Overlord, Vol. 5: The Men of the Kingdom Part I

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Overlord, Vol. 5: The Men of the Kingdom Part I Book Cover Overlord, Vol. 5: The Men of the Kingdom Part I
Overlord
Kugane Maruyama
Fantasy
Yen On
September 19, 2017 (English); December 28, 2013 (Japanese)
Hardcover
272

In the kingdom of Re-Estize, a sinister organization known as the Eight Fingers holds sway of the criminal underworld. Ainzs orders Sebas to infiltrate the capital to gather intel on this shadowy group sucking the marrow from the kingdom's bones. At the same time, a young soldier named Climb struggles to hone his skills to better serve the "Golden Princess" while the once great warrior Brian returns home a broken man... Against the backdrop of an ancient city fraying at its edges, three men will challenge the corruption of the vicious Eight Fingers!

 

This review will contain some spoilers for the previous Overlord light novels.

The Men in the Kingdom Part 1 is a bit tricky to review since it is only half a story. By and large, this book feels more like it is just getting things ready for the next one. While it is true that nothing too crazy happens, there are some other key points to the novel. Aside from the set-up for Part II, this story does a lot for world building and character development in Overlord.

It has been clearly established that Ainz and his minions are all-powerful compared to the other inhabitants of this world. If their goal was simply to raze everything to the ground they could do so, easily. But Ainz works on the assumption that there are powers that could threaten them in this world. To that end he attempts to gather information and that sets up our world-building. This novel focuses on Sebas and Solution gathering information in the capital city of the nearest country. Their actions allow us readers to see what everyday life is like in this world for human civilians.

World-building and character development are a bit linked here, with a few regular human characters introduced. We meet the princess of the kingdom, her loyal bodyguard, one of the few groups of the highest-ranking adventurers, and revisit Brain (the warrior who fought Shalltear in volume 3). For the main characters, this book focuses on Sebas. Seeing each of Ainz’s top people get their own story is fantastic; many other series would just turn at least some of them into background characters. Sebas himself is also interesting because he is one of the inherently good denizens of Nazarick. He will follow his orders, but will also try to do the honorable thing within the boundaries of those orders.

Overall this book was enjoyable, but again it is only half of a story. The stopping point for this novel did feel pretty good. There is a little bit of a cliffhanger to tease audiences, but it is done in a fun way. Given how much this book felt like set-up, Men in the Kingdom Part II will probably be action packed. That is not to say it is not interesting to see the characters maneuver through politics as well as battlefields. And there is a bit of fighting in this book, just nothing over the top. But Men in the Kingdom Part I definitely gives the sense that there is a greater battle to come.

November 19, 2017

Forbidden

Published Post author

Forbidden Book Cover Forbidden
Feather Stone
Fiction
Romance Under Fire
December 1, 2016
Paperback
363

Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.

The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city's bloody secret - and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.

Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.

When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah's eternal wrath.

CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hitman on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.

What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

 

Forbidden was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Forbidden is one of those novels that does not really fit into any one category. It has elements of thriller, romance, mystery, crime, drama, and politics but none of those really fit on their own. That largely contributes to what makes the book feel so real; there are slices from various aspects of life. Another big factor was having this in the near-future (30 years from now) without being too crazy. The technology we see if pretty much the same as today, no flying cars or anything like that.

The future world we see is really only different in a political sense. Most of the Middle East has combined into a republic, which serves as the setting for the novel. This does not mean everything is all well and good; the catalyst for the story is a terrorist attack. Some individuals do not like the new government and lash out similarly to real terrorist groups like ISIS. While they spend more time as a background element, politics are crucial to the story. Throughout Forbidden, it becomes apparent how one event can start a chain that could potentially destabilize an entire region.

Characterization is also key for a story like Forbidden and the two main characters here were great. Captain Sharif, our main male character, is a good man in a bad situation. He loves his country and respects law and order. Sharif is a faithful man who becomes uncertain when his orders clash against his morality. He knows he is damned in life if he does not follow the orders and damned in death if he commits these sins. It is a difficult situation and showcases what happens when a good man goes to war.

Eliza is our leading lady and makes for a fantastic half of the protagonist duo. She is a strong woman but has been through immeasurable grief that broke her. While she did manage to put herself back together the cracks are still there, and this new tragedy tests her. She spends most of Forbidden scared but also brave. Eliza is smart and has a powerful survival instinct, but she is also emotional and afraid. The scars left by her PTSD are a large part of her character and make her very real.

Overall, Forbidden strikes me as a 3.5 out of 5. We will round that up to 4 because a flat 3 seems too low to do it justice. If you are looking for a suspenseful book with flair of action and a splash of romance, Forbidden is a good choice.

November 12, 2017

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

Published Post author

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad Book Cover Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
Star Wars
Christie Golden
Sci-fi
Del Rey
July 25, 2017
Hardcover
304

The Rebellion may have heroes like Jyn Erso and Luke Skywalker. But the Empire has Inferno Squad.

After the humiliating theft of the Death Star plans and the resulting destruction of the battle station, the Empire is on the defensive. In response to this stunning defeat, the Imperial Navy has authorized the formation of an elite team of soldiers, known as Inferno Squad. Their mission: infiltrate and eliminate the remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans. Following the death of their leader, the Partisans have carried on his extremist legacy, determined to thwart the Empire—no matter what the cost. Now, Inferno Squad must prove their status as the best of the best and take down the Partisans from within. But as the danger intensifies and the threat of discovery grows, how far will Inferno Squad go to ensure the safety of the Empire?

 

Inferno Squad serves as the prequel to the video game Star Wars Battlefront II, focusing on Imperial special forces soldiers. This novel fills the same role that Twilight Company did for the previous Battlefront game but has a few differences. The first Battlefront did not have a story mode so the characters were mostly generic Rebel soldiers. Battlefront II will have a plot, spanning from Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens. Inferno Squad is the precursor to that game, taking place in-between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. As such, the characters can be developed a bit further but only to a degree.

The members of Inferno Squad are shown in their first mission, christening the new Imperial black ops team. In the new Disney canon, the villain books have all been pretty good. Lords of the Sith, Tarkin, and Thrawn all did an excellent job of highlighting characters. But these characters had advantages the members of Inferno Squad do not. Tarkin, Thrawn, Vader, and Palpatine were all prominent characters in the old canon, cementing many of their character traits. Inferno Squad is a brand-new group of characters who must remain very Imperial over the course of the novel.

Sympathizing with the bad guys is hard. The aforementioned villains are all interesting for their own reasons. Palpatine is irredeemably evil, Vader has a tragic backstory, Tarkin equivalates ruthless with stability, and Thrawn is a tactical genius. The Inferno Squad members do genuinely believe in the Empire but more by their upbringing than due to personal qualities. Christie Golden could not do too much with them when they still need to be rigid Imperials for Battlefront II. It did help that the rebels they were fighting were more terrorists than heroes but they are still bland.

Other villains work because they are leaders who do not really care about morality. The members of Inferno Squad somehow convince themselves that genocide can be for the greater good, eating into Imperial propaganda. While Inferno Squad does not seem necessary to Star Wars fans overall, it will likely make Battlefront II more enjoyable (like the effect Catalyst had for viewers of Rogue One). It seemed odd for a book connected to shooter game like Battlefront to be about an undercover spy mission. Prioritizing characterization over action scenes is not necessarily bad but it just did not seem to fit with the game. For non-hardcore Star Wars or Battlefront fans, Inferno Squad can probably be skipped.

November 5, 2017

Movie Monsters: Halloween Special Edition

Published Post author

Movie Monsters: Halloween Special Edition Book Cover Movie Monsters: Halloween Special Edition
Various
Horror
Conde Nast
September 2017
Magazine
95

Just in time for Halloween, Condé Nast Presents Movie Monsters is a comprehensive guide to zombies, werewolves, vampires, serial killers, mutants, Godzilla, King Kong, and other creatures native and alien in popular culture. It will feature the 50 essential movie monsters, along with compelling sidebars and interviews with the filmmakers. Packed with intense photos, it promises to be a spooky keepsake no true horror fan will want to live without.

 

Instead of a movie this month, we will be reviewing a special Halloween magazine about horror movie monsters.

Movie Monsters is a Halloween themed magazine that features articles from several publications owned by Conde Nast. Vanity Fair, GQ, The New Yorker, and Wired all have articles that appear in this special edition. The magazine itself is broken into five sections, each focusing on a different type of horror film.

First, we have Big Beasties, centralizing on King Kong before talking about other giant monster (kaiju) movies. The main article, The Monkey and the Metaphor, comes from Vanity Fair. Keep that in mind. Most of the article talks about how Kong, from the original film to the new Skull Island, is a symbol of oppression. As an ape he symbolizes racism and as a male he symbolizes sexism. Or, you know, he is a giant freaking monkey. Yeah, you can call Kong discriminatory but with enough arguing, you could claim that about anything, like a refrigerator. Most other films in this section have small tidbits about them but a lot of the greats are included. Films such as Tremors, Them!, and Jaws are all mentioned. Plus a top 10 list for Godzilla monsters from Wired (they really scraped the bottom of the barrel for some of those choices).

Section two is titled It Came From Somewhere Else and deals with aliens. Namely the film, Alien. Unfortunately, this is another Vanity’s Fair article. They describe H. R. Giger’s monster as “phallic, vaginal, biomechanical artwork”. The fine folks at Vanity Fair seem to spend a lot of time with their minds in the gutter (hiring requirement?). The other smaller sections are fine, little blips dealing with films like Predator, Day of the Triffids, and Starship Troopers.

Very Superstitious deals with supernatural films, starting with an article about Guillermo del Toro. Taken from The New Yorker, the article was very informative and discusses his start as a young filmmaker as well as the making of Pan’s Labyrinth. The other article here is from Vanity Fair and talks about The Exorcist. This Vanity Fair article is fairly normal (thank god) and also focuses on Father Gabriele Amorth, a real exorcist. A third article here also highlights the recent film The Babadook (one of the scariest films in recent years). There are also small sections featuring details about the film Poltergeist and an interview with a scary clown for hire (linked with the recent remake of Stephen King’s IT).

The fourth section, Almost Human, deals with more human monsters like Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The articles here are broader, focusing on types of movies rather than specific films. The first deals with werewolves while the second highlights zombie films, particularly Night of the Living Dead. A few other sections feature blips of films like Nosferatu and it wraps up with a section about Freddy Krueger.

Lastly, you have The Evil That Men do and there was no better way to start than with Hannibal Lecter. While subsequent works have been not so great, no one will ever forget Anthony Hopkins performance in Silence of the Lambs. This section also features an interview with Jordan Peele about his film Get Out (this could have been the best horror movie of 2017 if not for IT). The rest of the magazine deals with the classic slashers of the 70s and 80s: Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface.

Overall this was a good little compilation. Nothing groundbreaking was in here, but there are a few things that even longtime horror fans might not know. Especially for those of us who are not regular magazine readers. If you are looking to kill an afternoon before Halloween, pick up a copy of this.

October 29, 2017

State of Emergency

Published Post author

State of Emergency Book Cover State of Emergency
Mary Hallberg
Young Adult
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
August 5, 2017
Paperback
158

17-year-old Dallas Langdon is fighting off zombies with a pizza cutter.

Dallas has always loved zombie movies. But when she catches a real live (erm, dead) musician eating a man’s intestines backstage after the show, she knows her movies have become a reality. And what do characters in zombie movies do? Seek shelter. Fortunately, Dallas's eccentric uncle owns a farmhouse in Chattanooga, an eight hour drive from New Orleans. It’s on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by electric fences, and cut off from the worlds of the living and the dead.

Dallas’s parents, still safe at home, laugh at her idea over the phone. Her friends only agree to join her because it’s fall break and they could use a mini vacation anyway.

But then Dallas’s best friend is killed by a zombie horde when they’re attracted to her ringing cell phone. Civilians think their reanimated loved ones simply have the flu, leaving them alive (well, undead) and rapidly increasing the zombies ranks. And since minors can’t buy guns, Dallas’s only weapon is a giant industrial pizza cutter she swipes from a gas station. George A. Romero never mentioned anything like this. With one friend dead and no zombie survival guides to help her, Dallas and her friends must get to Chattanooga before joining the ranks of the undead themselves.

 

State of Emergency was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

State of Emergency finds itself in the zombie sub-genre and that is a tricky place to be. There are only a few routes you can go with a zombie story, basically during the outbreak and after it. This is a during the outbreak story; think more Night of the Living Dead or Shaun of the Dead and less 28 Days Later or The Walking Dead. In recent years, zombies have been popular for horror stories and are a topic that has been done to death. Thankfully, State of Emergency stays a lot fresher than members of the legions of the undead.

At only 158 pages, State of Emergency is a very short book. With that in mind, there was not a ton of page space for character development. That is not to say it is not there and what we do get is good for the book’s length. A small group of teenagers realize everything is going to hell in a handbasket while everyone else is in denial. One of the reasons this story works is because it feels very much like a real-world scenario.

The spread of the zombie virus starts in small, poor communities and largely goes unnoticed by the rest of society. By the time well-off people (and world leaders) realize, “Hey, this is a problem,” it is too late. The infection has already spread far and wide while people think it is a hoax and gears of politics turn too slowly to contain the situation. A big thing that State of Emergency gets right is the emotional dilemma of a zombie outbreak. Even when people become zombies, family and friends will tell themselves they are just sick and will get better. Most people are not going to shrug and shoot grandma in the head because she starts acting a little cannibalistic.

Because State of Emergency was a short book the story almost plays out like a movie. There is only X amount of time for character development and it kind of jumps from scene to scene. Many things in the story are also left open-ended, including the finale. There could easily be a sequel, but it reads fine stand-alone too. The only thing I do not 100% understand is the axe on the cover. The main character fights off zombies with a pizza cutter, not an axe. But I suppose a bloody pizza cutter just is not as intimidating for a cover (or is it?).

October 22, 2017

The Execution (The Wintergrave Chronicles #1)

Published Post author

The Execution Book Cover The Execution
The Wintergrave Chronicles
Sharon Cramer
Historical Fiction
B & F Publishing
February 14, 2012
Paperback
356

Book 1 of the Wintergrave Chronicles:

Parallel lives are fated to collide in The Execution, a medieval thriller, dark adventure, and tragic love story set in fourteenth century France.

A young priest enters the prison cell of a condemned mercenary and is shocked to see the face of this murderer is his own—a mirror image of himself. Unknown to each other until now, the twins form a bond of brotherhood, sealed with their darkest secrets. But with only hours until the execution, the priest begins to question which man should truly be condemned. Should it be the ruthless killer—a boy from an orphanage who suffered the unimaginable—or himself, the man of God whose own tormented desires ended in tragedy? As the sun rises, the young priest knows what he must do. Only one man will die…but two men will be free.

 

The Execution was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of The Execution is pretty interesting; twin brothers separated at childhood reunited under strange circumstances. Ravan, sold into the life of a mercenary, is set to be executed the next morning for murder. D’ata, raised in the priesthood and sent to give last confession to the convicted. Separated by the Black Death in 14th century France, the brothers learn of each other’s life stories.

Having the story told from two different perspectives, over two different lifetimes, made The Execution a unique story. It jumps back and forth between the two, so we see each brother’s story at the same point in time. Ravan’s story follows his start as a boy with a penchant for survival to life as a slave mercenary. These portions of the book are filled with action and adventure. Some parts feel more like a fantasy novel with Ravan’s unnatural skills, being almost superhuman in the feats he performs. Ravan’s story is both exciting and sad, showing how even demons will run when a good man goes to war.

D’ata’s portion of The Execution is a story of romance. Left on the steps of a church, he is raised into the priesthood by a rich family. His new family caring more for prestige than love, D’ata’s suffering is more emotional where Ravan’s was primarily physical. Falling head over heels for a young farmgirl, D’ata finds his faith tested between familial bonds and true love. These portions of the story were not as action-packed, but still exciting in their own way. There was not as much physical danger so much as the sense of loss D’ata and his love will feel. Of the two brothers, D’ata’s ending also felt more satisfying (though that could change in the rest of the trilogy).

Despite the lives of Ravan and D’ata being very different, there are common themes between the two. Both brothers are forced into lives they neither chose nor wanted. Both will find true families in people they trust, not necessarily those who raise them. Both will experience love and loss on their life paths. And both will end up in the dungeon the morning before the execution, telling their stories and pondering their fates. The dynamic woven between two different genres makes The Execution a fantastic read and shows how different lives can intertwine.

October 15, 2017

Exit Strategy (Nick Mason #2)

Published Post author

Exit Strategy Book Cover Exit Strategy
Nick Mason
Steve Hamilton
Thriller
G.P. Putnam's Sons
May 16, 2017
Hardcover
289

In the follow-up to The Second Life of Nick Mason, the remarkable hero fights to take back control from the crime lord who owns his life, as he races to complete a daring and dangerous new mission. . . .

Nick Mason has been given a true mission impossible: Infiltrate WITSEC, the top-secret federal witness-protection program that has never been compromised, locate the three men who put his boss Darius Cole behind bars for life, and kill them.

But first he has to find them—they’re ghost prisoners locked down around the clock in classified “deep black” locations by an battalion of heavily armed U.S. marshals charged with protecting them—and the clock is ticking. Cole is appealing his conviction, and these witnesses are either his ticket to freedom or the final nail in his coffin. If they testify, Darius Cole will never step foot in the outside world again. If they are killed, he will walk out a free man.

As he risks everything to complete his mission, Mason finds himself being hunted by the very man he replaced, the ruthless assassin who once served, then betrayed, Darius Cole. Rather than waiting to be Mason's next victim, he has escaped witness protection to hunt down and kill Mason himself.

In an action-packed journey that leads from a high-security military installation in the Appalachian Mountains to a secret underground bunker hidden far below the streets of New York City, Nick Mason will have to become, more than ever before, the lethal weapon that Darius Cole created.

 

This review will contain spoilers for the first Nick Mason book, The Second Life of Nick Mason.

Exit Strategy is the second book in the Nick Mason series, picking up shortly where the first book left off. The previous title, the Second Life of Nick Mason, was a fantastic thriller novel. I read the whole thing in one sitting because it just blew me away. The sequel, not so much. The dynamic of the story and characters shifts a lot over the course of Exit Strategy. It felt like Steve Hamilton decided he wanted to change a bunch of things about this series. And then decided the best way to do that was with piles of bodies and other character write-offs.

Any thriller story, be it a book or a movie, is going to have a main character who is a one-man army. Jason Bourne, John Wick, and others like them all leave literal scores of dead men in their wake. Usually characters are given a backstory that explains this, like being former black ops or raised by a paramilitary family. Nick Mason is set up as a small-time criminal with a code of honor, yet his body count rivals Rambo’s. Mason being able to outfox a federal organization, even with the help of a crime boss, is just too much. But if you want detailed descriptions of people being broken, beaten, and otherwise injured, Exit Strategy will not disappoint.

The characterization in the first book was one of its strongest points. In Exit Strategy, it was just too rushed. Everything that happens in this book felt like it could have been spread over three or so novels. That way the story would have had more meat on its bones. Imagine if the first two or three Jason Bourne films had all been crammed into one movie. Exit Strategy was like that. Events just escalated too quickly to be believable and the big reveal at the end felt too soon.

There will be a sequel to Exit Strategy with the way the book ends. Whether book #3 gets the series back to where it was in book #1 is up in the air. If you keep the first book in mind, this book could potentially warrant itself as 4-stars. Standalone, it is 3-stars hands-down. By no means is it a bad book, but it is a bland book. We will see how the next Nick Mason installment pans out.

October 8, 2017

Blue Gold

Published Post author

Blue Gold Book Cover Blue Gold
David Barker
Thriller
Urbane Publications
May 11, 2017
Paperback
360

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat - a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission.

Freda's misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster - a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires' tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon - and protect the future of 'blue gold'.

 

Blue Gold is an entertaining thriller for readers who like spy stories with a splash of sci-fi. It does not necessarily fit into any one genre. The story is a little sci-fi but no more than an old school James Bond film would be. The MI6 agent characters have gadgets and with it being set in the near-future, technology is a bit more advanced. This is a pretty fast paced adventure and jumps around (geographically) quite a bit. Plus the story, by the end, is a classic tale of espionage.

David Barker did an exceptional job with the world-building. In the near future, humanity is running short on fresh water. We are not talking a Mad Max level drought, but it is enough to where governments are starting to ration. Smaller, more impoverished countries (especially those in desert/dry areas) are starting to war with each other over water sources. Simultaneously, solar flares have knocked out a lot of satellites and seriously altered global communications. Both of these factors result in a war for information among first world countries. Protagonists Sim and Freda start by chasing a terrorist plot that soon evolves into a much greater adventure.

Sim and Freda’s chase of suspects and criminals leads them all over the world. They go from Europe to America to the futuristic “ocean cities”. In a nutshell, rich people built floating cities to get out of paying taxes. This seems like something ridiculous enough to be in this kind of story, but also believable enough for some rich people to actually try. Our MI6 agents go to great lengths for the sake of stealth (in-between getting noticed and captured). They are not the only ones, however; Blue Gold does feature a few more storylines. Other plot-centric characters are relevant to the story and their purpose becomes clearer later on. Also, still in the style of classic Bond, the ending features a large battle at the bad guy’s evil lair.

There are little bits of information at the beginning of each chapter, taken from Sim and Freda’s training manuals. These seemed like a mixed bag. On one hand, they provided crucial background information in each chapter. On the other hand, that presentation made the information feel forced. If that information had been worked into the story more naturally it would have felt smoother. Overall, Blue Gold is a good story but just did not seem to really pull you in as a reader.

October 1, 2017

Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real (The Last Dragon)

Published Post author

Poster for the movie ""

Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real

What if dragons actually existed?

20041 h 39 min
Overview

"Dragon's World: A Fantasy Made Real" is a nature mockumentary about a British scientific team that attempts to understand the unique the incredible beasts that have fascinated people for ages. CGI is used to create the dragons.

Metadata
Director Justin Hardy
Runtime 1 h 39 min
Release Date 1 December 2004
Details
Movie Media DVD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real (also titled The Last Dragon and Dragon’s World) explores a “what if” scenario. What if dragons had been real? In this docufiction, the frozen remains of dragons are found and an aspiring young scientist strives to prove their existence. Naturally, he is met with skepticism by his peers but remains resolute despite that. The bulk of the film uses CGI scenes for flashbacks, showing the evolution of dragons over millions of years. The entire “documentary” feels very real with only a small disclaimer at the beginning pointing out that it is fiction.

The first flashback sequence takes place in the Cretaceous, with a one-on-one between a dragon and a T. Rex. These scenes flow into following a juvenile dragon as he learns to fly, hunt, claim territory, and mate. Each of these sequences bounces back and forth between the modern scientists, providing explanations on the dragon biology and behavior. Then we skip ahead to after the KT extinction, where dragons must survive during the growing reign of mammals. Dragons, like other animals, became smaller and thus their tactics evolved, becoming more focused on stealth and subterfuge than power. From this point on, the flashbacks and modern day parts of the story intercede.

Our scientist team finds the frozen corpses of dragons in Romania’s mountains and the flashbacks tell their story. As humans began to spread out and domesticate animals, dragons were forced to harsher regions. This meant fewer chances of being hunted down by people but also increased the odds of starvation. In this final segment, we also glimpse dragon mating rituals and the upbringing of their young. Ultimately man and dragon clash, with obvious violent results considering there are no more dragons.

This film was very well put together, being made by the same effects company that produced Walking with Dinosaurs. For a 13-year-old fake documentary, the special effects were pretty good. You should not expect it to be on par with Dragonheart or Reign of Fire, but it is not bad. Despite being more worthy of Syfy Channel, this was made by Animal Planet. Heck, they even got Patrick Stewart to voice their narrator. There was real effort put into Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real and it shows. This easily could have been a “for fun, just for kids” thing and it was not. That does not mean it should be taken completely seriously, but anyone with a love of fantasy can enjoy this film.

September 24, 2017

Nemesis Saga #5: Project Legion

Published Post author

Project Legion Book Cover Project Legion
Nemesis Saga
Jeremy Robinson
Sci-fi
Breakneck Media
October 25, 2016
Paperback
394

THE SIGNAL WAS RECEIVED
Ten years after a deep space transmission was broadcast from a futuristic citadel hidden in the Arctic ice, Jon Hudson finds himself in a position beyond comprehension. His days of lazy Sasquatch hunting on behalf of the DHS's Fusion Center-Paranormal (FC-P) have been a fading memory since the appearance of Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance, reborn through genetic tinkering. Now he longs for those quiet days once more.

THE AEROS HAVE RETURNED
Facing down giant kaiju has become almost commonplace for Hudson and the FC-P, who he regards as his family, but the threat now facing them is global. An alien race known as the Aeros, summoned to Earth ten years ago, have arrived in orbit, hell-bent on destroying their ancient enemy, the Ferox, along with all of humanity...in all dimensions of reality.

ALL EARTHS WILL BE DESTROYED
Facing off against an invasion of city-destroying kaiju, a massive mothership and an assault in a parallel world, Hudson must bolster the FC-P's ranks. Joined by Milos 'Cowboy' Vesely, Hudson must journey through alternate dimensions to gather a one-of-a-kind legion of defenders, including a smart-mouthed soldier, a woman who can animate the lifeless, a time traveler, a robot-man, a powerful king and an assassin who can slip between frequencies of reality.

With Project Legion, Jeremy Robinson has created an epic series finale, bringing together characters and plot elements from more than a dozen different novels and series. The result is a crossover novel, ten years in the making, the likes of which have never been seen outside of comic books and movies like Captain America: Civil WarProject Legion is an apocalyptic end to the first story arc of the bestselling Kaiju Thriller series: The Nemesis Saga.

Novels whose characters or plot elements are featured in Project Legion include: The Nemesis Saga, Island 731The Didymus ContingencyRaising the PastNazi Hunter: AtlantisThe Last Hunter(The Antarktos Saga), Xom-B (aka: Uprising), the Jack Sigler Thrillers and MirrorWorld. Also mentioned are elements from the following novels: RefugeKronos and Beneath. Although reading all these novels is NOT a prerequisite for enjoying Project Legion, they will help flesh out the included characters.

 

Project Legion really is a unique book. Jeremy Robinson has established that his works are a multiverse and brings them all together in this last, epic adventure. Personally, I have not read any of his non-Nemesis books but I did not feel lost. It seemed like I would have gotten a lot more out of the characters from his other books if I had, but it was not completely necessary to do so. While Project Legion feels complete in and of itself, readers will walk away wanting to know more about those characters. These are supposed to be the greatest heroes in all the multiverse and they pull off incredible feats. It would be like watching Avengers but having only seen the first Captain America film beforehand.

Because of the “Robinverse”, some things in Project Legion do not 100% make sense. Some of the other heroes that pop up are just kind of there to help fight. You do not really need to know too much about them. Others are as key to the plot as the Nemesis characters have been since Project Nemesis. Not just characters either; concepts from the other books (presumably better fleshed out in those other works) are also crucial. Robinson has said that Project Legion was meant to more or less wrap up his currently works as a whole so that he can start fresh on new series, so for folks who have read his other books finishing up those plots was probably pretty satisfying. If anything, Project Legion makes readers want to go back and look up Robinson’s older works.

For the characters from the Nemesis Saga, Project Legion is very satisfying. Without real spoilers, it does end how you would expect. Good triumphs over evil and the characters finally get the peace they have fought for. The narrative throughout is similar to the other books, humorously told by Jon Hudson. There are still plenty of pop culture references throughout, both directly and indirectly, but that was toned down a bit. By far, the Nemesis Saga is the best kaiju series for your bookshelf. While some parts of the series have been weaker than others, overall it is very solid. Any fan of fantastical sci-fi and giant monsters will love this series. Here is to hoping that Robinson’s next kaiju book, Unity, can live up to Nemesis, the Queen of the Monsters.

September 17, 2017