JP On Gaming

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

[Kinda Book Review] The Saracen Storm by JM Nunez

A random, impulse buy led me to check out this book on Amazon. I was not looking for anything in particular but I thought this covered a topic I did not know much about: The period of Post-Roman Spain.

This book is historical fiction in that it takes elements of the story we know and adds just enough to it to make it into something plausible.

Here, we have the story of Pelayo, bastard son of the Duke of Asturias. The plot weaves itself in a realistic way. One part that really felt forced was the women's escape from the Muslims, but it did not detract from the overall. It felt a little Hollywood-y, but fine.

I must say that I enjoyed this as what I see it: a gateway into doing some more research. The characters are interesting and realistic, with everyone seeing themselves as "the good guy."

The battle scenes are described well, from the perspective of a person who is present - so it is chaotic and unclear.

Now, having done some extra research, the events presented in the good as though they would happen within a few months-to-a-year took a decade. Small notch as a history nerd. However, not knowing that going in, I won't ding it.

How do I rate this? A 4 seems high but a three is definitely low. So I will settle on 3.5, which rounds out to 4/5. Generous but I can live with that.

Monday, May 8, 2023

[Kinda Book Review] The Empires of Ancient Persia

Or its full name: The Empires of Ancient Persia: The History and Legacy of the Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sassanids in Antiquity by Charles River Edition.

I was interested in reading more about the three major Persian dynasties: The Achaemenids, the Parthians, and the Sassanids. Having studied their opponents: The Greek/Macedonians, the Romans, and the Byzantines, it is always interesting to read more about what happened. Understand both sides of conflicts allows for a more complete picture of what happened.

It's not just the war, but the social and religious aspects clarify what happened.

Well... This book is a good primer. It presents all of the above.

So why am I not excited?

This book is dense, heavy and without headers. It is illustrated with Wikipedia images that are effective but their main goal is to break the blocks of text.

The topics are approached but only skimmed before moving forward.

It's just... dense. Very much like a paper designed to remind people who already knew about the topic. Or a school/ college paper.

How do I score this? ... How indeed. I was not bored but I was not excited reading it either. It was 2/5, I did not find what I was looking for. Had I have no idea about the topic, I might have scored it higher, but not much. So dense, heavy, and definitely not entertaining.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

[Spoilerless Review] Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie

This past weekend, I took ActionMan to see the Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie. The previous one(s) were... unfulfilling. I had little expectations. The trailers looked interesting and of quality, I thought "this could have half a chance!"

Then the OGL situation... I mean really WotC? Did you wanted to tank the movie? (Yes).

I knew I wanted to go see the movie. I didn't want to boycott it, but instead, as a form of protest, I delayed my attendance until I could see it at our local second-chance cinema. You may say this is just arguing semantics, but it made me feel good and right.

Things I enjoyed in the movie:
- The form of the story: How the party comes together while the plot advances.
- The introduction: Quickly we get in the action, giving us the background of the story at a pretty fast pace.
- The characters: The main cast is definitely like many D&D parties I know and play with.
- The look: Things looked good. Neverwinter resembles the Neverwinter we see in games.
- The lore: It felt interesting and well-woven into the story. Elements of the red wizards are dropped at the moment we need them.
- "The Cameo": You know who I'm talking 'bout.
- The cast looked the part and were entertaining in their role.

Things I disliked
- The marketing: again instead of focusing on the good elements, they again went to score woke point with Twitter. Please stop doing that. 1- You can never please Twitter. 2- You piss off your paying fans. 3- It is NOT uniting.
- Okay I could nitpick a number of "the game is not like that" but the one thing that really irked me was that the bard had no abilities once combat started. Chris Pine's bard should've had some magic to something more than just be a scoundrel. Nitpicking. I enjoyed his portrayal.
- Another nitpick: no cleric? At no point do any of the heroes call for healing... A cleric could've served well. Don't want to have a healer, then have a war cleric or a shaman.

Okay, I really enjoyed this movie. Much more than I thought going in. Sure, I can go through a bunch of nitpicks, but I had a good time. I laughed. I worried. I anticipated.

In short, I was entertained and that was really all I wanted. They provided that to me at a time when most movies have me not bothering to go see them or wait until they come to "regular" TV.

I will give this movie a 4/5. It is not a great movie, but it did what I wanted: have someone tell of their D&D game and their characters for two hours. That and I liked it better than most 3s I have rated.