Tuesday, April 14, 2015

[Review] Game of Thrones 5.1, "The Wars to Come"

Make way for the fifth season. Plz.
All right, Game of Thrones is back y’all (in case you hadn’t noticed). I have been going back and forth for the longest time on whether to watch the show or not (as a fan of the books). In the end, I could not resist the urge, and “The Wars to Come” has been watched, digested, and found…pretty okay for a first episode of the season, with a couple of strong scenes, and a whole lot of good scenes, and little that felt awkward or wrong.
Even some of the choices made that deviate from the books were solid. Naturally, spoilers abound.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

[Re-read] Captain Wheelchair Returns!

JEEBUS. Martin has given us another novella! Love the irony: A blog post about hate speech with his most hateful-looking icon attached. Ka-ching. Anyway. I'm back to finish up "The Captain of the Guards", a chapter early in A Feast with Dragons, my combined re-read of the two last books in the series that are actually published.

Where's the white hair? Or, uhm, any hair?
In an effort to rival Martin's more inspired creations like Captain Cosmos I have changed Areo's name to Captain Wheelchair, which is more fitting than "of the Guards" anyway because I don't think I've ever seen him actually dealing with guards. A new hero for a new age. And now we are going to see what other exciting adventures Areo experiences in his chapter. I can't stop imagining how much more interesting it would be to be inside Myrcella's head in this chapter; there's so much more material to work with in terms of characterization. Does she miss her mother? Has she heard the rumors about who her true father is, and how does she feel about it? Does she grieve Robert Baratheon? How is she dealing with life as a political hostage (that's not far off the mark, am I right?) in a kingdom that is radically different from King's Landing? Instead we get this big fellow from Norvos whose personality doesn't really leap off the page to grab you by the {insert your favorite body part}. Oh well. I can deal with it. Just feel like a missed opportunity. "But Myrcella is in Sunspear!" you might say, but I don't see how difficult it would be to have Myrcella present at the Water Gardens, if Martin was dead set on having the first part of the chapter take place here. Right. Back to the chapter.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

[Re-read] The Captain of the Gardens


Once more I apologize for drifting away (hope this post makes up for the long time since the previous re-read!). As I've mentioned before, I'm the kind of person who gets totally focused and obsessed with something in bursts. Not too long ago all I did in my spare time was to follow the development of the next Star Wars film. This was followed by a long period where I was totally back into music, and now, the last couple of weeks I've been totally back into role-playing, perhaps spurred by the still-breathtakingly-great Pillars of Eternity CRPG. While my fascination with Pillars has cooled off a bit (due to a super-irritating bug that makes 32-bit users like myself crash 85% of the time when transitioning between areas of the world), I've dived headlong into my old pen-and-paper rulebooks and sourcebooks to flesh out the coming sessions of the live game I use to run, and having a lot of fun with it. This means that when I realized just now that tomorrow is the season premiere of Game of Thrones, I was quite surprised. I've had so much fun doing other things that I haven't given the fifth season much thought at all, or Ice & Fire in general - but I'm sure Martin's Not A Blog is positively brimming with fun little updates on his progress on The Winds of Winter, nothing too revealing, just little cute posts that shows Martin cares about his fans, and which allow fans to show they care about his story. I better go check before I delve into "The Captain of the Guards" (which I think would be more appropriately titled if Areo Hotah was captain of the gardens - unless this chapters shows me Areo captainin' it over the guards, which I don't remember him doing at any time in the story; an even more appropriate title would perhaps be "Bodyguard of the Gout Lord"...anyway). I'm happy to have you along on this re-read, so let's get cracking.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Twist to Come?

I've noticed Martin's comments about realizing he can pull off a shocking twist for a character.
I've read many suggestions both at the Tower and Censoros.
Here's my call: The twist is that Sweetrobin is Littlefinger's son by Lysa.
This should work in relation to Martin's comments about the twist involving three or four characters (Sansa, Sweetrobin, Littlefinger & Lysa) and to be something "organically from the writing" (in fact, organically gets a double meaning!)
Now if George is a brave boy and does indeed fight THE WINDS OF WINTER into being published next year we'll see if there's a shocking twist for us all to enjoy. HOWEVER Martin also stated that the twist. *can't* exist in the show due to said character receiving a twist can't receive it in the show (so either the show version is dead, or has a different storyline). And this irks me as I really like the idea of Littlefinger being Sweetrobin's dad.

Which leaves... too many options: Jaime and Bronn are doing different things. A whole host of book characters don't even exist on the show. Lady Stoneheart, Jhalabar Xho... maybe the twist is that Lady Stoneheart isn't undead after all, just having a really bad case of the flu. HOWEVER HOWEVER, the comment *could* potentially include Season 5 (if George knows the general outline of the episodes) and as such.. Sansa and Littlefinger are leaving the Vale, while the newly released teaser chapter shows them firmly entrenched in the Vale. Weak, yes, and merely speculation, indeed. We can only wait some more and see.

Fortunately there's PILLARS OF ETERNITY, oh my it is such a splendid adventure, and I can't imagine anything else but it becoming my new favorite interactive fantasy, bumping venerable BALDUR'S GATE to the second spot. And then, of course, there's STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, with a remarkably quiet period right now soon to be shattered into a frenzied hype, most likely. And, of course, one page at a time, probably even slower than George writing, I'm getting through THE RED KNIGHT, with Django Wexler's THE THOUSAND NAMES up next in the queue. I'm considering simply giving up on Brandon Sanderson's THE WAY OF KINGS, as I did R.A. Salvatore's THE COMPANIONS. While the latter is just horribly written tripe, the former just utterly fails to grab me, well written and lore-soaked though it is.

Oh, Sansa Stark. I really have no clue where your story is headed. I have suspicions, but they kind of don't match just two more books in the series.

Friday, April 3, 2015

What

I know, I know, I'm slow these days. Rest assured, the next re-read post is forthcoming, but the Easter holiday has thrown some delightful wrenches in my plans. The biggest time-stealer is Obsidian Entertainment's Pillars of Eternity, a game that feels made especially for me, in the sense that it is everything I love when it comes to computer games. A great story, with fantastic atmosphere, lots of things to do and read and figure out, all in an exciting fantasy setting. It is, at least now after 11 hours of logged gametime, quite possible that Pillars will end up on the very top spot of my favorite computer games of all time, bypassing even Baldur's Gate. So as you can imagine, with a game that so strongly tugs at my geek sensibilities, it is hard not to play.

That being said, I've also been away for a while, and currently I'm attending a big music festival, which is a punishing ordeal for a family man - but extremely enjoyable at the same time. I even met my favorite band, quite by accident (except for the fact they will do a show tonight), last night, which was icing on a metal cake. Good times, good times.

Minor spoilers for the new The Winds of Winter chapter after the break.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Lure of the Otherworld

I'm SO ready to explore these darkened streets.
I'm being even slower than usual on the blog these days, mostly because real life has so many demands on my time. And I'll tell you this, that getting one child means getting one child, but getting a second means getting at least ten. That's how it feels, anyway. Though I have to admit that I have found time for a few guilty pleasures over the last couple of weeks - I've played two tabletop RPG sessions using the Roll20 application - a brilliant substitution for a table when players live six-nine hours' drives apart and can only meet a couple of times a year, and I've fired up that old favorite computer RPG of mine, Baldur's Gate, the Enhanced Edition. I found myself suddenly immersed into the adventure again, and it's great fun seeing characters and locations from my favorite game again. 

Now, I believe the main reason I went back to Gate is because 2015 is really shaping up to be the Year of the Classic CRPG, and replaying that classic adventure is kind of like preparing for the fun to come; I normally don't play that much games, but a good CRPG can have me hooked from beginning to end. Tomorrow is the release date for Pillars of Eternity, virtually a sequel to the Gate games in terms of gameplay and style, so I am really excited about it. It is preloading right now into Steam, so it's ready for takeoff. Everything about it seems geared toward my tastes, so I can't help but feel this game can't disappoint (except for the fact that it may not run properly on my low-end computer, which would be typical, eh). However, the year will present even more old school nostalgia, with games like Tides of Numenara (which can count as a sequel to Planescape: Torment, another classic), Seven Dragon Saga (which promises to revive the glory of the old "Gold Box Games"), Serpent in the Staglands, Ultima Ascendant (a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld), Dungeons of Aledorn and even more games of this kind - the more complex, deeper games that evoke the tabletop experience. And of course there will be a slew of more modern RPGs that I won't be able to run on this machine, so I will have to be content with Let's Play-videos on Youtube, like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and (especially, perhaps) Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which is a must-buy for anyone interested in the "medieval" in George R.R. Martin's medieval fantasy works. 

In short, there will be a lot of interactive entertainment to manage in an already busy schedule. Most likely, I won't be able to run through all this stuff, but Pillars is a given - it just calls to me, and I must heed the call to adventure. And I'll be grumpy every time I have to save and exit because I need to come back to the real world. The good thing? When having fun in a simulated fantasy environment, it works like therapy. It makes the Long Wait just that little shorter. 

As for the reading of fantasy literature, I've been kind of slow with that as well. I'm about 150 pages or so into The Red Knight, and it's a strange book - sometimes it reaches Ice & Fire-levels of fun, and sometimes it goes to the other end of the scale, I guess where R.A. Salvatore and Terry Goodkind hang out. I'll post a review when done. The reading is slow because I have a physical copy of the novel (how things have changed!) - on the Kindle I'm currently re-reading Erikson's Deadhouse Gates, and - like Gardens of the Moon before it - it is at least thrice as entertaining on a re-read. Fantastic piece of work. So much detail. So much caringly crafted otherworld. Mm. 

Which means I've been low on Martinesque adventures, but I do plan to get to the "Captain of the Guards" on my A Feast with Dragons re-read sooner rather than later. Aero Hotah awaits! HO-TAH! What, just a couple of weeks until season five, you say? 
I have decided to boycott Game of Thrones! Me no want to be spoiled. And it has been confirmed that it will spoil. Boo!

Oh, and R.I.P. Terry Pratchett and A.J. Pero :-(

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Will the winds blow in the fall?

George R.R.'s latest so-a-blog post is quite interesting, and of course it has sent hype and speculation sky high (per usual). Yes, it sounds as if he believes he can finish Winds this year. Yes, in 2005 he wrote that we'd be reading Dance "next year".

What I really liked though, was the following post - and for once, Martin responded in a nice manner (not the usually grumpy answers he sometimes hurt people's feelings with):



You're talented, rich, famous, doing what you love ... turn that frown upside down, mister

****

You have a valid point.

Most people would kill to have problems like mine.

George R.R. Martin admitted someone had a valid point!