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

Revenants: The Odyssey Home

Published Post author

Revenants: The Odyssey Home Book Cover Revenants: The Odyssey Home
Scott Kauffman
Historical Fiction
Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC
December 23, 2015
Paperback
275

ONLY BETSY CAN GET HIM HOME IN TIME; ONLY HE CAN BRING HER BACK BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.

A grief-stricken candy-striper serving in a VA hospital following her brother’s death in Viet Nam struggles to return home an anonymous veteran of the Great War against the skullduggery of a congressman who not only controls the hospital as part of his small-town fiefdom but knows the name of her veteran. A name if revealed would end his political ambitions and his fifty-year marriage. In its retelling of Odysseus’ journey, Revenants casts a flickering candle upon the charon toll exacted not only from the families of those who fail to return home but of those who do.

 

Revenants deals with a topic that has always been popular for storytelling: war. Specifically, it deals with the Vietnam War. Most war stories focus on people directly involved in the conflict, namely soldiers. While soldiers do play an important part in this story, they are not the focus. Protagonist Betsy’s brother is KIA (killed in action) in Vietnam and grief begins to consume her. As her sorrow drags her down a sad path, what seems like a chance at self-redemption falls into her lap. Seeing a war story told from the eyes of a civilian, the family affected by soldiers lost, is rare. Even rarer is a story so artfully told as Revenants.

While Revenants seems to mainly fit as historical fiction, it is hard to peg it to a certain genre. It does not directly deal with history so in that regard it feels a bit like plain fiction. On the other hand, Betsy and her friends are trying to piece together clues like in a mystery story. Not truly fitting into any one genre is largely what makes this story work. You do not read Revenants and expect to see the standard tropes fitting any one specific genre. It feels very real.

For a large portion of the book, the story feels more like 3 out of 5 stars. But, without giving anything away, the ending bumps it up to 4 stars. This is not a story where everything is all right in the end. The characters suffer pain and grow because of it, yes, but not always positively. The experiences we have throughout life change us, shape us into who we are, and not always for the better. Betsy, and the other characters, go through this pain and do what they can to improve themselves. But the scars are still there and sometimes improving yourself has to take a back seat to just surviving.

We see veterans in the VA hospital in this book and these people are damaged. Anyone who knows even a little about veteran care knows that it is not great. Soldiers who come back from war can be as injured mentally as they were physically. And so too can the families and other loved ones of the soldiers who did not come back. Wars are not won in so much as they simply stop. People at the top make decisions, good ones and bad, and individuals at all levels get hurt. Revenants is very real and shows the terror of war for what it is. That is what made it so hard to put down.

September 10, 2017

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

Published Post author

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) Book Cover You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
Felicia Day (Author), Joss Whedon (Foreword)
Biography
Touchstone
August 11, 2015
Hardcover
272

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world... or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was "home-schooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

 

Felicia Day is a fairly well-known name within the nerd/geek community. A lot of attention came to her for her role as Penny in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in 2008. Around the same time, her own series The Guild was going strong which garnered even more attention. From there she has been in a slew of projects such as playing a popular supporting character in the video game Dragon Age II and portraying the main villain in the reboot of the cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000. She has excelled as an actress, singer, writer, and producer in a largely self-made career. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) shows her roots and just how she got to be the celebrity she is today.

Being a fan of Felicia Day does make this book a better read. But even for people who are not familiar with her work, it is still pretty interesting. More and more in the Information Age, we see celebrities who manage to push themselves forward. Instead of being picked up and made famous, they get there on their own. Prior to reading the memoir, I was already a Felicia Day fan but there was so much in here that I did not know. Her ability to play the violin, for one, as well as how close The Guild got to never being made. She went through a lot of hardship to get where she is today and really struggled to make it work. Some of those hardships were professional and some were personal. But even in the darker moments, she managed to keep moving forward with her hopes and dreams.

One of the best things about You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is how real it feels. Some people obtain fame and feel like they are very disconnected from the rest of the world. The way Felicia Day writes and speaks feels very normal. She is not deliberately trying to be down to Earth, she is just a normal woman. Her career and wit have endeared her to the nerd/geek community but at the core, she does not seem that different from anyone else. By no means does she view herself as the golden goose; she knows she is a person like everyone else and it shows. This memoir largely reminds me of Lindsey Stirling’s (another self-made celebrity) biography. Someone who has been through hardship and made it work is empathetic and relatable, which is a large part of what makes Felicia Day such an appealing entertainer.

September 3, 2017

Speed Racer

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Speed Racer"

Speed Racer

Go!

20082 h 15 min
Overview

Speed Racer is the tale of a young and brilliant racing driver. When corruption in the racing leagues costs his brother his life, he must team up with the police and the mysterious Racer X to bring an end to the corruption and criminal activities. Inspired by the cartoon series.

Metadata
Runtime 2 h 15 min
Release Date 9 May 2008
Details
Movie Media DVD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

Speed Racer the film does a fantastic job capturing the feel of Speed Racer the cartoon. Originally broadcast in the late 60’s, the series also gained fame in the 90’s via reruns on MTV. I watched those reruns in the 90’s, a friend recommended the movie, and I will watch anything with John Goodman in it, so I gave this film a shot. Despite box office failings, Speed Racer was a very enjoyable family film. The fun-filled wacky, campy humor of the original show is retained and at the same time updated for modern audiences.

The cast of characters remains largely the same from the original Speed Racer cartoon. The film focuses on the Racer family, particularly the titular Speed Racer. Speed has a strong sense of justice matched by loyalty to his family and racing skills. He is young, but races for what he believes in rather than the greed that has corrupted other racers. Supported by the rest of the Racer family, Speed manages to come out ahead both on and off the race track. His family’s characterization is classic as well, with Spirtle (younger brother) causing trouble with mischief and Pops supporting his son any way he can. Speed’s girlfriend Trixie retains her role as a powerful female figure instead of a damsel in distress. And of course, Racer X is as mysterious and cool as the show always portrayed him.

Now you cannot talk about Speed Racer without mentioning the races. For most of the film, these races take place on huge futuristic tracks that look sponsored by Hot Wheels. One exception is a cross-country race, which is a staple from classic racing cartoons. Speed’s car, the Mach 5, is equipped with so many gadgets it would put James Bond’s rides to shame. The race scenes in Speed Racer are nothing short of epic. No expense was spared on effects to transition the zany races of the cartoon to the big screen.

If you like the Speed Racer cartoon and/or family movies, you will enjoy the Speed Racer film. If you are iffy on the film, watch a few episodes of the cartoon to get a feel for it. Much like the real sport of racing, this movie is designed to do one thing: entertain. Is the plot extravagant? No. Are the characters unforgettable? No. But for a PG-rated family film filled with racing, fighting, and other action, Speed Racer wins first place.

August 27, 2017

The Happy Chip

Published Post author

The Happy Chip Book Cover The Happy Chip
Dennis Meredith
Sci-fi
Glyphus
March 10, 2017
Paperback
283

You feel ecstatic! Until you kill yourself.

The Happy Chip is the latest nanoengineering wonder from the high-flying tech company, NeoHappy, Inc.

Hundreds of millions of people have had the revolutionary chip injected into their bodies to monitor their hormonal happiness and guide them to life choices, from foods to sex partners.

Given the nanochip's stunning success, struggling science writer Brad Davis is thrilled when he is hired to co-author the biography of its inventor, billionaire tech genius Marty Fallon.

That is, until Davis learns that rogue company scientists are secretly testing horrifying new control chips with “side effects”—suicidal depression, uncontrollable lust, murderous rage, remote-controlled death, and ultimately, global subjugation.

His discovery threatens not only his life, but that of his wife Annie and their children. Only with the help of Russian master hacker Gregor Kalinsky and his gang can they hope to survive the perilous adventure that takes them from Boston to Beijing.

The Happy Chip, an edge-of-your-seat thriller, spins a cautionary tale of unchecked nanotechnology spawning insidious devices that could enslave us. It dramatically portrays how we must control our “nanofuture” before it’s too late.

 

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

The premise of The Happy Chip is a not uncommon type of sci-fi story. New technology is introduced into society, seems great, then something goes horribly wrong. This is one of those sci-fi stories that seems like it could actually happen sometime in the near future. It is just enough of a stretch to be purely fictional, but still believable. Think more along the lines of Jurassic Park than Star Wars when viewing this book as sci-fi. That being said, it was a pretty good read.

First off we have the technology that fuels the story, the Happy Chips. These are injected into people’s bodies and, through a phone app, allow you to monitor your hormone levels. This lets you essentially measure your happiness to find more interesting hobbies, try foods you will probably like better, etc. And that is where it starts to go horribly wrong. With the 2.0 chips, the villain of our story plans not only to monitor hormones but to control them. While this premise is not too crazy, it shows how much power a person with leverage can wield over others.

So next we have our characters, starting with protagonist Brad Davis. He is a freelance writer hired to write the biography of the Happy Chips’ inventor, Marty Fallon. As he begins his research, he discovers the evil plot and his family is put in danger. Brad was almost too much of a good guy, as was his wife. At first they are fighting to protect themselves and their children but once we are past that they keep going. They do this because it is the right thing to do, but it feels like normal people in their situation would have said, “Ok, we’ve done enough,” by that point.

Then we have the villain of the story, who I will not expressly reveal for spoiler reasons. When first introduced, this character just seems like a jerk. Not necessarily a bad person but not a very nice one. That completely flips around once the threat is revealed and this person goes from “scumbag” to “irredeemably evil”. Politician-level evil, if you will. And then there is the “sidekick” Gregor Kalinsky. It almost felt like Gregor could have been the main character. Brad got the ball rolling on this adventure but Gregor was largely the person who got things done by the end of it.

Overall, The Happy Chip was a fun read. While the rating system only gives me whole numbers, I really think of this book as 3.5-stars. It is a good little summer read for folks who like a quick but entertaining sci-fi story.

August 20, 2017

Star Wars: Thrawn

Published Post author

Thrawn Book Cover Thrawn
Star Wars
Timothy Zahn
Sci-fi
Random House
April 6, 2017
Hardcover
427

In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power—uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Darth Vader; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, Ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat and leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics, where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendancy.

 

Note: This review will contain spoilers for the original Thrawn trilogy.

Thrawn (the character) is one of the biggest fan favorites in the history of Star Wars. Author Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn trilogy is considered by many fans to be the pinnacle (and start) of the old canon Star Wars Expanded Universe. Prior to that trilogy, all the “extra” Star Wars materials took place around the time of the original films. Zahn put out a series that was 6 years later and added a lot of new material to the franchise. The Rebel Alliance was the New Republic, Han and Leia were married and about to have a baby, the Empire was all but defeated, and more.

On top of all that he introduced Thrawn, one of the greatest Star Wars villains. Thrawn is loved because of his military genius, making him one of the few non-Force users to be a threat. If you are 3 steps ahead of everyone else, Thrawn is 5 steps ahead of you. That characterization largely remains the same in this new novel. Zahn seems to have done the best he can to keep Thrawn the same in the new canon. Thrawn now pops up before the original trilogy instead of after, but his role remains the same (crush the Rebels).

This book did come out after season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, where Thrawn serves as the new main villain. He was not in every episode there so we only received some sparse exposure to him. However, it was enough to show that Thrawn is still Thrawn and this book greatly exemplifies upon that.

Thrawn (the book) deals with how Thrawn (the man) joined the Empire and rose through the ranks. This is not a simple journey, as the Empire is largely made of anti-alien people. In addition to simply being an entirely new culture, the deck is stacked against Thrawn from the beginning. But like other villain novels, such as Tarkin, we see how the rise to power comes about. Whereas Tarkin was primarily ruthless, Thrawn is able to maneuver individuals like chess pieces. He does not start out this way; in the beginning of this novel, his skills for politics fail in comparison to his military genius.

Along with Thrawn, the book also develops some other interesting characters such as Governor Pryce (a secondary antagonist in Star Wars Rebels). While there did seem to be some restrictions on Zahn simply because of how the New Canon is set up, longtime Star Wars fans will be happy to see that Thrawn is truly back.

August 13, 2017

Rise of Dawn

Published Post author

Rise of Dawn Book Cover Rise of Dawn
Justin Edward Friday
Fantasy
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
March 11, 2016
Paperback
286

Ebren is a far off place where forces of light and dark, good and evil, oppression and freedom clash endlessly. In this unstable world of feudal disarray, a single young boy, branded as "Possum," will have to fight for his freedom against a relentless Beast Kin Empire. Accompanied by a broken immortal he will have to discover the courage and insight to question the boundaries of damned and divine, as new enemies and allies add themselves to this deadly game of risk, where the very fate of the world may very well rest at their feet. It's always darkest before the dawn.

 

Rise of Dawn was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Taking the story as a whole into account, Rise of Dawn reads like many other fantasy novels. You have a fantastical world with humans and various other species (in this case, animal people). There is magic and swordplay and a group of heroes. These heroes largely consist of your general fantasy tropes; the young hero, the old man, the honorable thief, etc. The issues that the story suffers come more from its construction than its material.

What sticks out the most is the extremely fast pace of the story. Fantasy books tend to be on the slower side, albeit not all of them need to be Tolkien-level slow. In Rise of Dawn the needle is in the red for practically the entire book. It felt like the content of this one book could have been stretched out across five. When the journey of the characters gets started in the beginning, it is just two people in the group. By the end that has expanded to over a half-dozen adventurers. Not to mention the small horde of villains readers will also be keeping up with. Characters are introduced so rapidly it was hard to keep everyone straight.

The influx of characters combined with the page length also made character development virtually non-existent. Three or four of the characters get focused on and developed, but the rest are static after their introduction. It feels odd for them to change so quickly, but it is not 100% clear how long the group was adventuring. We do not really see them trekking through the woods or walking down roads. They set out for a destination at the end of one chapter and are there once the next one starts. Even when they are sitting around, whole weeks or months just pass in between sequences.

Rise of Dawn’s other pressing matter was the need for a bit more editing. This may have just been an issue with the paperback copy I received, but I cannot say for sure. There are many parts in the book with missing quotation marks, no indication of who was talking when a group is present, punctuation errors, misspelled words, and more. It causes the book to read more like a draft or outline than a complete novel. Rise of Dawn’s story has potential, it just needs to be cleaned up and polished off.

August 6, 2017

Dunkirk

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Dunkirk"

Dunkirk

The event that shaped our world

20171 h 47 min

Dunkirk is not a typical war movie. Audiences going in expecting in to follow the format of a typical war movie will be disappointed. By no means does mean that Dunkirk is a bad film. Quite the contrary, it is an amazing piece of cinematography. Yes, the approach Christopher Nolan took was different. Different does not always equivalate bad, even when breaking standard tropes of a genre. People reviewing the film negatively mainly complain about the lack of a main character. That is partly what makes the film so real. In war, the real Dunkirk, there was no “main character”. Having a main character is a concept for fiction stories and does not fit all historical films.

The movie jumps between three perspectives: a soldier trapped on the beach, a British pilot, and civilians on a boat moving to evac the trapped soldiers. Whereas many other history films are about “who”, Dunkirk is about “what”. None of the characters feel special. The story is not centered around them. There are thousands of other people in this same situation; we just happen to see these ones.

We have a soldier on land, a pilot in the sky, and civilians at sea. This allows us to see the entire conflict from the perspective of the British and French forces. One of the surprising, and amazing, things about the film: you never see the Germans. Bullets whiz by, bombs are dropped, torpedoes are fired…but you never actually see a German soldier. This is a clear reminder that Dunkirk was not fight, it was an evacuation. The British and their allies had lost; they were fish in a barrel just hoping that they could retreat. Enemy forces keep chipping away at them and every person there knows that they could be next.

With multiple narratives, it really is not possible for audiences to get too invested in any one character. The lack of emotional depth can be supplemented if you know more about the battle of Dunkirk beforehand. There is very little dialogue in the film and no real explanation behind what is happening. If you crack open a history book or skim over a Wikipedia before watching the movie, it makes more sense. Dunkirk is not a film you may like when you first watch it. It is a film that takes some reflection and possibly a rewatch to fully appreciate. For fans of war, history, and/or critical analysis, it is a fantastic film. For the casual film goer, it may not be the best choice.

July 30, 2017

Overlord, Vol. 4: The Lizardman Heroes

Published Post author

Overlord, Vol. 4: The Lizardman Heroes Book Cover Overlord, Vol. 4: The Lizardman Heroes
Overlord
Kugane Maruyama
Fantasy
Yen On
May 23, 2017 (English); July 31, 2013 (Japanese)
Hardcover
304

An army of death approaches a peaceful lizardman village--an army of undead deployed by Nazarick. Its commander is the Sovereign of the Frozen River Cocytus. The lizardman coalition shall face the Great Tomb of Nazarick. The weak are meat the strong shall eat in the merciless world that awaits in Volume 4.

 

The Lizardman Heroes plays out fairly differently from the previous books in the Overlord series. The premise of this story is that Ainz is sending an army to attack various lizardman villages. However, eight days prior to the attack they give the lizardmen a heads-up about this. While there are scenes here and there following Ainz’s group, most of the book is from the lizardman characters point-of-view. Having read the last three books, we as readers know these guys are just going to get slaughtered. The lizardmen, however, do not know this and that makes them interesting as characters.

For what will probably be one-shot characters, the lizardmen were incredibly well developed. The Lizardman Heroes goes into detail about how their society works, the history of their culture, the individual history of the key lizardman characters, and more. Even a love story manages to work its way in there on the eve of this massive battle. Most of the book is the central lizardman character, Zaryusu, trying to shore up his people’s defenses. This seemingly impossible task of getting everyone to work together is their only hope for survival and it is incredibly well written.

Titling the book “The Lizardman Heroes” is a very apt name. Zaryusu and the other lizardman do genuinely believe that they have a chance. They see this giant army that outnumbers them 3-to-1 incoming and know if they fight smart, they can win. This leads to some other character development as well, with Cocytus. Ainz put Cocytus in charge of the invasion as a learning opportunity for our favorite icy bug man. Ainz’s fight against Shalltear in the last book demonstrated that while the floor guardians are strong, they do not fight smart. They are so used to overwhelmingly overpowering opponents that they do not fight well tactically. Getting them to cover these weaknesses to avoid another incident like with Shalltear seems to be one of Ainz’s goals.

While Ainz’s group is not the focus in this book, we do see enough of them to get more character development. Ainz himself is shown to be furthering various goals to strengthen his power base while simultaneously starting to feel the pressure of being a ruler. Giving the characters challenges they cannot just solve with epic magic spells is very important here. If every book is just them one-siding every fight they are in, Overlord will get stale very fast. While the lizardman perspective was a different and somewhat slower approach, it was a way of keeping the series fresh. Still, getting back to focusing on Ainz’s group in the next book will be good too.

July 23, 2017

Overlord, Vol. 3: The Bloody Valkyrie

Published Post author

Overlord, Vol. 3: The Bloody Valkyrie Book Cover Overlord, Vol. 3: The Bloody Valkyrie
Overlord
Kugane Maruyama
Fantasy
Yen On
January 31, 2017 (English); March 30, 2013 (Japanese)
Hardcover
288

Lord Ainz has made great progress moonlighting as the indomitable hero Momon, but what should be a moment of triumph is shattered--by news of rebellion. He vows to find out what has happened and to defend the honor of his guild and home--Ainz Ooal Gown.

 

The Bloody Valkyrie backtracks a bit from where the previous book stopped, showing what some other characters were up to. It opens with Shalltear, Sebas, and Solution (one of the Pleiades combat maids) off on a mission. (Apologies for the upcoming spoiler, but without it reviewing this book just is not going to happen.) While they start off dominating anyone trying to fight them, things go awry and Shalltear ends up mind controlled. These opening scenes are entertaining, highlighting how monstrous the main characters are compared to normal people. From this point on, the book switches back mostly to Ainz’s point-of-view.

In the first two books, we have seen Ainz and co. completely dominate every opponent they have faced. This time around the opponent is one of their own, someone who is as powerful as the other main characters. Ainz’s character development continues in this book as he begins to view his minions more as people. Most of them are modeled after their creators, Ainz’s old friends, and observing them reminds him of the good old days and makes him long for those long-lost companionships. These feelings are ultimately what make Ainz decide to face Shalltear in a one-on-one battle.

The big battle between Ainz and Shalltear is obviously the main part of The Bloody Valkyrie. As the story explains, Shalltear’s fighting style is pretty much designed specifically to kill magic users like Ainz. This part of the story does make more sense for readers who have played MMO games and are familiar with their combat mechanics. The novel is also much more detailed in that regard than the television show was, allowing for better explanations of the combat scenes. Kugane Maruyama does very well when writing fight scenes and that really gets a chance to shine in this book.

Like in the last book, there were scenes in The Bloody Valkyrie that were downplayed in the television show. Some of these scenes were probably cut short for time constraints and still worked within the show. However, two key scenes were omitted from the anime entirely. These scenes are probably not going to be too important until later in the story and the TV show producers likely did not know if they were getting renewed for another season when that decision was made, so it is understandable if disappointing. Still, if you want to keep up with this series this is a book that cannot be skipped in lieu of watching this show.

July 16, 2017