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Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 176

The Halfling’s Gem, by RA Salvatore.

I had read the graphic novel adaptation of The Halfling’s Gem long before I read the original novel. But how would I find this adaptation of the final book of the Icewind Dale trilogy? Let’s find out…

Regis’ past has caught up with him quite literally, and he has been abducted to Calimport by the ruthless assassin Artemis Entreri. Drizzt and Wulfgar are in hot pursuit, while Catti-Brie recovers from her ordeal, and mourns her father. But Bruenor may yet live, and the Companions of the Hall need all the help they can get, for Pasha Pook, the ruler of Calimport, wants Regis tormented for a long time before he dies, and he cares little for the lives of Regis’ friends, or Entreri’s desire for a rematch with Drizzt…

Okay, so, once more, this is not a particularly complex or even epic book. It’s really a series of thrilling incidents tied together. Bruenor’s escape from his fate in the previous book feels a touch contrived in some ways, and I feel that Calimport could have been expanded upon more.

Still, it’s an entertaining romp all the same. Catti-Brie is given more of an opportunity to grow as a warrior and as a character, and Drizzt is growing as a character himself, through both his conflict with Entreri and his realisation that his deeds may yet earn him renown and acceptance. Regis also manages to do well in spite of his cowardice and captivity, and Artemis proves to be as good a villain as before as a reflection of Drizzt.

Overall, this was a good continuation of the series, and an end to a story arc. Not as good as I had hoped, but still…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 177

Arifureta: From Commonplace to the World’s Strongest volume 5, by Ryo Shirakome.

Once more, I come back to Arifureta. But how would the fifth volume of this variable series pan out? Let’s find out…

On their way to the next Labyrinths, Hajime and his motley group encounter an ill man in the middle of the Gruen Desert. They learn that someone has poisoned the water supplies of Ankaji, forcing their mana supply to overload. But solving that problem is going to be difficult: the demon Freid has come to seek revenge for his lover Cattleya’s death at Hajime’s hands, to say nothing of doing the twisted will of his god. And even if they survive Freid or the Labyrinths, there’s a reunion pending between Myu and her mother. And Kaori is questioning whether she truly belongs in Hajime’s group, surrounded by those far stronger than her…

This volume, compared to the last couple, was something of a letdown. The sex comedy hasn’t made too much of a resurgence, but enough came back for it to be cringey. What’s more, there wasn’t much plot to this volume at all, just Hajime clearing a couple more Labyrinths and facing Freid for the first time, as well as Kaori and Myu getting some development.

That being said, this volume still manages to cling onto some good parts. We get more worldbuilding and elucidation of what cruelties Ehit inflicted on the world, and Kaori’s character development and increasing resolve works well. Plus, Myu’s reunion with her mother is adorable as hell, and we have promise of Hajime’s upcoming clash with Ehit’s underlings in the future.

Overall, this volume of Arifureta was something of a drop of quality. Still, I hope to see it get better with the next volume…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 178

The Legacy, by RA Salvatore.

So, having finished the Icewind Dale trilogy and its prequel trilogy in The Legend of Drizzt, I had to consider whether to continue the series. But I decided to continue anyway. But how would The Legacy fare with what has come before?

Drizzt Do’urden returns to Mithral Hall after a long period spent hunting the elusive assassin Artemis Entreri, ready to be a guest at the wedding of long-time friends Catti-Brie and Wulfgar. But Wulfgar is acting possessive and selfish, even nearly killing Drizzt out of jealousy, while Bruenor and Regis too are not quite themselves. And it soon turns out that Regis is literally not himself, but the disguised Artemis Entreri, who is in league not only with Drow mercenary Jarlaxle, but Drizzt’s last surviving sister, Vierna. And he has warped the minds of Wulfgar and Bruenor with Regis’ gem. The legacy of Drizzt’s escape from Menzoberranzan has reached out for Drizzt and his friends, and not all of them will survive the coming battles…

One of the main sticking points for me is, as it was for many fans, Wulfgar’s characterisation change. True, it does feel like most of it was due to Artemis’ brainwashing, but it’s something of a swerve for him. And other elements of the plot don’t feel right, including the apparent demise of a main character, which feels as contrived as the apparent demise of Bruenor back in Streams of Silver.

Still, this story, while not as epic as it could have been feels deeply personal, and has Drizzt go through more character development, including coming to terms with his vow not to kill his fellow Drow, as well as being forced to face his deranged sister. Jarlaxle and Artemis make welcome comebacks, and Regis gets a nice bit of awesome with his revenge on Artemis. And this novel, despite its shortcomings, feels like a celebration of what has come before, tying up threads from the past, while ensuring the future plot remains.

Overall, this was a damn good entry into The Legend of Drizzt. I hope the next ones are as good if not better…


****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 179

Fate/Stay Night manga volume 2 by Dat Nishiwaki, from the visual novel by Kinoku Nasu.

I had to admit to being mildly disappointed by the first volume of the manga version of Fate/Stay Night. But how would the second volume fare? Let’s find out…

Shirou Emiya somehow survived what should have been a lethal attack from Berserker, but the help he got from Rin Tohsaka seems like a one-time deal from the Magus. And Shirou’s relationship with his Saber Servant is strained by his insistence on protecting her, despite her power, though she approves of his more chivalrous tendencies. But Rin intends to win the Holy Grail War, no matter what, and is goaded by her Archer Servant into taking Shirou down, no matter what…

Once more, this adaptation is not without its issues. Part of it is the variable art style, which at times does sink to a lower quality than it should be, especially with inconsistent character models. In addition, Shirou’s boneheaded nature seems to be more aggravating than other adaptations I have seen, and I feel that Rin’s humanity is not shown as much as it was in the Unlimited Blade Works anime.

Still, despite these aggravating annoyances, there’s still much to commend for this adaptation. We finally have some better character moments, with the proper introductions of Sakura and Taiga, as well as Shirou beginning to make some inroads to cementing his alliance with Saber. And the volume ends with a fairly good action sequence, followed by a good cliffhanger.

Overall, while not as great as I had hoped, this instalment of the manga of Fate/Stay Night is decent enough. I just wish it was better…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
Anyway, this will probably be the last binge I will do on this thread. I'll start another thread after this lot is done with. And I'll begin with a bang...


BOOK 180

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susannah Clarke.

My ability to read longer books has waned of late over the years. However, for at least one book, I wanted to make the effort to read a gargantuan story. Specifically, the fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. But how well would this book do?

Ever since the reign of the Raven King back in the Middle Ages, magic in England has been on the wane. By the time of the Napoleonic Wars, so-called magicians are little more than fussy, pedantic scholars debating over history, with no ability to perform magic whatsoever. That is, until the reclusive, fussy and pedantic Gilbert Norrell is revealed to be seemingly the sole magician capable of performing actual magic. His rise is meteoric as he is roped in to help the government, even recruiting a mysterious faerie to revive the deceased wife of a minister. But he has become restless, seeking a peer and a protégé. And he soon finds it, in Jonathan Strange, a young gentleman who becomes embroiled in the world of magic. But the two men find themselves at loggerheads, and the faerie whom Norrell summoned has plans of his own, involving servant Stephen Black…

If I have to make a complaint about this book, it’s about the length and writing style. The latter is partly the cause for the former, and it’s certainly not designed for the casual reader. Indeed, those who are not fond of reading, and are not interested in certain genres, will not get the full enjoyment out of the story.

That being said, this book is not just an excellent fantasy story, but also a wonderful celebration of books and reading. A marvellous pastiche of Georgian and Victorian literature, it also apes something of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, with both a certain amount of satire as well as copious footnotes to add commentary and context to this alternate world. It is slow to start, but gradually builds momentum, and Strange and Norrell, along with Stephen Black, Lady Pole, Arabella and the Gentleman, are all wonderfully interesting and, in many cases, morally complex (or at least bizarre, in the case of the Gentleman) characters.

Overall, while quite long, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is very rewarding for those willing to put the hard work into reading it. One of the best fantasy novels of modern times, and no mistake…


*****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 181

The Rising of the Shield Hero volume 13, by Aneko Yusagi.

While mostly a good series, the previous volume of The Rising of the Shield Hero was, admittedly, a disappointment. But with a promising new story arc on the horizon, how would it do? Let’s find out…

With Raphtalia and Naofumi targeted by assassins from Q’ten Lo, Naofumi intended to take the fight to that isolated country. But to get there, he needs help from Siltvet, a country that idolises the Shield Hero. And this complicates matters, for despite being considered a god, Naofumi is soon in danger of being exploited by competing factions, including the ambitious Jaralis…

One of the major problems is that I feel that this volume is a bit disjointed. The Siltveltpart of the story is over about two-thirds of the way through the book, and I honestly feel it could have filled the entire volume with some judicious expansion. Given that we’ve heard quite a bit about Siltvelt before, I honestly think it could have done with some expansion and some elaboration of Atla and Fohl’s backstory.

That being said, what we have is pretty good. Jaralis, while wasted in that he does not survive the volume, is an enjoyable enough villain, and some of the Siltvelt antics are funny. We also have some revelations about Atla and Fohl that are enjoyable, and the journey to Q’ten Lo is tantalising if too brief.

Overall, while not stellar, this volume of The Rising of the Shield Hero was better than the previous one. Here’s hoping it gets even better…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 182

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Manga volume 1 by Taiki Kawakami, from the light novels by Fuze.


That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is one of those isekai series that took a bit of time to gain traction, but has a somewhat charming and entertaining nature that is something of an antidote to the darker series in the genre I like. But having read the first few volumes of the light novels, not to mention the anime, how would the manga adaptation pan out? Let’s find out…

Satoru Mikami, an unremarkable 37-year-old salaryman, is murdered in a mugging while defending friends. Reborn as a slime monster on another world, he soon finds he has more abilities than you’d expect from such a nominally weak monster. Encountering the powerful dragon Veldora leads him on a journey that will see him lead a community of monsters as he feels his way through this new world…

Part of the problem with this volume is one with the original. There’s too much emphasis on worldbuilding here and not enough plot. Plus, some of the more puerile humour doesn’t quite do it for me, and making the protagonist OP is a cliché in isekai stories.

Still, the series won me over with its charming and entertaining story in the first place, and the manga continues to do so. The artwork manages to be both distinct from Mitz Vah’s for the light novels, but retain the charm. And the fact that Rimuru is such a positive protagonist compared to so many in the genre still keeps this series high in my reckoning.

While not the best start to the series, this adaptation of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was a good one. More is yet to come…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 183

Arifureta: From Commonplace to the World’s Strongest volume 6, by Ryo Shirakome.


Once more, I have come to Arifureta. This light novel series is one I have mixed feelings about. But how would the sixth volume, which ends a story arc for the series, turn out?

Hajime Nagumo cares for few people since his fall into the Orcus Labyrinth. But one of the few he does care for, his teacher Miss Aiko, has been kidnapped by agents of the Church of Ehit, forcing him into a confrontation with the self-proclaimed Apostle of Ehit, Noint. Meanwhile, aided by two traitors within the class, the Demons begin their invasion of the Heiligh Kingdom. Hajime and his allies face their toughest battle yet, and not everyone is getting out alive…

Part of my problem with this volume is that, once the battles are over, it drags on and on until the main story itself reaches a conclusion. And to be frank, the second traitor’s motives are a little underwhelming, being really a copy of Daisuke Hiyama’s, albeit genderflipped. Hell, I also feel like I was shortchanged with Noint being overwhelmed relatively easily, despite the hard battle.

Still, the cringey sex comedy has been minimised for this volume, and the high stakes battles are great. Miss Aiko comes into her own with a creative use of her powers, and for all that I found their motives underwhelming, the second traitor’s identity is actually a creative surprise. It’s also satisfying to see Hiyama finally get his long-overdue comeuppance.

Overall, this volume was a good end to this part of the story. Maybe later on, I’ll pick it up again…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 184

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime volume 4 by Fuse.

So, once more, I come to the light novels of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. But how would I like this volume? Let’s find out…

Having fended off Charybdis, Rimuru now focuses on getting his nation of Tempest up to snuff. With a bunch of treaties to finalise, Rimuru has more than enough on his plate. But something of Shizue Izawa, the otherworlder whose body he absorbed, reminds the slime to seek out her students, to save them from their plight…

Much of this volume seems set on finishing the worldbuilding for the series, introducing nations and characters, and while that’s not wholly a bad thing, it does bog things down somewhat. In fact, the plotline involving Shizue’s students seems like an afterthought in some regards. And the story ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, one that could easily have been saved for the next volume.

However, Rimuru’s charm as a protagonist remains, and the worldbuilding still remains interesting. We also see that, as overpowered as Rimuru is, he still has much to learn about statecraft and other things, something that is commented on in-universe. Plus, there’s the debut of Ramiris, an even more eccentric Demon Lord than Milim.

Overall, while not as good as it could have been, this volume was a decent one. Here’s hoping that it improves for the next volume…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 185

Skeleton Knight in Another World volume 1, by Ennki Hakari.

Isekai books have proliferated in Japan, and finding good ones can be a bit of a chore. I decided to give Skeleton Knight in Another World a go, despite the blatant clichés in it. But would I be disappointed or fulfilled?

A hardcore gamer falls asleep while playing his favourite game…only to wake up in a fantasy world, in the body of his character. Unfortunately, said character, Arc, is an undead knight, one who is nothing more than bones. A chance encounter leads Arc on a journey that will see him help save others from a fate worse than death…

This book, sadly, is filled with clichés of both the isekai genre and fantasy in general, and there’s little plot to speak of yet. The main character is something of a blatant mirror to Momonga/Ainz Ooal Gown from Overlord, and the names of real world places like Canada being used in a fantasy world don’t ring true for me. Plus, the tone is a bit inconsistent, with the trafficking element seemingly a bit dark and edgy for this early stage of the series.

Still, Arc is a fun character and a refreshingly different character to Momonga, more blatantly chivalrous and decent, and it’s always enjoyable to see an OP protagonist curbstomp the utterly deserving. And while some elements of Ariane are pretty stock standard clichés, she nonetheless shows some endearing elements, aside from the obvious. And the series seems to be building towards an overarching plot for later.

Overall, while not really stellar, and quite blatantly filled with clichés, this initial volume of Skeleton Knight in Another World is not only promising, but entertaining. Here’s hoping the series really takes off later…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 186

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime volume 5 by Fuse.

I enjoyed That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, given its charming protagonist and relatively light-hearted story. But I knew this volume was where the series took a major turn for the darker. Would that turn be for better or for worse?

Rimuru Tempest barely survived his fight with the fanatical, vengeance-driven Hinata Sakaguchi, but when he returns home to Tempest, he finds devastation. The Kingdom of Farmus, allied with the Western Holy Church, and assisted covertly by Clayman’s spy within Tempest, have launched an invasion, driven by envy and greed towards the nation that has harmed their trade. And a trio of sadistic Japanese otherworlders with powers are their weapons. And Milim, seemingly betraying Rimuru, has destroyed the Beast Kingdom of Euranzia, ruled by Rimuru’s latest ally Carillon. These events may yet drive the compassionate slime monster to the brink…

I actually was worried about how this volume would turn out. After all, it is infamous for a scene where Rimuru wipes out thousands of enemy soldiers, and if handled incorrectly, it could really betray the fundamentals of Rimuru’s compassionate character. So I went in with no small trepidation.

My worries, thankfully, were unfounded. This volume is easily the best of the novels so far, and while the scene in question is pretty damn dark, it is also pretty much justified. The three Japanese otherworlders are interesting, even if they’re a bit too one-dimensional, and their defeat is satisfying.

Overall, this has been the best of the series so far. I look forward to more…


*****
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
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BOOK 176

The Halfling’s Gem, by RA Salvatore.

I had read the graphic novel adaptation of The Halfling’s Gem long before I read the original novel. But how would I find this adaptation of the final book of the Icewind Dale trilogy? Let’s find out…

Regis’ past has caught up with him quite literally, and he has been abducted to Calimport by the ruthless assassin Artemis Entreri. Drizzt and Wulfgar are in hot pursuit, while Catti-Brie recovers from her ordeal, and mourns her father. But Bruenor may yet live, and the Companions of the Hall need all the help they can get, for Pasha Pook, the ruler of Calimport, wants Regis tormented for a long time before he dies, and he cares little for the lives of Regis’ friends, or Entreri’s desire for a rematch with Drizzt…

Okay, so, once more, this is not a particularly complex or even epic book. It’s really a series of thrilling incidents tied together. Bruenor’s escape from his fate in the previous book feels a touch contrived in some ways, and I feel that Calimport could have been expanded upon more.

Still, it’s an entertaining romp all the same. Catti-Brie is given more of an opportunity to grow as a warrior and as a character, and Drizzt is growing as a character himself, through both his conflict with Entreri and his realisation that his deeds may yet earn him renown and acceptance. Regis also manages to do well in spite of his cowardice and captivity, and Artemis proves to be as good a villain as before as a reflection of Drizzt.

Overall, this was a good continuation of the series, and an end to a story arc. Not as good as I had hoped, but still…

****
I've never read the Drizzt Do'Urden books. I'm not sure if I missed anything. But what kind of name is Catty-Brie? A sarcastic cheese? ;)
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
I've never read the Drizzt Do'Urden books. I'm not sure if I missed anything. But what kind of name is Catty-Brie? A sarcastic cheese? ;)
Ha! As if. Her birthname was Cataline, her human mother dying in childbirth, and her human father dying to a goblin attack. Bruenor adopted her, and Cataline shortened her name to 'Catti'. The 'Brie' part comes when Bruenor gave her a second Dwarven name, 'Brienne', which is a feminine version of his own name, but it was shortened to 'Brie'. So her full name is Cataline-Brienne.

And from what I've read so far, they're quite good. Though they're in bad need of a Discworld-style p***-take...
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 187

The Art of Borderlands 3, by Chris Allcock.

I am very much a fan of the Borderlands games. This science fiction FPS with a massive streak of dark comedy is something I call the offspring of Red Dwarf and Mad Max. But would this artbook tickle my fancy?

Gearbox’s most famous franchise, Borderlands, has gone from strength to strength. But that only upped the ante, causing more challenges to overcome when the team had to make Borderlands 3. This book, then, showcases the creative process in creating characters new and old, all sorts of settings, enemies, and yes, lots of guns…

I have to admit, this is one of the more disappointing making-of books of a video game that I have read. Yes, I know it’s called The ART of Borderlands 3, but I was expecting more commentary, a little more insight into the creative process. But I got little enough of that.

Still, the book is extremely well-presented, with a lot of interesting and intriguing images. And what little commentary about the creative process has considerable insight. I just wish there was more to it.

Overall, this book was somewhat disappointing. Well-presented and very colourful, but lacking substance that I desired…

***
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 188

The Shepherd’s Crown, by Terry Pratchett.

Seven years ago, Terry Pratchett passed on. And not long afterwards, the last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, was published. Yet despite this, I could never bring myself to read the book, maybe because it felt like saying goodbye to a great man and his great works. But now, finally, I have plucked up the courage to read it…

It’s the end of an era. Esmeralda ‘Granny’ Weatherwax passes on, leaving her cottage and her responsibilities to young witch Tiffany Aching. And now, she has many responsibilities, not just her own, but Weatherwax’s, as well as beginning to train a boy called Geoffrey Swing, who wishes to become a witch. But Granny Weatherwax’s demise has meant that the walls between realities have softened again, the Elves are undergoing a change of leadership, and with it, a new invasion of the Discworld is afoot…

I’ll be honest, this book is nowhere near Pratchett’s best. This is admittedly partly due to his ‘embuggerance’, but some elements of the story feel like they’ve been done previously in the series, and better (specifically in Lords and Ladies and The Wee Free Men). The Queen of the Elves’ redemption arc feels a wee bit contrived too, and the book is lacking much of the series’ signature humour.

However, Pratchett’s charm and wit still shines through in the prose for the most part. It’s a loving farewell letter to his fans, an attempt to give the Discworld a fitting swansong, even if its stories continue within its universe. Tiffany’s story arc has come to a fine end, even if she’s struggling under the pressure, and the Feegles are as fun and entertaining as always.

Overall, this was a fine, if not stellar, denouement to the Discworld series. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but just strolling along the Chalk, under the open sky…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
BOOK 189

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime volume 6 by Fuse.

After the shocking events of the fifth volume of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, I was eager to move on. But how would the sixth volume fare? Let’s find out…

Rimuru Tempest may have wiped out Farmus’ invading force and become a Demon Lord, but those pulling the strings are still a danger to him and his people. Clayman, a vicious and manipulative Demon Lord, is determined to deal with Rimuru, but he himself is not the true mastermind. Even so, he will call Rimuru to account, hoping to find a way to dominate the other Demon Lords and take down a threat to his plans, all while intending to gain power, no matter what the cost. Can Rimuru stop Clayman?

This volume does feel a touch anticlimactic after the prior one. The stakes don’t quite feel as high, and I honestly felt the final showdown with Clayman didn’t quite feel as satisfying as I had hoped. I mean, he was built up as the big bad villain, and while Rimuru was somewhat OP, I honestly felt there was more mileage to gain out of him being a recurring villain.

Still, while not as satisfying as it could have been, Clayman’s end still worked well, with Rimuru’s final torment of him well-deserved. In addition, we have foreshadowing of future story arcs, as well as Shuna showing an interesting way to use Holy magic. And certainly, the revelations around Milim and Frey’s actions are welcome, as is Rimuru making more alliances.

Overall, while nowhere near as good as the previous volume, this volume nonetheless maintains the standard for the series. It leaves me wanting for more…

****
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
12,887
928
3,400
45
Melbourne, Victoria
BOOK 188

The Shepherd’s Crown, by Terry Pratchett.

Seven years ago, Terry Pratchett passed on. And not long afterwards, the last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, was published. Yet despite this, I could never bring myself to read the book, maybe because it felt like saying goodbye to a great man and his great works. But now, finally, I have plucked up the courage to read it…

It’s the end of an era. Esmeralda ‘Granny’ Weatherwax passes on, leaving her cottage and her responsibilities to young witch Tiffany Aching. And now, she has many responsibilities, not just her own, but Weatherwax’s, as well as beginning to train a boy called Geoffrey Swing, who wishes to become a witch. But Granny Weatherwax’s demise has meant that the walls between realities have softened again, the Elves are undergoing a change of leadership, and with it, a new invasion of the Discworld is afoot…

I’ll be honest, this book is nowhere near Pratchett’s best. This is admittedly partly due to his ‘embuggerance’, but some elements of the story feel like they’ve been done previously in the series, and better (specifically in Lords and Ladies and The Wee Free Men). The Queen of the Elves’ redemption arc feels a wee bit contrived too, and the book is lacking much of the series’ signature humour.

However, Pratchett’s charm and wit still shines through in the prose for the most part. It’s a loving farewell letter to his fans, an attempt to give the Discworld a fitting swansong, even if its stories continue within its universe. Tiffany’s story arc has come to a fine end, even if she’s struggling under the pressure, and the Feegles are as fun and entertaining as always.

Overall, this was a fine, if not stellar, denouement to the Discworld series. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but just strolling along the Chalk, under the open sky…


****
Uh ... I wasn't sure about this book, to be honest. :) I felt that I've seen Geoffrey's predicament before (e.g. William de Worde and his father), although the addition of Mephistopheles is fun, and Geoffrey's final occupation is hilarious.

Granny passing on is touching, and I can easily believe Tiffany struggling to carry on. The elvish invasion (especially Peaseblossom) is chilling. Yes, the redemption arc of the Elven Queen is ... a little strange, but believable; where else was she going to turn for help? Her former husband? Not likely.

So, I like TSC. It's not as good as earlier entries in the Tiffany arc, but it's certainly not as bad or contrived as some critics make it out to be. I'm a little confused why there was so much vitriol about it. :confused:
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,260
142
2,950
Uh ... I wasn't sure about this book, to be honest. :) I felt that I've seen Geoffrey's predicament before (e.g. William de Worde and his father), although the addition of Mephistopheles is fun, and Geoffrey's final occupation is hilarious.

Granny passing on is touching, and I can easily believe Tiffany struggling to carry on. The elvish invasion (especially Peaseblossom) is chilling. Yes, the redemption arc of the Elven Queen is ... a little strange, but believable; where else was she going to turn for help? Her former husband? Not likely.

So, I like TSC. It's not as good as earlier entries in the Tiffany arc, but it's certainly not as bad or contrived as some critics make it out to be. I'm a little confused why there was so much vitriol about it. :confused:
It was contrived, but then again, Terry Pratchett had a habit of copying what he did before. That's not necessarily a bad thing: it's more about how you do it than that you did it before. At least he was better than another Terry, Terry Nation, aka the man who created the Daleks for Doctor Who, as well as the shows Survivors and Blake's 7. You could do a drinking game based on the tropes he reuses. I heard someone call Planet of the Daleks 'Terry Nation's Greatest Hits', and the writing of Genesis of the Daleks actually came about when Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts pointed out to Terry Nation that his latest script was pretty much the same as those he had done before.

I think part of the problem was that it lacked much of the humour that went on before. However, I thought it actually felt a bit better in some regards than Snuff or Raising Steam. The former was basically making Vimes too OP, bluntly, though honestly, the character reached his peak during Thud! Once you've conquered an eldritch evil of darkness, everything else seems like a doddle.

I think, thematically, it was fitting. Terry Pratchett knew he was dying, and he was writing that story as a farewell, even with the other stories mentioned in the afterword he was considering.

That being said, I'm not that much of a fan of the Tiffany Aching books, but that's probably because I wasn't a fan of the Witches books as much, and Tiffany Aching was the continuation of those, made pretty explicit in this last one. Though at least it makes as a good coming of age series.

As for the redemption arc of the Queen...I still maintain it is contrived. Or at least it should have taken a longer part of the book to do. She was completely and utterly malevolent before, with no hints of any good qualities before. You can't cultivate what isn't there. Sadly, these redemption attempts towards those who would be implausible to redeem are too common in fiction.

Anyhoodle, another review is incoming...
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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2,950
BOOK 190

Dungeons and Dragons- Art and Arcana: A Visual History, by Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson and Sam Witwer.

Dungeons and Dragons has become a cornerstone of pop culture these days, despite having a somewhat fractious relationship with society at large at times. Yet modern fantasy fiction has been heavily influenced by it. I thought I’d give this book a go, and see whether it was any good…

In 1974, a revolutionary new game was introduced to the public, a tabletop game that allowed players to play the roles of adventurers in a fantasy world. Dungeons and Dragons revolutionised the way fantasy games were played. This book examines the trials and travails faced by the makers as they face public censure from paranoid figures as well as infighting and overreaching…

If there’s one thing I should complain about with this book, it’s that a lot more of the history of the franchise could be told. I have read books on the franchise, like David M Ewalt’s Of Dice and Men, and I feel there is more to tell in some regards. Especially the later controversies around the game and TSR overreaching themselves.

And yet, these are the most minor of complaints. The book is almost perfectly balanced between presentation and content, with reproduction of iconic artwork meshing well with the story related. Hell, this has to be one of the best-written and most interesting books I have read written about Dungeons and Dragons. Very accessible to curious newcomers too.

Overall, this book was a brilliant look at the history of Dungeons and Dragons.


*****
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
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928
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Melbourne, Victoria
However, I thought it actually felt a bit better in some regards than Snuff or Raising Steam. The former was basically making Vimes too OP, bluntly, though honestly, the character reached his peak during Thud! Once you've conquered an eldritch evil of darkness, everything else seems like a doddle.
Sorry, what does "OP" mean? *confused*

As for the redemption arc of the Queen...I still maintain it is contrived. Or at least it should have taken a longer part of the book to do. She was completely and utterly malevolent before, with no hints of any good qualities before. You can't cultivate what isn't there. Sadly, these redemption attempts towards those who would be implausible to redeem are too common in fiction.
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? :)
 

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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."

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