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Member Title:
Ascendant
Age:
41 years old
Birthday:
January 22, 1979

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Website URL  http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/

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  1. In Topic: The Dan Abnett Warhammer 40,000 Thread

    09 June 2020 - 01:08 PM

    Double Eagle by Dan Abnett

    Quote

    The liberation of the Sabbat Worlds is in full swing. The overextended Crusade invasion front is now under flank attacks, with the world of Enothis proving a pivotal flashpoint. With the war raging over a vast continent, the battles hinge on the forces of the Aeronautica Imperialis, the atmospheric fighter and bomber wings flown by the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Guard. The Phantine XX, fresh from their victory on their homeworld, are deployed to Enothis to help mount a last stand against the Archenemy.

    Double Eagle is a spinoff from Dan Abnett's signature Gaunt's Ghosts series of science fantasy military adventures, in particular the fifth novel in the series, The Guns of Tanith. Fortunately, references to the events of that novel are slight and familiarity with that book, the Gaunt's Ghosts series in general or even the wider Warhammer 40,000 universe is not required to enjoy this novel.

    Double Eagle is, basically, the Battle of Britain But With Lasers. Previous Warhammer 40,000 books largely focused on the ground war involving the human Imperial Guard and the genetically-engineered, superhuman Space Marines, with occasional nods to the armoured divisions and the space fleets, but this is the first book to really delve deep into the air force. Influences from World War II movies and books about the air war over Europe and the Pacific are clear, although (as is often the case with WH40K) there are sacrifices to realism in pursuit of the rule of cool. Despite being set an unfathomable 39,000 years in the future, the aircraft in use by both sides are far slower than, say an F-15 Strike Eagle and they seem to have less fuel than a Hurricane (given how curtailed dogfights are before someone has to bug out).

    Once you accept that - and you have to if you want any hope of enjoying the many excellent stories in this setting - then you can kick back and enjoy the book. This is Dan Abnett doing what he does best: assembling a collection of flawed, relatable characters, putting them through the grinder of war and telling a great-action-packed page-turner in the process. Double Eagle starts a bit slower than many of his books - the result of a need to introduce a dozen or so major new characters (and reintroduce a couple of characters from The Guns of Tanith, which most readers may have forgotten about) rather than being able to pick up with a well-established cast from an ongoing series - but soon kicks into gear as we witness the air war for Enothis unfolding in its full glory.

    In fact, I wondered if Abnett had made a bit of a mistake by having such a large cast and the need for each main character to have their own story arc, given the need to also depict the war in its full scope and explain the intricacies of air combat, all in a very tight page count. However, Abnett, as usual, delivers with aplomb. The widely-scattered characters and storylines converge satisfyingly at the end of the book for a major battle and most of the storylines are wrapped up quite satisfyingly

    Double Eagle (****) won't be winning awards for originality, but it is Abnett delivering another perfectly-executed barrel roll of action, strong characters and addictive writing. In fact, Double Eagle scores more highly than much of his work because, being so independent of other series, it works very well as a stand-alone novel that can be used to sample his writing style and skill. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.

    A sequel, Interceptor City, has been promised for fifteen years but is still a fair bit down on Abnett's schedule (as he is currently working on the Horus Heresy's concluding arc and on his third Inquisitor trilogy). However, Double Eagle does not end on a cliffhanger and can be enjoyed on its own merits.
  2. In Topic: (Content warning) So it turns out that David Eddings was a convicted and jailed child abuser

    04 May 2020 - 12:34 AM

    Feist is a bit of a doofus (he likes to overshare stories of personal failings on his various forums and then delete them) but there doesn't appear to be too much in his closet, mainly because of his apparent inability to stop talking about things he really shouldn't in public. Brooks is, by multiple and all accounts, the nicest guy on Earth. From that era, Pratchett and Gemmell were total legends as people and authors from large numbers of multiple sources.

    We always knew that Eddings was a bit of an oddball. There was that time he set his garage on fire (after his wife passed away but before he did), which was a bit weird.
  3. In Topic: (Content warning) So it turns out that David Eddings was a convicted and jailed child abuser

    03 May 2020 - 04:28 PM

    View PostEnd of Disc One, on 03 May 2020 - 03:19 PM, said:

    I read about this on reddit a couple of years ago. Iím surprised this news is just now finding its legs given how awful it is.


    Must have broken at a time when a lot of other things were going on and it got buried.
  4. In Topic: The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

    01 May 2020 - 05:22 PM

    The Witcher #6: The Tower of the Swallow by Andrzej Sapkowski

    Quote

    The Empire of Nilfgaard continues its invasion of the Northern Kingdoms, unaware that several of its most wanted targets are now far behind its lines. Ciri, the missing Princess of Cintra, has joined forces with a band of outlaws plaguing the northern provinces of the empire, whilst the witcher, Geralt, and his band of mismatched companions are now heading into occupied territory in search of the missing princess. But events take an unexpected turn when Ciri is captured by a brutal sellsword and discovers previously unknown powers.

    The Tower of the Swallow is the sixth Witcher book and, chronologically, the penultimate. It continues the narrative from Baptism of Fire with Geralt and his party trying to track down Ciri, but it is grander in scale and fortunately not as inert in terms of plot progression.

    The Tower of the Swallow feels like the broadest-scoped novel in the series to date, with two major stories occurring in tandem and a host of subplots. We get Ciri on the run, being captured and finally realising her true destiny. There's some excellent characterisation in this section, especially of the ruthless sellsword Bonhart and Ciri herself, who is finally realising her own ability to determine her path instead of being passed around between those who would abuse her name or her power. With Ciri largely absent from Baptism of Fire, it's good to get back to her story.

    We also get more development of Geralt's party. After their snail's pace journey through a forested warzone in the previous book, they break out of that rut in this volume and make much better progress. There's a bit of a Dungeons and Dragons feeling to Geralt's adventures as he gets a party together and they try to follow the important main plot only to get constantly sidetrack by apparently more urgent side-quests. This is all fun stuff, although again the feeling is that the main storyline is really not progressing very far or very fast at this point.

    We also get cutaways to political intrigue in the Nilfgaardian capital, various military manoeuvres as the Northern Kingdoms try to regain the initiative against an overextended Nilfgaard and some interesting scenes as we visit new locations, such as two subplots, set in the northern kingdom of Kovir and on the Skellige Isles respectively, which are both told with economy and skill.

    Sapkowski's way with witty dialogue and musings on human nature (especially in terms of desperation and warfare) remain intact and it feels like he's here handling a disparate narrative consisting of widely-scattered characters and storylines with a great deal more confidence than in previous novels in the series, even if there is a feeling that this book and the two previous ones could have been telescoped into one, stronger volume with a bit more discipline.

    Still, The Tower of the Swallow (****) continues the story of the Witcher with aplomb and is more enjoyable than the previous book in the series. It is available now in the UK and USA.
  5. In Topic: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

    17 April 2020 - 06:49 PM

    Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

    Quote

    Three years have passed since a sorcerous curse was lifted from the royal family of Chalion. Chalion and the western kingdom of Ibra have allied and now prepare for a military campaign against the Roknari principalities to the north. Ista, the Dowager Royina, is far removed from such concerns. The lifting of the curse has returned to her a sense of self and intelligence, but her family is still treating her as a pariah. The removal of her children to the capital and the death of her mother have left her without purpose, so she plans to make a pilgrimage in honour of her memory. But it appears that destiny still has plans in mind for her.

    Paladin of Souls is a loose sequel to The Curse of Chalion, although you could probably get away with not reading the previous novel. This book is primarily a stand-alone story revolving around Ista, the mother of the new Royina of Chalion, who finds herself at a loose end as her family moves on with their lives without her. Ista was a minor character in The Curse of Chalion, where she was often confused and frightened. Here, in her own story, we meet a much more capable and intelligent woman, but one who is frustrated at being treated as a near-invalid by her family.

    This is an unusual epic fantasy in some senses. The protagonist being a middle-aged woman is a relative rarity in the genre and its primary thematic concern being with establishing or re-establishing a purpose in later life is a universally relatable one. There is also a lot of more familiar fantasy tropes, including romance, epic battles and formidable sorcery. Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the most talented authors working in either science fiction or fantasy, with excellent prose skills and great characters, and she blends these elements together again her to create a novel which is vivid and engrossing.

    It's not quite as successful as The Curse of Chalion, although it's close. Paladin of Souls has a somewhat slighter story than its forebear but unfolds over around a hundred extra pages, making it feel at least a little flabbier and less-focused than the previous novel. The book also spends a lot of time establishing the secondary cast in the opening chapters, but surprisingly only a couple of them played major roles in the denouement, the rest either just hang around or disappear for large stretches of time. They're a fun bunch of characters but ultimately don't feel like they have a clear purpose in the book.

    That said, Bujold's world of the Five Gods remains an intriguing creation, effectively a magic-heavy version of Iberia in the 15th Century (fans of Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan will particularly enjoy this novel and its forebear, I believe). The characters are sharp and some of the plot twists are quite clever.

    Paladin of Souls (****Ĺ) is a strong fantasy novel revolving around themes of love, war, family and honour. It's one of Lois McMaster Bujold's most critically feted novels, having won Best Novel in three of the genre's biggest awards, the Hugo, Nebula and Locus. The book is available now in the UK and USA.

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Comments

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  1. Photo

    Tsundoku 

    05 Mar 2020 - 09:29
    Sorry, missed your birthday this year. Hope it was a good one.
  2. Photo

    Tsundoku 

    22 Jan 2019 - 11:51
    Dun dun dunnnnn ...
    Forty! YAAAAAHHHHHH!
    Have a good one.
  3. Photo

    Tsundoku 

    22 Jan 2018 - 08:24
    Same as below. Better make it a good one because it's 40 next year.
  4. Photo

    Tsundoku 

    22 Jan 2010 - 15:32
    Happy Birthday, now go out and get wrecked :)
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