JP On Gaming

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] The Troisieme Testament Julius V

I took a long time to savor reading this book, the final chapter in the Prequel to "Le Troisieme Testament." It sat on the shelf, looking at me. Tempting me. Testing my willpower to resist, until alas.

I mean, like the First Series (click here for review) completed with a big reveal and a massive confrontation, this one does the same. Even if you knew how it would end it closes the biggest plot holes well enough and I was genuinely sad to get to the end.

This story has everything: battles, tie-ins with historical events, giving them an interesting and supernatural twist that makes this into a massive apocalyptic battle. The characters are so good and exciting. Whereas characters faded into one another in the earlier part of the story, at this point, they are well established.

Many of them passed through so many difficult times and ordeals. The internal torment of the characters are beautifully rendered with concise and evocative dialogue, mixed with the art gives a very clear sense of what is happening. Every one of the characters has a path all its own that comes to a roaring crash here.

The art is just on point. Here the supernatural against permeates the story to make you wince in terror for the implications, more than what you actually see. The scene I added here is one of those. It's not gory or disgusting but the beauty of the art and the dispair in the man's eyes tells you more than any dialogue could.

The battle scenes are filled with action and are so evocative, you get the feeling there are indeed thousands of troops converging on each other. The battle for Jerusalem, with the Zealots, the Sicarii, and the Romans is the kind of conflicts that you can only do in a book like this. In a movie, it would not capture the feel. The sequel of confrontations in the burning Temple bring to the fore all the angst and desires of everyone. The dialogue is short but its impact on the protagonists is profound. My breath shortened as I forced myself to slow down to savor and enjoy the panels.

We are blessed with two epilogues. The first one closes the story of "Julius," bringing the two main characters together one last time. In a scene that is just brilliantly poignant, they face each other one last time. Again, the religious aspect is played here so brilliantly, in the simplest of words. Gut wrenching as you want the antagonist to do what's right but he refuses. And its final frame showing the uncaring bust of the Emperor Vespasian looking on with uncaring eyes.

The second is less emotional, but leads into the prequel. It was a nice wink and good transition.

So even though this is a prequel, it stands on its own 100%. If you did not read the original, the story would be complete and satisfying. But that there are two parts, makes it just awesome. Just a great read all-around.

Oh what about the spoilers for the First Part? The end wrapping leads into it that should you read is in chronological order (Julius, then the Original) the reveal at the end is still applicable. The Testament here serves as a McGuffin to drive the action. The original tells us about its content. Masterful storytelling by Alex Alice. And the art.

Rating? 5/5 of course. No hesitation. None. I re-read it again before writing this review and I was just as enamored with it as I was before. That ending... awesome. I tried to find a flaw or issue with this and as I look for nitpicks, I keep noticing tiny gems I missed previously. I find no fault in that. There is a clear beginning/ middle/ end. And nothing more NEEDS to be said. Though we could expand on some things. We could expand on the crusade era, but that is not needed. The two parts hold everything together.

Monday, January 3, 2022

[Doctor Who Review] Eve of the Daleks

With the rather bland Flux storyline coming to an end, I was not expecting much. The drop in quality scripts under Chibnall made me very wary about this one and I was really worried this one would be a cringe fest. But let's get into it...

So the plot begins with two people stuck in a storage facility on New Year's Eve, a few moments before midnight. Then, the Doctor, Dan and Deadfish Yaz arrive.

This is a time loop episode. My eyes rolled.

After two loops, I was invested and found myself really into it, wondering "how the heck will they get out of this?" This was the most interested Doctor Who plot I watched in YEARS, easily the best of the Chibnall era.

Now, again we have Yaz who has no personality and really brings nothing to the show other than "Token Indian Woman." She gives some generic sass to Dan but it would've been much more fun if the Doctor had those interaction. So again, she's useless and brings nothing to the show.

Contrast with the quips Dan keeps making - the Manchester vs Liverpool early on was just funny. He comes off as genuine and funny. He is definitely a highlight of the season. Too bad he has been constantly sharing screen time with Deadfish.

The two throwaways are also interesting. Both have relatable problems and issues, and in the end came off as genuine people, something I found was missing in a lot of episode. Although their eventual fate is quite predictable, they go through the first cycles making a lot of sense. I enjoyed them.

The Doctor's plan felt "Doctor-y". It was fine.

Now the biggest let down I have with the episode comes towards the end when Dan makes Yaz realize she has a thing for the Doctor, then tells the Doctor about it. The scene, which could be a character-defining moment, falls flat, and has no heart, no warmth to it, I rolled my eyes in cringe at how bad the scene played out. Another failed attempt at something the should've been a personal highlight. By now, I don't care about Yaz and just want her gone as I will not miss her. Boring. Bland. Without personality.

I really expected to downvote this like crazy, but I was really seriously into it and liked it. So I will give it a 4/5.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Yearly Retrospective 2021

Personal and Family Life

- I still work and enjoy working at 247 Sports/ CBS Sports working as a back-end software engineer.

- Jojo is now a full-time driver

- Kitty is now in high school and a member of the JRTOC

- ActionMan played football and soccer for his school.

- Julie's sewing is growing.

- We all survived Coronavirus (I assume we had the delta variant).

World Events

- 2021 NHL Hockey To say that this year was interesting in the hockey world is a massive understatement. After 28 years, my Montreal Canadiens FINALLY made it to the Stanley Cup final once more. Even though the boys lost in 5 games (out of 7), it was a great and wild ride that reminded me how much I love this sport. I can only dream of the cup coming back home after so many years but it will have to wait a little longer. Still... I have a C-H tattooed on my heart forever. Go Habs Go.

- The internal divisions in the US, are tearing the country apart. The more we focus on our divisions, the more divided we become. Focusing on what brings use together is the key. I am riveted to see what happened and how it plays out.

- Storming of the Capitol On January 6th, rioters took over the Capitol. This is a VERY divisive issue that led to both sides being able to advance their narrative. I think both side have points, and both sides are in the wrong. We will eventually learn the truth but I just cannot simply take a position where one side is 100% right and one 100% wrong.

- Coronavirus still ravages the world. The information we get from the news is worringly one-sided with only one side that is 100% right and the other 100% wrong. Anytime this happens, I get very worried as I do not believe the world is black and white. Blind belief in anyone but god is worrisome and scary to me. Blind trust in any human being never leads to good results.

Trips

2021 was a pretty tame year when it came to traveling. We spent most of our year at home.

- Chicago, IL We took the family to go see our friend Florent, Florence, & Frederic in April

Publishing/ FOE

This year, I took on bigger but fewer projects to work on. Marked by two big releasesd and a few smaller ones. The smaller ones were often created as break-out projects for the bigger ones.

The work I produced this year was of much greater quality. Many of the changes in my style and process are difficult to show to others but I notice them.

Really with the release of Olympia, I have been lucky enough to increase my sales to the point where I managed to publish my products completed with brand new art created by great artists, some who I worked with longer and others new ones. Big thanks to all the artists who worked to make FOE come to life. I am looking forward to more work next year.

I think in 2022, I think I will focus on more balanced approach with a few short products and some bigger ones.

DM's Guild Releases
- Demonic Forces I: The Blighted a monster book
- Demonic Forces II: Graz'zt's Entourage a monster book
- Early Firearms a rules supplement

DriveThruRPG Releases
- Olympia Campaign Setting a book inspired by Greek Mythology

This year, many FOE products reached Best-Seller tiers on DriveThruRPG or DM's Guild. This is an opportunity to see how the quality of FOE product and their reach expands.

Bestseller Milestones: Gold
- Real Housewives of Ravenloft

Bestseller Milestones: Silver
- Akhamet Campaign Setting
- Apple of a Mother's Eye
- Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor
- Ravenloft: Dreams of Dust
- Rahadin Dread Knight of Raveloft

Bestseller Milestones: Copper
- Olympia Campaign Setting
- Akhamet Player's Guide
- The Vanishing Ziggurat
- Lost Pyramid of Neferheket

Conventions

As the world returns to normal, I attended a few conventions this year: some on-line and some in-person.
- Festival Draconis Online
- Weekend in Rokugan 2021 Online
- Gencon 2021 Indianapolis, IN
- Memories of Rokugan 2021 Online (I did not write an AAR for it)

Blog

- This year, I posted mostly reviews and FOE announcements on the blog.

- I published a total of 104 posts here in 2021.

Books

This year, I read a variety of books with wildly different ratings. Some great, some terrible. A lot of Comics... a lot.

Non-Fiction
- The Histories by Herodotus
- Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan

Fiction
- Le Troisieme Testament: Julius Vol 3
- Le Troisieme Testament: Julius Vol 4
- The Man With Two Names by Vincent B Davis II
- A Hero of France by Alan Furst
- Water Sleeps by Glen Cook

Comics
- 52 Vol 1 by DC Comics
- 52 Vol 2 by DC Comics
- Batman: Knightfall Vol 1 by DC Comics
- Peter Parker the Spectacular Spiderman Vol 1 by Marvel Comics
- 52 Vol 2 (or 3/4) by DC Comics
- Daredevil: Dark Nights by Marvel Comics
- Justice League Vol 5: Legacy by DC Comics
- Deathstroke 1-3 by DC Comics
- Action Comics Vol 1 by DC Comics
- Superman Vol 1 by DC Comics
- Action Comics Vol 2 by DC Comics
- Action Comics Vol 3 by DC Comics
- Thor: The God Butcher by Marvel Comics
- Captain America: America First by Marvel Comics
- Justice League: Volume 6 by DC Comics
- Justice League: Volume 7 by DC Comics
- Superman Volume 2 by DC Comics
- X-men and the Micronauts by Marvel Comics
- Avengers West Coast: Sins of the Past by Marvel Comics
- X-Men vs Avengers/Fantastic Four by Marvel Comics
- Fantastic Four Essential Vol 4 by Marvel Comics
- Batman City of Crime by DC Comics

TV and Film Reviews

This year, I reviewed the latest season of Doctor Who for this blog.

- Doctor Who - Revolution Of the Dalek

- Doctor Who - Flux (Consolidated)


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

JP