My turn to write something, and I’m in a bit of trouble. Reading non-genre, doing overtime at work and playing games, there’s simply not that much new stuff to review. I wanna rant about the Witcher show, but I’ll have plenty of space for that in our upcoming two-shot. I’m not happy with the TV version of one of my favourite sagas, I can tell you that in advance. Not the worst show, but not a good adaptation.
Then I thought about reviewing a very interesting non-fiction by S.C. Gwynne, Empire of the Summer…, about the Comanches, their rise to power and their fall. It’s a very interesting perspective on Native American history, and a new one for me. But then I thought it might be a pretext for another two-shot, as among Ola’s favourite non-fictions of 2019 were Richard Slotkin’s more scholarly works on similar issues. Lets do a take on another genre, one of the classic ones!
So, I decided to write a few words about a non-computer role-playing game I recently started that I think is fun and accessible for people without much experience. As tabletop RPGs are destined to forever be an elusive niche, I’ll start with a few words of general introduction. Still, it’s not designed as in-depth review, these can be found on the rpg sites. Just a glimpse into a field of activity that keeps me from reading and reviewing more books 😉 and perhaps a suggestion of a fun group activity.
A simple (if that can be said about something with 400+ pages of rules… most players only need to read 16 pages, though), fun game. Less known than it’s boardgame version, but also less expensive and easier to play. And a shortened, but still allowing for a test play, version, is available online for free.
A sequel of sorts to the critically acclaimed Powder Mage trilogy, Sins of Empire takes us ten years forward and half a world away from Adro, to the newly created country and nation of Fatrasta. When Taniel Two-Shot more than a decade ago helped the Fatrastans win their independence from the Kez, he fought alongside Old-World Kressians and aboriginal Palos. But now, as the nation of Fatrasta has become increasingly rich and influential, its leaders and Kressian elites have started to mercilessly exploit the weaknesses of Palo. The internal inequalities and segregation policies introduced by Kressians pushed the mutual distrust between the former colonialists from all over the Nine and the aboriginal tribes of Palos toward political unrest and a bloody civil war. And when the empire of Dynize, remaining in self-imposed isolationism for the last four hundred years, comes knocking with a big-ass fleet of war ships and an army bloodied earlier in a cruel civil war, things get even more dire pretty soon.
After Seveneves, a book admittedly on the heavy side of the genre spectrum, both in literal and metaphoric sense, I wanted something lighter and unassuming, a comeback of sorts to typical urban fantasy. In short, I wanted a bit of easy entertainment ;).
So it’s not entirely The Invisible Library’s fault that I got what I wished for – and I wasn’t happy about it, not a bit.
But to the point. The Invisible Library is the first installment in the Invisible Library series (3 books total now). The novels are fairly popular, with solid reviews and good opinions of readers. It’s an urban fantasy with a twist – the “urban” part being Victorian, and the twist being the titular Invisible Library, a place intended to hold all books of all worlds, and their countless variations appearing in the thousands of possible realities. To sum it up, the keywords list would look something like this: urban fantasy, YA, parallel universes, steampunk, mystery, books.
Witcher 3 is as good as I hoped. One of the best cRPGs I’ve ever played. That means, waay less writing time. Reading… I’m safe on that front, my commuting takes an hour each way now and I’m actually enjoying it. It’s fairly easy to focus on reading, and I can always find a good seat, I’m getting the tram on its first stop. From one edge of my city to the other. Well, I don’t complain – books 🙂
So, on my way to Oxenfurt, I’ve prepared a flash review of a nice book. Witcher books – that review is coming, but I’ll need to refresh the saga before that. I finally will, hardcover, containing short stories preceding the novels, is already waiting for me to finish The New Weird. I don’t think I’ve read them this millennium… and, hopefully, it won’t be just a review of books, but also a few words about the way different mediums complement each other. If only more great book series had their video games of equal quality (and made by people so obviously in love with the source material…). Sapkowski is no Tolkien, but one thing Tolkien never had is a video game studio to make a game worthy of his writing. Sapkowski himself is sadly unable to understand that (video in Polish only, from a recent con) and repeatedly states his disregard for games in general and Witcher games in particular. Me – I see them as something great, and a hope that the new media will be able to creatively build upon the great narratives of their older cousins.
For the time being, something completely unrelated: