Review of A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King, designed by Bruno Cathala, published by Fantasy Flight Games.
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Definitely my favorite Wings of Fire book yet. Glory was always the most interesting of the dragonets. Very defensive and sarcastic, but also carrying the most emotional baggage, from abusive caretakers to not even being part of the official prophecy. Her POV is immensely satisfying.
I also enjoyed that it breaks away from the “go somewhere, get captured, eventually fight their way out” formula of the first two books. The peaceful RainWing tribe is vastly different from the other areas. But we also get brief glimpses into NightWings and IceWings. The overarching plot lays down interesting developments that stay unresolved, but also make getting to the next book even more exciting. And we still get a really fun climax that’s far different than the action-packed endings of the first two novels.
The second book in the Wings of Fire series centers on Tsunami the SeaWing as the Dragonets travel to her homeland. This time we’re treated to some lite political intrigue surrounding the mysterious deaths of the Queen’s royal daughters, of which Tsunami is a returning surviving heir.
The overall mystery is a bit lackluster and few of the new SeaWing characters are interesting. I also didn’t like that most of the dragonets are sidelined for the entire middle of the book, leaving just Tsunami to explore and deal with the new characters and setting. Yet that also gives her a much bigger chance to grow and develop as a character.
I’m giving it four stars like the first one because it’s still very well written, with excellent pacing and a good mix of violent action and quiet introspection. I am a bit worried that the books will feel formulaic as the dragonets travel to each different kingdom and end up as prisoners having to escape – thankfully they themselves call that out at the end of this book!
This will always be a special book for me, as the first novel my 7yo asked me to read to her. We do a chapter every night!
The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1) is a masterclass in fantasy world-building and character development. Our five young heroes may be familiar if you enjoy certain friendship-based action-adventure cartoons. They each belong to a different dragon tribe, such as SeaWings or NightWings, each with their own unique characteristics and abilities. Yet they’ve also been imprisoned and sheltered from the outside war, knowing little of the waging dragon war going on around them.
Their bond with each other is tested and explored in fun ways, though this novel primarily focuses on Clay the MudWing and Tsunami the SeaWing. We’re eventually introduced to more characters and events in a world ruled by, and ravaged by warring dragon tribes, though it’s a bummer that our heroes spend much of the story under someone’s thumb and reacting to events rather than making choices on their own.
The Dragonet Prophecy tells a satisfying story while expertly teasing future events – the perfect starter book for a grand YA series.
Tactical strategy games have seen a resurgence in recent years, with excellent reboots and sequels for series like XCOM and Fire Emblem. But it’s pixel-perfect indie studio Chucklefish that has taken up the mantle of re-imagining the Advance War series (which had inspired Fire Emblem’s initial localization outside Japan).
Indie games have long filled the void of classic genres and gameplay styles left behind by bigger studios. Wargroove is the perfect example of an indie studio rebooting a beloved series while infusing their own story, with several modern improvements and an astonishing amount of content.
The honeymoon for nostalgia-fueled Kickstarter video game projects has long since passed. Older games and genres from the 80s and 90s inspired a treasure trove of multi-million dollar projects, to varying degrees of success. Despite the digital gold rush, I never expected one of these Kickstarter fruits to bear a new ToeJam & Earl game, let alone it be quite good.
ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is the fourth game in the bizarre but strangely memorable 90s series. But it’s also a triumphant recreation of the 1991 original, which has all the early trappings of a solid roguelike dungeon crawler, that happens to star a pair of funky aliens. While some gameplay elements are quite frustrating, Back in the Groove is dripping with 90s charm, lots of replayability, and fantastic co-op.
I enjoyed the fourth novel in Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series much more than the previous two. The first one is a classic coming of age adventure, while the second focuses on social drama among tween girls (yeesh) and the third an annoyingly awkward pining romance (double yeesh).
The fourth book, however, stars an older teenage Tiffany, comfortably seated as the witch of her lands. The new villain is yet another malevolent force and too similar to book 2’s hiver. But what made it a wonderful read was the fantastic, complex relationship between Tiffany, Roland (the young prince, now grown up), and Roland’s new fiance Letitia.
Pratchett smartly stays far away from a tiresome teen love triangle, allowing all the characters to breathe, develop, and interact in a much more likable, but still dramatic, way. Plus we’re given a fun side jaunt to Ankh-Morpork, including guest stars from the City Watch series. It also provides a satisfying ending, though there’s one more book to go.