Posts Tagged ‘Review’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not what you would consider a huge Anime fan, in fact, the only reason I came across Knights of Sidonia was by accident. I tried searching for Final Fantasy films on Netflix and happened to cross paths with this unique Netflix series. I will admit to recently absorbing Attack on Titan in just a few weeks and I consider it a brilliant piece of Anime and will use it as a reference point in my review of Knights of Sidonia.

Let’s start with the negative first. Knights of Sidonia gives a bare minimum to certain background details concerning Nagate Tanikaze, our mysterious hero from the underground. He appears to be the only person living in the underground of Sidonia and we are only given bits of pieces to why he is living underground. Also, as soon as he arrives above ground, instead of being treated as a mysterious stranger, he is instantly given a garde (think mobile space-flight suit with attachable swords and/or guns) and made into a pilot to fight against the Gauna (odd space alien beings seemingly intent on destroying Sidonia). Yes, it is a tad confusing and it can get even more confusing because of the lack of information of these details along with the fact that the entire story line seems to revolve sporadically as if the writers suddenly thought: Hey this would be a sweet idea to give gardes guns and now the garde units are using guns instead of swords or all the Gauna are these tentacled, massive creatures but wait, let’s morph them into previously devoured Sidonians and fight them against their former friends.

The next issue I have with the series is the female characters. I’m not trying to be racist in the least but I can barely distinguish any of the different female characters in this series and all of them have the exact same storyline! They pop into Nagate’s social life looking for attention and then end up dying in battle. This happens multiple times.

Moving on to why you should give this series a chance, while I’ve said some of the writing is sporadic, it does have some massive potential with the scale of the Universe. Sidonia is one mobile refugee ship that contains the remnants of a destroyed Earth; apparently there are other ships like Sidonia, however, we haven’t encountered any of those yet. Another interesting tidbit is that most of the people currently in Sidonia are some sort of genetically enhanced humans; they don’t need to eat much and they can photosynthesize for nourishment to a degree. As you get further into the series you are given some explanation into the mysterious leading council and their origins which also could be developed into another special few episodes.

The entire Sidonia storyline has some very interesting dynamics and relationships between Nagate Tanikaze and a captured Gauna. Also, the entire population of Sidonia with their enhancements, along with the leader council, might not be as they seem.

On a whole, when I compare Attack on Titan to Knights of Sidonia, I do see similar traits. I think Attack on Titan has a large upper hand in its story telling ability and I also prefer the animation. But there is just something so oddly unique and addictive with Knights of Sidonia that you can’t seem to stop watching. If Knights of Sidonia gets a Season Two from Netflix, I really hope they flesh out the back-story and work on creating some consistency with their female characters instead of using them as pawns to move the storyline along with their deaths.

I have to admit – I picked up Tom Piccirilli’s book, The Midnight Road, in one of those clearance bins. (No offense meant, Mr. Piccirilli, I’ve been a huge fan since reading his short Subletting God’s Head !) I was looking for good deals, just browsing to see if something special caught my eye. I flipped the book over, read the summary on the back. Knowing it wouldn’t be one of my normal reads. This was more of a mystery thriller. But, hey, it was Piccirilli! I knew it was going be brilliant!

It was written in 2007, so, yeah, I’m a little behind here. A good book stays that way. The Midnight Road was no exception. Loved the main character, Flynn, a Child Protective Services investigator. Seemed kind of obscure and tangential of a main character at first; I mean what kind of power do those guys have anyway? However, that bit of hesitation faded into the back of my mind as I was drawn into this biting story to follow Flynn as he meets the Shepard family and falls darkly into their secret horrors.

Flynn battles his own nightmares as he tries to save the child, Kelly Shepard, from the demented clutches of her family. Doubts creep in and he realizes all is not what it seems. On his journey to the truth behind his own shortcomings and those of the Shepard family, Zero, Kelly’s dead bulldog hounds him. Zero becomes his best friend and confidante, his conscience and his muse. I loved every scene and dialogue with the two of them!

Not your average suspense thriller, you should definitely ride The Midnight Road with Piccirilli!

 

In The Death of Antagonis, David Annandale, has created a war of attrition for the Black Dragons Space Marine chapter, one in which most won’t survive fully intact. The Black Dragons is a chapter rife with mutation, a chapter whose loyalty to the Emperor is questioned at every turn by the Inquisition, and a chapter who is about to face near annihilation from their perfectly matched counter parts: Cardinal Nessun and his band of chaos marines, The Swords of Epiphany.

The main arcing plot for this novel is securely clutched in the hands of Nessun. This madman is always one step ahead of the Black Dragons, quickly moving from one planetary destruction to the next, either to setup his diabolical masterpiece or to lay a false trail of bread crumbs to throw the dragons off his scent. However, it is the more subtle plots beneath that surface that I find really shine in this novel.

I enjoyed the stark contrasting themes behind the colors of the pure white Swords of Epiphany battling for chaos while the dark and damned Dragons die in the Emperor’s name.  I also liked the fact that Nessun twists sweet lies through the warp to corrupt those of the Black Dragons who have become most susceptible to his poison of “purity”. So in the midst of tracking down Nessun, the Dragons are faced with an inner turmoil that might shatter them apart, from within their own ranks.  White against Dark, Purity against Mutation, and with the novel’s conclusion comes my favorite question: Is the Imperium of Man simply the lesser of two evils?

I realize I haven’t touched on the characters involved with The Death of Antagonis much, aside from Cardinal Nessun, so here is your cast of deadly players:  More monster than space marine – Volos, one of the few remaining Black Dragons untouched by mutation; Toharan, Inquisitor Werner Lettinger who is hell-bent on purging the Black Dragons corruption, and Canoness Setheno, a mysterious battle sister who brings a solid punch to the table and another shocking truth to be revealed later.  Volos and Setheno team up in an attempt to preserve the Black Dragon chapter, while Toharan and Lettinger want to burn and cleanse it into something new and pure.

The Death of Antagonis is all about the extremes and Annandale really blows the doors off in that aspect. His writing style is also unique, in that he has the ability to switch on and off seamlessly from a general’s viewpoint to a front line grunt, which is something that mirrors  Abnett’s legendary ability in bringing realism into his works. The Death of Antagonis leaves me wondering if it is just my human nature that rationalizes the good in man and wants the Space Marines to be the “good guys”, serving a life-long sentence to protect the weak. The Black Dragons are a necessary evil, but are they that much different than those of the chaos they claim to abhor?

Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square struck me as an enigma of sorts. The whole pre-“Sherlock Holmes” detective gambit and Victorian era had me running around in pandemic circles; I absolutely had to read this story. Here is the snippet on the back:

“London, 1859. Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, threatening to bring the city to its knees with devilish acts of terror.

Thrust into a lethal, intoxicating world of sabotage and royal scandal – and aided by a gang of street urchins and a vivacious librarian – Lawless sets out to capture his underworld nemesis before he unleashes his final vengeance.”

So, sounds smashingly brilliant, am I right? Now that I’ve read it and enjoyed it, I’ve come to the conclusion that I didn’t love it as much as I was expecting to. The book starts out on fire with intrigue, water pipe eruptions, brilliant displays of setting and the tongue of the common-folk which at times was a bit tricky for me to follow. I felt like I stepped into a whole different world straight from the past and it transitioned so smoothly as if William Sutton was a simple newspaper writer, sitting on a bench detailing the daily events of the time. On a side note, Lawless and The Devil of Euston square is stock full of possible suspects and conspirators.

I tried paying close attention to each detail, trying to be a world renowned sleuth of my own means, locking on to each tiny detail in an attempt to garner a broader glimpse of the wheels in motion behind scenes. But, after a while… it began to drag.

The drag really hurt the book and sad to say, I started feeling little care anymore about whether the crime / intended crimes were solved or not by Lawless. What should have been a truly fantastic ending, seemed ill-placed when expecting it forty-or so pages earlier. To top it all off, our main hero, Lawless, in the end throws out some feelings on the conclusion of his case, that leave you even more flabbergasted as to why you should have even cared either if he doesn’t fully believe in his actions.

Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square was a solid and substantial read.  However, it might have been excellent if it had tightened up near the end a tad more. I think in a year or so, I might actually take second look into this one and reread it, gauging my review against a second glance. Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square has its highs and lows and I fully appreciate the skill of storytelling William Sutton possesses. This might be one of those rare novels in which I recommend simply reading it yourself to form a more personal opinion.

If you enjoy the clashing of shield to shield, the slicing of well-balanced swords, and a good uppercut, then this book is for you. David Gemmell’s book, Troy: Lord of The Silver Bow is all that and more. Set in the Troy locale and amongst the history of legendary heroes and villains, Helikaon, our protagonist battles his own frailties and weaknesses at the same time as he battles assassins and pirates. True Prince of the land of Dardania, Helikaon exhibits his logical and merciful thinking when he protects his young stepbrother and pledges allegiance to him; however, in another breath unleashes a torment of revenge on Mykene pirates who kill his closest friend.

Our hero is struggles time and again to choose duty over heart, restraint over abandon, and loyalty over desertion. Gemmell does a superb job exploring Helikaon’s and all his other character’s motives for their actions in life. Each character is well fleshed out and bedecked with realistic humanity. They move through their lives, intertwining at just the opportune moments from all parts of the world connected to The Great Green.

The battles are all exciting with a graphic spraying of gory violence inherent in fighting with spears, swords, arrows, and hand-to-hand combat. Vivid and gruesome, they are plenty satisfying. I particularly enjoyed the unique use of the substance naphthar, a flammable, oil-based substance, in a sea-faring battle.

Gemmell created the perfect love interest for Helikaon in Andromache, a strong, warrior-like woman who also chafes against the boundaries of her duty a young princess and priestess.

Heroic self-sacrifice, honor, loyalty – king and country. From beginning to the end of this unrelenting page-turner, Troy: Lord of The Silver Bow, will have you sacrificing your sleep and spare time to discover the outcome. 9 out of 10 Liams. This is my first Gemmell reading and it left me wanting to read more of his books. I was saddened to realize that his body of work is finite; however I suppose that makes it all the more extraordinary.

In Dan Abnett’s story, The Strange Demise of Titus Endor, the characters are so real that I think I’ve met some of them in real life. Titus Endor is obviously my crazy grandfather from my mother’s side… okay… well, maybe not but it seriously could be. Abnett’s grasp on 40k is so perfect that if he ever did slip-up with something I would consider the work a forgery.

In an alternate reality Abnett was obviously some sort of Warhammer God sent to our universe to gift us with awesome stories such as this one. The Strange Demise of Titus Endor is a bit baffling until the end and you could actually end up rereading the entire story to try and figure out what you really believed happened.

Titus believes he is on a mission to hunt down villian Gonrad Maliko and through circumspect evidence, a bizarre occurrence of somewhat correlating numbers, and a mysterious dancer Titus leads us on a ghost hunt, or is it?

Great writing, great setting, and another great short story by the infamous Mr. Abnett, who by now should be referred to as Doctor Abnett with a PhD in Warhammer verse. 9 out of 10 Liams and you can read this short in the very first Hammer & Bolder issue through Black Library.

Abnett also has a new Eisenhorn vs. Ravenor book coming out, Pariah.  It should be very interesting indeed! I have another short story review coming up, Primary Instinct by Sarah Cawkwell.

Here is a look at what came in the mail today 🙂

Games Day Anthology,

#961 The Bloody Handed by Gav Thorpe,

And Aenarion Chapbook!

 

Guardian of Dawn is a free short story ebook by prolific Black Library author, William King. King is best known for his Space Wolves and Gotrek and Felix novel series set in the Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy settings respectively.

While only a short story, you can’t complain with the excellent writing quality and price in this little teaser of a tale that leaves you crying out for more.

Kormak is a knight within the order of the Guardian of the Dawn, a sect that is sworn to uphold an ancient treaty protecting the Children of the Sun from the Shadow or those known as the Moon’s Children.

Kormak first appears to us grievously wounded and banging on the door of a farmer’s cottage. Through a round of banter and persuasion Kormak is given entrance. In hindsight this might not have been the most fortuitous of situations for either party.

The farmer’s daughter is being threatened by the Children of the Moon. The farmer and his family beg Kormak to protect them and honor his order’s oath. Being the man that he is, Kormak is obligated to fulfill their request. While confronting his adversary the Shadow, an uneasy truce is formed; however,  even with that pact a morose conclusion is brimming on the horizon.

An astounding short story, made even more enjoyable by its free price tag. I can easily envision a wide series of short stories about this knight’s order and their quests compiled into a dazzling anthology.

As far as free short stories go, this deserves every bit of its 5 out of 5 Liams rating.