While the premise was intriguing, I watched a few episodes of the anime before reading the manga and wasn't impressed. However, I ended up liking the...moreWhile the premise was intriguing, I watched a few episodes of the anime before reading the manga and wasn't impressed. However, I ended up liking the manga a whole lot more, even though the anime is in synch with it beat for beat. Probably because I didn't have to hear all the annoying anime voice acting. (less)
Kind of surprised, actually. Dragon Age: Origins was my first exposure to BioWare, and I'd heard a lot of hype about how great the writing and storyte...moreKind of surprised, actually. Dragon Age: Origins was my first exposure to BioWare, and I'd heard a lot of hype about how great the writing and storytelling were. DA:O definitely delivered. Although the setting was pretty generic for epic fantasy, the game populated that world with compelling characters and a number of interesting plots with no pat endings. And though generic, the setting was extremely detailed and thought out, the game only hinting at the depths that could be explored in future installments.
I also appreciated this was a fantasy epic without clearly defined lines of good and evil, but many shades of grey. (Who are the real villains? The practically mindless darkspawn, who can't really help their nature, or everyone who uses the chaos they sow as an opportunity for personal gain instead of uniting in the face of the common threat?) Although many of the better fantasy novels of the last few decades have gone a similar route (Song of Ice and Fire, a clear influence on DA:O, comes to mind), it was refreshing to see it in a Tolkienesque computer fantasy RPG.
Unfortunately, it seems being the lead writer for an extremely well-written game doesn't automatically make one a great novelist. Which is not to say The Stolen Throne is bad. Just fairly typical for the genre. Ofttimes the narrative takes sharp turns for the sake of exploring the setting, and sometimes the narrative suffers as a result. I found the dialogue the most disappointing. In the game, the dialogue was usually emotive, deep, natural and very witty. In contrast, the dialogue in Stolen Throne is rather flat.
I recognize this is Gaider's first novel, and it was written while he was writing an awesome game. Still looking forward to the second DA novel, The Calling.
If you're a fan of Dragon Age, it might be worth your time to read this (it's a quick read) to help fill in some background detail on King Cailan and Loghain. (less)
This, the second book in Sawyer's WWW Trilogy, is another exception to the rule of trilogies. It's actually a better read than Wake, the previous volu...moreThis, the second book in Sawyer's WWW Trilogy, is another exception to the rule of trilogies. It's actually a better read than Wake, the previous volume.
The plot focuses on Caitlin Decter and her relationship with Webmind, an emergent artificial intelligence spawned from the World Wide Web. Both these characters are extremely well-developed, although Sawyer seems to have given up trying to write a teenage girl and Caitlin talks more like a grad student. Most of the minor characters from Wake get some attention as well. Even the new characters, consisting primarily of a group of US government officials who discover Webmind, and Caitlin's new love interest, are detailed well. Although recently, developing romances in Sawyer's books seem to follow a formula: a meet-cute, a few chapters where our lovebirds debate science and philosophy, a misunderstanding that is quickly cleared up and laughed over, and blissful committed monogamy. The sideplot with the ASL-speaking chimp/bonobo is still here, though its connection to the main plot hasn't been revealed yet.
The plot really picks up in this one, and Sawyer, as usual brings a number of esoteric concepts down to earth. The concept of creating a benevolent all-powerful AI as a character is still very intriguing.(less)