I started reading the ACOTAR series a little of a year ago and the behest of my wife who had been reading these books for quite a while. It was only after seeing the continual clips on TikTok that I decided to give the the series ago, if only to see what the fuss was all about and to connect with my wife on what she was reading.
I liked the first book, but I didn’t love it. I could see the appeal, but as a pure fantasy novel, I wasn’t entirely taken by the story that was presented. I continued on reading the second book and I could see how the writing improved significantly. While working through the series it was interesting to observe my interpretations of the scenes and development compared to my wife. I saw things that she didn’t and vice versa.
By the end of the second book I was hooked. I was really drawn into the world and if I am being honest the love story between Rhys and Feyre was very well written. The overall story was just “OK” for me, but it was the personal moments and the family that she built that really had me invested in this story.
I love that the third book gave us the opportunity to really learn a bit more about the other kingdoms and get to know those characters. The war with Hyburn was a nice topping point to the whole series. In the end I only had a couple of minor quibbles with the final book, and most of those issues arose near the end. The first issue is the sudden reappearance of the Archeron sister’s father. For me it came out of nowhere with no context. I dont even believe Maas connected his coming to Lucien setting out to find the one human queen. The other major issue was that none of the major characters or other lords died at the end of the book. It made for a happy ending sure, but it seemed a bit improbable and removed some of the gravity of the situation.
I was also a bit confused when the other high lords who were able to change into a beast during the final battle. Rhys and Hellion I believe both did this. I though that was Tamlin’s specific power as the lord of the Spring Court? All of the other lords have distinct powers, but if they all can change into beasts what does that leave Tamlin with?
In the end though, this who series was about the relationship between Feyre and Rhys and it had me fully invested. It was touching and quite beautiful and I love how Maas showed how much they actually cared for each other.
I’m not sure if I will continue on to the other books in this series, but I think I am definitely a fan of Maas and her writing, and I will certainly check out some of her other series at some point.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is going to be a very hard book to review.
I very much enjoyed this book, but if I am being honest it was a VERY long read. Despite the length this is going into the list as one of my favorite books, and deserves to be up there with Romance of the Three Kingdoms as one of the all time classics.
I did a bit of Wikipedia research while reading it and as far as I can tell, the supporting characters were all real people during the events of the Cossack rebellion.
What I found so fascinating about this book is that it read both as a historical fiction, but also as a historical fantasy. There are multiple passages and scenes where the characters talk about their fear of witches, vampires, and other creatures of the night. At no point are any of these really portrayed as being real. They sort of exist as commonly held superstitions that remained persistent in both the character's and reader's peripheral vision. I found the inclusion of these superstitions both to raise the tension in a scene while acknowledging that weren't actually going to show up. Just their possibility added to a scene like MSG adds that "something" to a dish.
The book also reads easily despite its age. I read the Jeremiah Curtin translation from Standardebooks.org, which is also the Project Gutenberg version. It was very readable translation and a very nicely formatted book. I will caution though that despite the general ease in readability, the names are going to give most people some difficulty. The book does include a pronunciation guide in the back, but if you just roll with the pronunciations as you need to for your own head, you'll be just fine.
I would highly recommend this for anyone who likes historical fiction, military fiction. Even fans of fantasy will be able to get into this as the structure and writing could go right up there with any fantasy book you've read.
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I’ve been playing Baldur’s Gate 3 for the past month or so, since it came out on the Xbox. People have been praising this game since August so I was pretty excited to get into the game. I am a huge D&D and TTRPG fan afterall, so the prospect of bringing that to a videogame seemed pretty exciting.
I’ve just hit Act 3 this past week and I think I am about 60-70 hours in. If I am being honest, I dont think I like this game very much and it almost entirely boils down to the combat.
But before we really get into that, let’s talk about some other things in the game that just don’t seem to connect with me. The game is very heavility influenced by the actual D&D roleplay mechanic system. Unforuntely, that brings all of the similar trappings that come with playing D&D, but without the benefit of having the ability to get contextual information or clarification form your dungeon master. Roleplay is probably my favorite part of D&D and Baldur’s Gate on the whoile does a pretty decent job of this. However, it obfuscates the skill checks and rolls in most roleplay or social situations. I very often will find myself in a conversation which results in a roll, but I have no way to know which character may be most appropriate for the situation or context. Furthermore, when a roll like Persuasion is required I have no idea what the stat for the chracter that I have select is. If the game didn’t explicitly have a dice roll in these situations, I probably wouldn’t care, but if it is going to show me that actual roll, every…single…time at least let me see what my modifier is before I select that as a dialog option.
Contextual clues are the biggest frustration I have with this game. There have been way too many situations where I am walking around the world where combat will just suddenly start, or worse yet, I think it will, and it doesn’t resulting in a conversation that has to preempt combat. Just today I wrestled with a combat scenario against some Githyanki in a hidden library. I must’ve run this combat 6-7 times. After getting obliterated the first time I tried to sneak and get surprise on the enemy for an attack. every single time I would get a spell off and then the conversation would trigger and then waste the concentrate or spell I just cast. I had a nearly identical level of frustration with the combat that occured at the entrance of the Moonrise Towers in Act 2.
I basically had to “cheese” the combat to get an upper hand due to the action economy. Almost every combat has significantly more combatants than your party.
Let’s continue our conversation though on that Githyanki fight and the way it was structured. There were two portals on the sides of the room, summoning in more Githyanki each round. Those portals were placed just sor perfectly to be out of reach of any of my spells like Fireball, etc. This is frustrating game design, because it is almost impossible to know that those exist until you fail at a first attempt of combat. There was no way going into that room to know how to position my characters and accommodate for that specific setup. So many of the combat encounters have this same sort of thing and it is just driving me away from wanting to continue to play.
Let's take a look at my year in gaming on Xbox. I am a bit surprised at this to be honest. I had no idea that I played 43 games. Deep Rock was definitely my most played game this year. I am surprised at my hours for Starfield. I cranked through that game in a couple of weeks and enjoyed it, but fell off pretty hard after the first ending. I didn't make to any subsequent NG+ games.
The 14th annual Video Game Awards (VGA) were on this past Thursday and I have probably watched this show every year for the past eight years or so. It is the only award show that I regularly look forward to and it really is a testament to Geoff Keighley who has organized and promoted this thing since its inception.
I think there is something important about how the VGA's are approaching the award show space that really sets them apart from many of the other shows out there. No one is watching the Oscars or Grammys right? They are boring as all hell. The Grammy's if anything should probably be pretty easy to make entertaining considering it is a music focused show, but the format is just straight up boring.
The VGA's have nailed it though in creating an entertaining show and they have done it by leveraging the value of the entertainment format. It is an awards show first and foremost, but they do an excellent job of getting away from the endless monologue of "thank you" speeches. I think for all of the awards that they gave out on Thursday, maybe 5-8 people actually came up on stage to say thank you. They even had some of the awards given out at an off-stage camera position and it appeared as if the awardees there read from a teleprompter for their thank you speech to keep it nice and short. The worst part of the Oscars is the endless droning of thank you's that no one cares about from the actors, made worse often by their self inflated philanthropic or political posturing. No one cares and it isn't entertaining for anyone.
The VGA's also do a really nice job of featuring some important awards on the show that others do not. For example, they do an award for accessibility in gaming, which is something that others need to be doing. Even if the Oscars are doing something like that, they aren't putting that on the screen.
The VGA's fill most of their time though with trailers for upcoming games, which is the real reason why most people come to watch. They also then fill it in with some excellent musical performances from some of the best soundtracks of the year. The Oscars should be doing this exact same thing. Musical performances, seem like a no brainer, but trailers? That also seems like an easy win of self promotion for all involved. Show us trailers for new movies coming out the next year. Better yet, remember all of that cool and fun bonus content that we got on DVD's back in the day? Give us that content for all of the nominees. That stuff is largely gone as a result of online streaming and some of that stuff is great. That would be an easy way to fill in a show with entertaining information that ranges from a technical/artistic insight to simple outtakes and bloopers. People would love to watch that.
Late into the Halloween game, but I wanted to share this adventure I wrote a few years ago and have consolidated into a proper document for other DM's to run. This takes H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon short story and turns it into an investigation adventure.
I hope you enjoy.
Updated: 10/09/2023 - Updated to fix grammar, typos, and some formatting issues. Improved newspaper layout for easier printing.
We had a fantastic summer evening a few weeks ago and I. took Megan out to the Planetarium down in the city for a quick look at the city lights and to get some ice cream.