Big O, Season 1 (1999 Anime)

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The Big O started life, at least here in the United States, as one 13 episode series that ended on a cliffhanger so big that everyone who watched it screamed and hollered until the sequel was produced.

The setting is Paradigm City and a world devastated by an unknown Event forty years ago. Said event apparently destroyed the rest of the world and wiped the memory of every living person. We follow Roger Smith, a Negotiator, who makes deals between parties wishing to exchange “memories” (bits of data from the old world). He is the operator of a megadeus known as Big O. While rare, other megadeus do exist or can be built and these are usually run by various criminals, etc, giving Roger the chance to flex Big O and beat the living daylights out of them. In the first episode a hostage negotiation goes wrong and Roger ends up with R. Dorothy Wayneright, a robot that was built in the image of the original Dorothy Wayneright. Various adventures happen while it is hinted at that the world might not be as empty as supposed and that the power movers of the city know a lot more than they are letting on. Roger fights to preserve Paradigm City with the help of Dorothy,  his butler Norman and of course the megadeus Big O.  Series One ends with a huge fight between Big O and Big Duo and while Big O ends up victorious, in the distance we see 3 megadeus stalking out of the ocean towards the city.

I really enjoyed this anime. The art style is almost copied straight from Batman: The Animated Series. If you like that kind of art, this is going to really float your boat. The lines, the curves, the angles, it just works so well.

rogerdorothy

 

Second is the music. The opening theme song is pretty much the singer just saying “Big O, Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty” 2 or 3 times while some seriously Queen sounding music plays. It seems to be almost intentionally modeled on the music in the Highlander. While I wouldn’t listen to straight up Queen music, it has it’s place. The episodes are filled with a mix of saxophone jazz and some really intense and serious fight music. As odd as that combination seems, they stay separate and work perfectly.  The music man in this series had a great sense of what music fit where and how to blend disparate types seamlessly together.

The characters are pretty 2 dimensional. Roger is simply the cool private eye and while a romance is hinted at between him and R. Dorothy, that has more to do with her journey about learning to be her own person and not just a set of programs.  Norman is Alfred the Batman Butler and there are a whole host of side characters ranging from erstwhile allies to pure villains. While each character has a pretty specific role to play and a bit to fill, they never exceed that or become something more. It didn’t bother me but it is something to to be aware of.

bigocharacters1

 

Finally, we have the “mystery”.  It is the strongest part of the anime and yet the weakest at the same time.  Tons of hints and vague memory flashes show the sky being filled with megadeus and a world so advanced as to be a paradise. And yet we get hints of nothing being as it seems.  There are so many things that don’t make sense, whether deliberately or because of lazy story telling. If the memory loss happened 40 years ago, where did Roger learn to pilot the Big O. Why are so many young people (and I use the word “young” to mean anyone under 50) so obsessed with memories? They didn’t lose anything. something just doesn’t add up. Why can the megadeus sometimes act on their own?

I call this the strongest part of the anime because it allows the viewer to speculate endlessly with others who are watching. It is the glue that binds all the previous parts together. It is also the weakest because things simply don’t make sense. A story must be internally consistent for it to be a strong story.

Overall, I still enjoyed the heck out of this. Not as “cool” as my 25 year old self thought it was, but I think this is worth hanging on to for another view in several years.

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I did not expect to write this much. We’ll see if I’m so wordy about Season 2 next Sunday.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

The Declaration of Independence & July 4th

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

(The above is copied and pasted from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript)

The Complete Dreamsongs ★★☆☆½

completedreamsongs (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Complete Dreamsongs
Author: George Martin
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 1146
Words: 494K

 

Synopsis:

Combining Dreamsongs I and Dreamsongs II into one omnibus, this collects the majority of Martin’s short stories from the beginning of his career to its publication date in either 2003 or 2006.

 

My Thoughts:

I really liked how Martin talked about the stage of his life when he wrote each story. It gave some background and made him a person. Even in his own words he comes across as an arrogant jackass and anyone who thinks he’s going to finish Game of Thrones had better look at his own self-proclaimed track record. With that out of the way….

This was some of the best writing I have read in a while. Martin has talent and he’s spent the time honing his skill and it shows. Based on the writing alone, this deserves 5 stars. If you like good story TELLING, then you need to read this.

However, WHAT he writes about is what took this right down to its current rating. Almost every story is sad, melancholic, depressing, horrific or down right twisted. While Sandkings is a fantastic horrorific short story, 1100 pages of that kind of things wears you down. These stories also gave me vivid bad dreams, to the point where I stopped reading this in the evenings.

I read this in small doses (I started in mid-April) and I cannot imagine the affect of trying to read this straight through. I would not recommend that to anyone, no matter how much they might enjoy Martin’s writing. While I plan on re-reading Sandkings every decade or so, I think that will be the limit of my Martin reading. I will assiduously avoid all his others writings.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Cymbeline ★★★☆☆

cymbeline (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Cymbeline
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 272
Words: 79K

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Cymbeline, the Roman Empire’s vassal king of Britain, once had two sons, Guiderius and Arvirargus, but they were stolen twenty years earlier as infants by an exiled traitor named Belarius. Cymbeline discovers that his only child left, his daughter Imogen (or Innogen), has secretly married her lover Posthumus Leonatus, a member of Cymbeline’s court. The lovers have exchanged jewellery as tokens: Imogen with a bracelet, and Posthumus with a ring. Cymbeline dismisses the marriage and banishes Posthumus since Imogen — as Cymbeline’s only child — must produce a fully royal-blooded heir to succeed to the British throne. In the meantime, Cymbeline’s Queen is conspiring to have Cloten (her cloddish and arrogant son by an earlier marriage) married to Imogen to secure her bloodline. The Queen is also plotting to murder both Imogen and Cymbeline, procuring what she believes to be deadly poison from the court doctor. The doctor, Cornelius, is suspicious and switches the poison with a harmless sleeping potion. The Queen passes the “poison” along to Pisanio, Posthumus and Imogen’s loving servant — the latter is led to believe it is a medicinal drug. No longer able to be with her banished Posthumus, Imogen secludes herself in her chambers, away from Cloten’s aggressive advances.

Posthumus must now live in Italy, where he meets Iachimo (or Giacomo), who challenges the prideful Posthumus to a bet that he, Iachimo, can seduce Imogen, whom Posthumus has praised for her chastity, and then bring Posthumus proof of Imogen’s adultery. If Iachimo wins, he will get Posthumus’s token ring. If Posthumus wins, not only must Iachimo pay him but also fight Posthumus in a duel with swords. Iachimo heads to Britain where he aggressively attempts to seduce the faithful Imogen, who sends him packing. Iachimo then hides in a chest in Imogen’s bedchamber and, when the princess falls asleep, emerges to steal from her Posthumus’s bracelet. He also takes note of the room, as well as the mole on Imogen’s partly naked body, to be able to present false evidence to Posthumus that he has seduced his bride. Returning to Italy, Iachimo convinces Posthumus that he has successfully seduced Imogen. In his wrath, Posthumus sends two letters to Britain: one to Imogen, telling her to meet him at Milford Haven, on the Welsh coast; the other to the servant Pisanio, ordering him to murder Imogen at the Haven. However, Pisanio refuses to kill Imogen and reveals to her Posthumus’s plot. He has Imogen disguise herself as a boy and continue to Milford Haven to seek employment. He also gives her the Queen’s “poison”, believing it will alleviate her psychological distress. In the guise of a boy, Imogen adopts the name “Fidele”, meaning “faithful”.

Back at Cymbeline’s court, Cymbeline refuses to pay his British tribute to the Roman ambassador Caius Lucius, and Lucius warns Cymbeline of the Roman Emperor’s forthcoming wrath, which will amount to an invasion of Britain by Roman troops. Meanwhile, Cloten learns of the “meeting” between Imogen and Posthumus at Milford Haven. Dressing himself enviously in Posthumus’s clothes, he decides to go to Wales to kill Posthumus, and then rape, abduct, and marry Imogen. Imogen has now been travelling as “Fidele” through the Welsh mountains, her health in decline as she comes to a cave: the home of Belarius, along with his “sons” Polydore and Cadwal, whom he raised into great hunters. These two young men are in fact the British princes Guiderius and Arviragus, who themselves do not realise their own origin. The men discover “Fidele”, and, instantly captivated by a strange affinity for “him”, become fast friends. Outside the cave, Guiderius is met by Cloten, who throws insults, leading to a sword fight during which Guiderius beheads Cloten. Meanwhile, Imogen’s fragile state worsens and she takes the “poison” as a hopeful medicine; when the men re-enter, they find her “dead.” They mourn and, after placing Cloten’s body beside hers, briefly depart to prepare for the double burial. Imogen awakes to find the headless body, and believes it to be Posthumus due to the fact the body is wearing Posthumus’ clothes. Lucius’ Roman soldiers have just arrived in Britain and, as the army moves through Wales, Lucius discovers the devastated “Fidele”, who pretends to be a loyal servant grieving for his killed master; Lucius, moved by this faithfulness, enlists “Fidele” as a pageboy.

The treacherous Queen is now wasting away due to the disappearance of her son Cloten. Meanwhile, despairing of his life, a guilt-ridden Posthumus enlists in the Roman forces as they begin their invasion of Britain. Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, and Posthumus all help rescue Cymbeline from the Roman onslaught; the king does not yet recognise these four, yet takes notice of them as they go on to fight bravely and even capture the Roman commanders, Lucius and Iachimo, thus winning the day. Posthumus, allowing himself to be captured, as well as “Fidele”, are imprisoned alongside the true Romans, all of whom await execution. In jail, Posthumus sleeps, while the ghosts of his dead family appear to complain to Jupiter of his grim fate. Jupiter himself then appears in thunder and glory to assure the others that destiny will grant happiness to Posthumus and Britain.

Cornelius arrives in the court to announce that the Queen has died suddenly, and that on her deathbed she unrepentantly confessed to villainous schemes against her husband and his throne. Both troubled and relieved at this news, Cymbeline prepares to execute his new prisoners, but pauses when he sees “Fidele”, whom he finds both beautiful and somehow familiar. “Fidele” has noticed Posthumus’ ring on Iachimo’s finger and abruptly demands to know from where the jewel came. A remorseful Iachimo tells of his bet, and how he could not seduce Imogen, yet tricked Posthumus into thinking he had. Posthumus then comes forward to confirm Iachimo’s story, revealing his identity and acknowledging his wrongfulness in desiring Imogen killed. Ecstatic, Imogen throws herself at Posthumus, who still takes her for a boy and knocks her down. Pisanio then rushes forward to explain that “Fidele” is Imogen in disguise; Imogen still suspects that Pisanio conspired with the Queen to give her the poison. Pisanio sincerely claims innocence, and Cornelius reveals how the poison was a non-fatal potion all along. Insisting that his betrayal years ago was a set-up, Belarius makes his own happy confession, revealing Guiderius and Arviragus as Cymbeline’s own two long-lost sons. With her brothers restored to their place in the line of inheritance, Imogen is now free to marry Posthumus. An elated Cymbeline pardons Belarius and the Roman prisoners, including Lucius and Iachimo. Lucius calls forth his soothsayer to decipher a prophecy of recent events, which ensures happiness for all. Blaming his manipulative Queen for his refusal to pay earlier, Cymbeline now agrees to pay the tribute to the Roman Emperor as a gesture of peace between Britain and Rome, and he invites everyone to a great feast

 

My Thoughts:

This was much longer than the previous play or two and by the end I was getting antsy and ready for it to be over. And honestly, there are times I wonder about just reading the wiki page and calling that a day.

This Shakespeare Experiment isn’t going superbly. While not going off the rails on a crazy train, I don’t look forward to these at all. My zeal is definitely flagging and I feel like I’m doing a lot of slogging.

Next!

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

June ’20 Roundup & Ramblings

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Raw Data:

Books – 11

Pages – 4912

Words – 1337.5K

Average Rating – 3.64

 

The Less Good:

In all honesty, I can’t even call these mediocre, because they weren’t. They just weren’t as good as the rest of the books I read this month.  Which is a fantastic problem to have!

Harrigan – 3 Stars

Sabbat Martyr – 3 Stars

 

The Good:

Princeps’ Fury – 5 Stars

Gulag Archipelago – 4 Stars

 

Movie:

Karas left me reeling like an amnesiac drunk in a hurricane. I simply had no clue what was going on in that anime and had to wonder why I ever picked it up back in the day.  Not a good experience.

 

Miscellaneous Posts:

Once again, I’ll just bullet point these if you happened to miss any during the month.

 

Personal:

Summer is here.  Which means it has been getting into the 90’s. All I can say is thank goodness for central air and air conditioning!

Church is back open but I’d estimate about half the people aren’t comfortable coming back yet and so have still been watching on facebook livestream.

Our bluray player got stuck in an on/off cycle that put the kibosh on using it. Thankfully, it was cheap enough to pick up another one at Target, so my anime watching plans didn’t go off the rails.

WordPress has pulled back from forcing everyone to switch to the new block editor until at least 2021.  I remain pessimistic though 😦

 

Plans for Next Month:

Hoping to take a vacation at the end of July, beginning of August,  so not exactly sure how that will impact the blog.  Probably hardly at all for July. I suspect August will be where things might get off the rails. Or I end up doing such an excellent job of scheduling things that nobody ever notices. But who believes in best case scenarios?

I am planning on making Sundays all about anime that I really hope turn out better than Karas. If it works out well for me, I might try to do more in future months. Problem is, anime series are just that, series. Consisting of 6-26 episodes, they are much more of a time commitment than a single movie. So I guess July will be another experiment on my part. If it ends up impinging on my reading time, then forget about it. But if I can fit it in where I would normally watch amazon prime or something, then sure.

See you all tomorrow!

 

bookstooge (Custom)

[Manga Monday] The Final Battle (Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #3) ★★★☆☆

finalbattle (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Final Battle
Series: Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #3
Author: Ryo Mizuno
Artist: Yoshihiko Ochi
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 7K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 16: Starts out with naming our characters and a one sentence lead about why they are in the story. Everyone returns to Roid, the capital of the kingdom of Valis. King Fahn welcomes back his daughter but makes sure to drive home the lesson that her running away, even for a good cause, cost the lives of several knights. Emperor Beld and Karla discuss the new alliance by the kingdoms on the island of Lodoss and Beld gives Karla permission to do as she sees fit. The chapter ends with Parn and Co coming to meet the king.

Chapter 17: Soldiers from the desert kingdom of Flaim are present at the court and King Kashu is seated next to King Fahn when Parn and Co approach. Everyone ends up discussing Karla and an Ancient Kingdom that was destroyed 500 years ago. Said Kingdom was inhabited by many powerful sorcerers and one sorceress was named Karla. With no real answers available, it is determined to go ask the Sage Wort (one of the 6 Heroes of King Fahn’s generation) and see what he knows. Parn and Co volunteer and even when told that their path will go through an abandoned Dwarven Hold now controlled by a dragon and goblins, they aren’t persuaded to abandon the quest.

Chapter 18: Wort the Sage is spying on Parn and Co through a crystal ball and we see him talking to Karla. He tells her to what she pleases with the company and she says she still wants them to join her. Wort remembers his adventures with Fahn, Beld and the others and we see the reason Beld is trying to take over Lodoss, to unite it under one king and to bring peace to the whole land. Wort realizes that Beld is imply a pawn in whatever scheme Karla has going. Parn and Co meet Wort and Karla and Karla reveals that both Beld and Fahn have the same dream of bringing peace to Lodoss, one through the power of darkness and the other through the power of light. Karla reveals how the Ancient Kingdom fell and that its destruction was completed by savage barbarians. Her goal appears to be to stop such a thing from happening again.

Chapter 19: Karla claims that neither light nor darkness can bring true peace, but that only a balance between them is the the surest way to lessen warfare. Karla has been interfering in events for 500 years, stirring up small wars so neither light nor darkness can get enough power to overwhelm the other. Small continual warfare is her answer to preventing another huge conflagration that will destroy civilization. Parn summarily rejects her reasoning and Karla leaves, vowing she is still their enemy. King Fahn and King Kashu are discussing how Beld seems to be sowing discord amongst the Alliance and they realize one all out battle is what is necessary. Parn and Co return from Wort’s tower. Everyone get’s upgrade, Parn is a full knight of Valis, Etoh is now a high priest and Slayn is now full sorcerer. Ghim and Deedlit give their rewards to Woodchuck. Ghim is making a magical comb for Leylia, Karla’s host body and Deedlit realizes everyone is going to have to go war.

Chapter 20: We switch back in time to Parn and Co talking with Wort. Ghim reveals that Karla takes over bodies now to survive and that Leylia is her latest victim. His goal is get Leylia back. Wort reveals that Karla won’t help Beld anymore if he, Wort, won’t help Fahn. He then tells Parn how to destroy Karla and save Leylia. Karla takes over the person who kills her current host body, so they have to take her alive and remove the circlet that is her center of power. Wort gives them a magic wand that will temporarily dispel all magic in its vicinity. Parn relays this all to Fahn and Kashu back in the present and everyone prepares for a final confrontation with Beld. Ghim goes with Slayn, as only they can entrap Karla while Deedlit accompanies Parn and uses her magic to protect him.

Chapter 21: The fighting commences and Slayn tries to put all of Beld’s army to sleep to prevent bloodshed. Beld releases fire salamanders, regardless of the carnage it causes among his own soldiers. Wagnard uses a dark elf to kill the Sage of Valis and Fahn and Beld meet for a final showdown. Beld prevails and Parn is prevented from avenging Fahn by a knight of Marmo named Ashuram. Kashu then challenges Beld to another duel. Karla shoots Beld in the chest with an arrow, thus allowing Kashu to kill Beld. Ashurum takes up Beld’s sword of darkness and retreats with the remaining forces of Marmo. Parn and Co realize this is the exact outcome that Karla wanted. Parn vows to hunt Karla down and put an end to her meddling that costs so many lives.

Chapter 22: Parn and Co attack Karla at her tower. We flashback to see Woodchuck being commissioned to steal the circlet of Karla’s power off of Leylia’s body. Parn and Co are just a distraction to gain Karla’s attention. Ghim confronts Karla and appeals to the suppressed Leylia. Karla kills Ghim and that sets Leylia off, giving Woodchuck an opportunity to steal the circlet. Unfortunately, Woodchuck’s bitterness about his life leads him to put the circlet on, thinking he can control its powers. This allows Karla to keep on surviving, even if in a body without the capability of using magic. Etoh returns to Valis and Princess Fianna, while Slayn returns Leylia and Ghim’s body back to Neece. Parn and Deedlit begin a new quest of hunting down Karla and trying to rescue Woodchuck.

 

My Thoughts:

When I was done reading, I wasn’t really sure what to think. Except that I had just read a D&D campaign where the campaign was over, the villain gets away and this leads to yet another campaign to be played at a later date. It didn’t help that the OVA anime jams in another storyline and adds some real pathos and relational drama between Parn and Deedlit.

Speaking of relationships. I’m usually not a fan of that kind of thing playing a big part in the stories I read. However, everything between everyone was so understated that I found myself actually wanting something from them. Deedlit and Parn are a couple but you’d never know it besides the fact that she keeps hanging around Parn and protecting him. Etoh and Princess Fianna do nothing but blush at each other and Slay and Leylia haven’t even started their relationship yet. I wanted the romance from the anime.

And I guess that sums up the issues with this. This is a fine manga on its own. But for me, Lodoss started with the OVA and that is the metric that I measure everything related to Lodoss by. It’s not fair, but that is just how it is. I mentioned in the review for book 2 that I have some more Lodoss manga and that I was wavering about reading it. I have decided that I won’t be. The Chronicles of the Heroic Knight deal with a new cast of characters taking over from Parn, Deedlit, etc and Deedlit’s Tale is a shojo manga that involves a high dark elf trying to take Deedlit’s affections from Parn. I don’t want THAT much relational drama.

Glad I read these but I feel no need to hold onto them or the other Lodoss manga I own. Not sure if I’ll try to sell them online or do a book giveaway. The last 2 book giveaways fizzled and I’m not sure that old manga series is going to do better than some Michael Crichton techno-thrillers 😀

Once again, the individual covers were fantastic. This one really showcases the snub-nose art that predominates the mana. The anime was much more classical anime with small, curvy, pointy noises, but the manga-ka here wasn’t afraid to show those schnozzes!

The Grey Witch 16 - Cover

 

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

“What My Favorite Characters Would Be Doing in Quarantine” Tag

quarantine

The inestimable Mrs Mugrage recently tagged me in her own “Favorite Character Quarantine” post.  There were some rules, but I obviously threw them out the window as I always do.

So let’s see what happens when I put some of my favorite fictional characters into illegal lockdown!

 

Kensho Quarantine

kensho
Jerome, now a master swordsman and follower of the Way, would resign his position as head of the Order, strap on his sword, put on his cloak and take a journey.  To New York State where he would behead the Governor, one Andrew Cuomo, for his tyrannical, despotic and illegal actions. He would then be gunned down by a cadre of corrupt New York police officers for “resisting arrest”.

 

Phantom Tollbooth Quarantine

phantomtollbooth

Milo, from the The Phantom Tollbooth, would simply get in his little car and drive through the tollbooth and enter another land until it was all over.  He’d have some wonderful adventures and come back fully refreshed and ready to take on the world. Lucky guy!

 

Yotsuba Quarantine

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Yotsuba, only being 5, would quickly go crazy and her dad would have to find things for her to do so she wouldn’t drive HIM crazy.  He’d probably have her clean the house, every day!

 

Black Stallion Quarantine

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I think we ALL know what would happen to the Black Stallion …..
♪♪I’m Lovin’ It!♪♪

 

Enchanted Forest Chronicles Quarantine

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Princess Cimorene,  now Queen Cimorene, would tirelessly help out the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest as they came down with the virus. Sadly, she would succumb herself and die a slow, lingering and agonizing death.  Mendenbarr, her husband and King of the Enchanted Forest with all of its powers at his command becomes unhinged and declares war on the wizards who he blames for the virus. The wizards, being sneaky no-good scum, drag the dragons into things. Mendenbarr destroys the wizards but also hurt the dragons who try to burn down the Enchanted Forest in retaliation. They fail but end up killing Mendenbarr. Because he is crazy from Cimorene’s death he unleashes one final blast of magic that destroys the world as he dies.  Truly tragic.

 

Ahhh, good times! What a great tag.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Angry Lead Skies (Garrett, PI #10) ★★★☆½

angryleadskies (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Angry Lead Skies
Series: Garrett, PI #10
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Words: 105K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Garrett is a detective living in the city of TunFaire. When people have problems, they come to Garrett for help, but trouble has a way of finding him.

Garrett is at home when Playmate visits, with a kid, Kip Prose. Kip has made friends with creatures that cannot quite be described, but because of his relationship with these creatures, other parties are trying to kidnap Kip. Despite his protests, Garrett gets drawn into the mess.

While searching Playmate’s stables for clues, Garrett and company are attacked by another group of indescribable assailants. Morley, Saucerhead, and Pular Singe wake Garrett and Playmate after the scuffle, but Kip Prose is gone.

Playmate and Garrett talk to Kip’s family, hoping to find clues to his whereabouts. Despite some leads, Playmate and Garrett are unable to locate Kip, although they do encounter an “elf” named Casey, who assures them Kip is in no immediate danger.

When Playmate goes missing, Garrett and Pular Singe track him down, with the Roze triplets tagging along. Pular tracks the scent to Casey’s apartment, where there are more mysterious elves. The trail eventually takes Garrett, Pular and the Rozes into the country outside TunFaire, where they find more of the elves, their spaceships, and an unconscious Playmate, Saucerhead Tharpe and Kip Prose. Garrett decides it is time to involve the Watch, who can hopefully clean up the mess.

Meanwhile, a ratman named John Stretch, Pular Singe’s brother, attempts to kidnap Pular for his own purposes. While Garrett and John Stretch come to an agreement, Colonel Block and Deal Relway try to manage the situation with the remaining elves. Garrett strikes a deal between Kip Prose, Max Weider, and Willard Tate, in which the involved parties agree to manufacture “Three Wheels”, a revolutionary new method of transportation for the citizens of TunFaire.

As a final twist, Casey escapes, thwarting the attempts of Garrett and the Watch to discover the true nature of the “silver elves”. Though Relway is angry and suspicious of Garrett, Garrett is on top of the world, with his new stake in the Three Wheel business booming and the Goddamn Parrot missing in action.

 

My Thoughts:

Much like the last book, I once again enjoyed a Garrett story. I’m thankful for that. That being said, Garrett is still a philandering jackass. There were some attempts in this book to steer Garrett towards maturity by making him a one woman man with Tinnie Tate, but honestly, if a man has been having sex with every woman he can at every chance he can for his entire life, the chances of him suddenly going into a monogamous relationship is almost zero. Or, really, staying in that relationship is almost at zero. Leopards and spots and all that.

The story itself was just so much fun, what with Cook bringing in aliens to a fantasy series. Once I realized what the “silver elves” were, I just laughed. The rest of the story with all the action and drinking and fighting and chases and palavers was good enough to keep me reading to the end of the book.

Not the greatest book I’ve ever read but nothing here made me want to quit the series, unlike Petty Pewter Gods.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

A Brief Introduction to: Dr. Lord Bookstooge

I like to give my About page some awareness every once in a while, just to make it easier for those who follow me who might not have explored around my site (and can you blame them? I don’t explore too many of your sites!)

 

about

Here are some things to know about me that might make your interactions a tiny bit easier. If you still have questions,  you can always email me:

Bookstoog eat gmaild otcom

 

1) I am a pretty devout Christian. Weird personal mix of Baptist and 7th Day Adventist. To over-simplify it, that means I believe in the Bible literally and I go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday. It also means that it influences what I read, how I read and how I review.

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2) I am a Man. I cannot state this boldly enough or enough times. Be prepared. Mancakes Ahead!

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3) I like Science fiction, Fantasy, Classics [1900’s and earlier] and manga. I’ll read other stuff, but not regularly.

 

4) I tend to read 100+ books a year.

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5) Of the 5 Love Languages, [quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch] my main one is Words of affirmation. Or just words 🙂 Which means that I tend to post and comment quite a bit. I am NOT a once a week poster.

 

6) To go along with #1, I graduated from a non-accredited Bible school, so I’ve got a working man’s knowledge of how to be a Pastor, just not the actual degree. Or the temperament.

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7) I am NOT a people person. People wear me out, even online. Then I say things that later I sometimes regret. Then I need chicken fingers to recover!

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8) I am happily married to Mrs Bookstooge. So I’m sorry ladies, but I am not on the market.

mrsbookstooge

 

9) If you disagree with something in my posts or reviews, feel free to say so; IF you want to actually have a conversation with someone who disagrees with you. Most times I will try to move such conversations to email.

 

10) I am a land surveyor. I work outdoors year round in New England. The picture below is of me. It typifies why I like being a surveyor.

bookstoogesurveyor

 

 

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Princeps’ Fury (Codex Alera #5) ★★★★★

princepsfury (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Princeps’ Fury
Series: Codex Alera #5
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 350
Words: 153.5K

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com & Me

The book begins with Octavian negotiating with Captain Demos of the trading vessel called the Slive, to book passage for Octavian and his contingent to cross the sea and reach the Canean homeland with Varg. Meanwhile in Alera, Crown cursor Ehren reports to Gaius about the Vord having entered Alera and learnt how to furycraft.[2]

Octavian and the Canean survivors face several storms as they make their way for the Canim continent. Octavian learns more about the Canean civilization, which has several tribes with populations in the millions and also learns the Canim tongue as they prepare to disembark. Amara and Count Bernand are helping improve the defensive structures around Calderon Valley, in anticipation of a future Vord assault. However, they are summoned to an Imperial Council by Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, for an urgent mission against the Vord.

Gaius Sextus informs the Council of the threat of the Vord, which was slowly expanding from the Kalare wasteland. The Vord had overwhelmed four Imperial legions, leaving no survivors and the croach[check spelling] was expanding through Alera at an increasing rate. More than one hundred thousand Aleran freeholders and citizens had been killed in less than a month. Gaius requests all the High Lords of Alera to unite their strength and muster all the legions that they could, so that they could force a big battle against the Vord. Gaius appoints High Lord Aquitaine as the captain of the military campaign. The First Lord also meets Countess Amara and Count Bernard and requests them to go behind the Vord enemy lines on a mission to find out how the Vord are using furycrafting when they had been unable to do so.

Amara and Bernard find out that one of the High Lady’s has been taken by the Vord Queen and that Brencis Kalarus is using his father’s slave collars on Citizens to make them fight for the Vord. They take out Brencis and without him and his knowledge, the Vord Queen loses the ability to collar any more Citizens.

Tavi formulates a plan to take down a Vord Queen in Cania, thus allowing the surviving Canim to escape to Alera to regroup and plan how to take back their homeland. His plan fails but Kitai and Varg’s backup plan works perfectly. Everyone escapes on giant ships sculpted from icebergs.

Isana is sent north to the Shield Wall to broker a piece with the Icemen so the Legions guarding the Wall can march South and bolster those fighting the Vord. She realizes the Icemen are empathetic crafters and that the whole war has been a gigantic misunderstanding. She challenges the Lord of the Legions to Juris Macti to force him to march South. She loses but her standing up to him makes him realize the truth of her position.

The Vord overwhelm the Capital City and Gaius destroys the city and all the surrounding Vord to give the rest of the people a chance to formulate a way to fight back against the Vord.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, this review is where I start using the Calibre Page AND Word count to get my numbers. So while the paperback actually has close to 700 pages, based on characters per page, it is “only” 350. Which is why I want to include word count, to give a better data estimate between. Ok, enough of the nerdy stats/data talk.

Man, what do I say? I loved this book and this series? Tavi is the best hero and everything a proper Hero should be? This is a book of Ideals triumphing over petty base human’ness even while humanity reels from blow after blow from the Vord? You can almost hear the Capital Letters when ideals are discussed or even just acted out? In short, this is exactly my kind of book.

Self-pitying fools and dunces these characters are not. They have no time or place for pseudo-philosophizing while calling good evil and evil good. They have too much to do to drag the reader down into the cesspit of a self-loathing mind. They don’t hate themselves or the world they live in. They love life and it shows in every action they take.

There is no despair.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)