Book Recommendation: The Time of The Dark

176277

Some time ago, I wrote about an appreciation thread on reddit; it was about author Barbara Hambly and her many works, which include but are not limited to vampiric noir, dark fantasy, world-jumping fun with wizards and much more!

The Time of the Dark was the first amongst these recommendations, and the favourite of the thread’s author. Now that I’ve read it,I can certainly see why.

The novel, which tells us the tale of an ancient foe, long dormant but recently awakened, is a lot darker than its cover might have you think, at first. It’s a wonderful cover, by the way — a wizard wearing his rugged robe and sitting amidst an all too normal 20-century kitchen. I love the spilled chips, the empty can of beer and just about everything in that cover; if posters were sold of the drawing alone, I would be hanging it left and right.

You have to appreciate a wizard drinking beer from a can for the first time, is all I’m saying.

There is humor in this book, even though its themes, if you think about them, are downright terrifying, and could traumatize without too much difficulty. Let’s unpack, shall we?

The Dark are horrifying antagonists; they are not individuals as humans are; rather, they have something akin to a hive mind, allowing them to transfer information instantaneously. They have no form–the Dark are like globs of darkness, capable of changing their form at will, growing from five to twenty five feet nearly as quickly as one could blink. The Dark come at night, but they come; their numbers are enough to overrun any city.

But not the Keeps. The Keeps, these ancient constructs of magic and technology of a by-gone age, allowed humanity to survive the Dark’s last incursion, over three thousand years ago. Now, they will have to aid The Realm’s stragglers and survivors, as these attempt to traverse the road’s dangers, and the attacks by the Dark, all to find safe haven.

Amidst all this, we follow the stories of Ingold Inglorion-the elder wizard on the cover, and a wizard who will remind you of the best traditions in the fantasy genre; and that of his two friends from our Earth, Rudy and Gil. Rudy is a biker and an artist; Gil is a woman after my own heart, a medievalist historian with a very cold streak, and a colder heart, still.

These three main characters of ours are absolute gemstones, and they’re not the only ones. The entire cast of support characters are written in a superb way, as is the rest of the book. Descriptions can be both beautiful and haunting, and my pulse quickened as I read through tense moments that absorbed with such impressive ease as to leave me impressed.

Few books have had one character dominate every scene they’re in as Ingold does it. He might often remind you of Gandalf, as he did to me, but at those times, he’s more of a self-aware Gandalf than anything else. Indeed, lines such as the one below speak of self-awareness that is entertaining and feels like Hambly poking innocent fun at fantasy clichés that we’re all too familiar with.

“She barely hid a smile. “That’s a wizard’s answer if I ever heard one.” “Meaning that mages deal in double talk?” His grin was impish. “That’s one of our two occupational hazards.” “And what’s the other one?” He laughed. “A deplorable tendency to meddle.”

You see what I mean?

The Time of the Dark is another book that is well worth your time; I promise!

You might have some difficulty getting a hold of a physical copy, but the trilogy went digital some time ago and if the next two books are anything like this at all…they’ll be well-worth the read.

What’re you waiting for?!

For me to finish? Alright, alright! I’ll see you next week!

To my regular readers…Sorry for the tread-bare content during the last week; I had a birthday, and then had to travel. At one point, I was awake for about…36 weeks, with two short naps on a plane and bus to make up for it. Content should run more smoothly from here on out, thank you for your patience!

 

Non-Friday Wrap-Up: Before the Storm, Hearthstone animated short and Books! 21/08-27/08/2017

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a coming-of-age tragedy, writes RPS’s Adam Smith in a conversation with Before the Storm’s lead writer, Zack Garriss.

“The experience of writing feature films or TV episodes requires thinking about the most interesting obstacle or the best line of dialogue or the best piece of choreography for any given situation. We have to ask ourselves not what the best option is but what the two most interesting versions of any given scene might be, and how they’ll impact on our larger themes and plot. It’s incredibly satisfying but it requires a lot of patience.”

Hearthstone released an animated short that’s like something come out from Disney-Pixar’s happy, happy marriage. It’s absolutely beautiful, and WORTH YOUR TIME. It also made me want a 3D Hearthstone game, with cards taking form like in YU-GI-OH and doing actual battle with other cards! I’ve always wanted such a game, come to think of it, made by an AAA developer!

I’ve been super busy this week, and the next two will be even worse, but in my free time, I’ve enjoyed The Time of the Dark, by Barbara Hambly. Expect a recommendation of that not too far away from now.

I’ve also began reading Zen and the Art of Writing by writer extraordinaire, Ray Bradbury. It’s a damn inspiration, I’ll tell you that.

I’m sorry if content’s a bit less…much-ish during the next couple of weeks. Exams have me twisting my panties in a bunch; oh, the horror!

 

 

 

Fantasy Quote of the Day, 28/08/2017

Today’s quote is all about the past!

We all have our pasts. I suspect we keep them nebulous not because we are hiding from our yesterdays but because we think we will cut more romantic figures if we roll our eyes and dispense delicate hints about beautiful women forever beyond our reaches. Those men whose stories I have uprooted are running from the law, not a tragic love affair.

–Glen Cook, The Black Company

Saturday Night Gaming: Total War: Warhammer– Twenty hours of Dwarfing around

“Here’s to dwarves that go swimming with little hairy women!!!”
-Gimli

This quote has informed my entire way of thinking when it comes to dwarves. Its merits are obvious, and its conclusions–grand.

total_war_warhammer-4

The dwarves in Creative Assembly’s Warhammer game don’t go heavy enough on the “swimming with lady-dwarfs” bit, but they do quite nicely in other aspects. In my 209 turns’ worth of in-game time, I:

  • murdered a ludicrous amount of orks with hammers, axes, pickaxes, grenades, crossbows, siege weapons, and gyrocopters. As a result of that, I basically committed genocide against anything Greenskin, be it ork, goblin, or any other squeaky, violent what-have-you; and you know what? I’m not even sorry.
  • I turned my attention to the Vampire Lords. They’d been giving my fellow dwarven allies a fair bit of trouble; as High King of all the Dawwi, I do not take light of such violence. What was supposed to follow is a little trick I like to refer to as ‘GIVE ‘EM THE AXE!’ maxresdefault1
  • Which is what I would’ve done, had not the forces of Chaos come spewing forth from the hellish North; after that, it was one battle after another; bloody, scary battles, those. Dwarves have a problem with cavalry and monsters, being the sturdy tiny people that they are; Chaos is all cavalry and monsters and very nasty anti-infantry.
  • Many a short lad perished in those darkest of days; but all the free races united against the common threat. The Empire, led by Karl Franz, was in dire need of aid; Nuln, Franz’s new capital lay besieged by the powers of Norsca and Chaos, alike. His armies, having suffered a defeat at Altdorf during the sacking of  Altdorf–the former capital–were but a shadow of the Empire’s might.
  • We little people had much to say about that. GIVE EM THE AXE, we cried in unison; and so we gave ’em the axe. They got the axe. They got it good.
  • After that, it was back to business; we got those stinkin’ vampires turned to dust and all, and we liked ’em better that way. Used the dust for nutrition of Castle Drakenhoff and Castle Templehoff. Tip for everyone? Undead really don’t do well against gyrocopter bombardments. Not even a tiny bit, turns out.
  • With humanity profoundly weakened, we wee lads settled into ruins of human cities, turning those into–you guessed it–dwarven settlements. And so it was, that dwarves inherited the Old World.
  • Archon the Everchosen died off-screen, killed by one of the two dwarven factions the High King did not confederate with. Bit anti-climatic; but that’s what dwarven life is like.

What you want to do, if ever you find yourself shoulder to shoulder with dwarves is–use your sturdiest, most well armoured dwarves to contain the enemy’s front lines; then, flank them with your fighters. Things’ll end up wonderfully. I made the mistake of using too many crossbow/riffler units for most of the game, and suffered a bit too many casualties, especially in the late game.  Once that happened, however, I got some fresh new reinforcements and all was wonderful!

I also ended the game with 250000 gold, and way too much turn-based income. I played on Hard but it was too easy. Dwarves are, as you’d expect, a defensive faction that excels in lengthy combat and in slowing down enemies. You should try them, if you’re into grand strategy…or swimming with hairy little women.

P.S. I wanted to make screenshots, but kept forgetting to. I’m absolutely dreadful, I know. Words alone don’t do the game justice; its battles are a sight for sore eyes…especially once you turn the UI off and just enjoy the sight of dwarves hammering orks to death.

All that bloody gore, too!

Fantasy Quote of the Day, 26/08/2017

I love dragons; who doesn’t?! They’re often seen as the pinnacle of fantasy creatures; mighty, cold and deadly intelligent, dragons can be both the noblest and most sly of beings.

Steven Erikson’s dragons are complex creatures. They are rarely seen, but their presence is felt throughout the many books. Today’s quote describes a dragon from Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates, the second book in the series. It’s a chilling description that dwarfs the dragons shown before.

The dragon came low to the earth. It defied every image of a draconian being Kulp had ever seen. Not Rake, not Osric. Hugely boned, with skin like dry shark hide, its wing-span dwarfed even that of the Son of Darkness – who has within him the blood of the draconian goddess – and the wings had nothing of the smooth, curving grace; the bones were multi-jointed in a crazed pattern, like that of a crushed bat wing, each knobbed joint prominent beneath taut, cracked skin. The dragon’s head was as wide as it was long, like a viper’s, the eyes high on its skull. There was no ridged forehead, instead the skull sloped back to a basal serration almost buried in neck and jaw muscles.

A dragon roughly cast, a creature exhaling an aura of primordial antiquity. And, Kulp realized with a breathless start as his senses devoured all that the creature projected, it was undead.

The fact that this dragon is greater in size even than Anomander Rake chills me to the bone.

I might by a bit of a fanboy where the Son of Darkness is concerned; such an awesome character, that one.