Reviews april

Reviews

It’s that time of the month again, no not that, the other thing: reviews. I’ve seen and read things this month, and will now force my opinions on you.

Books

I finished The Winds of Khalakovo  by Bradly P. Beaulieu. My interest was peaked because it was a fantasy book with flying sail ships, like my own story The Thousand Sails of Elysium. Luckily, that’s where the similarities ended. The book has a Russian flavour to it, and is about a young prince called Nikandr, who’s forced to marry a princess from a rival family to secure help for his duchy of Khalakovo, which is suffering from a blight.

The setting and the ideas are fresh and interesting, but I was confused several times. This was in part due to naming. For example, I mixed up two of the three power groups in the country for the first half of the book because they were called Aramahn, and Maharraht – which only registered as “that group with three A’s in its name” instead of two separate groups. I also had trouble keeping Yvanna, Atiana, and Victania apart from each other, among others. There were just too many names, and too little depth to the characters.

I still liked the story and the subplots, up to the ending. I’ll try not to spoil anything, but I felt a bit cheated that a lot of the subplots did not get resolved. I understand you want to leave some things unresolved for the second and third part of a trilogy, but you have to make it feel like the characters achieved something. But maybe that was just me. I also have those problems with Song of Ice and Fire, and everybody and their dog loves that to death.

TV shows

My wife and I are happily watching Agents of SHIELD season 1. I heard mixed things about it, but I’m actually quite pleased. I like the characters and the dialog. They bear Whedon’s touch. I also liked Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse, so maybe I’m just a screaming fangirl inside.

I’ve also been watching the second season of the Blacklist. The flaws are really piling up, making me cringe a lot while watching. The show is about Raymond Reddington, a master criminal who surrenders to the FBI, and strikes a deal: his continued freedom for help in capturing other criminals that the FBI does not even know exist.

An interesting premise, and James Spader is a good actor, but unfortunately, the ostensible main character Liz is a walking writing flaw. She’s a profiler, although she never actually profiles anybody. She’s extremely inconsistent, switching between love and hate for Reddington every other episode, and a terrible back-stabbing insubordinate employee – alternating between incompetence in one episode and being a Die Hard style commando in another. Lucky for her, the FBI as a whole is more incompetent than she is.

In the first season, I could buy into it, but in the second, the plot comes across as more and more contrived, characters are starting to behave increasingly erratic, and boy, the FBI is really made up of clowns. So, watch season 1, and the beginning of season 2 for wrapping up some plots, then move on.

Video Games

I grew up with Super Mario and Sonic, so platformers are a bit nostalgic for me, which is why I like Rayman: Legends. When I finally finish those hard levels after fifty or a hundred tries, I feel really special. Still, I liked Rayman: Origins better than Legends. Legends is more of a collection of levels, and less of a world. The game has been ‘streamlined’, which I interpret as ‘less character, more generic gameplay’. A shame, but it’s still a lot of fun, if terribly hard at times. And I really love the song-based levels.

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy author/blogger from the Netherlands