Tag Archive | "dark-fantasy"

Billzilla

Talking About the Dead (and Undead) with James Lowder

Posted on July 18, 2011 by

James Lowder has been active as a writer and editor sine the 1980s, most famous perhaps for authoring the novel Knight of the Black Rose for TSR, and for editing the All Flesh Must Be Eaten fiction anthologies Book of All Flesh, Book of More Flesh and Book of Final Flesh. More recently, he edited the essay collection Family Games: The 100 Best, and fiction anthologies Curse of the Full Moon and The Best of All Flesh.

I chatted recently with Jim via email about some of his most recently completed projects: Triumph of The Walking Dead – a collection of essays on the longrunning comics series and AMC network’s successful TV series – and Silent Knife and Strangeness in the Proportion, two novels from White Wolf publishing currently being serialized on the White Wolf web site and awaiting print publication.

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Labyrinth Lord RPG Review

Posted on July 14, 2011 by

I was asked at Odyssey Con, several months back now, if I would write a review on Labyrinth Lord after I spoke of it while helping with a panel. It has taken me far too long to write this, as I do enjoy the game a great deal. It has simple and quick character generation. It has endless ways in which to perish with little-to-no escape. It has what many games have lost over time.. simplicity.

Far back in the ancient days of gaming, gamers hewed dice from stone, wood, or chit and the games were far more bare and stripped down. They did not rely upon ponderous tomes of rules that detailed out every contingency. The rules left much of this up to the individual game master to work out. When new product would arrive into the waiting hands of players and dungeon masters, they would pour through these new found nuggets of lore.

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Flames

A Feast for Crows Fiction Review

Posted on June 29, 2011 by

It has been years since I read the first three novels of this series, and since the series came out on HBO…I decided to re-read them and this was the first time I actually read the fourth book. One of the hardest things that Martin has been able to do was write from so many different perspectives. I think people underestimate how difficult
that can be. So when you pick up this book you are ready to see what has happened after the craziness of the ending of Storm of Swords.

Wow, if you are someone that needs continuity, you are in trouble here. Not only do you not get the characters you are normally used to reading, but you get characters you have never even heard of before. Mainly due to the fact that they are called “The Prophet” or “The Princess in the Tower”.

Right off that bat you don’t even who these people are. This wasn’t a horrible thing, it just was confusing to all of a sudden get perspectives that you have not gotten at all in the first three novels.

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Monica Valentinelli

The Golden Key Fiction Review

Posted on June 28, 2011 by

The Golden Key is a dark fantasy epic romance that was written as a three-way collaboration between Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson and Kate Elliot. The book, which clocks in at eight hundred and eighty-nine pages, spans hundreds of years in a duchy called “Tira Virte.” The sequel, dubbed The Diviner, is due out this August.

I called The Golden Key an epic romance, but I feel that might be a little misleading. So, before I go any further, let me explain why I put it into that category. At the heart of this novel, is the tortured relationship between two characters: Sario Grijalva and the cousin he adores, Saavedra. He loves her; she does not love him. Well, at least not in that way. She does love and care for him, but her heart belongs to someone else. The passion Saavedra feels for (and shares with) Alejandro becomes the catalyst for Sario’s demise. In many ways, Sario has tortured himself for a love that may (or may not) never be consummated.

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Flames

Behind Plague of Shadows, a Pathfinder Novel

Posted on June 27, 2011 by

FlamesRising.com is pleased to present a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of the Pathfinder novel Plague of Shadows. This novel, which was written by Howard Andrew Jones, is about a race against time set against a backdrop of treachery, magic and nightmares. Jones dives into the process of writing a tie-in novel with both feet. In his own words, you can read how this talented author came to be a part of the popular Pathfinder setting.

Round about the time James Sutter was given the greenlight to start up the new Pathfinder line word got around that I’d signed a two book contract with St. Martin’s Thomas Dunne Books for some Arabian fantasy swashbucklers. The first one, The Desert of Souls, was on its way through editorial when James contacted me to see if he could look at some writing samples. He must have liked what he saw, for he then asked me to shoot some proposals his way.

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Megan

The Lost City RPG Review

Posted on June 23, 2011 by

Throughout history, the concept of the ‘lost city’ has always fascinated… likewise generations of gamers have been drawn to explore by legend and rumour, right back to the Basic Dungeons and Dragons module B4: Lost City! Whether it’s fame and fortune, mere survival, or some higher purpose, mention lost cities and adventurers will come in droves. This lost city is no different, and there are wonders to discover for those brave enough and skilful enough to explore.

The lost city of Kadralhu has much to offer the adventurer and much also to offer the gaming group, for it is presented as a ‘sandbox’ adventure, a setting with much to do rather than a single plotline to figure out. Whatever the characters’ motivation for going there, wherever they venture once they arrive, there are things going on, things to discover, enemies to vanquish, allies to be made and secrets to learn.

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Billzilla

The Gaki and Other Hungry Spirits Review

Posted on June 20, 2011 by

Being an aficionado of folklore, I was intrigued by the title of this collection, The Gaki and Other Hungry Spirits, which refers to “hungry ghosts” of Japanese legend. While the stories themselves are decidedly Western in nature, they are no less interesting. A number of the tales do feature hungry spirits, so points to Mr. Rainey for holding to his theme.

This collection starts off with the title story, “The Gaki” in which we have a tale of a man searching for something to fill his life. He finds intrigue at a clandestine gathering of people by the Copper River, and what follows will lead him down a path he never knew existed. Ultimately, he finds what he seeks, but it isn’t what he expected, and it requires a high level of devotion from him in exchange.

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Scenes from the Second Storey Review

Posted on May 23, 2011 by

Each story in this anthology was based on a particular song by the band God’s Machine, and in particular the album Scenes from the Second Storey. Being utterly unfamiliar with either I was at a loss to see how each work coincided with it’s assigned song. I simply read each story as it was presented.

My interest was heightened when I discovered that the writers were either from Australia, or near that region. As I read I picked up subtle differences between ‘American’ writing and that of their homeland, I am sure this affected my expectations within each tale and my eventual opinion. I delighted in this look at another part of the world and how they write and construct a story. Several of these authors interested me enough that I wrote their names down for my next visit to a bookstore; though it appears that most do short stories I hope to find their other works.

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Monica Valentinelli

Dragon Age 2 (PS3) Review

Posted on April 27, 2011 by

Before I get into my review of Dragon Age 2, I’d like to put my thoughts into context for you. I’m a fan of the games that BioWare puts out and I enjoy the mechanics. Primarily, I play RPG style video games to relax and to shut my brain off. It’s increasing harder for me to watch movies, for example, and do nothing else. Playing games like Dragon Age: Origins allows me to turn off the brain-neuron connection switch and have fun.

Mind you, I am a min/maxer… There. My secret is out. Phew!

Anyway, when I get into a video game, I’m looking at it as a casual experience with the ability to cheat modify my characters in a way that gives me better flexibility and playing style. Story is important to me, but for some games *coughs Final Fantasy XII* I get confused if there’s no recap or summary after the side quests portion.

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Monica Valentinelli

Review of Shadowheart by Tad Williams

Posted on April 15, 2011 by

There are books, and then there are books. Shadowheart, the fourth and final volume of the Shadowmarch series by Tad Williams, is one such tome. You may recall my review of Shadowplay, my review of Shadowrise and our publication of the Shadowrise preview. It seems like only yesterday when I started reading this series about feuding families, ancient legends, bizarre cultures, extraordinary creatures and colorful characters. Shadowheart brings it all to a close in an unusual way.

Why unusual? Well, first and foremost, the series was originally supposed to be three books — not four. After reading Shadowheart, I can see why Williams needed a whole ‘nother 722 pages to explore this story. Or should I say…stories?

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Flames

Mage Noir Debuts at RPGNow.com

Posted on March 16, 2011 by

Mage Noir | White Wolf PublishingThe latest supplement for Mage: the Awakening debuted today at RPGNow.com. Dubbed Mage Noir, this new World of Darkness supplement offers a fresh historical feel. Set in the 1940s, the book covers a mage’s perspective in America. Writers include Matt McFarland and Filamena Young.

Mage Noir is an eighty page PDF, and is available at RPGNow.com for a retail price of $8.99.

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Matt-M-McElroy

Dragon Age: The Calling Novel Review

Posted on March 14, 2011 by

When I first read Dragon Age: The Calling, I hadn’t played any of the Dragon Age video games (although I did start playing Dragon Age: Origins for my PS3). My experiences with the Dragon Age setting was from playing a few sessions of the Dragon Age RPG that is published by Green Ronin and reading a few of the IDW Comics. The setting was what hooked me enough to pick up this novel and dive into the world.

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Monica Valentinelli

Dragon Age: Redemption Trailer for New Web Series

Posted on March 1, 2011 by

For those of you who have played Dragon Age, you’re probably hungry for more. I just finished Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Awakenings and am anxiously awaiting Dragon Age 2. In addition to the novels and the Dragon Age RPG, a new web series will be debuting this summer starring Felicia Day. According to Doug Jones, (Yes, people. This is the guy who played Abe Sapien from Hellboy among other roles…) he said: “In Dragon Age: Redemption, Felicia Day stars as Tallis, an Elven assassin hired by the Qunari to capture a rogue mage intent on wreaking havoc throughout the world.”

To read more about this upcoming web series, be sure to visit Felicia Day’s blog where she links to several interviews, including one with Jimmy Fallon. Check out the trailer below!

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alanajoli

Deader Still Book Review

Posted on January 24, 2011 by

Anton Strout brings us more madcap mayhem in book two of the Jane chronicles (otherwise known as the Simon Canderous series, but his girlfriend, the ex-evil cultist Jane, totally steals the show). Now a member of the Department of Extraordinary Affairs after leaving her cultist ways behind, Jane is working in the Black Stacks (the scariest library in urban fantasy) and discovering that she has a talent for technomancy. In fact, she’s so good with magic and machines, she rescues her boyfriend Simon from an attempt on his life in his Oubliette test over his cell phone. Her new gig working for the ambiguously moralled Thaddeus Wesker, Director of Greater and Lesser Arcana at the DEA is going swimmingly — except for the tension it creates between her and Simon, who doesn’t like her boss.

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Flames

Legends of Anglerre RPG Review

Posted on January 14, 2011 by

The Legends of Anglerre RPG (LoA) by Sarah Newton and Chris Birch takes the Starblazer Adventures iteration of the FATE 3.0 system and adapts it for the fantasy genre. This game strives to cover multiple subgenres in the fantasy milieu, with the focus on the Moorcockian swords and sorcery setting of Anglerre, and the high fantasy Hither Kingdoms. The source material for this game is drawn from a series of British comics that appeared in the Starblazer Adventures comic books. References are made to various characters and events from the comics and can at times leave the reader a bit in the dark.

The physical book itself is an impressive tome at just over 380 pages. The cover is full color and depicts three adventurers posing dramatically in a ruined building. The interior of the book is predominantly black and white with the sidebars offset in parchment colored boxed. The artwork is predominantly drawn from the LoA comics.

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Megan

The Andwan Legacy RPG Review

Posted on January 5, 2011 by

Beware of beautiful ladies approaching you in inns… or at least, expect spectacular adventure to follow! This lady seeks help in retrieving her inheritance, secured by her late husband in a dungeon under their house, the secrets of which he took to his grave. Needless to say, all is not precisely what it seems, and characters who take up this challenge will have to contend with two rival gangs of thieves as well as the perils of the dungeon itself.

The adventure provides characters with challenges both mental and physical, as before dealing with the contents of the dungeon they need to figure out how to get in! Interaction with various people, most of whom are not quite what they claim to be, provides scope for role-playing as well.

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Flames

Sirenia Digest 58-59 Review

Posted on December 16, 2010 by

Sirenia Digest is a monthly subscription PDF-zine released by author Caitlín R. Kiernan. The stories are solidly weird fiction, with healthy infusions of erotica and Lovecraftian horror. (The adult-only warning on the website stems from both the themes of the works and their illustrations.)

I’ve been a subscriber for two months, now. My first readings were hurried, so I took advantage of the holiday downtime over Thanksgiving break to do a second reading of two recent Sirenia Digest issues (#58 and #59), to give each story my full, undivided attention. This time, I read them alone in a silent, darkened room in the wee hours of the night, with a giant picture window behind me, and silhouettes of writhing tree branches splayed across the floor.

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Flames

Kate Bernheimer’s introduction to My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

Posted on December 13, 2010 by

The fairy tale lives again in these forty new stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary fiction.

Neil Gaiman, Michael Cunningham, Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, Lydia Millet, and more than thirty other extraordinary writers celebrate fairy tales in this thrilling volume-the ultimate literary costume party.

Spinning houses and talking birds. Whispered secrets and borrowed hope. Here are new stories sewn from old skins, gathered from around the world by visionary editor Kate Bernheimer and inspired by everything from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and “The Little Match Girl” to Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and “Cinderella” to the Brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel” and “Rumpelstiltskin” to fairy tales by Goethe and Calvino. Fairy tales are our oldest literary tradition, and yet they chart the imaginative frontiers of the twenty-first century as powerfully as they evoke our earliest encounters with literature. This exhilarating collection restores their place in the literary canon.

Flames Rising is pleased to present the introduction to this new collection by Kate Bernheimer.

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Flames

The Crown of the Blood Review

Posted on December 1, 2010 by

Ullsaard has conquered the known world. All have fallen before his armies.

Now it is time to take the long journey home, back to the revered heart of the great Empire he had helped create for his distant masters. But when he returns to the capital, life there is so very different from what he had believed. Could it be that everything he has fought for, has conquered and killed for, has been a lie?

I’ve long been a reader of Gav’s work and consider the novels he has written for Black Library Publishing to be among the best works they have put out to date. I was excited to see that Gav had stepped out of the Games Workshop intellectual property to create something all his own. The folks at Angry Robot were nice enough to send me a copy of The Crown of the Blood several weeks ago and I happily stuck in.

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Flames

Scott Browne tells us about Fated

Posted on November 29, 2010 by

Our design essay series continues with Scott Browne telling us about the process of writing the novel, Fated.

Fated is a dark, irreverent comedy about fate, destiny, and the consequences of getting involved with humans.

The inspiration for Fated was more of a series of connected ideas than an inspiration: a journal entry in 2003 about a character who can see the future because he’s Fate; a scene written in a shopping mall in 2004 from the point-of-view of the same conceptual character; and the splitting of the often married concepts of fate and destiny into two separate characters.

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