Goodreads Review – The Shepherd’s Crown

The Shepherd's Crown (Discworld, #41; Tiffany Aching, #5)The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fifth and final Tiffany Aching book and final Discworld novel is all too short due to the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett, my favorite author, in 2015. While it does tell a complete story, many elements are severely shortened and underdeveloped, leaving to an unfortunately underwhelming final tale.

Although I adored the first novel in the Tiffany Aching series, the rest of the series has been very up and down. I love Pratchett’s humorous and insightful writing style, but the series is less about Tiffany dealing with fun fantastical threats (as in the first novel), and more a series of coming-of-age teenage dramas.

The Shepherd’s Crown seems to even lack that, as by the fifth book Tiffany has come into her own as a witch of The Chalk. The passing of a major series character is a pivotal moment that’s done very well, but everything else falls a bit flat, including an all new side character who’s kind of pointless (yet given a lot of pages on his own), and the return of the elves which is resolved way too neatly. At under 300 pages it’s clear the book was left unfinished in many areas, and I suspect much of the novel’s praise was given due to the finality of the series and Prachett’s lifetime of amazing work.

Even so, I enjoyed The Shepherd’s Crown more than the second and third novels. Pratchett still makes me grin like nobody else, and finishing this book made me sad all over again that the world lost such a treasured soul.

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Goodreads Review – The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3)

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Phenomenal. The conclusion of The Broken Earth trilogy was everything I wanted and more. The emotional, epic climax between mother and daughter. The fate of the world. The history of the stone eaters. The slow-burn of the second book developing the relationship of Nassun and Schaffa paved the way for an emotionally-gripping finale.

I adored the intimate glimpse into the far-flung past (which is still our future) that sets up the cataclysmic world, how it broke, and how to fix it. Jemisin is an expert world-builder, yet always remains focused on the few but fantastic characters.

Every SF/F fan needs to read The Broken Earth trilogy, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

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Goodreads Review – The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2)

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish Goodreads allowed half-stars. As much as I still adore Jemisin’s writing and world-building, I didn’t quite love the second novel in The Broken Earth trilogy as much as the first.

*VAGUE SPOILERS BELOW*

I was fascinated with the character evolution of Schaffa, but his (and Nassun’s) storyline plods along slower than I would have liked. Likewise I didn’t expect Essun to remain in Castrima for the entirety of the novel, though I enjoyed the socio-political developments, interesting minor characters, and the climactic battle. The best parts were learning about the fascinating world and history, and a much deeper dive into the stone eaters, as well as the awesome and satisfying reveal of the first-person narrator.

Make no mistake, this is still a 5-star series, and an incredible blend of apocalyptic sci-fi, fantasy, great characters, and excellent world-building.

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Image Comics Final Thoughts – Rat Queens, Vol. 2

More action, more sex, more cursing – Rat Queens Volume 2 is a worthy follow-up to one of of my favorite comic series.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Of course, occasionally I may even explore comics outside of Marvel if they come highly recommended or simply peak my interest. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Rat Queens Vol 2Writer: Kurtis J. Weibe

Artist: Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic

Issues: Rat Queens #6-10

 

I heaped a lot of praise onto Rat Queen‘s debut. The mixture of modern language and characters in a D&D-style fantasy world is sublime. An adventuring group of women with varying backgrounds, goals, dreams, and vices. While the plot is a little more simplistic, Volume 2 does a fantastic job giving us more of everything we wanted out of a follow-up.

Volume 2 is titled The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth. It picks up directly after the drunken party our heroines Hannah, Violet, Betty, and Dee threw after their latest victory that saved their town of Palisade. Continue reading “Image Comics Final Thoughts – Rat Queens, Vol. 2”

Review – Sword Coast Legends [Pixelkin]

Limited options and connectivity issues sour the online cooperative and DM experiences, despite a well-crafted single-player campaign.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

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Despite Dungeons and Dragons‘ recent renaissance, we’ve yet to receive a proper, officially licensed D&D video game since Neverwinter Nights 2 in 2006. The ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s were replete with fantastic D&D-style role-playing games that helped define the genre in video games. So, developer N-Space had a lot to live up to with Sword Coast Legends. Though it had high potential, the current offering is a disappointing example of oversimplification.

Sword Coast Legends’ main selling point is the ability for one player to act as a live Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master runs randomized dungeon modules or a custom-created campaign for up to four players. It’s an intriguing concept. It’s frankly astonishing that we haven’t seen a D&D game attempt before.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

My Inquisitor

dragon age inquisition inquisitor

So here we are with the long-awaited third installment. Unlike Dragon Age II, which was pumped out in a little over a year (while they were working on ME3), Inquisition has been in development for several years, and from what we’ve read of previews, interviews and most recently reviews, it looks like a huge step in the right direction. Taking feedback from fans, combining the best parts of Origin, DAII and the Mass Effect trilogy as well as looking at the insane success of the most recent Elder Scrolls game Skyrim have created a winning formula.

After navigating the panels of Dragon Age Keep I’m full prepared to dive back into Thedas – but first I have to decide on my Inquisitor.

Read the full post over on Game Informer >>

Final Thoughts – The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

I’ve finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

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Ever launch into a game you are unsure about, and then a few hours in you think ‘Oh crap, this was a terrible mistake?’ Maybe you preserve and stick with it, enjoying some elements despite some deep flaws and annoyances, and slowly emerge into a semi-enjoyable experience. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings garnered a very mixed reaction from me, not just of the games I’ve played on Rogue’s Adventures, but of any game I’ve played.

Usually when I add a game to my backlog it’s because I want to play it (obviously) but it wasn’t quite high enough on my limited priority list to immediately play it. For The Witcher 2, my motivation was based entirely on how awesome the upcoming third game looks. I played the original Witcher back in 2007-08 and didn’t actually care for it, never finishing it.

I skipped the sequel for years based on that experience and only finally decided to dive in based on how critically acclaimed it was (not to mention a devoted fan base). But mostly, it was the third game showing really well in all its trailers and previews. Yes, I’m a sucker for hype sometimes; I love games.

I don’t love The Witcher.

Read the full Final Thoughts on Game Informer >>