JP On Gaming

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Yearly Retrospective 2019 Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


I read a number of books this year, I tried to cover a variety of topics and genre as a way to prevent boredom. Many of them are Audiobooks I listened to while driving to cons or work. Saves me a lot of time and keeps my mind focused on something.

Marvel Essential - Hulk #4 Quite a change of pace from the heavier stuff of St Augustine... I approached this story with some apprehension after having read Rampaging Hulk last year. However, this was a very different affair. Here, Hulk is not used as a way to present modern concerns. Hulk wants to be left alone, a sentiment that is easy to understand, and people keep messing up with him. Unlike the previous book, I enjoyed this one and was left with a desire to read more about Hulk.

Glenn Cook - The Swordbearer I read this as an audiobook that kept me company on my road trip to Origins. This books is very much in line with other material from Cook: a very militaristic setting with powerful undead creatures that cannot be killed. Unlike the Black Company, the Swordbearer is his take on Moorcock's Stormbringer where a young man takes a powerful evil sword that wants to kill. The story is interesting and the twists keep things moving. The epilogue was a tad of a disappointment, when the dwarf explains the world was not to my liking. But if you like Cook's fantasy works, this is a good one.

Anthology - Blackguards: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues A collection of short stories featuring thieves, assassins, and knaves I happened upon randomly while looking for a new series. As a collection, the stories ranged from "okay" to "good". As most stories ended, I found myself wanting to hear more about it, so I will call this a positive. Really enjoyed.

Tom Huddleston - Star Wars Adventure in Wild Space: The Dark I received this book for my birthday as a gift from ActionMan. This is a short book, definitely for children. It is the story of two children, a brother and sister duo captured by a bounty hunter. This was an enjoyable little story with a Star Wars flavor.

James Ward and Jane Cooper Hong - Pool of Radiance Way back when we all played the "gold box" D&D games on our PCs; Pool of Radiance was one of the best-liked games of the late 80s (during that time, I played Sid Meier's Pirates all the time. Still the best of all time). Anyway, I did NOT play that adventure at the time (I started playing the series with Curse of the Azure Bonds). So I listened to this one while the family was away in Canada. It has everything I disliked about classic Dungeons and Dragons: low-level characters using high-level in-game powers (the starter wizard in particular cast control weather spells and starts with a staff of power). Something my own players wanted to have "I want to start with a staff of power, like Shal!" Drove me nuts. I mean WTF!? You JUST STARTED! Okay JP, calm down. This is not a rant. Okay so the story here is fine if shallow. It gives you the tale of a group of adventurers coming together; it's really nothing to write home about. Unless you enjoyed the gold box or have a particular desire for completeness, you can easily skip this one.

Michael Moorcock - Sailor on the Sea of Fate I found this one in my YouTube feed and went for it. I read a lot of the Stormbringer/Elric RPG products and played it a few times to my enjoyment so I was intrigued about the story. I know this is not the first in the series. I found this to be good storytelling, very classic fantasy literature. No surprise as it was written in the 70s. This book held my attention from beginning to end and I will look deeper into this series.

Roger Zelazny - Nine princes in Amber For years, I planned to read this. Eventually, I decided on an audiobook. I knew it was a mishmash of genre, multi-verse style where people of every background could mix: from science fiction, to modern, to fantasy, everything can be found here. I found it has many elements in common with my own Tyrants of Saggakar setting wherein characters from anywhere and everywhere can be found together. Because of this merged multiverse, I walked into this one not fully knowing what I would find. In short, I did not enjoy it. The style and tone of the story I just could not get into. I won't continue this series.

Marvel Essential - Fantastic Four #2 As a kid, I could never really enjoy the Fantastic Four. Sure, they were interesting, but I always preferred the X-Men and the Avengers over the FF. This book takes me back to the 60s and by being able to get a full series of stories together really gets me going. I am getting into these characters a lot more and I can see how people loved them. Unlike all the other early title, there is a romance between characters (Sue and Reed, Ben and Alicia) even if there can be no happily ever-after. I will very likely continue this series.

Glen Cook - Dread Empire: Reap the East Wind Back in 2007-08, I first picked up this series in an omnibus book at a Borders in Colorado Springs. I had a very mixed reaction with it, but next I opted to read more, which led to my great enjoyment of his works. After listening to the Swordbearer for my Origins road trip, I found this one, which is set years after "A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire", which I read back then. I found this book to be very much in line with the others. It was an enjoyable book. Not great, but definitely better than others I've read/listened to this year. This presents us with a much wider tapestry, very much Game of Throne-ish. The end left me a little meh, but the rest is pretty cool.

Glen Cook - Dread Empire: An Ill Fate Marshalling Another audiobook and the "sequel" to the Reap the East Wind. I put that in quotation marks because the first part of the book is a retelling of the same story as "Reap". However, here, we follow King Braggi and his machinations to save his kingdom. Many of the scenes are presented again but with the thoughts and feeling of other characters, creating a very interesting tapestry and provides a lot of insight to some of the sudden changes in character that popped up through "Reap". The finale of this one is something of a let down, with many plot threads left hanging. By the end I really wanted to know MORE! But alas... But wait... there is now a third part of this sequel trilogy...

Marvel Essentials - X-Factor #1 This book I wanted to read since I was young. I was told by friends and owned a patchwork of the issues therein, but nothing that told me the whole story. This one is important in X-Lore, with the return of Jean Grey as Marvel Girl and the creation of X-Factor the mutant hunter/saviors. I found myself compulsively reading issue after issue. During this run Beast turned back to human-beast, the mutant massacre, the introduction of Apocalypse, the creation of the horsemen, and Angel losing his wings. Riveting stuff. I will buy the next installment (even though I still own most of those follow-up books).

Glen Cook - Dread Empire: A Path to Coldness of Heart The Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire. Full Report

Glen Cook - Black Company: The Silver Spike A Black Company off-series book. Full Report

Ian Ross - Battle For Rome Twilight of Empire Book 3. Full Report

John Norman - Tarnsman of Gor A novel set on a Counter-Earth Book 1 Full Report

Flavius Josephus - Wars of the Jews The historical story of early Roman Judea Full Report

Marcus Aurelius - Meditations The private thoughts of a Roman Emperor Full Report

James Luceno - Tarkin A Star Wars novel Full Report

St Augustine - City of God A philosophy/theology book from early Christianity Full Report

Marie Lu - Batman: Nightwalker A graphic novel set in Gotham City Full Report

Arthur C Clark - Imperial Earth A tale of the future of man Full Report

So with all this, I wish you all a very happy new year.


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