Posts Tagged ‘books’

Game Of Thrones And The Problem With Fantasy Sagas

Game of Thrones. Nothing like betrayal and incest to spice up a fantasy saga.

Game of Thrones. Nothing like betrayal and incest to spice up a fantasy saga.

I’ve been watching the Game of Thrones TV series and reading the latest book, A Dance with Dragons, recently and originally was going to post some thoughts I’d be having about it all on Google+ but then decided to write it up as a blog post instead as a more in-depth article. Aside from being the perfect setting for a politically motivated MMORPG (hopefully one day), Game of Thrones is the type of gritty, dark fantasy that I really enjoy, a welcome change from the happy-clappy hobbit and elven filled crap that usually plagues the genre. Suffice to say the first few books were hugely enjoyable and the TV show is rather excellent. However the latest book isn’t stimulating me in nearly the same way as the first three did (I found A Feast For Crows rather lackluster too) and, the more I read it, the more I not only grow weary of the whole setting but the more I worry about the future of the TV show too. Unfortunately the entire saga is starting to suffer from something I like to refer to as ‘Robert Jordan Syndrome’.

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The Guild Leader’s Handbook

The Guild Leader's Handbook. The Guild TV show. Get the connection?... Yeah, I know I'm really starting to scrap the barrel with these images.

The Guild Leader's Handbook. The Guild TV show. Get the connection?... Yeah, I know I'm really starting to scrape the barrel.

I was quite surprised today when a parcel got dropped off at my office containing a copy of The Guild Leader’s Handbook, a new book about, surprisingly, running guilds in MMOs. I was contacted by No Starch Press, an independent publishing company, about two weeks ago asking if I wanted a free review copy so of course, being the sellout that I am, I immediately said yes. Considering I live all the way over in Scotland I was a pretty skeptical about them actually bothering to send me one but, true to their word, it arrived today. My first blogging freebie! I must be on the road to fame and fortune.

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Storm Front Book Review At World’s Strongest Librarian

Josh over at the World’s Strongest Librarian was kind enough to let me publish a guest post book review of Strom Front: The Dresden Files, Book 1 by Jim Butcher. If you guys can recall, it was one of the books that came highly recommended to me for my holiday reading list and I have to say that I enjoyed it quite a lot. It wasn’t necessarily amazing, but it was good nonetheless and I heard the other novels in the series get a lot better. I’m back to reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga at the moment but I’ve already got the second Dresden Files book to start after that.

World’s Strongest Librarian is a blog I’ve been reading for a few months now and would strongly urge everyone to check it out. It’s totally unrelated to MMORPGs (I think I’ve managed to baffle Josh with the topic :) ) which makes it a nice refreshing change and instead is about a librarian who’s also incredibly strong. Well, OK, it’s about a lot more than that but I’ll leave you to discover that for yourselves. I’ll finish by saying Josh is an excellent writer and his blogging style is witty, intelligent and a ton of fun. And no, he’s not my boyfriend.

If you want to read my attempt at a book review (please be gentle, it’s my first time), check out “Book Review: Strom Front – Guest Review by Gordon” here.

Generation Kill

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine bought me a book called ‘Generation Kill’ for my birthday. I admit I was a little skeptical about trying it at first as it’s not the type of thing I usually read but I gave it a shot and now I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The reason he bought it for me is because it’s been made into a US TV mini-series with the same name by David Simon and Ed Burns, the creators of The Wire, probably the best show to have ever been on television.

Generation Kill is the true story of a Company of Marines in Iraq and is written by Evan Wright, a journalist who accompanied them for two months during the start of the invasion/liberation in 2003. It’s completely true, very emotional and incredibly engrossing, giving the reader a fascinating (and often scary) insight into what it’s like to be a solider during a modern-day war.

Generation Kill

Generation Kill

One of the first things that struck me when reading the book (apart from how well written it is) is just how innocent the soldiers are and how that they are really no different from me and my peers. I always imagined Marines being grizzled old veterans but these ones are young men into computer games and comics, the only real difference between them and myself is that most of them come from poor backgrounds, tend to not be the most well educated of people and have a strong streak of violence and blood-lust, fueled by a super-macho atmosphere. Here’s an excerpt from the books prologue:

Trombley is beside himself. “I was just thinking one thing when we drove into that ambush,” he enthuses. “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I felt like I was living it when I seen the flames coming out of windows, the blown-up car in the street, guys crawling around shooting at us. It was fucking cool.”

Later on in the book a Marine psychiatrist is quoted saying “The whole structure of the military is designed to mature young men to function responsibly while at the same time preserving their adolescent sense of invulnerability”. This theme definitely comes across strongly in the book as squads are depicted as tribal family units, led by strong alpha males who command the weaker and less experienced but at the same time go to great lengths to care and look after them. This is no more obvious than when one of the commanders , Sgt. Colbert, grills one of his youngest squad members Cpl. Trombley, mentioned above, as to the state of his urine upon returning from the bathroom.

Generation Kill offers a huge insight into the army and the Iraq invasion/liberation. For instance, it clearly shows how classist the Armed Forces are and how massively disorganised they can be (although it does seem perfectly understandable when you realise the difficulties in co-ordinating attacks and movements). Another thing which surprised me was how little any of the Marines actually cared about why they are in Iraq or what their long-term objectives were, something I thought would’ve been paramount to them. Thinking about it though, they need to focus on surviving on a day-to-day basis and thus political and long-term objectives become rather meaningless.

I’d definitely recommend this book, regardless of anyone’s feelings towards the Iraq war. It’s certainly given me a lot of respect for the soldiers out there and made me realise and confront some of the difficult issues they deal with on a regular basis. It also grants a great perspective on daily life. Why do we stress about our work life when soldiers and civilians are in other countries trying to survive and avoid death every day?

Anyway, time for me to log into World of Warcraft and join my guild in a relentless, adrenaline-fueled PvP session. It’s the closest thing I want to come to war.