Star Wars: Last Shot

Published Post author

Last Shot Book Cover Last Shot
Star Wars
Daniel José Older
Sci-fi
Del Rey
April 17, 2018
Hardcover
356

The author of Half-Resurrection Blues and Shadowshaper has penned this novel that connects three eras in the lives of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Part of it takes place before the events of Solo and focuses on Lando and L3-37, Lando’s droid sidekick. Part of it takes place between Solo and A New Hope, and that focuses on Han and Chewie, where we meet Sana Starros for the first time. Part of it takes place post-Return of the Jedi, and that’s where we see Han, Leia, a very young Ben Solo, and Lando come into the story.

 

Note: This review will contain spoilers for Star Wars: Episode VII. But it has been 2½ years, so I hope you have seen it by now.

Last Shot is more or less what you would expect from a current Star Wars novel. This particular book seems like it exists more to promote the upcoming Solo film than anything else. It would be a stretch to say Last Shot is bad (it is not), but it did not feel important. Disney seems to want all plot-relevant content confined to the films (which is understandable), so the New Canon novels are mainly only good for character development.

The central figures in this book are Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Now maybe there are things in the new movie that will help guide this book along a little. But these are characters who have already been clearly established in the films. Han was in the whole original trilogy; then in Episode VII he was given a quick reintroduction and subsequently killed. All Last Shot establishes is he tried being a dad and did not think he was very good at it. And that was just a sub-plot, not even the main story.

Lando had a bit more room for character development since he has had less screentime in the films. And “character development” basically means how he stops being a bachelor. So, it is like How I Met Your Mother in space. This was nice to see, but it did not 100% fit his character in this continuity. In the old canon it was clearly established that Lando was a player. In the new canon, he has only popped up a couple of times. Sure, he always flirts with the ladies in those appearances, but they have been too few and far between to really establish that character aspect. Most of the time we have seen him prior to this book, he is helping Rebels.

This book does jump around between three different stories as well. The “present” story made the most sense since it was self-contained. Lando’s flashback probably ties in with Solo since his droid, L-3, was featured in the trailer. Han’s flashback features his first wife Sana from the current Star Wars comic books; if you have not read those, you are going to be a bit lost on that character. Overall, it felt like this book tried to do something and just could not. Daniel José Older is primarily a YA author and it showed throughout Last Shot. Ultimately, it is a skippable book for people interested in Star Wars.

May 20, 2018

The Facefaker’s Game

Published Post author

The Facefaker's Game Book Cover The Facefaker's Game
Chandler J. Birch
Fantasy
Simon Schuster/ Simon451
November 1, 2016
Paperback
464

For fans of Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch, a picaresque fantasy about a clever young beggar who bargains his way into an apprenticeship with a company of thieving magicians and uses his newfound skills in a vendetta against a ruthless crime lord.

Ashes lives in Burroughside—the dirtiest, most crime-ridden district in the huge city of Teranis. His neighbors are gangs of fellow orphans, homeless madmen, and monsters that swarm the streets at nightfall. Determined to escape Burroughside, Ashes spends his days begging, picking pockets, and cheating at cards. When he draws the wrath of Mr. Ragged, Burroughside’s brutal governor, he is forced to flee for his life, only to be rescued by an enigmatic man named Candlestick Jack.

Jack leads a group of Artificers, professional magicians who can manipulate light with their bare hands to create stunningly convincing illusions. Changing a face is as simple as changing a hat. Ashes seizes an opportunity to study magic under Jack and quickly befriends the rest of the company: Juliana, Jack’s aristocratic wife; William, his exacting business partner; and Synder, his genius apprentice. But all is not as it seems: Jack and his company lead a double life as thieves, and they want Ashes to join their next heist. Between lessons on light and illusion, Ashes begins preparing to help with Jack’s most audacious caper yet: robbing the richest and most ruthless nobleman in the city.

A dramatic adventure story full of wit, charm, and scheming rogues, The Facefaker’s Game introduces an unforgettable world you won’t soon want to leave.

 

The Facefaker’s Game came to me thanks to a Goodreads giveaway.

This book caught my eye mainly through the recommendation on the cover by Brent Weeks. Reading up on The Facefaker’s Game ahead of time, I went in knowing Chandler J. Birch is a budding author. With that in mind I set the bar for my expectations and Birch pole vaulted clear over said bar. Without prior research, you would never know this was someone’s first book. The writing, while not on par with masters of literature, feels like someone with a decade of experience authored it. Birch clearly has a knack for this and The Facefaker’s Game seems like a prelude of great things to come.

The characters follow a few standard tropes but are all fun and memorable. The main character Ashes, an Oliver Twist type orphan trying to get out of the slums to a better life. Antagonist Mr. Raggard takes on the role of the politician/crime lord (more Wilson Fisk than Lex Luthor). Candlestick Jack is the mysterious mentor who sees something special in Ashes but also has plans of his own. Despite fitting tropes, all the characters have backstories and quirks that make them feel real. Readers see their motivations and it explains their decision making; they feel more like people than words on a page.

Setting-wise, The Facefaker’s Game follows the trope of The City. The City is big, important, and divided between rich and poor. With Ashes being an orphan, the slums are the setting for a good portion of the book. The writing here is dark and gritty, reflecting how desperate people living here are to get out or just survive. It is not as extreme as something like The Night Angel Trilogy or The Broken Empire Trilogy, but rough enough that there is a real sense of danger.

Plot-wise, the story went along pretty quickly. The page count here is not too crazy, so this does not crawl along like a high fantasy novel. Some parts are more fast-paced than others but overall it does not fly by you too fast. The pacing was just where it needed to be in order to resolve plot elements. That is not to say everything is resolved; enough gets left open here that this could be a standalone story or start a series. Hopefully it starts a series as there is room for much, much more here. And if Birch can start The Facefaker’s Game and his writing career this well, I cannot wait to see where he goes next.

May 13, 2018

To Honor You Call Us (Man of War #1)

Published Post author

To Honor You Call Us Book Cover To Honor You Call Us
Man of War
H. Paul Honsinger
Sci-fi
47North
November 4, 2012
Paperback
454

The Terran Union is engaged in a vast interstellar war against the Krag, ruthless aliens intent on exterminating humankind. In 2315, the wily Max Robichaux is given command of the USS Cumberland, a destroyer with state-of-the-art capabilities but a combat record so bad, she’s known as the “Cumberland Gap.”

Capt. Robichaux’s first mission: to take his warship to the Free Corridor, where the Krag have secretly been buying strategic materials, and to seize or destroy any ships carrying enemy cargo. Far from the fleet and under enforced radio silence, Max relies only on his determination and guile…and the support and friendship of his chief medical officer, the brilliant Dr. Sahin.

Because even as he deals with the ship’s onboard problems and the stress of carrying out her risky assignment, Max and the doctor discover that the Cumberland and her misfit crew are all that stands in the way of a deadly Krag attack that threatens to end the war—and humanity—once and for all.

A far-future story in the tradition of “ships of wood, men of iron” novels, To Honor You Call Us and the Man of War series combines the adventure of exploration, the excitement of war, and the dangers of the unknown through the eyes of a ship and her crew.

 

To Honor You Call Us is the start of a powerful trilogy, especially from a first-time author like Honsinger. So far, the only other space military series I have read is The Lost Fleet, but this book was different. Still an amazing read, just not for the same reasons. The Lost Fleet was in every way a space opera; it was very reminiscent of 80’s anime series like Mobile Suit Gundam, Space Battleship Yamato, and Super Dimension Fortress Macross. To Honor You Call Us reminded me more of Battlestar Galactica (2004) than anything else. This book is more thriller than drama than Galactica, but many of the same elements are there.

Despite the sci-fi setting, this just felt like a military book. It was a bit like the Temeraire series (Napolenonic Wars, but with dragons) as sci-fi instead of fantasy. Navy men fighting with swords while ship boarding (well-explained here) and fighting in a 3D environment (just in space in a ship instead of in the sky on a dragon). We readers are thrown into the story after the war has already been on for a while as well. But for all these similarities there are differences as well that make To Honor You Call Us stand out well.

This series has many different space nations beyond the two involved in the conflict. Humanity is divided up into nations resembling real nationalities. Essentially you have places like Space America, Space Rome, Space Middle-East, etc. And then most of the aliens seem to resemble animals (rat people, bear people, catfish people, etc.). Some other cultures are just name dropped once and never mentioned again, which really shows how huge Honsinger’s world is. To a degree, the various species have different technology. Everyone has spaceships, but they might not all use the same fuel, as one example.

The world-building in this book is fantastical. Characters will pause to explain things but in a fashion that makes sense within the story. As powerful as the world-building is, the characters are just as strong. In a nutshell, the characters feel real. Their war has been going on for 30 years and it shows. Some of these men are old soldiers who remember peace and others have fought for their entire lives. They are soldiers first and foremost, but they are also people, and damaged people at that. This first book is build-up to greater things; at the same time, it functions as its own brilliant story.

May 6, 2018

Rampage

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Rampage"

Rampage

Big meets bigger

20181 h 55 min
Overview

Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size. To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created alpha predators tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.

Metadata
Director Brad Peyton
Runtime 1 h 55 min
Release Date 12 April 2018
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

Rampage is based off a game of the same name, released in 1986 as an arcade machine. The game did well enough to spawn four sequel games and now this movie. As far as movie adaptions of games go, this one is pretty loose for a good reason. The game Rampage did not really have a plot. The backstory is that three people accidentally get mutated into big monsters. This makes them mad, so they start smashing cities. Each stage of the game is you as one of the monsters leveling a city. It does not really have an ending either, being arcade-format.

So, Rampage the movie was basically free to do whatever they wanted. With so little source material, people should not get too upset about not adhering to it. And considering what kind of movie this is, no one should go in expecting a cinematographic masterpiece. Thankfully, Rampage dodged the crappy movie curse that afflicts most video game adaptations. At its core, this is an action film that knew what it was and did a good job. The promotional material showed that the filmmakers and actors were legitimately trying to make a good kaiju (giant monster) movie.

The plot of the movie is a science experiment gone wrong, mutating animals into rampaging giants. And Dwayne The Rock The Tooth Fairy Johnson is the best chance to stop them. Visually, the film is amazing. The monster designs are crazy good, and they legitimately feel scary. There are several parts of the film that are darker, scarier, and bloodier than expected from something seemingly goofy. And really, all the crazy stuff The Rock survives is not much more ridiculous than the average action movie. It is like watching San Andreas (no, not that one), but with giant monsters also there.

There is a fair amount of humor in the film, as is expected from most of The Rock’s movies. The other characters are all fairly good as well. Naomie Harris plays the sidekick/scientist trying to do the right thing. Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy play the stereotypical evil corporate CEOs behind the mad science, but in two different capacities. Jeffrey Dean Morgan breaks some tropes as a government agent who helps out but is also a g-man jerk. For what it is (and was trying to be), Rampage is excellent. It is not an exaggeration to say it is one of the most solid giant monster films in recent times. And since there are multiple games, maybe one day we can get a sequel. Probably unlikely, but the possibility is there.

April 29, 2018

Mutation (Marty and Grace #4)

Published Post author

Mutation Book Cover Mutation
Marty and Grace
Roland Smith
Young Adult
Scholastic Press
September 30, 2014
Paperback
352

Monsters of legend come to life! The final thrilling title in Roland Smith's popular series.

Marty and his best friend, Luther, have managed to rescue Marty's cousin Grace from the clutches of the nefarious pseudo-naturalist Noah Blackwood, but their most dangerous mission lies ahead of them. Marty's parents have been missing in Brazil for months and their trail has all but run cold. With time running out, Marty and the Cryptos Island crew race off for Brazil -- where they discover that Noah Blackwood has twisted the natural order of things beyond their wildest, most terrifying dreams.

 

Note: This review will contain spoiler for the previous three books in the series (plus some of Smith’s other works).

Mutation is the culmination of three different stories by Roland Smith. First off is the previous Marty and Grace books, obviously. Dylan, who started off in Sasquatch, returns here as well. And Mutation brings in Jake Lansa and his parents from their series as well. Going into this one I did not know to read the Jake Lansa books beforehand, but you can tell they come in from another story. They are too fleshed out from the get-go to be brand new characters. And there is a little summary at the beginning of the book to give readers a refresher.

Everything across seven other books has led to the story here in Mutation. Marty’s parents have been missing since the beginning of Cryptid Hunters and it is time to finally find them. But of course, it will not be easy, not if Noah Blackwood has anything to say about it. With the dinosaurs still in his clutches, Marty’s parents are not the only ones who need saving. Chupacabra showed us how cruel and terrible Noah can be while Mutation delves into why. His origins felt a bit cliché but overall it works and fits well in a Young Adult series.

Despite being in the Marty and Grace series, Mutation does not focus on Marty and Grace as much as the previous three books. With former leading protagonists from other books in here as well, that is understandable. But it made it harder than necessary to focus on the good guys part of the story. Having Dylan and Jake along to help is fine, but their stories were wrapped up in their own books. Since this series was started with Marty and Grace, it should end with them as well. Writing former main characters as side characters can be difficult and awkward, but sometimes it needs to be done.

The story also has the characters in groups, so there is a bit of backtracking so that after we see what Group A was up to we can see what Groups B and C were up to at the same time. These little gripes are enough to make me say that Chupacabra was the high-point of this series, but this being the grand finale gets Mutation a solid score for second place.

April 22, 2018

Chupacabra (Marty and Grace #3)

Published Post author

Chupacabra Book Cover Chupacabra
Marty and Grace
Roland Smith
Young Adult
Scholastic Press
September 24, 2013
Paperback
304

Monsters of legend come to life! The third thrilling title in Roland Smith's popular Cryptid Hunters series.

A mysterious creature, a missing girl, and danger at every turn . . .

CHUPACABRA, the riveting sequel to TENTACLES and CRYPTID HUNTERS, reunites Marty and his unusual uncle, cryptozoologist Travis Wolfe, as they search the world for Wolfe's daughter, Grace. Grace has been kidnapped by her grandfather, the ruthless and dangerous Noah Blackwood, who has also stolen the two dinosaur hatchlings Wolfe was raising in secrecy. Now, with word that the mysterious creature known as Chupacabra has been sighted again, Wolfe is torn between his obsession with finding cryptids and his desperate need to rescue his daughter. With trouble at every turn and a dangerous journey ahead, will Marty and Wolfe come face-to-face with the mythic monster? Even more frightening, will they reach Grace before it's too late?

 

This review will contain spoilers for the previous two books, Cryptid Hunters and Tentacles, as well as Roland Smith’s Sasquatch.

Chupacabra follows up shortly from where Tentacles left off: Grace “willingly” going with Noah Blackwood. By now we know Noah is plenty evil. He is as happy conducting kidnappings as he is killing animals in the prime of their life to have them stuffed for his private collection. And Noah’s interests do not just stop at regular animals. Nor do they stop at simply putting these creatures on display. This madman is obsessed with control; to save Grace from his clutches, Marty will have to get past Noah’s Chupacabra.

Wolfe is ready to make a plan and go in to get Grace back. Marty is right there along with him, although less with the making a plan part. Not willing to leave Grace in Noah’s clutches, Marty and Luther quickly infiltrate Noah’s compound. Along with them is Dylan, the protagonist of Roland Smith’s book Sasquatch (first referenced in Cryptid Hunters). All three boys bring different skills to their team and are hilariously skilled at running circles around Noah’s henchmen. And of course, Grace is not one to just sit idle as a prisoner in Noah’s mansion.

The setting for this book felt better than the previous two. Most of the first book took place in the jungle, which was neat but not terribly distinctive. Then we had an adventure on a ship, which literally left the characters with limited space. This time around, our protagonists are in the enemy’s lair. Noah’s zoo, with his mansion next to it and a secret underground mad science lab underneath, was a fantastic setting. This also does wonders for Noah’s character development, making him darker and more of a true villain.

This time around we get a bit more action and adventure than the previous books. Being in the bad guy’s lair, there is potentially danger around every corner for our heroes. The whole story takes place in about a day, so the time frame makes this adventure more fast-paced. It makes Chupacabra feel a bit longer even though the page count is in the Young Adult age range. The extra action-adventure makes this feel like the high point of the Marty and Grace books. So far, anyway; the fourth and final book could turn out even better than this one. We will find out soon as the story concludes!

April 15, 2018

Tentacles (Marty and Grace #2)

Published Post author

Tentacles Book Cover Tentacles
Marty and Grace
Roland Smith
Young Adult
Scholastic Press
September 1, 2009
Paperback
336

Roland Smith makes his Scholastic debut with a middle-grade adventure novel about the search for a mysterious creature--the giant squid--in this sequel to CRYPTID HUNTERS.

Marty and Grace O'Hara's globe-trotting parents disappeared while on assignment for a nature magazine, and now they're living with their Uncle Wolfe, a scientist fascinated by cryptids--creatures that appear in myths but haven't been proven to exist, such as the Loch Ness Monster. Wolfe is planning an expedition to New Zealand to track a giant squid, and he's rented a huge (and possibly haunted) freighter for the trip. But someone on board is determined to sabotage their mission--and if Marty and Grace keeping poking their noses into things, they might end up the saboteur's next victims!

 

This review will contain spoilers for the previous book in the series, Cryptid Hunters.

Tentacles picks up shortly after the end of Cryptid Hunters. The premise of this book was hinted at towards the end of the previous story. Instead of dinosaurs in the jungle, this time around our characters are hunting a kraken! Ok, not really a kraken. Just a giant deep-sea squid, but those are thought to have inspired ancient stories about the kraken sea monsters. Marty and Grace accompany their Uncle Wolfe on another adventure, this time also joined by Marty’s friend Luther.

The characters carry over well from the first story, being just as entertaining as in Cryptid Hunters. We get to delve a little deeper into their character development, particularly with Grace and her now known lineage. The new characters, namely Marty’s friend Luther, are just as entertaining as well. Luther was entertaining, but his main role seems to be giving Marty a needed sidekick so that Grace can do her own thing as her character develops. Marty and Grace are still close, but it is not just the two of them with bad guys on their trail this time around.

Carrying over from the first book, Tentacles still features the Mokélé-mbembé (dinosaurs) from the first book. While the cover monster was critical to the plot of Cryptid Hunters, the same cannot be said for the Architeuthis (giant squid) in Tentacles. Our villain Noah Blackwood is still primarily after Grace and the dinosaurs, with the giant squid being an afterthought. The deep-sea fishing seems important for changing the setting and not much else. There is still a role in the story for the giant squid, but the dinosaurs are clearly our frontrunner cryptids.

While Tentacles is a good book, it was not as entertaining as Cryptid Hunters. Cryptid Hunters felt standalone; enough was still open at the end for this sequel, but it could have gone either way. Tentacles very much feels like part of a series, with blatant unanswered questions by the end of the story. Maybe Roland Smith did intend for Cryptid Hunters to be just one story, but Scholastic offered to do a series because it sold well. I have no proof whatsoever that it went down like that, but it is what I imagine happening. Either way, Tentacles is still plenty entertaining enough and serves as a solid lead-in for the next story.

April 8, 2018

Cryptid Hunters (Marty and Grace #1)

Published Post author

Cryptid Hunters Book Cover Cryptid Hunters
Marty and Grace
Roland Smith
Young Adult
Disney-Hyperion
December 27, 2004
Paperback
352

After their parents are lost in an accident, thirteen-year old twins Grace and Marty are whisked away to live with their Uncle Wolfe-an uncle that they didn't even know they had! The intimidating Uncle Wolfe is an anthropologist who has dedicated his life to finding cryptids, mysterious creatures believed to be long extinct.

 

Cryptid Hunters is one of the few non-Goosebumps and non-Animorphs books I read as a kid that stuck with me. First of all, there is a dinosaur on the cover. What kid does not love dinosaurs? Especially those of us who grew up with Jurassic Park as their favorite movie (i.e. me). The book follows twin siblings Marty and Grace on their first adventure. Marty is the adventurous type with enough curiosity and cleverness to get himself into trouble. Grace is just as smart as her brother, if not more so, but would take books over adventure any day. But things get strange when their journalist parents mysteriously disappear.

With mom and dad missing, the twins are taken away from their boarding school to live with their Uncle Wolfe. Who they did not know they had and have never heard of before. Their estranged uncle makes his career as a cryptozoologist. In Cryptid Hunters own words:

 

Cryptozoology (CRIP-tuh-zoh-AW-luh-jee) noun

The study of animals, such as the Sasquatch, the Yeti, the Loch Ness monster, the Chupacabra, and others, whose existence has not yet been proven scientifically. There are thought to be more than two hundred cryptids in existence today.

 

So, monster hunters. Uncle Wolfe is a monster hunter. But the cool kind; the kind who owns a private island, employs a team of experienced (and awesome) adventurers, and uses a bunch of neat gadgets. Things go from odd to complicated when a strange woman shows up on the island and suddenly it is time for a dinosaur hunt. And when Marty’s shenanigans get the twins parachuted into the middle of the Congo. Oops. Not to mention Uncle Wolfe is not the only one hunting for a dinosaur. His nemesis Noah Blackwood sends his own henchmen who are willing to do anything, or hurt anyone, to please their boss.

As I said at the beginning, this book has stuck to my memory over the years. It was no Harry Potter, but enjoyable enough that I have recommended it to my little siblings and cousins over the years. Going back to read it as an adult, it holds up as a solid book. The characters are likable and intelligent, with Marty and Grace running circles around the adults. The sci-fi techy portion holds up as well, with these decade plus old ideas being on par with a lot of modern technology. Plus, you know, dinosaurs! All in all there are nothing but good things to say about this book.

April 1, 2018

Tomb Raider (2018)

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Tomb Raider"

Tomb Raider

Her legend begins

20181 h 58 min
Overview

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

Metadata
Director Roar Uthaug
Runtime 1 h 58 min
Release Date 8 March 2018
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

Tomb Raider (2018) is a soft reboot based on the popular video game franchise. Thankfully, this turned out to be a much better adaptation than the early 2000’s films featuring Angelina Jolie. Given that the Tomb Raider games were also rebooted a few years ago, doing the same with the films fits. Specifically this film is based off the first game of the new continuity, which itself starts an origin story trilogy. There are some differences between the film and game, but many other aspects are on the nose. Overall it does a fantastic job of fitting within the franchise and is one of the best video game movies to date.

For readers unfamiliar with Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), she is one of the most well-known women among video game protagonists. She is a bit like a female Indiana Jones, but if Indiana Jones was much more of a badass. Intelligent, athletic, and skilled in combat and survival, Lara travels the world searching for ancient artifacts and archeological treasures (often just one step ahead of villainous organizations). Her origin has changed a few times as the series has rebooted over the years. Tomb Raider (2018) focuses on the character’s most recent incarnation.

Typically, video game movies do not work. Most of them just end of being bad. Lo and behold, taking a story from the video game format (a “short” video game usually being about 8 hours long) and transitioning that to a 90- to 120-minute format usually falls flat. Tomb Raider, thankfully, was a reprieve from that.  This was probably the best video game film made thus far. It is a bit better than the average good ones, like Prince of Persia and Hitman, and phenomenally better than the usual results like Doom or BloodRayne.

As a standalone film, Tomb Raider just works. There are plenty of allusions to the game that long-time fans will appreciate. Just little nods here and there that show the filmmakers acknowledge and appreciate the source material. That said, they also made the wise decision of changing things around a bit. They did not completely follow the events of the game, and that is fine. The changes here made the film more appealing to a general audience while still working within the story. This is Lara’s origin story; viewers should not (and do not) need to know anything about her going in. Seeing as the Tomb Raider (2013) game is the first of a trilogy, hopefully this excellent film follows suit.

March 25, 2018

Overlord, Vol. 6: The Men of the Kingdom Part II

Published Post author

Overlord, Vol. 6: The Men of the Kingdom Part II Book Cover Overlord, Vol. 6: The Men of the Kingdom Part II
Overlord
Kugane Maruyama
Fantasy
Yen On
January 30, 2018 (English); January 31, 2014 (Japanese)
Hardcover
320

The underground organization known as Eight Fingers and their strongest fighters, the Six Arms, make their move. Blue Rose, the adamantite-rank group of adventurers led by Lakyus, prepares to take them on. As the knights head to the front lines to protect the princess, the mysterious demon Jaldabaoth lurks in the chaos of this critical battle, and the capital descends into an uproar swathed in crimson flames.

 

Note: This review will assume you are caught up on the previous Overlord novels.

The Men of the Kingdom, Part II is where things start to pick up again in Overlord. After the slower pacing of Vol. 4 and Vol. 5, this book probably has more action than the two combined. From how the last book mainly followed Sebas and this is Part II, initially it seemed like that would continue. However, more of the cast is involved this time around as the story starts to circle back onto Ainz. Not fully, but it is nice to see the main character in the spotlight again after two books with him mostly in the background.

The events of the previous novel are wrapped up nicely here. The little loose threads are sewn up and we get a nice conclusion for Sebas’ character development arc. It seems like all the Guardians (and those of similar status, i.e. Sebas) are getting at least one story where they feature and get to grow. This is fantastic as a lot of similar stories would make them two-dimensional and have them sit by the wayside.

Partway through the story shifts from wrapping up Vol. 5 to getting the stage set for future books. This is where we start to get development for other characters. Namely we are treated to a fight featuring one of the Pleiades battle maids, Entoma. This is one of the few real fights we have had in the series and the first since Ainz fought Shalltear in Vol. 3. We also get to see Ainz fighting much more hardcore in his Momon guise than ever before. And of course, there are the many scenes featuring Demiurge. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say he is a demon in every sense of the word.

While all the action was great, the change of pace was a little sudden. Since Volumes 4 & 5 (and part of this book) were on the slower side, the faster pace comes a bit out of left field. Because there are multiple fight sequences, none of them felt as detailed as they could have been. Granted these are light novels and that presents something of a problem with the page limit. But for a fantasy book (and even compared to Vol. 3) the amount of detail felt lacking during the battles. Maybe that was more an effect of the translation to English; I did spot multiple grammar errors in my copy, so the translation was not perfect. Nonetheless, things picked back up enough to make the book very enjoyable and leave readers looking forward to Vol. 7.

March 18, 2018