The TV show or the books. Enjoy.

 

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Science Fiction Website

I just found the most incredible new site! It boldly goes where only several hundred other websites have dared to go. Except it is slightly bolder. Actually it was written by me and I love everything I do, so I may be very slightly biased. Still, if you are reading this, you may find something of interest.

At present it does have a few articles that may seem a little familiar to some of the Scifi related articles on this site. This is purely coincidental and due to the infinite number of monkeys I occasionally use to write things for me when I’m busy. In a few weeks it may even appear that every Science Fiction article on the site has been recreated there. I assure you, that this is probably due to your approaching bout of insanity. Nothing to do with me. You should get that looked at.

I am also adding unique non-infinite-monkey-you’re-going-insane material as I go along and this will gradually increase until it is all unique to that site. It will be superb even if you aren’t into Scifi as I will be discussing all manner of fascinating things like space travel and time travel and philosophy and how I based my life on Han Solo and so on. It will be deep man!

So read it. Here is the address:

www.scifiward.com

Enjoy Scifiward

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Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan and have been since I saw The Colour of Magic for sale when I was about 11 and bought it because of the cover. I’m not a fan of football however, so I was a bit concerned about this latest offering.

I need not have worried, for as it states on the back: ‘The thing about football – the important thing about football -is that it is not just about football.‘ This book is not just about football. In fact, the only real football match in the book occurs right at the end and by that point you are so wrapped up in the characters, plot, and sub-plot, that you are actually looking forward to the match just to see what happens. A bit like Escape to Victory. But without Stallone and likeable people (and others).

The principle protagonists are a mysterious but highly intelligent goblin called Nutt, a jack-the-lad son of a footballer called Trev Likely, a hot but dim supermodel type called Juliet, a strong willed lady-chef called Glenda, and loads of wizards. Plus an ape.

It turns out that the Unseen University (where the wizards go) must play a game of football every twenty years or they lose a ton of funding from a vaguely eccentric dead benefactor. So that’s the plot.

As with most of Pratchett’s books, the plot is there to drive the story along but the main thing that keeps you glued to the pages are the numerous sub-plots and characters. Nutt undergoes a change and you learn more about him as he learns himself. Trev promised his mum not to play football but you kind of know he’s going to. How will things work out between Trev and Juliet? Is Juliet going to follow her dream of being a model – even if it means wearing a fake beard and pretending to be a female dwarf? And so on. Distinct and unique likeable characters are a forte of Pratchett’s and he certainly doesn’t disappoint here.

The wizards feature heavily in this book and that is always a good thing. Even if you haven’t read a discworld book before you’ll like them. If you are a regular reader, you’ll know what to expect. Rincewind, the luggage, and the librarian appear too (just as cameos), as you can see on the cover. If you are a fan, you also really get a sense of the city developing – with the clacks, the post, the bank, newspapers and so on. If you aren’t, then it really doesn’t matter – welcome to Ankh Morpork: a fully realized and living city (clearly based on London). Enjoy.

It’s difficult to grade Pratchett’s books as, like Douglas Adams, they are in a league of their own (no pun intended here). If you look on Amazon, nearly all his books are 4-5 stars. Which doesn’t help if you are new to Pratchett and want to read a better one. This book is great. Not up there with his top 5% perhaps – Guards! Guards!, Mort, Feet of Clay, being some personal favorites – but just below that. Better than most but not the very best. If that helps.

If you are new to Pratchett – enjoy, this book is a treat and you have sooo many more ahead of you. If you’re an old hand – just enjoy, this is one of his better ones.

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Legend of the Seeker

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A simple lad unaware of his destiny lives out his life in the middle of nowhere. While he’s popped out his family are killed by an evil ruler’s henchmen. He is led by destiny and a hot chick in white to flee to safety. He meets an old wizard guy who gives him a magic sword and informs him that his family weren’t actually his family and that he has special powers and a role in life where he’s destined to fight for good.

Oh hang on, that’s the plot of Star Wars – let me consult my notes. Nope, my mistake, it’s also Legend of the Seeker’s plot.

Actually I’m being unfair here. It’s also the plot of a million things.

Legend of the Seeker is an epic new fantasy series that incongruously appears on the Sci Fi channel. (It isn’t Sci Fi!) That doesn’t really matter. While watching the pilot I spent the whole time thinking “Wow, it’s like everything I’ve seen before”. Being a fair-minded chap, however, I thought I’d give it a chance and watch a few other episodes. And I have to say, it got pretty good. It even gets quite dark at times. I’ve only seen the pilot and a few episodes but if you are into fantasy (and in this post LOTR world, that’s a lot of people) you will like this.

The series is based on a series of books called The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind. This obviously means some saddoes are lamenting the slightest change from the worshipped text but as the author has been heavily involved in the script, it has shut a lot of them up. It also means some of the narrative is pretty compelling.

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Baffled hero, hot chick in white, guy from Mad Max

The cast, (as all good TV casts are,) are all pretty attractive. Except for the wizard fellow. The lead character, Richard Cypher, looks permanently baffled and angry but is pretty watchable. The lead lady, who’s a kind of magic nun called Kahlan, is very watchable in her tight white dress. The wizard fellow is played by a guy I have always liked and seen in a million movies and shows but always remember as the mental guy with the flying machine in the Mad Max movies.

The bad guy sounds vaguely English and the whole thing is filmed in New Zealand, so it really has all the necessary elements for success. New Zealand’s countryside must be riddled with attractive fantasy actors wandering around in the same way the Canada’s woods are full of rubberized humanoids.

The action isn’t quite up to Lord of the Rings standards but is watchable and fairly exciting. A little too much of the theatrical sword-clearly-missing the-body-and-sticking-out-the-other-side fighting style but there are some enjoyable enough sequences. He can even split arrows with his lightsaber. I mean sword.

In all, stick through the hackneyed plot of the pilot and you are in for an enjoyable series. Of course, I’ve only seen three episodes and it could be dire later but so far each episode has improved. If you like fantasy, I really can’t think of anything better on TV. I actually find myself looking forward to the next episode, which for someone whose job consists of watching TV for 12 hour stints, means it’s pretty damn watchable.

Angry hero, hot chick in white.

Angry hero, hot chick in white.

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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

neil_gaimanNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman is a superb book that I highly recommend.

When Richard Mayhew rescues what seems to be a wounded homeless girl, he suddenly finds himself sucked into an alternate underground London. This ‘under-London’ features various characters that may seem familiar if you are in any way acquainted with the capital (if you aren’t, you have probably wasted your life). There are black friars, a bridge enshrouded with ‘night’ (Knightsbridge, get it?), an Earl who holds court, characters like Old Bailey and Hammersmith, and an angel called Islington.

I recently finished Neverwhere and I have to say, it made me sad that it had to end at all. I really didn’t think it would be my cup of tea – it seemed a bit ‘magical’ and ‘mythological’ for my liking – but it was actually a great read. I think it was helped by the fact that it was quite dark. The main reasons why it is so good are the sheer imagination of Gaiman and some very vivid characters.

The very cool Marquis de Carabas, Lady Door, Hunter, Islington, and the pschopathic Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar are superb and linger in the memory. In fact my only gripe is the lead character Richard Mayhew. He’s just an annoying, whingeing wimp. You keep hoping he’s going to grow some balls at some point, but he never really does. Well, a bit, but not enough.

He’s mainly a device to progress the plot and help us see this strange world, so it’s nothing to really worry about.

Neverwhere was based on the TV series which initially made me mildly concerned. Books based on movies generally feel a bit shallow after all. (Excluding Alan Dean Foster tie-ins, obviously.) In the introduction I felt reassured by Gaiman explaining how he decided to write the book the moment they started filming and expressing how he would change things for the book and the extra bits that got cut out. It pissed off the director apparently and he was asked to shut up about it. I haven’t seen the TV show but I’m glad I read this first. It filled me with the joy you get as a kid when you discover a world you fall in love with and characters you like go out and have cool adventures in it.

I think I’ll now go and buy the DVD. It won’t be as good.

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