The Imagination of Nintendo

I bought a Switch. It was a little impulsive. E3 was last week and they announced they are doing a core Pokemon RPG for the Switch.

If you are unaware, I’m obsessed with Pokemon. Plushies and figurines litter my room to the point a friend visiting asked where the 12 year old was. I’m the 12 year old. The moment they announced some nebulous Pokemon RPG for the Switch, I was in. I went out, hit up three Targets, and bought one.

There are about six games for the Switch. I picked up Zelda. There is a beautiful world with lots of weird things to kill you, and some neat abilities. Zelda is an amazing life lesson. Run up to a goblin thing with a branch, hit it and do no damage, proceed to have it kill you in one shot. See a lake, try to swim across it, die immediately from cold. This is the game. “I want to do this thing!” Die. Still, it’s a beautiful world.

Then I picked up Mario Kart 8. There is no sense in Mario Kart 8. Truly, there never has been, but I haven’t played since college. The lanes wobble either due to psychedelic haunted houses or Bowser punching it.

The maps are gorgeous, imaginative, expansive. They tell entire stories, while only taking three minutes to do a few laps on.

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While the fact you hang glide is cool, you’re hang gliding after driving down a waterfall. To get to the top you drove up a water fall. You drive upside down, sideways, every which way. You’re really not sure where you are in relation to the ground. Every once and a while you want to throw up a little at how the world moves because it’s not supposed to move that way.

Image result for mario kart 8 screenshots tough guy mountain

That’s a space station. There are three Rainbow Roads and each is more ridiculous than the other. It’s incredible. One is over a city, this is in space, and the other I can’t quite remember but it’s an acid trip.

Why do I bring this up? Between Mario’s LCD and Zelda’s attempt at becoming Skyrim, my imagination is exploding. I didn’t realize how stagnant it was. I do think NieR: Automata helped a little, but it’s also been putting me into an existential depression.

Fantasy and science fiction more and more needs to fit into a neat box. I blame our zeal for science. Everything must make sense. It must have an explanation. Mario Kart doesn’t care about your science. It doesn’t care about gravity. It doesn’t care. It inspired me not to care, and to write a few more imaginative pieces.

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Review: The Glass Thief

The Glass Thief is a fun action fantasy story which goes from sword and board of a common thief trying to pay off a debt, to the high fantasy of a world altering artifact plagued by the attention of the undead. The story is set up in three acts, whether intentional or not, where the story fundamentally changes what it is. These alterations feel a bit like the life cycle of a Caterpillar, and by the end you have a butterfly. Soaked in tears.

The story focuses on a few characters, but at the heart is Del Kanadis, a thief. He has a debt band, a ring around his arm to remind him he must do the bidding of King Adius. Del is well thought out, witty, and has interesting quirks: he won’t kill, and he is afraid of heights. Del grows through his discovery of self and friends. It’s My Little Pony, if the ponies died horribly in the learning process.

King Adius is another focus, along with his wife and child. Adius shows signs of being unhinged early on, but you get to watch it blossom into utter chaos as he tries to keep his kingdom safe. He also looks a little reptilian as he’s a faen, a magical race. There are four faens total, each with the ability to control an element. Adius is a firefaen. I’ll let you figure it out.

The focal point of the plot ends up being the glass crown, though this is the first major shift in theme. The glass crown can manipulate all the elements, whether it is increasing the power or shutting it down entirely.

When Del goes to a village, he must get close to the people, learn if the mythical crown actually exists, and then retrieve it. On an emotional roller coaster.

The story is cleanly told. There are two time lines, and there were a few spots they didn’t exactly jive, but the story is so well told I shrugged at the discrepancy. The characters feel realistic, with fun quirks to each. All the characters grow.

In short, buy this book. He’s a brilliant writer, this is his first stand alone publication, and I can’t suggest him enough.

You can purchase his book from his website through numerous venues and in countless forms! Really only two forms. Digital and physical. Buy it.

Team Yennifer > Team Triss

First Note: This is a massive Witcher spoiler. Like anything and everything for the franchise.

Second Note: I can’t believe I’m doing this. Here’s looking at you, Mac. (You can find the Team Triss opinion at his website at this link)

Third Note: Mac’s post has more about the setting. I just kind of dove in.

yen

Today I present to you how Gerifer is the ultimate ship in the Witcher franchise. (Totally went there)

Is it Yennifer’s onyx hair which glistens like silk under the torchlight? Her porcelain skin which shimmers? What a delightful illusion Yennifer conjures with her sorceress skills, that could take a hunchback and create such a tantalizing creature?

While I argue that Yennifer is the better beauty of the two, let’s not stop our gaze with such base assets!

Geralt of Riva, the brutish stoic of a Witcher, is quiet and intense in most cases. He is burdened by the decisions he makes. His heavy soul can easily overpower the playful or light of heart.

Enter Yen. When they first met, Yen was hunting a djinn. Using numerous elves and humans, she was able to obtain her object of desire. Strong willed, she pushed all others aside so she alone could claim the bounty! So moved by her beauty of character was Geralt that when the djinn would certainly kill her, he wished for them to be tied by fate for all eternity. What a romantic! But for any other woman, Geralt has been notorious for brief beddings!

There are times where Geralt’s heart is weak, weighted by the millstone of morality and duty. When hunting his adopted daughter, Ciri, he had to destroy a holy tree to perform a ritual which would gain him information. However, the tree being holy and cared for by people he respected, he could not bring himself to do it. Yen took on the burden. She stripped that tree of magical energy in two seconds, knowing it would bring Geralt closer to a girl he saw as a daughter.

But there is more! When the caretakers of the tree approached, shunning Geralt and Yen from the island, Yen took all the blame that Geralt could keep in their good graces. What kindness, despite such a cold exterior.

My friends, Yennifer is not only beautiful, but prudent and strong willed. She knows what Geralt needs and will obtain it though he cannot dare to reach for his goal. Geralt is the moral anchor that reminds Yennifer sometimes the ability to do something isn’t the reason to do it.

So I argue, the true romantic ship of The Witcher, is Gerifer!

 

 

The Mosquito Stratagem

This is a fan fiction based off a game I’m currently playing. The game is Blight of the Immortals. Good fun.

“Sir, it looks like they’re going north. To the Thicket.”

Frog growled, itching his jawls as the trolls marched before him. He let out a heavy sigh and those around him could feel it quake. “Ogre spit.” He picked a piece of pork from his tooth and placed it so he could gnaw more.

“Should we pursue?” Gullet pointed to the burning goblin settlement of Coldbeep. All they would have to do is follow the road there, then go off into the wilderness. They would catch the immortal King of Coins.

The King had been a thorn for the beginning of the campaign. Somehow he was able to grasp every bit of coin within a hundred leagues, and it left the trolls broke. With him sitting in Coldbeep, they had a quick shot at him. He was on the front lines. Retreating to the Thicket meant he was hiding behind the undead army he helped put in place.

“There were goblin bowmen in the Tangle, weren’t there?”

Gullet snorted. “Are we running with our tails between our legs?”

“We have no money?”

“Correct,” he growled.

“There’s an army waiting for us. We’re intimidating, yes?”

Gullet straightened as well as he could under the ton of heft, then beat his chest. His sagging green flesh wobbled, then stilled. “We are damned intimidating, sir.”

“We’ll go get those archers.”

“But we can handle this on our own. We’re more than enough for the thief.”

“We need to conserve until we can get the immortals under control. We will reach Coldbeep, burn the corpses left behind, then enlist those archers, and the King of Coin will die in a volley of arrows.”

“But that’s not the troll way!” He stomped in the fields like a small child, beating his chest. Others rallied with him.

“The troll way worked when we fought men, elves, and dwarves. When we could put them over a spit when we were done and eat them. It worked when our fallen did not get back up. It worked when goblins gnawing at us meant nothing. Now they gnaw us to the bone in seconds.” He slammed a club down and the crowd silenced. “We will again eat man and elf, but it will not be today. It may not be in our life time. But our children will know man flesh, yet they will only know it if we swallow our pride to defeat the blight in front of us.”

Frog snarled as he paced a few moments. “It is the troll way to kill Gullet for insurrection. However, every troll here is needed. Every troll here can succumb to the immortals. And when the immortals get him, maybe not today, maybe not this week, but when they do get him, I will take incredible pleasure in removing his head.”

Gullet skulked off into the crowd, understanding he no longer held honors with Frog. Then Frog said, “We continue to Coldbeep. We then retreat to the Tangle for the archers. I want the King of Coin dead by tomorrow night.”

Grimm Chronicles: Vol I and II

Christine Haggerty captivated me a few years ago with her blog. Through that we actually became friends, creating a small writer’s cult. Or circle. I mean really cult or circle all depends on what you do with the candles.

Then I was awed by her amazing YA series, which is being revamped to not be YA. I was able to beta read the book, and it took my breath away. I’m excited for her adult version.

Then she joined with another friend’s publishing company, The Crimson Edge (which you should also check out for their line of fantasy goods). She popped out a series called the Grimm Chronicles. I had read some of her twisted fairytales long ago through her blog when we were mostly playing at being authors, and when I saw her at a writer’s conference I had to pick these up.

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The first is Pretty Things. It’s the Robber Bridegroom. If you haven’t read the story, I don’t want to ruin it for you. Ultimately, there is a young woman who likes to romp around with men. She upsets her dad who more or less auctions her off to whatever guy says “I do.” Moral of the story? Never give your daughter away to a boy you just met.

In One, Two Blood on My Shoe, we have a Hansel and Gretel retelling. You all know that story. There are significantly more twists in this, though, running off script. Which I think is good.

Pretty Things gave a slow start up, but a very satisfying middle and end. The flow was exquisite, the tension kept me reading, and it definitely delivered on Christine’s general push for dark fantasy, in which there is definite loss, and the loss shows that no one is safe.

One, Two Blood on My Shoes went much further into the dark nature of the Grimm tales, as well as Christine’s own imagination. I was gripped from the very beginning in a sorrowful story and wrung like dirty sheets as I continued to digest the tale. She does a great job on organic reveals throughout.

The only thing I’m sad about is waiting for the next book in the series. Either way, you should check out Pretty Things and One, Two Blood on My Shoes as soon as you can. They’re both exquisitely told, as Christine doesn’t give anything short than a horrifying classic when her words touch paper.

Book Reviews: Vivatera

 

I was in Utah a few weeks ago and learned a lot. Also met a lot of cool people. A new habit I wanted to form was doing regular book reviews. A cool person I met was Candace J. Thomas, author of Vivatera. And that’s how we reached this review.

Vivatera

I was standing in line for coffee talking with Candace who I met maybe five minutes earlier. I asked about her book.

Basically what I got out of it was magic was a virus, a curse, and your ghost sticks around after you die because it stains your soul. There was more, but that was basically all I needed. After that I bought both her books, Vivatera and Conjectrix. It is a series, with the third book on the way. The review for Conjectrix will come later.

I went to my hotel early, due to a late night, early flight, lots of flying, and a very busy day filled with information and networking. By nine I was in bed with Vivatera. By midnight I turned out my light. Bad Paul.

I devoured the book as it kept me in the pages.

The primary reason I stuck around in the beginning was due to strong syntax and diction. The book was descriptive and a fluid read through quality of craft instead of simplicity of language.

The pacing was unique to most modern fantasy. It was a little more drawn out, though not quite Tolkien level of drawn out. Strong structure, the mysterious hooks for the plot, and interesting characters led to the pacing being enjoyable, where usually I greatly dislike slow pacing.

Our protagonist, Naomi, has a fascinating mystery behind her as she’s wanted by a prince, captured by a boy, and has magical powers that are sought after.

She is an excellent vessel for the reader as we have no clue what’s going on in the world, and up until page three or so, she was just an honest working girl trying to help her adopted family get by. As the story progresses, she learns more and more of the greater world, along with watching her become more powerful in her own right, as she fights with an internal demon.

My only two complaints consist of sometimes the PoV switches weren’t smooth and the ending had a bit of a deus ex moment, just enough that you noticed the fingers of gods playing in mortal lives.

I got past both of these based on the quality of craft and the compelling story.

I give it a 8/10.

Ultimately, buy Vivatera for the strong writing, good characters, and compelling plot, along with a fresh re-imagining of magic in a fantasy world. Along with that, I can assure you Candace is pretty awesome. So buy her books.

Exhaustion

I swayed back and forth, unsure what was truth and what was hallucination. I was too tired to discern.

Is that the proper path?

The voice whispered to me, and I squinted sallow eyes. “No.”

Why travel it?

“Because I’m lonely.” I stood back up, brushing sand from me. I huffed and continued forward, leaning so to keep my body going in the direction. Standing straight up would lead me to stopping, dropping to my knees, and passing out. Or weeping. I wasn’t sure which was the bigger need.

Lonely? Even if you are not lonely, the paths you take are stupid. If it is not against My Will, it is simply against better judgment!

A smirk revealed brown teeth. They were not brown from decay, but with my tongue I could feel all the grit building up. I took a sip of water and spat to wash out my mouth. “I will always choose the same option. I will choose it every fucking time. I thank You for all You forced down my throat, but if you do not want me to defy common sense, remove my heart. Remove my soul. Put them aside and consume me with Your Will. Otherwise, just let me make my damned mistakes.”

The village was real. It existed. A small village with a couple dozen families, a few hundred people, and I knew them all by name, and they knew me, and we hated each other. We despised each other. But I couldn’t be happier, because there was a woman who was an exception.

You will be crushed.

“I will be alive.” The people looked at me as if I were mad, and perhaps madness consumed me, but I stood when I finished weeping, the tears cutting a clean trail through my dirty face, and I hobbled towards her hut. My knees ached and my ankles felt as if they would give out. But they kept together, and I stumbled forward until I rapped three times on the door.

The voice of angels replied, “Coming. One moment.”

She opened the door and saw me, and she teared up and brought her hands to her mouth. I laughed, my eyes crescents from bulging cheeks. She remembered, and she looked happy to see me. Until the door shut and I dropped to the floor.

“Please,” I begged, “Let me in. I’m a simple man, and I look only for company.”

Liar.

“I am sorry for my cruelty. You are a good person. I wish to be here for you.”

Deceiver. This brings only pain.

“I can put it aside. I can just be a friend.”

There are not enough cows and goats in all G’desh to create the heaping pile of shit you are spewing, not in five centuries.

He was right. I didn’t care. The door opened, and that was all that mattered to me.