A Blog of All Things Science Fiction and Fantasy

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Lord of the Rings Video Games

     It may seem odd that I have a post about Lord of the Rings video games. I can ensure you that some of them are not only entertaining but add quite a bit of story for Tolkien fans.

1.Lord of the Rings Battle for Middle Earth 2(BFMEII) For PC and Xbox 360

    BFME2 is a strategy game for the PC/360 whose plot mainly deals with the War in the North. There is a good and evil campaign. The good campaign deals with trying to defeat Sauron's forces in the north while the evil campaign is an alternative version of the War of the North where Sauron's forces win. BFME 2 is a fairly old game, but it can be found on ebay. Below is a link to a Youtube video that displays gameplay. 

2.The Lord of the Rings Online (LORTRO) For PC

     LOTRO is a online game that takes place during the Fellowship of the Ring. LOTRO is a good game because it is a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG). This means that while you are exploring and playing this game, you will meet other players(most likely Lord of the Rings fans) with whom you can create long lasting friendships. LOTRO can be downloaded from http://www.lotro.com/. Be warned that since LOTRO is a MMOG it can be highly addictive(think World of Warcraft) so moderation of gameplay time is highly recommended. A Youtube video is provided below.

3.The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest For PS3, PS2 PSP, DS, and Wii

     Aragorn's Quest takes place after the three novels. You are a young hobbit who listens to tales, from Sam the Wise, about some of Aragorn's adventures. During the gameplay segments, you are able to play as Aragorn and a second player can drop in and play as Gandalf. A gameplay video is provided below. 

   I hope the information I have provided is helpful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

"Remember, the past need not become our future as well."
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Mass Market Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (2005)
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook

       Elantris is a hard novel to review; it is filled to the brim with all of the things that I love about Brandon Sanderon’s work, the riveting premise, creative magic system, and compelling characters. The issue is that Elantris also has all of the things I hate about Sanderson’s work: the choppy writing and what I call a Sanderson ending (more on that later). 

     There was once a beautiful city known as Elantris, a city of power, grace and beauty. More importantly, the city contained beings known as Elantrians. Elantrian’s beauty could not be described in simple terms. Maybe it was their ivory-white hair or the way their skin glowed when night fell. The true wonder of Elantris, was that anybody could become a Elantrian. The Shaod it was called, striking in the middle of the night and turning whomever it wanted into a living god. Sadly, like all good things, Elantris prosperity did not last. For some reason, the shaod became a curse, turning people into living corpse with dark patches, and weakened muscles. Raoden,prince of the nearby city Kae, is taken by the Shaod and is forced into the squalid remains of Elantris. While this occurred, his wife Sarene tries to negate the advancement of the religious empire of Fjordell.

     One of the more notable things about Elantris, and the rest of Sanderson’s work, is the interesting magic system he creates. AonDor, which can only be used by Elantrians, was activated by using their fingers to trace certain images in the air. Though you don’t get to see much of the magic system until much later in the novel, it is interesting, although overpowered, once it arrives.

     I personally enjoyed most of the characters in Elantris. Raoden was a bit too much of a optimist for my taste, but he was characterized correctly. Sarene was a breath of fresh air because of her intelligence and cunning which is severely lacking in most female characters. My personal favorite character was the Fjorden priest, Hrathen. Hrathen was interesting because of his logical approach to religion and how he teeters on the edge of anti-hero and villain throughout the novel.  The side characters in Elantris are fairly interesting, but are not fleshed out correctly because of a large influx of information towards the end of the novel that leads to many unanswered questions.

      A Sanderson ending is kind of like a Michael Bay film, it is filled with pure and thrilling action, but there is enough plot holes to make a piece of Swiss cheese jealous. For example, a character is introduced early in the novel that can count the number of steps to a certain location. Raoden needs to teleport to a far off land, but cannot because he doesn’t know the exact location. Luckily, the aforementioned step counter knows the exact distance so Raoden can teleport. The last 150 pages of Elantris are plagued by examples of this.

     Though it may seem I am very harsh on this novel, it is because I have seen how Sanderson has improved since this novel. All in all, Elantris deserves to be read because of its interesting premise, magic system and well developed characters. 

Elantris review score: 33/50

World Building- 6/10
Writing- 5/10

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

"Winter is Coming"
Author: George R.R. Martin
Paperback: 720 pages
Publisher: Bantam; (March 22, 2011)
Format:Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook 

         Like many people, I began the novel because of the new HBO adaptation, and like many people, I fell in love with it. Maybe it was the politically enriched story, the vivid characters, the gritty realism, or maybe all three. This review is meant to find out.

        A Game of Thrones begins in the land known as Winterfell, where the people are as fierce and cold as the weather. The faction that inhabits Winterfell is the House of Stark, which is led by Lord Eddard Stark (Ned). Ned, and his family, are forced to leave the confines of Winterfell so that Ned can be the Hand of the King. This begins a tale of heartbreak, politics and deceit. You are in for a treat if you enjoy political maneuvering.

        A Game of Thrones biggest strength is its characters. Somehow Martin was able to follow the point of views (POV’s) of eight distinctive characters while providing extensive details and back story.

Here is a list of the POV characters

1.Eddard Stark(Ned)-Lord of Winterfell and Hand of the King. Ned’s flaw is his honor.

2.Catlyn Stark (Cat)- Wife of Ned. Though not as fierce or honorable as her husband, Cat should not be mistaken for a fool.

3.Bran Stark-Second youngest son of Ned and Cat Stark. Bran loves to explore and climb the castles of Winterfell.

4.Tyrion Lannister-One of the lords of the wealthy House of Lannister. Though Tyrion is the size of a small child, his intellect and witty lines (you will laugh at many of his lines) gets him out of dangerous situations.

5.Arya Stark-One of two daughters of Ned and Cat Stark. Arya is quick to anger and is more akin to a “tomboy” than a lady of the House of Stark.

6.Sansa Stark- The other daughter of Ned and Cat. Sansa is a pompous princess whose only goal is to marry the prince of the Seven Kingdom.

7. Jon Snow- Bastard son of Ned Stark. Jon is sent to protect the Seven Kingdoms at a place known as the Wall. Jon is arguably the smartest of Ned’s children and is a superb swordsman.

8. Daenerys Targaryen (Dany) - Daughter of the defeated king, Aegon the Conqueror (imagine Hitler). Dani is a timid girl who listens to the orders of her overbearing brother,Viserys.

Though I will not list the extensive cast of side characters, I can ensure you that all of them are fleshed out nicely. Some of the side characters are just as interesting as the main characters.

Gritty Realism-
          Make no mistake; this book is not for those who want a purely black and white story. Martin purposely weaves a tale in which the characters act just like real humans would. There is alcohol, whorehouses, greed, political maneuvering, incest and much more. Martin should not be vilified for showing the true face of humanity; he should be applauded for having the guts to show humanity in this light.

           Though many people will be content with just watching the HBO adaptation, you owe it to yourself to spend the wee hours of the night being immersed in the masterpiece that Martin has created.

A Game of Thrones review score: 47/50

World Building- 9/10
Writing- 9/10
Magic- 9/10 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Hearty Welcoming

     Hello my friends and fellow bloggers; I do hope you all are having a wonderful life. The purpose of this blog is to review, and discuss various books so that others can enjoy them too. The majority of my books will be Science Fiction/Fantasy because that is what I tend to lean to. I am quite open to suggestions about how to make the blog better and various book suggestions.