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April 8th, 2012
Ghosts of Ascalon - A Review
In World of Warcraft we had boring to mediocre authors writing subpar stories that featured boring characters. Rhonin, Vereesa Marysuelitmissfailure. Others, like Krasus, were at least somewhat interesting. The good thing about them however is that they were originally featured in novels set in a gaming universe and then made appearances in the MMO digital world. We had Rhonin in Dalaran, Vereesa at his side, Krasus besides Alexstrasza, and a couple others that made brief appearances.
Star Wars: The Old Republic, was the exact opposite. The books were okay in my opinion. They had interesting stories, interesting characters, and painted a good intro to the universe as we were led into the game. ...or did they? Are characters like Larin Moxla, Shigar Konshi, or Ula Vii featured at all in the game itself? I never saw any of them. That, to me at least, is an even bigger failure than WoW's boring novels and characters. They were at least in the game though. No Larin or Shigar or Ula as NPCs anywhere in Old Republic. No finding out if Ula managed to get with Larin despite him being an Imp Agent and she a Republic Trooper.
So, even in novels, Guild Wars 2 proves superior to both.
Ghosts of Ascalon was interesting from beginning to end. We had interesting characters in Dougal Keane, Killeen, Riona Grady, Gullik Oddsson, Kranxx, and Ember Doomforge. All of them on a single quest, but not necessarily liking one another. For instance, we have Dougal and Riona, both former members of the Ebon Vanguard, one of the last human Ascalonian forces resisting the Charr invasion, and Ember, herself a Charr. Other conflicts arise between Kranxx, an asura engineer who comically gets miffed at the bouts of dumbness expressed by veteran norn warrior, Gullik, who himself had some issues with Dougal around the death of his cousin. Killeen, a sylvari necromancer, had an interesting talent for being honest with little in regard to tact, including moments where she would raise the corpses of recently killed humans as undead minions. She didn't think it was a big deal, but Dougal and Riona aren't exactly happy with her doing it.
These six are expected to work together for a common goal, the acquisition of an important artifact which could help bring peace between the besieged humans and the charr legions.
Two hundred years before the book took place, the charr launched an invasion on the human kingdom of Ascalon, seeking to reclaim lands that were taken from them ages ago by the humans. Kind of like what would happen if Native Americans suddenly got hold of superior technology and decided to use it to take back America from white man. But enough political RL comparisons.
With Ascalon City on the brink of destruction at the hands of the charr, King Adelbern unleashed what was known as the Foefire, a powerful magic that successfully destroyed the charr forces who were sacking his city. Unfortunately, it also killed all the humans in Ascalon as well, cursing them to live as vengeful ghosts who would see anyone still living as an invader, walking Ascalon for eternity.
The charr, having to deal with this ghosts, the renegade Flame Legion of their own people, and the elder dragon Kralkatorrik, have decided the best course of action is to make peace with the humans in order to shrink the number of fronts they have to deal with. The humans, who've fallen on hard times and now only have a single kingdom to call their own, agree, but before the charr will agree with peace, they want something. The Claw of Khan-Ur, an ancient charr artifact.
Dougal Keane, a master thief and expert at disabling traps, is the only known person to ever visit the haunted Ascalon City and make it out with his life. He is recruited by the human guardian, Riona Grady, on behalf of the Vigil, a guild dedicated to fighting the ancient power of the Elder Dragons. Also joining them is another crusader for the Vigil, the charr warrior Ember Doomforge. Needless to say, Ember and the two humans, who are former members of the Ebon Vangaurde, a group who are still fighting the charr on behalf of the lost nation of Ascalon. They reluctantly decide to put aside their differences for the benefit of the mission and for peace. Joining them along the way is the sylvari necromancer, Killeen, Gullik the norn warrior, and Kranxx the asura engineer. Standing in their way are bands of charr hating human militants, legions of still hostile charr, the crystalline minions of Kralkatorrik in devestation of the Dragonbrand, and the Ghosts of Ascalon themselves. Tension in their own group is also a problem, because not everyone believes in the concept of peace between humans and charr.
No spoilers on how things turn out, but I really, really enjoyed this novel. It held the air of a simply party adventure to a specific goal, something comparable to Dragons of Autumn Twilight, which was one of my favorite adventure type novels. Not all of the good guys are strictly good and not all of the bad guys are strictly bad, so that offers up some complexity with the otherwise simple go-to-place-and-kill-badguy-get-treasure adventure. Even the good guys who prove to be good you don't know all their motivations until the end. On top of that, some of them do not make it to the end, which I think is a good thing. Adds to the danger and adventure of their quest in my opinion.
On top of all that, some of these characters are set to appear in GW2 game itself! It's reported you'll be able to visit at least one character in one of the human cities and you'll be able to visit the grave of a character who didn't make it. Not sure if all of them will make appearances in the game itself, but I would like to think that they will be.
We'll see for certain when the game goes live.
Final word, if you are interested in Guild Wars 2 in any way, get this novel and read it. It's a great read and it offers up some good lore material for the GW universe. Next GuildWars novel on my read list is Edge of Destiny, which tells of the rise and fall of the famous guild, Destiny's Edge.
Looking forward to it. It's on the way via Amazon and hopefully here some time this week. Right now I'm reading The Gathering Storm: Wheel of Time Book 12, which is a brick, but it's going smoothly. After that, more Guild Wars 2.
Have a good one!
March 19th, 2012
The Brutally Honest and Highly Opinionated Review of "The Hunger Games"
Has anyone ever seen the movie "Hatari!" with John Wayne. Basically it's a movie about a group of guys led by The Duke himself in Africa who are capturing animals for the zoo. Lots of drama involving the attempted capture of a crazy as fuck rhino, John Wayne attempting to woo this ultra-annoying French check (at least I think she's French), and a few funny elements as well.
One of the things I remember most of that movie was a love triangle between two handsome dudes and this one girl who is totally oblivious to their advances. Truth is they spend more time trying to outdo each other than they do pay attention to her. While they're in the heat of their manly pissing contest to get the girl interested, the "Nerdy" charcter Pockets, played by Red Buttons, swoops in and steels her heart from under their noses. Here she is, this good looking woman, now dating this rather scrawny looking geek dude, and two handsome dudes are left going "How the FUCK did that happen?"
Twilight Saga might have made up for its extreme suckfest if Bella had chosen to dump Sparkboy and The Mutt Without The Shirt and spent more time with the geeks in the computer lab. Unrealistic since she's a total bimbo anyway, but hey, we can hope that shit has room for improvement.
Maybe not. Twilight was hopeless from the beginning. ( The Hunger Games...Collapse )
Tags: book reviews
February 23rd, 2012
Writer's Block: Star Trek
Tough call between visiting Saturn or Jupiter. Booth are awesome planets to see, and both have awesome moons to visit.
If I had to pick I'd probably go with Jupiter.Tags: writer's block
February 9th, 2012
Writer's Block: Party of Five
Family first. My mother, father, and grandparents. If my grandparents couldn't make it, my sister and her husband next.
Friends next, including <lj user="katiescarlet"> or Michelle.
Possible famous people I would like to talk to:
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Sir Isaac NewtonTags: writer's block
October 31st, 2011
5 Things You Should Never Do While Writing Epic Fantasy
Courtesy of K.V. Johansen and her blog entry at Adventures in Sci-fi Publishing.
Please go read the blog first. I'm just going to post my thoughts on each item.
1) Do not put baled hay into a world that has not had its Industrial Revolution.
Seems easy enough to not put a AK'47 in a world where there are the best you can get are flint and powder muskets, or to keep your folded steel Japanese Sword out of Medieval Scotland... Err, *ahem* *whistles while trying not
to mention a certain film about immortal swordsmen* I haven't read as much as many have or as much as I should, but I've read stories where some people have forgotten that things are not so easy to come by in those old times. A little research goes a long way in making worlds believable, so be sure to do LOTS of it! ...okay, maybe just a little.
On a political side note, I find her comments about technology advancing only when the need arises to be fairly interesting. The machines needed to cut and bail that hay? Didn't need those when you had any army of slaves or peasents to do it for you! O, What? What do you mean we have to pay our workers now? I can't afford that?!? I know! Let's make this big machine to cut it as we go through the field and put it in these compact little rectangles we can leave to be picked up later. BRILLIANT!
Industrial Revolutions are called Revolutions for a reason, ya know? :)
2) Don’t throw in obvious gibberish and pretend it’s a language.
Q Asdyajkh asd dsodck alkjc aarecsa!
Hey look! I just said "I'm Awesome at making languages!" in a language I created just by typing random keys on the keyboard! Even though it looks like something that Cthulhu might say when he's drunk and high as a kite. I'm guilty of this in some of my younger writing days. Glad that piece never really saw the light of day.
So how does one create a language in their fantasy world if you're not an uber linguist like Tolkien was? I've heard different approaches from different people and they all seem to add in the same seasoning called "research".
3) Don’t use extremely modern slang and glaringly modern words.
Random Hedge Knight: "Thou art dare to challenge me? Thine gauntlet is thrown down! Now pick thine gauntlet back uppeth and don it, draw thine sword and let us get ready to rumble, yo!"
..... I'm just waiting to come across something like that, someday. Anyone have any good sources?
But yeah. As K.A. suggests, if you're going to make a world that is roughly like Victorian era Europe than at least have the courtesy to crack open that volume of Shakespeare and learn some of the language of the era.
4) Don’t use primary-world proper nouns that have become adjectives or metaphoric nouns.
I confess I don't know much about this one so I'm going to reserve contents. I am thinking about taking on a subscription for the OED... Except that it's $30 a month. Think I'll check the library first.
5) Don’t fail to consider the economic complexities of your world.
This is the most complex for me to think about considering the main setting for a story I'm working on is a land that was previously in medieval level technology have been conquered by a group accross the sea who have steam level technologies available. Trains, muskets, cannons, better sea going ships along with the more fantastic, such as air ships. Just what would that do to said land?
I've got this blog entry hot linked for further reading and thought. Great read.
October 24th, 2011
*sigh* Warcraft, this is why I don't miss you that much...
So in the last couple years before I permanently cancelled my WoW account I've been seeing a lot of cry baby bullshit sprout up from some of the more zealous fans of the Alliance.
"OMG Blizzard how can you make Khadgar Neutral? He should be ALLIANCE ONLY!!! QQQQ" This despite the fact that Alliance did in fact get to keep two of their Beyond the Dark Portal heroes all to themselves, and they still have full access to Khadgar to get quests from, whereas all the Horde heroes from the same game are either currently dead or they've been turned into Dungeon and Raid bosses for both factions to kill in epic battles and get fat loots. So the Alliance fansy argument about Khadgar being neutral is fucking stupid.
"Waaahh Blizzard how could you make Dalaran a neutral town it should be Alliance only!"
So sorry that Horde didn't have their own city to levitate and transport to Northrend and so sorry that Rhonin thinks Arthas, Malygos, and Old Gods are more important than pleasing your little pansy whiny asses. Now proceed to run that ground mount out that one sewer pipe. Thanks.
"WTF Blizz How can you make Malfurion neutral?!?! Orcs are burning Ashenvale!!!!! Horde Favoritism!"
"Blizz why are you doing all this Thrall story! You love Thrall, you love the Horde, you HATE THE ALLIANCE I HATE YOU!!!!!!!"
One slop of idiotic bullshit after the other. Now, Blizzard actually gives them something they've been wanting. An end to all the PvE raid bosses and a new focus on the war between the Alliance and the Horde. One of the first moves in this new Alliance/Horde conflict is the Horde apparantly destroys Theramore. Tragic. Poor Jaina. *hugs* :(
And, as to be expected, the tears come rolling like thunderstorms:http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/203995/theramore-in-flames-horde-favoritismhttp://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/204003/theramore-in-flames-horde-favoritism-pt-2
The tears and cries for this one are going to be rolling for a long while boys and girls. The more extreme Alliance fans over the years have proven themselves to be professional victims and nothing either Bashiok or Zarhym can say are going to dissuade them from that mentality. You might as well try explaining the concept of evolution to an evangelical.
I'm not sure why I care about this, really. I mean, I'm going to be playing Old Republic here in the next couple months instead of WoW so I don't have to worry about Alliance fans crying or Horde fans raging at Alliance fans or any other bouts of Fanboyistic faction v. faction bullshhhhhhh....
Oh yeah. Empire vs. Republic. Sith vs. Jedi. Gotcha.
And since BioWare is planning to have a heavy story oriented MMO here, and one that's mostly about the war between the two sides then there are likely going to be scenes where one side gets to lay some majore cock slappage on the other side. And given the mentality of many gamers out there, their senses of entitlement and faction appeasement, we can bet there's going to be some levels of QQing going on if the Empire or the Republic start winning against the other side.
Warcraft, maybe I'll be missing you more than I thought I would be.
Dear "The 53%" Derp
From me to you, you're all a bunch of fucking idiots. Partially because you're all ignorant but mostly because you choose to remain ignorant. For starters, let me just say that you're hardly the 53%. I'd say you're more like the 29% if you're lucky. 29% of the country who's allowed bullshit to be shoved into your brains through your ears and your eyesockets via FOX News and its affiliates, fooling you into thinking that the Occupy Wall St. crowds are "just looking for a handout" and are "too lazy to go out and find a job".
When in truth that's not what it's about at all. What Occupy Wall St. is about is fighting a system where big banks and big corporations and their plutocrat CEO's who have manipulated the system in such a manner where they have literally folded not only the country but the world in general over a guard rail and proceeded to fuck it in the asshole. It's not about who worked hard vs. who's just lazy, because let's be honest here. A doctor goes to college for about eight years to earn his medical degree and his average salary is between $100,000 and $250,000 a year depending on what medical field he goes into (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/People_with_Doctor_of_Medicine_(MD)_Degrees/Salary
Average pay of a Teacher in the US: Right around above $40,000/yearhttp://www.payscale.com/research/US/All_K-12_Teachers/Salary
Teachers have to go to college between four and six years to get the degrees needed for their jobs, sometimes more.
Average pay of a soldiers in the US varies depending on rank and position, but let's check the average pay of a staff sergeant in the Army, someone who both works hard and leads men into combat: With Six years of experience he earns $34,000/year.http://www.goarmy.com/benefits/money/basic-pay-active-duty-soldiers.html
Average pay of a first year police officer can range anywhere between $30,000 a year to up to $60,000, based on this chart: http://www1.salary.com/police-officer-Salary.html
Average pay of the General of the Army in the US Military: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/a/armygeneral.htm
17,000 per month which equates to about $204,000 per year.
Average salary of CEOs in America? http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/04/19/2011-paywatch-average-ceo-salary-11-4-million/
11.4 Million Dollars a year vs. as low as $30,000 up to $250,000 seems like a pretty big fucking difference to me.
So, explain to me what the fuck it is that these big CEO's do in order to earn 11.4 million every single year that's more important than a doctor, or a teacher, or a soldier, or a police officer. I'm having a hard time grasping how these people are working any harder to earn their money than the people who are really important to this country. Yet we are seeing most of the above important individuals among the Wall St. protesters, doctors, teachers, and in some cases even soldiers showing their voice and letting America know "we're pissed off at these plutocratic fuckheads who are fucking us out of our money and we want to see it end!" The only ones who are on the wrong side of the fence it seems is the cops who see fit to take a piss on the constitution by harassing peaceful protesters in ways that would make Omar Kadaffi proud.
So, yeah. The so called 53% can all be sent free coupons to any proctologist who specializes in pulling peoples heads out of their asses, because they're in pretty desperate need. You guys say you're happy with what you worked for and that you live within your means, blah blah blah. Well, it's like the Amazing Athiest says. You're fucking stupid to think that you're one little piece of pepperoni that you worked so hard for vs the the big banker's whole pizza pie which he supposedly worked hard for is something for you to be proud of. Second is that you've just haven't felt that big corporate dick in your ass yet. Another possiblity is that it's all of the above, which is what I'm leaning towards.
AmazingAthiest video in question can be seen here: http://youtu.be/iN2LZ8N2uj0
These CEO's and big wig bankers did not go to college any longer than a teacher or a doctor and they sure as fuck don't work harder than a police officer or a soldier. They just entered a particular field where instead of education, law enforcement, keeping people healthy, or protecting our country, they're in the business of money. Along those lines they created new and interesting and very, very immoral ways to get more and more money. Our money, your money, the world's money, and stuff it into their own pockets. These doors were opened to them by Reagan (yes the very same guy who Republicans have placed on a pedestal just a few steps below Jesus Christ) and since then they've ran it into retarded levels, and it's going to take a force of the people to get it fixed.
In closing, I'd just like to say that you 53%ers are shooting yourselves in the foot. You're helping the person who should be your enemy and working against the people who are standing up for you, and that's likely due to the fact that you can't see facts. You refuse to see past the bullshit that's being painted over your eyes by corporate bought media.
I really feel sorry for you. Hopefully you clean it off and wake up before it's too late for all of us.