Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Dead Angels for review purposes.
Dead Angel's is Gunnar Roxen's second work in the Agency Case Files series of books,...moreDisclaimer: I was given a copy of Dead Angels for review purposes.
Dead Angel's is Gunnar Roxen's second work in the Agency Case Files series of books, following on from The Wyld Hunt. This is set before the first book and is a novella rather than a full novel, and is based upon Lovelace who is also featured in the first book, exploring a case he was involved in before joining the Agency and partnering with Aries.
Like the Wyld Hunt, this is a fast paced investigation novel. A body is found washed up in Victory Docks in this futuristic London. A girl, dressed as an angel. Who is she? How did she end up here? Who is responsible? The story is well told, fleshing out Lovelace a lot more in his own right as it goes. Lovelace is a Pure, a human subspecies, enhanced with a toughened muscle bound figure, decorated with tattoos which tell his life story to those of the same religion. Because of this, and his shark-like teeth and all black eyes, he is regarded with suspicion by other humans, but he is also shunned by those of his own race for his work with the police. Alongside the plot of the investigation, this novella explores the divided loyalties of Lovelace as well as the impact of his faith upon his outlook and work, adding a further layer of depth to the setting beyond that laid down in the first book. There are some well written tender and delicate moments as well in the book, as well as the high powered action and the dark griminess of the setting, providing relief and adding roundedness.
It is a quick and highly enjoyable read, and it is satisfying seeing the setting and characters develop in depth. This is a series I will continue reading.
(Disclaimer: I was given a complementary copy of the kindle edition for review purposes.)
As a long time roleplayer (of the Dungeons & Dragons vari...more(Disclaimer: I was given a complementary copy of the kindle edition for review purposes.)
As a long time roleplayer (of the Dungeons & Dragons variety rather than computer gaming) I was brought up with the understanding that all good quests begin with a group of adventurers being approached by a stranger in a pub with the offer of a reward in return for their service. The Alchemist's Apprentice begins in a similar fashion with William Pilling coming upon Belinda Stobbard, wife of the late Sir Francis Stobbard, who is in 'The Throttled Pig' seeking help. In exchange for coin would he drive a cart and escort her on a journey north? As with all good quests, nothing is quite as it seems, and complications are a plenty. As you might have worked out from the names, this is not set in your traditional quasi-medieval setting for fantasy quests; instead it is set in England during the civil war.It is the story of the coming together of a disparate bunch of characters on a journey to discover the fate of a casualty in the strife, exploring on the way their different motives and beliefs.
The Alchemist's Revenge is a highly enjoyable romp of a book. It was a quick read, and, to use the oft used cliche but here appropriate, 'un-put-downable'. The story was fun in its own right, if not overly complex or literary, but the real hero of the piece is without a doubt the setting which I found to be rich in shade and detail. Alongside the basic twists and turns of the plot, you have the additional tension introduced by the various layers of factions and faiths of that time. There are the Royalists and Parliamentarians, the political factions, and the religious divide of Catholic and Protestant. Each of these have their extremists too, driven by their beliefs to desperate measures. Then you have the likes of The Diggers, people seeking a new way of life, tired by the strife that their world has become stuck in. Not all are driven by doctrine and philosophy though, as always there are those whose motivation is greed and wealth. What a wonderful backdrop this setting provides! I can't help but wonder why more have not exploited it.
This rich context is not enough to satisfy Cakebread, however. Applying a dash of the fantastical he whips up an alternative take on real life. No longer are the combatants armed with merely swords and blackpowder weapons, but the Royalists call upon the power of their philosophers' stones to summon elementals and other magick, and the Parliamentarians harness the discoveries of science and engineering to devise clockwork automata and warmachines. With these dreadful weapons unleashed against each other the country stands reeling from the bloodshed and in an uneasy state of stalemate. There is so much to intrigue and spark the imagination and plenty hinted at and laid down for future volumes of 'Companie of Relutant Heroes' series to explore. I for one will look forward to these works as I can't help but feel this book only scratches the surface of Peter Cakebread's creation.
Of course, if like me you are a keen roleplayer, you will be pleased to discover at the back of the book that it is based upon another work by Peter Cakebread along with Ken Walton, the roleplaying game 'Clockwork and Chivalry' (C&C). I wish I had read the book before first playing the game as it brilliantly brings it to life. Having read the book I am now better able to grock the setting and what it is capable of. I would recommend it to any players of C&C. Equally, if you can't wait for the next book, grab some dice and a copy of C&C and make up your own tales in this wonderfully original world.
I've awarded this 4 out of 5 stars. If I could I'd have given it 4.5. In the copy I was sent there were a few little typos, and the basic plot is of itself not highly original nor demanding, but the delightful setting by far compensates for this. Wonderful!(less)
Just realised that I had failed to add this classic to my Goodreads.com bookshelf. It is without doubt my favourite rpg. Full stop (or for my American...moreJust realised that I had failed to add this classic to my Goodreads.com bookshelf. It is without doubt my favourite rpg. Full stop (or for my American friends, 'Period').
At its heart is a simple rpg system. Roll a d20, aim to roll under or equal to a target number (your skill etc.). If you manage this you succeed. If you roll equal to your score, that is a success. If the roll is opposed (eg. in situations where two characters are competing against each other) the higher succeeding roll wins (unless one is a critical, ie. exactly equal to the target number) as this is a higher rated success.
What makes this game so special, however, is the way it marries the system to the genre the game is set in: Arthurian legend (primarily Marlory's take on it). Its introduction of Character Traits and Passions brings personality to the fore and reinforces and encourages playing in a style that accords with the source material. Love, honour, glory and even fits of madness are the heart of the game, rather than combat or spell lists.
The Fifth edition is more streamlined than the somewhat bloated fourth edition, and along with the Great Pendragon Campaign provides in my humble opinion, a perfect example of great game design. (less)
This is a brilliant scf-fate rpg. Haven't the time to do a full review just now, but had to sing its praise. A simple implementation of the FATE syste...moreThis is a brilliant scf-fate rpg. Haven't the time to do a full review just now, but had to sing its praise. A simple implementation of the FATE system, it does what it sets out to do efficiently and effectively. This is one game I intend to use lots. I think in FATE I have finally found my rpg alongside Pendragon(less)
For those who don't know what an rpg is, its a game of collaborative story telling. One player comes up with the story and describes what is happening (often called the Games Master or GM for short). The other players design characters who will feature as the heroes in that setting. They get to describe what their characters do in response to the scene that the GM sets. The GM then, using his imagination and the rules in the game, determines what the outcomes are, and so it goes.
This particular rpg is based upon the urban fantasy series of novels called The Dresden Files - modern pulp if you like with a cast of vampires, werewoves and other fantasy tropes set in modern times. The books are a fun read, if not overly demanding on the little grey brain cells, but as a gamer, to me they instantly called out to be used as an rpg setting - hence this gem!
FATE is the rpg system used behind this book. At its heart it is a very simple game, but with layers of complexity that can be added to it, building up the crunch level as desired. Its a large book, not so much because of the complexity of the game, but because it is bursting with full-colour pictures and written illustrations of how the rules work. In places it seems a little disorganised, but this is inevitable with such a large work. Personally I love it. It's use of FATE's Aspects - simple phrases used to describe the character - really lends itself to this particular genre.
I suspect I'll not use it for playing within the world of the Dresden Files all that much - to be honest vampires and werewolves aren't particularly my thing - but will certainly adapt it for use in other urban fantasy settings. Already I have used it to run 'Day After Ragnorak' games, and have campaigns based on 'War of the Flowers' and the Fables series in mind.
Being a Fen boy myself (the area of land around Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire in the UK that used to be boggy marshland before draining with islands...moreBeing a Fen boy myself (the area of land around Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire in the UK that used to be boggy marshland before draining with islands scattered around) the name of Hereward the Wake has always been in the background somewhere; the Saxon rebel that held back William the Conqueror, resisting his taking of that area post 1066. Spurred on my a Pendragon rpg campaign I'm putting together based in the Fens (replacing King William with King Arthur, anachronistic, but in the fine tradition of mixing things up in Arthurian legend) I picked up a cheap copy of this short book on Amazon, and have been dipping into it occasionally for inspiration and guidance.
Yesterday I finally sat down and read it from cover to cover as a piece of literature rather than as a textbook. What a fantastic story! Move over Robin Hood, Hereward the Wake is the real hero in these lands with the original band of bandits. Cast from his home, returning to find it taken, he wreaks revenge on the 'Frenchmen' (Normans) in a courageous manner, holding back the might of William as well as completing deeds of great daring in Ireland and Flanders. This contains it all; love, courage, conflict, tragedy and a larger than life hero. The dramatic climax is Hereward's defence of the marsh surrounded Ely from William where he repels him twice before he is betrayed and beaten, complete with disguised visitations upon the Normans (again I wonder who the real Robin Hood is...) For those who have read Malory's Mort D'Arthur, the style will be familiar, and worthy of reading alongside the feats of these other heroes of Britain, the Knights of the Round Table. Why he is not the legend that these other characters are is a mystery to me.
The body of Trevor Bevis' book is a translation of the 'De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis' (The Exploits of Hereward the Saxon) as written by 12th Century monastry scholars, preceded by his own notes on Hereward and closed with a chapter on Conflict in the Isle of Ely.
The version I read is the 8th reprint of the 1982 edition. I see that it has been updated since then. Worth picking up a copy if you are interested in the history and legend of our land. I've awarded it 4 stars rather than 5 simply because the I think the notes around the central story could be better introduced so that the work becomes a more unified rather than a set of notes with De Gestis included.
Whilst I may not get around to listing all my roleplaying books here on Goodreads, this one had to be included. This is quite simply the best rpg supp...moreWhilst I may not get around to listing all my roleplaying books here on Goodreads, this one had to be included. This is quite simply the best rpg supplement I've ever come across. Designed for the Pendragon rpg, it is an 80 year epic campaign running from the time of Uther, through the rise of Arthur and his Kingdom through to his Fall and the end of this magical age. A great read, and even better to run and play. In case you've not got the hint, I'm a big fan!(less)