Coronavirus Book-Reading Blog

Welcome to the Sir Terry Pratchett Forums
Register here for the Sir Terry Pratchett forum and message boards.
Sign up

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
Sorry, what does "OP" mean? *confused*
...Seriously? It's shorthand for 'overpowered'. Standard for both literary analysis and gaming.


I don't know. The Queen of the Elves, in previous books, was self-centred and malevolent with no possibility of allying with anyone. So once she gets kicked out of Fairyland, she has no chance. Terry's basically painted himself into a corner. The Queen might as well die, but Tiffany needed allies against Peaseblossom. Perhaps that's why they were allied? An alliance of convenience?

If this how it would've been written, it would be easier to figure it out:

TIFFANY: We have been enemies, but it is in both our interests to see that Peaseblossom is removed from power.

QUEEN: Such as alliance is in my interest, small human. Very well. But once I am in power again, our alliance must be dissolved.

TIFFANY: Agreed. (They shake on it)

This is more believable than Tiffany and the Queen becoming "friends", I guess. ;) But once the Queen has been kicked out of Fairyland and mortally wounded, I really can't see her acting this imperious. Wouldn't you agree? :)
Oh yes, but again, as written, it didn't quite work for me. And any redemption for the Queen would have to take place over a longer period. Just saying. I'm talking plausibly here. As an example, it's more plausible for Vorbis to be redeemed when Brutha comes across him in the afterlife at the end of Small Gods, albeit partly because Vorbis has spent so long with only his thoughts for company, and the realisation that his faith was hollow, little more than his own thoughts and beliefs echoing inside his brain.

And, of course, we also see the difference between the members of the New Firm. Mr Pin doesn't feel remotely sorry for his crimes, and so is reborn as a potato, ready to be fried. Mr Tulip has at least enough belief and a desire to redeem himself, so he's reborn as a woodworm nomming on antiques. The latter has a chance to potentially redeem himself eventually.

Good redemption arcs tend to be long ones. The epiphany may be instantaneous (though it isn't always), but the road to redemption is a long one, maybe neverending. Jaime Lannister, Kiritsugu Emiya, Mike Yates, Farnese di Vandimion, Miranda Lawson, these are characters with decent redemption arcs in fiction. Actually, whether redemption is instantaneous or ongoing is a central theme to the game Bioshock Infinite.

I must emphasise, this does not mean The Shepherd's Crown isn't a good book. It's still quite a good book, and it's definitely Terry Pratchett's loving swansong to his readers. But it had a number of faults for me, and Nightshade's so-called redemption was one of the notable ones. IMO, it would've worked better if she was overthrown at the start of the book, rather than about halfway through, more or less. That would give time for a proper redemption arc.
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 191

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Manga volume 2 by Taiki Kawakami, from the light novels by Fuze.

So, here I am with the manga adaptation of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. But how well would the second volume do? Let’s find out…

Rimuru’s attempt to get material and artisans at the Dwarven Kingdom nearly go sideways thanks to the grudge of Vesta towards Kaijin, but Rimuru and Kaijin get off with exile. Soon, the little community is thriving and growing, enough to attract attention from other corners. The human kingdom of Blumund sends a trio of adventurers to investigate, accompanied by the mysterious Shizu, who is not only another Japanese otherworlder like Rimuru…but hides a deadly secret she struggles with…

Part of the problem with this volume is, admittedly, a problem with the original work. Plot is thin on the ground, with it mostly being about Rimuru finding his place in this new world, as well as finally getting a humanoid body. This sort of setting-up phase is often one of the more weaker parts of serial works like this.

Still, as always, Rimuru is an entertaining and endearing character. The confrontation between Gazel Dwargo and Vesta is well-done too, and we also have Shizu’s debut and tragic end. The wit and charm of the original books comes across well in this medium, so it remains a quite endearing work.

Overall, this volume, while not truly great, was good enough. Hopefully, that will change with future volumes…


***½
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
13,112
954
3,400
45
Melbourne, Victoria
...Seriously? It's shorthand for 'overpowered'. Standard for both literary analysis and gaming.
Sorry, never heard of it. (But I have now). ;)

...Nightshade's so-called redemption was one of the notable ones (flaws). IMO, it would've worked better if she was overthrown at the start of the book, rather than about halfway through, more or less. That would give time for a proper redemption arc.
Hmm. That makes sense, true. The only reason not to do it at the beginning of the book is because Terry might've felt that he had to introduce the world of the elves and Nightshade's position within it. Why? Because, obviously, someone who's never read a Discworld book (or isn't familiar with the elf position in DW) could've picked up this book and started reading DW from here. Then they'd be genuinely confused. Who is this Elf Queen person? Why are they throwing her out? ;)

Unlikely, I agree, but it could happen. (It happened to my little niece - my brother-in-law wanted to introduce her to DW, but being unfamiliar with DW, he got her TSC as her first DW book. Ugh.) :(
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
*sigh* Would've been better to get The Wee-Free Men.

And seriously? You've played plenty of games, and yet have never come across the term 'OP'?

And frankly, the same argument could be added to any work in an extensive franchise, trying to ensure newcomers know what the hell is going on. For example, one advantage that the classic series of Doctor Who has over the new series is that, due to the lack of story arcs, there's less of a need to know the overarching story, you can usually dive into a serial and pick up the gist as you go along.

Some books in an ongoing series make the mistake of repeating a summary, and not in a good way. An annoying recurring element of The Rising of the Shield Hero novels is that Naofumi's narration keeps repeating how he got to that world and his earlier misadventures. By that point, late in the series, it'd be better to go back and read it from scratch. Japanese light novels, being serial works, have this problem, and it gets particularly annoying when earlier volumes are out of stock or worse, out of print.

But back to redemption arcs: I still stand by my assertion that Nightshade's redemption arc should have taken place over the entire book. Especially as Nightshade seemed like the sort of person who could never be redeemed. I can sooner believe the Doctor's attempts to redeem the Master in her 'Missy' incarnation than that, because at least that took time to do. It was still contrived and a poor decision on the part of the Doctor, but at least the Master and the Doctor are shown, time and again, to have some regard for each other as friends, despite their antagonism.
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
13,112
954
3,400
45
Melbourne, Victoria
*sigh* Would've been better to get The Wee-Free Men.
I agree, and I did my best to undo the damage. I gave my niece my copy of The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, and Mort.

And seriously? You've played plenty of games, and yet have never come across the term 'OP'?
Er, yes? ;) Maybe it's a generational thing. I'm used to the term "munchkin" for an overpowered player - e.g. someone playing a Level 1 Fighter in D&D, but he has Armour of Protection +10 and Flaming Sword +5, or something equally ludicrous. To make things even worse, he brags about it, monopolises the session, and never shuts up.

I'd call that a munchkin. ;)
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
Fair enough. I first heard of the term 'munchkin' in relation to Red Mage in 8-Bit Theater, as well as a min-maxer (and there's a lot of commentary on that in another webcomic, Darths and Droids, with both Qui-Gon Jinn and R2D2 being characters played by munchkins of differing stripes), but OP is my usual shorthand.

Of those four, I probably would have given Mort. Mort marks the point where the series really gained momentum...
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
13,112
954
3,400
45
Melbourne, Victoria
Heh. I just googled "munchkin dnd meaning", and got this: "In RPG jargon, munchkin is a pejorative term used to depict the “power player”, meaning the player who tries to make optimized characters, using the many different books to conceive the most efficient, overpowered killing machine -- instead of a character who's fun to play with." ;)

Observe the three protagonists in TCOM, TLF, Equal Rites, and Mort (i.e. Rincewind, Esk, and Mort). All three have obstacles to face, tremendous hills to climb and dilemmas to ponder, but they succeed in spite of their weaknesses, which make them fun to read about. :) The same thing happens with both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins (just to give two examples). :)

Yes, some of Terry's stronger characters (e.g. Death or Granny Weatherwax) also have quests - but they can't succeed without the help of 'lesser' (or secondary) characters, e.g. Susan in "Soul Music", or Nanny and Magrat in "Wyrd Sisters", etc.

A munchkin, on the other hand, thinks that he is "the hero", and destined to win the day all on his own. =P In Dungeons 'n Dragons (among other RPGs), munchkins often come to hilarious and sticky ends. I always remembered one tale of a munchkin: he role-played a warrior in a vastly overpowered suit of armour that protected him from almost everything. He only had a rusty dagger that did hardly any damage, but so what? No-one and nothing could harm him! So he thought ...

... and so, the Dungeon Master dropped a mountain on him. (Don't ask). :mrgreen: But the player poked his head up: "I'm OK! I still have one hit point left!"

... and that's when an enraged tomcat jumped off the mountain and into this guy's open-faced helmet, and scratched him to death. :devil:
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
Let's put it this way: OP main characters can actually be interesting to read, but it has to depend on their character and how the story treats their OP nature. A lot of isekai novels, for example, have the protagonist become ridiculously OP, either instantly or over time, but the stories can still be compelling regardless. Momonga/Ainz Ooal Gown from Overlord, Rimuru Tempest from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, and 'Kumoko' from So I'm a Spider, So What? are good examples. Indeed, the latter actually has to earn her power in particular.

And of course, one need only look at superhero stories of Western media to see characters who are ridiculously OP, and yet still remain compelling, with Superman being one of the biggest examples. Seriously, if Death Battle is any indication, DC characters are broken in terms of how powerful they are. So is Marvel, but a lot of the time, when Marvel and DC characters clash in Death Battle, it's usually the Marvel characters who come off second-best.

That being said, characters who have to grow into their power, or struggle through adversity, are more compelling. Science fact. :p

As for the definitions of munchkin and min-maxer, I should also nitpick that many munchkins aren't actually interested in the roleplaying aspect of tabletop gaming, just the killing and looting side of things (hence why that aspect was satirised in a famous card game called Munchkin!). I am admittedly rather unfamiliar with playing tabletop RPGs, so I've never quite experienced it, but I know enough of the lingo and the mindset from pop-cultural osmosis.

I should also point out that there are differences in the style of gameplay of the two munchkins in Darths and Droids. Jim, aka Qui-Gon Jinn (and later Padme and 'Han Solo'), is very much the sort to shoot and loot first, and roleplay a distant second. He's also more than a little ditzy. That being said, he genuinely likes to have fun and not worry about minutiae: Pete (R2-D2's player) says that "Roleplaying is his downtime. He likes to turn his brain off." It says a lot when 'Han Solo's character arc shows how much he has grown as a roleplayer. And yes, there's a reason I put 'Han Solo' in quote marks.

Pete, on the other hand, is more about having fun through challenging himself. True, he also wants the loot, but he does so through other challenges and tasking his intellect. He's somewhat self-centred and rude, compared to Jim's more clueless nature, and has megalomaniacal tendencies, at least as R2-D2. Oddly enough, his real-life profession is surprisingly high-handed (I'm not spoiling it, though), as are the reasons he undertakes it, and he eventually roleplays as Rey in the sequel trilogy partly as a means of understanding those his profession affects better. Indeed, Pete's character development is surprisingly subtle, though he does show some genuine empathy for Sally, the young player playing Jar-Jar, amongst other roles. But he eventually becomes a less self-centred roleplayer.
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
13,112
954
3,400
45
Melbourne, Victoria
I knew there was a reason I never liked the Marvel/DC Superheroes. (I don't particularly like the Hollywood treatment of Thor, either). Sooner or later, they all meld into the same kind of thing:

- some 'nerd' who is cast-out, bullied or ignored becomes ridiculously over-powered because of some ridiculous 'accident' that would kill anyone in real life
- said 'nerd' has to face down a similarly ridiculously over-powered 'villain' (whose motives are never clear except 'take over the world', 'destroy the world' or 'hold the nerd's crush hostage')
- said 'nerd' faces down villain, loses the first battle, and learns from it
- said 'nerd' faces down villain again and beats him
- 'nerd' and 'crush' share on-screen kiss. THE END. :p

Does that about sum it up? ;)
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
I knew there was a reason I never liked the Marvel/DC Superheroes. (I don't particularly like the Hollywood treatment of Thor, either). Sooner or later, they all meld into the same kind of thing:

- some 'nerd' who is cast-out, bullied or ignored becomes ridiculously over-powered because of some ridiculous 'accident' that would kill anyone in real life
- said 'nerd' has to face down a similarly ridiculously over-powered 'villain' (whose motives are never clear except 'take over the world', 'destroy the world' or 'hold the nerd's crush hostage')
- said 'nerd' faces down villain, loses the first battle, and learns from it
- said 'nerd' faces down villain again and beats him
- 'nerd' and 'crush' share on-screen kiss. THE END. :p

Does that about sum it up? ;)
For Hulk and Spider-Man, maybe. But some are still good.
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 192

The Art and Soul of Dune, by Tanya Lapointe.


If there was a film I anticipated, it was the latest adaptation of Dune. And so, of course, I leapt at the chance of getting a making-of book for it. But would it turn out all right?

Recently, Denis Villeneuve took on the gargantuan task of adapting Frank Herbert’s seminal science fiction novel Dune. The book had been adapted before, and it was clear that there would be many trials and travails in adapting it anew. This book documents that process, of creating a fresh take on the epic tale…

I’ve said it often before that books like this are a triumph of style over substance, and this one is little exception. I remember reading Ed Naha’s book on the original David Lynch adaptation, and that certainly had more substance and entertainment value in parts than this one, despite the lack of polish by comparison to modern making-of books. In fact, in many ways, this book is a reflection of my thoughts on the film: lacking or omitting some things that would have brought it up to another level.

But like said film, it still has many of the essentials. We have insight into Villeneuve’s thought processes and creative activity, along with those of the rest of the cast and crew of the film, in bringing the book to life. The book is extremely well-presented, with plenty of great concept and behind-the-scenes images of the film. Plus, we get an insight into what might have been with some deleted scenes and discarded concepts.

Overall, while not particularly great, this book was an enjoyable enough look into the making of the latest Dune film.

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 193

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Manga volume 3 by Taiki Kawakami, from the light novels by Fuze.

Now for yet another volume of the manga of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. This is the point where the light novels started getting good. So, would the same be the case for the manga?

After gaining a new body thanks to a dying Shizuo bequeathing her own, Rimuru has a new lease on life. But even as he tests his abilities, his people are attacked by Ogres fleeing their own village. At first, they believe Rimuru to be the responsible party, but even after that’s cleared up, they have the threat of an Orc army. And then, there’s the envoy that the Lizardmen send to make an alliance, the egotistical Gabiru, whose antics may kill off any alliance before it even begins…

The second volume of the light novels, from what I’ve gathered, seems to be spread out over three manga volumes this time. That is somewhat to the detriment of the story, as the story cuts off about partway through, just as a good bit came in, and the pre-evolution Ogres are not as interesting as their anime counterparts in appearance. And unlike the anime, the manga just makes Gabiru utterly bloody annoying.

Still, the story isn’t without its charm. The series’ humour and entertainment comes through effortlessly, and the Ogres are actually interesting new characters. I just wish there had been more to it.

Overall, while not a stellar adaptation, this volume was a decent one.


***½
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
13,112
954
3,400
45
Melbourne, Victoria
For Hulk and Spider-Man, maybe. But some are still good.
What about Superman, then? Consider:
- He's an outcast
- He gains superpowers from an 'accident' that would kill any 'normal' human
- He has a more powerful antagonist (Lex Luthor)
- He loses his first fight against Luthor
- He wins his second fight
- Superman and Lois Lane share an on-screen kiss. The end.

(At least that's what I remember from the Superman films, especially the Christopher Reeves ones. ;) But this formula is hardly unique to Marvel/DC ... the same thing happened in the first two Indiana Jones films, IIRC. Not so much in the third - there was a love interest, but no 'ending on a kiss'.

Not that it's a bad formula, as such. But if the same things are going to happen in every film, then ...) ;)
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
Superman's powers are innate to himself, specifically his Kryptonian physiology. Also, Lex Luthor is far weaker than Superman, at least physically. It's only because of Kryptonite that Luthor can gain an advantage, at least in the films. Luthor's main assets are his ruthless determination and his intelligence. But it's worth pointing out something that the creators of Death Battle pointed out when pitting Luthor against Tony Stark. Luthor only fights when necessary, finding physical violence beneath him, whereas Tony Stark has a taste for battle, and thus trains. It's what gave Stark an edge in their battle.

Actually, when Marvel characters overwhelm DC characters in Death Battle, it's often as a result of the Marvel character's versatility. Tony Stark has won both of his Death Battle episodes for that reason, and while Lobo could potentially overpower Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider had abilities that allowed him to kill Lobo in ways that Lobo's usual immortality couldn't circumvent. Of course, Deadpool's ridiculously OP regeneration could trump Deathstroke's, and Deadpool was originally meant to be a blatant ripoff of Deathstroke.

Anyway, if you want to discuss more about OP characters, please make another thread to do so. This is meant for my reviews...
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 194

Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, by Brandon Alinger.

Star Wars is famous for many things. The large variety of costumes is certainly one of them. I decided on a whim to read this book on the costumes of the original trilogy, though whether it would tickle my fancy is another matter entirely…

In 1977, Star Wars changed the landscape of science fiction films, and cinema in general. A significant part of that was the costumes, portraying the denizens of a galaxy far, far away. But how did these costumes come to be designed and created? This book shows the creative process…

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I originally shied away from this book was because of how specialised it was. And that fear was certainly realised to some extent. Much of the book is more of the illustrations of the costumes than discussing the creative process, which could have stood to have a bit more present.

Still, I am genuinely and pleasantly surprised that it had even as much as it did, which is fairly substantial for a highly-specialised book. The anecdotes were moderately enjoyable, and it was certainly a well-presented book. I just wish there was more to it.

Overall, this wasn’t a great book. But for those interested in the making of Star Wars and in movie costuming, it’s certainly a decent one…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 195

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Ultimate Guide, by Scott Cawthorn.

I do play a number of horror games, but there’s some I would never play, if only because I want to ensure I can still sleep at night. Five Nights at Freddy’s is one of the franchises I intend to avoid playing. But given the rich lore of the series, I still had some curiosity about the games, hence why I got this book. But how would it turn out?

Five Nights at Freddy’s. This notorious horror game series by Scott Cawthorn revolves around surviving a series of nights at a pizzeria where the normally fun animatronics are out to kill you. But despite the scares, the series has a surprisingly rich amount of lore. This books compiles strategies on playing the games with story analysis, as well as information on the spinoffs.

The games are most definitely not for the faint of heart, and even at one remove, it shows here, with this book certainly not for everyone. And despite being written by the creator of the series, it’s annoyingly coy about a lot of the lore. In addition, I felt it could have done with more lore analysis and less gameplay strategy.

Still, it’s a well-presented book, despite the grotesque imagery. In addition, the lore analysis, while annoyingly coy, is still quite fascinating and exhaustive. Certainly, it feels definitive coming straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

Overall, this was a good book, for those interested in the lore of one of the most infamous video game series of recent years.

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 196

Critical Role- The Mighty Nein Origins: Jester Lavorre by Sam Maggs, Laura Bailey, and Matthew Mercer.

Having had my interest piqued by the Critical Role comics surrounding Vox Machina, I wanted to try some more. This one focuses on one of the members of the Mighty Nein, the group from the second campaign, specifically Laura Bailey’s character Jester Lavorre. But how would it do?

Meet Jester Lavorre. The daughter of the famed Tiefling courtesan Marion Lavorre, also known as the Ruby of the Sea, Jester chafed at being isolated from the world. Struggling to break free from her gilded cage, she would find her calling, to spread mischief, helped by the enigmatic Traveler…

I’ll be honest, this book didn’t do it for me as much as I had hoped. Part of it, admittedly, was my lack of familiarity with the Mighty Nein, but also part of it is due to the very short length of the story. It would work better as part of a compiled anthology. It may work as the backstory of a tabletop RPG character, true, but I was hoping for something meatier.

Still, the character of Jester is filled with charm and impish hilarity, while her mother is an interesting character in of herself. The story at least doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it’s a neat and funny and entertaining little coming of age story as well. I just wish there was more.

Overall, this book was somewhat disappointing. Still fun and entertaining, and a nice little background story, but a little wide of the mark…


***
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 197

My Hero Academia: Ultra Analysis by Kohei Horikoshi.

My Hero Academia had been one of my favourite shounen manga series. But while I had dropped out of reading the series for a time, it had always remained on my mind. So when the first databook was released, I was eager to get it…

In a world where 80% of all people have a power or Quirk of some sort, and where superheroes are a profession, Izuku Midoriya is a Quirkless kid wanting to become a hero. My Hero Academia followed his story, of how he became a hero thanks to his idol All Might, and his friends and mentors. This databook, then details the various characters and storylines of the manga to date…

Books like this are filled with facts and profiles and summaries, but to many neophytes to the series, these aren’t always good beginner’s books. In addition, I felt there were some inaccuracies in the profiles, especially in terms of personalities and relationships. I also felt that some profiles of some of the more important characters could have been given more space, more than two pages.

Still, for what it is, this was an enjoyable book. There’s a lot of information jam-packed into it, very insightful, even in abridged form, and it covers a good chunk of the manga series so far. For any fan of the franchise, this book would be a godsend.

Overall, this book was pretty enjoyable, for a databook…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,286
145
2,950
BOOK 198

Berserk Deluxe volume 11, by Kentaro Miura.

The time has come for me to once again delve into the gory depths of Berserk. This dark fantasy manga, after a few false starts, has captivated me, and gone from strength to strength. But how would the latest omnibus volume fare?

Vritannis is under attack by the demonic forces of Emperor Ganishka, and in order to sail to Skellig Island, Guts and his comrades must fight their way through. Meanwhile, the forces of the new Band of the Hawk converge on Vritannis. Can Guts and his comrades escape not just one enemy force, but two?

As noted before, Berserk’s transgressive themes can often be off-putting to many. In addition, after the great plot and emotional scenes in the last omnibus, this volume…is a bit of a letdown by comparison. There’s more emphasis on battles and the conflict between the Kushan forces and the new Band of the Hawk.

Still, the series manages to be quite good. The battles against the Kushan monsters do well, culminating in Guts cooperating with Nosferatu Zodd, of all people, to defeat Ganishka. And there’s some nice character moments, like Farnese beginning to take her magic training to the next level, as well as Guts and Schierke’s bond deepening.

Overall, this was still a good continuation of one of the best, if grotesque, dark fantasy series of all time. I can’t wait for the next one…


****
 

Book of the Month

Good Omens

"Pratchett’s wackiness collaborates with Gaiman’s morbid humour; the result is a humanist delight to be savoured and read again and again."

Latest posts

User Menu

Newsletter