27 February 2010

Read the first three chapters of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

No comments:
This book has sprung up very recently, and has had massively positive reviews already. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin is the first novel in The Inheritance Trilogy, and you can read the first three chapters of the novel online for free:

Chapter 2 [link]
Chapter 3 [link]

If I didn't have a backlog of books to get through already, I'd do my best to get a copy of this to review. I suppose I'll just have to wait. Jemisin's writing style looks different to anything else I've read before, so I'm going to have a good read through of these chapter and report back with my thoughts. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is published by Orbit Books and is available now on Amazon UK.

N.K. Jemisin official site: [link]

26 February 2010

Just received: Feast of Souls by Celia Friedman

No comments:
I just came home from a quick study session at University today to find this in my postbox: Feast of Souls by Celia Friedman, courtesy of Little Brown Book Group [link] and Orbit Books [link]. It's the first book of her Magister Trilogy, which itself follows on from the Coldfire trilogy. I love the cover art for this novel, and it's had some fantastic praise. I'm really looking forward to reading it!

Against a backdrop of glittering kingdoms and dark prophecies, a rogue magister and a dying prince fight for their lives.

Magisters from across the known world are gathering for an unusual meeting. King Aurelius has summoned them to heal his dying son, who has fallen victim to an incurable wasting disease. The King has demanded an explanation and a cure, yet appearances are deceptive. It’s clear to the initiated that a magister is responsible - so the order remains quiet and organises a manhunt to silence the culprit.

But while men are distracted, strangeness is stirring in the world. An ancient evil is rising in the north, but the old warnings are long forgotten. Only those carrying the Protector bloodline feel fear and their numbers are few. So the powerful will soon find themselves playing a new and more dangerous game.

A big, mega-huge thank you to Orbit and Little Brown Book Group for the book. Now I better get cracking!

Celia Friedman's official site: [link]

Cover art! Stormlord Rising by Glenda Larke (art by Vincent Chong)

No comments:
This just came in from artist Vincent Chong's blog [link]. He's just finished the cover art for Stormlord Rising, the second installment in a trilogy by Glenda Larke, author of The Last Stormlord. Vincent is also working on the covert art for the final part of the trilogy.

I haven't really seen much of Larke's stuff, but based on the cover art I might give it a shot (I know you shouldn't judge a book, blah blah blah). I like the sense of desolation and desperation that dominates the look, so (hopefully) expect a review of The Last Stormlord here soon.

Stormlord Rising is published by HarperCollins Australia [link] and is available for pre-order.

24 February 2010

Review - Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Gollancz)

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Published by Gollancz
Paperback - 336 pages
Published June 2009
Personal copy of book

Well, here we are. After the slew of success given to Twilight, along comes another adaptation in the genre of 'paranormal romance' (I shudder at the prospect, this is not a genre that I enjoy, mainly because they seem to have exploded into the scene following the success of Twilight). The novels by Charlaine Harris have been adapted into the now popular True Blood series made by HBO. I decided to give the novels a go, hoping against hope that amidst the barrage of sex that has made the TV series so popular there was a good story to be told. This is what I found (be warned, there are spoilers in this review):

Dead Until Dark is the first novel of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie, a waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana (near New Orleans, made popular among vampire fans with the Anne Rice books) who is also a psychic. A newcomer to the town, Bill, reveals that he is a vampire and the two of them begin a passionate relationship, much to the suppressed suspicion amongst the townsfolk. Though he tries to make it otherwise, Sookie is quickly pulled into his world, and his arrival coincides with a string of grisly murders in the town. Now Sookie is in danger of losing everyone she cares for, and her own life may be at risk.

I really liked the initial premise of this novel. The novel is written in the first person, something I was uncomfortable with at first but soon got into. Having Sookie as a telepath is a nice touch and adds a new element to the story. This is enhanced in that her power isn't straight mind reading; occasionally she just gets emotions or flashes of mental energy, so it's up to her to interpret what it is she sensed. Another great addition to the story is that the existence of vampires is not a secret - they've 'come out of the coffin' as she puts it, and it adds a whole new depth to the vampires in terms of power and social interactions.

Despite having a solid premise, however, Dead Until Dawn fails to deliver. The overt sexuality of the vampires in this novel is one that I feel is much overused because it pulls in the readers. The relationship between Bill and Sookie can be easily compared to Buffy and Angel or Edward and Bella and seems very formulaic. Vampire lusts after human girl because there's something different about her, human girl falls in love with vampire, vampire becomes overly protective of human girl but must still be cruel in part because, hey, he's a vampire. Though their relationship doesn't match the flatness of the protagonists of Twilight, there's a certain lack of depth that seems to have been glossed over with the sexual content.

The pace of the plot, while a little slow at times, put me in mind of a good murder mystery/whodunnit novel, where there are a number of factors that point to an easy conclusion, but one that feels too easy and convenient. The problem with this is that, when the mystery is finally solved you feel no sense of triumph at having been able to figure it out since there was no indication whatsoever that the guilty party is anyone other than what you would be led to expect. Nor is there a sense of shock or joy that you've been thrown a red herring in a 'twist' ending. All that is there is confusion and a little bit of annoyance, since there is nothing in the story prior to the revealing of the murderer's identity that would  indicate such.

I think that the story itself would have worked much better without the vampires and without the sexual content (at least to such a degree) and it would have made a perfectly fine thriller - so long as the ending was justified. The plot and the vampire myth here don't seem to belong together, and the novel seems to include gimmicks (the inclusion of a vampiric Elvis Presley and - surprise surprise - a shapeshifter who doesn't much like vampires) to attempt to link the two together.

In conclusion, Dead Until Dawn could have worked if it had ditched the vampire angle and became a solid thriller. As it is, it doesn't seem to work well and looks to be preying on the success of the paranormal romance genre. If this kind of fiction floats your boat then go for it. Otherwise, definitely give it a miss (just watch the show on TV, at least that way it's shorter).

21 February 2010

Dragon Age Origins [video game review]

No comments:
Whoo! Video game review number 1! I figured I'd start out by reviewing the hottest fantasy game of 2009 (and probably the most traditional of console fantasy video games out at the moment). I'm going to take a different approach than most with this review. With these video games, instead of looking at the gameplay, graphics, control system etc. (there are plenty of review sites that do just that) I'll instead focus on the fantastic elements of the game e.g. the story, the characters, the atmosphere.

Dragon Age Origins is a traditional fantasy RPG, where you create a character (with options of race, class and social status as well as fully customizable facial features) and gain experience (EXP) through quests and side missions, gaining new spells, weapons, and party companions in the process. The story behind Dragon Age follows the legacy of the Grey Wardens, a kind of holy Templar sect of knights who had once rid the land of the dreaded evil known as the Darkspawn. After many years of peace and prosperity, the land is once again under threat from the Darkspawn. You are the newest recruit into the Grey Wardens, and it is you and your companions who must bear the burden of ridding the world of this evil.

I played Dragon Age as a human mage (usually my traditional favourite), a Dwarf common warrior, and an Elven city rogue. The origin stories (i.e. the first chapter of the game) differ considerably between the three, but they all wind up at the same missions later on. My first play through as the human mage seemed a bit stale for me. I found combat to be very clunky and cumbersome, and the vast majority of my time was spent in conversation with people who had no valuable information to give me in the first place. Given that the makers of Dragon Age are the same team behind Mass Effect, I assumed that my actions in these conversations would result in dramatically different consequences depending on how I reacted to given statements. This didn't seem to happen, and I became bored very quickly.

However, I persevered and I played it again as the dwarf and the elf, and to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The level of customization is fantastic. Throughout my play test (and it was only a very small proportion compared to what the game had to offer) I was able to completely alter my range of weapons and armour (and those of my party members, who were interchangable too) at least twice. Add to that as well my selection of skills and talents (for my elven rogue I opted for him to be able to be an expert lock picker, very cunning and damn handy with two weapons).

Another great asset to the game is the personality of the characters that you play, and their relationships with the other members of the party and the rest of the world. For example, my dwarf warrior, Morgan, was very protective of his heritage and his home, but would do the necessary dirty work in order to get what he wanted. He did have a sense of honour about him, though. My elven rogue, Alitharion, however was a horrible person who'd kill you as soon as look at you. I had him steal from anyone he could, threaten and intimidate everyone and generally insult whenever the opportunity arose. That level of individuality is what drew me into the game, so much so that it was difficult to give it back to the friend who had lent it to me (it'll be mine again. Oh yes, it will be mine).

If this game is as awesome and open to player customization, then why didn't I enjoy it first of all? I think the reason why I became so bored of it initially was because I wasn't open to the prospect of this individuality myself. In almost every RPG I play, I play a human mage who specialises in offensive magic. This meant I played a very static game that conformed to what I thought should be done in a normal RPG. I soon found out, though, that this wasn't a normal RPG, but one where the player told the story. Alright, the grand plot will stay relatively unchanged, but the smaller things will be so wildly different depending on how you play the game. You could be the glorious hero whom everyone loves, or the single minded, selfish tyrant who saves the day but at a terrible cost.

In short, Dragon Age Origins is a fantastic RPG, made more so by the level of depth and customization that allows players to fully immerse themselves into its world. Be sure not to go into it with a rigid outlook on what you normally expect from this genre, because what you put it is ultimately what you will get. If you like fantasy, and you like video games, then Dragon Age must be played.

Dragon Age origins is created by Bioware and distributed by EA. It is available to buy on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Official site [link]
Buy for PC on Amazon UK [link]
Buy for Playstation 3 on Amazon UK [link]
Buy for Xbox 360 on Amazon UK [link]

Trailer - Solomon Kane

No comments:
I saw this trailer in the cinema when I went to see The Wolfman. The poster had been up for a week or two beforehand, and it put me in mind of a much grittier Van Helsing.

Solomon Kane follows a warrior (Kane, played by James Purefoy - Rome TV series) who decided to follow a path of peace when he realises that his soul is damned for hell. In order to save the lived of others, however, he must start killing again, damning himself even further. The man who's life he saved (played by Pete Postlethwaite - The Omen, The Lost World: Jurassic Park) claims he can put Kane on the path to heaven once again, so long as his daughter is saved after being kidnapped. Kane then embarks on a path of righteous fury, slashing and shooting his way through hordes of demons to get to his goal - eternal salvation.

I love the look of this movie. Kane's got the whole witch hunter thing going on (the hat and the pistols I think is what does it) and it looks quite dark. Solomon Kane is directed by Michael J. Bassett (Deathwatch) and co-written with Robert E. Howard (author of the original Solomon Kane and famous for his creation Conan). I'm also liking the struggle that Kane has to go through; in order to save his soul, he has to commit murder after murder, the very acts which had damned him in the first place.
Solomon Kane is in cinemas now.
Official site: [link]

14 February 2010

Interview with Jamie D. Stacey, author of Azarrii

No comments:
This is an exclusive for Mithril Wisdom - it's the first author interview! I spoke to Jamie D. Stacey, author of the newly published novel Azarrii. See the blurb below:

For many years the ancient city of Salaq and its people have struggled with a war against an evil foe that threatens its complete annihilation. Now, after military defeats, corruption in the Palace, and problems that transcend the entire realm, that annihilation is becoming more and more of a reality every day.
Major John Carter, a dedicated soldier in the army, along with Neriah, a young woman with a mysterious past, must find their own way through the unravelling chaos that grips the mighty city and the rest of mankind before it is too late.
The Azarrii are coming.

Mithril Wisdom: How long did it take you to write Azarrii?
Jamie D. Stacey: I started writing it when I was 14 years old, but it was an on and off kind of thing. The way I write is usually in blocks, so I could write 2000 words in one day, and then there'd be nothing the next. The best time for me to write is just before bed, so I always keep a pad and pen nearby so I can write something down quickly if need be. I finished the first draft of the book after a year, and I first sent it off to publishers after I finished my GCSE's. I think I made some rookie mistakes there though. From start to finish, I'd say it's taken about 3 years in all.

MW: You're studying politics at University now. Is there anything you've learned since writing the book or anything you've picked up in your degree that you'd use to go back and change in the novel?
JDS: I think there'd be little things I'd change, but they'd only be small things. All the fundamentals of the story, the core of the novel I'd keep the same.

MW: Are there any characters in the novel that you identify with yourself or that you would say are based on you?
JDS: I didn't think so when I wrote it, but when my friends first started reading it they said that I was a lot like John Carter (the protagonist). I didn't realise it at all when I wrote the character, it was just one of those things that you do subconsciously. The characters are mix of all the people I know in some ways, so part of me had to end up in there somewhere. If Azarrii was made into a film, though, I'd want Joe Flanigan (Stargate Atlantis' John Sheppard) to play John Carter. The characters have the same first name, so we're halfway there!

MW: Are there any plans for a sequel?
JDS: Yes there are. I've got a trilogy planned, and I've already worked out the final chapter of the final book. The ending of the first novel kind of leaves itself open for a sequel, so it'll be from that I'll carry on the story.

MW: What kind of things inspired you as you were writing?
JDS: Well, I didn't really start to get into reading until I was 14. I started reading a book called The Named by Marianne Curley. It's a fantastic book about time travel, and it switches from first person to third person throughout the story. I loved the style of it, and after that I was hooked. As I was writing Azarrii, most of my inspirations came from the people around me and the places I'd been. I listened to a lot of Eminem while I wrote Azarrii too, I must have listened to his Greatest Hits album about 500 times! A lot of the time I would listen to a particular kind of music that would fit in with the emotions of whatever scene I was writing. I quite like writing to the sound of rain too, there's something very atmospheric about it that can give you really good ideas.

MW: After you finish your degree do you think you'll stick with politics or would you like to become a full time writer?
JDS: I'd love to do both. I can't really see myself doing one over the other. I love writing, but I'm really interested in politics too. With writing, I love the freedom I get to be able to write whenever I want to. There's no limits, no rules to it. If I did writing full time it would be like any other job with deadlines and limitations, and that would go against how I believe good writing is made. So I couldn't choose one more than the other.

MW: The book's had a great reception in the local press, and you've had some great reviews on Amazon's website. What do you make of the praise you've been getting?
JDS: There's no other way I can say it other than 'weird', to be honest. I don't really know how to take it in, it's not the kind of thing you can expect or prepare for. I get approached on campus by people I've never met before who say that they've heard about my book and they really like it, and I'm kind of overwhelmed by it all. It's really nice, but it's a strange sensation.

MW: Is there anything that you want people to take from Azarrii after reading it? Any message you hope that you want to convey to them?
JDS: There's a mix of things I'd like them to get from it. What I love about books is that everyone has their own interpretation of it and everyone takes something different away from it. The characters are faced with failure quite a bit, and so the main message from that is hope and endurance, and through struggle and adversity you can succeed against anything.

MW: What drew you to the fantasy/sci-fi genre?
JDS: I love the sense of escape that you get with fantasy and sci-fi. You can completely put yourself into another world where anything is possible. It's the kind of place where there's no rules and no real explanations because anything is possible.

MW: What advice would you give to similar young writers?
JDS: I think that everyone has a story that they can tell, so all they need to do is to keep pushing themselves and keep themselves motivated. So long as they've got the motivation and endurance they can do anything. Nothing is impossible.

MW: If you could take just one book with you on a desert island for an entire year, what would it be?
JDS: That's a tough one. My first thought would be a classic like George Orwell's 1984, or one of the older books you remember from your childhood. But if I needed a book I could reread for an entire year, I'd probably go for The Named.

MW: And finally, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
JDS: You've put me in an awkward position now! I'd say in general I'm more into the idea of close combat and swords, where it's you and your opponent facing off, so I'd go for Lord of the Rings. But I love lightsabers too much to leave Star Wars out! (either way he's making enemies - MW).

Azarrii by Jamie D. Stacey is out now, and is available to buy online from Author House and Amazon.

Official Facebook group [link].
Author House page [link].
Amazon Product page [link].

11 February 2010

Review - The Wolfman

No comments:
A faithful adaptation to a classic that with big expectations that comes across as bland and fails to quicken the blood of a modern audience.

Here is my very first movie review! And it's out the day before the movie goes out on general release. Whoohoo! (don't get used to it, hehe.)

The Wolfman is the adaptation of the 1941 movie of the same name, starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving (trailer and plot summary here [link]).

The choice of cast was pretty good with very good performances by both Hopkins and Del Toro (people have commented on Del Toro's monotone, expressionless acting in this, but I think it fits in with his character as a very detached man with a tormented past). Hopkins' portrayal as  Sir John Tablot as a cold, heartless man with just a hint of madness within him is brilliant. Both Blunt and Weaving, however, fail to perform up to the standard of the others, leaving them appear a lot more bland. The casting of Del Toro in particular in the title role was a good choice in that his appearance is a mixture of Lon Chaney Jnr. (The original 1941 Wolfman) and Oliver Reed (Curse of the Werewolf).

The cinematography throughout the film was excellent. With the dark and grim atmosphere of 19th Century England being emphasised in a permanently overcast and gloomy setting, the environment of the movie is a perfect setting where such a strange monster could originate. A similar style to this can be seen in Van Helsing which, despite its flaws, does capture the morbid and macabre setting quite well.

The transformations scenes made good use of the special effects but seemed to lack any kind of response from the character as they were transforming (especially during Talbot's first transformation). There was none of the pain or fear that you would expect with such an ordeal, merely a slick CG transformation sequence that didn't show much and was over quite quickly. The visual effects of the werewolves themselves are very well done and are in keeping with the look of the original, albeit an updated one. The movement of the Wolfman, particularly in the fight scene towards the end, is particularly effective.

One downside to the movie was that it relied far too much on the traditional horror genre's 'jumpy' moments, which meant that there were a number of occasions where seemingly nothing was happening. Every now and then there would be the beginnings of a build up of tension, but the jump would hit you before you began to feel tense. What became a little annoying was the overuse of the 'double jump', where there would be a jumpy moment, then a 2 second gap of nothing, then another jumpy moment. Though these are fine if used properly, you get used to them far too quickly.

There were a few problems with plot progression, most of them involving Blunts character. You'd get a sense that something needed to be revealed to the audience but nothing would come of it, so towards the end you are left feeling a little confused (this does not affect anything vital, so it is not a big thing).

In conclusion, The Wolfman is a faithful remake of the 1941 original, which means that by today's audience's standards it falls short of the mark. Whilst it is visually very good and has some good performances, the overall feeling is that there needs to be a lot more substance (you can feel it there but it just doesn't show). The addition of extra violence and gore in an attempt to satiate a 21st Century audience's bloodlust becomes quite comical and fails to provide the extra horrific punch that they were looking for.

This would have been a movie better suited for a Hallowe'en release date when the mood for this sort of film is right. If you're a fan of the original, and of the classic horror movies in general, then this is a faithful adaptation that combines the macabre with an older style of drama. Most modern audiences with find the film a bid bland, however.

Official site [link]
Made by Relativity Media
Distributed by Universal Studios

9 February 2010

The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan [book review]

No comments:
The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan
The Magician's Apprentice
Written by Trudi Canavan
Published by Orbit
Hardback - 608 pages
Published February 2009
Copy loaned from library
I started reading The Magician's Apprentice with a big sense of excitement. With Trudi Canavan winning the Auraelias Award for Best Fiction, I was hoping that the award was well deserved.

This story is set as a prelude to the events in Trudi Canavan's bestselling Black Magician Trilogy, and as such should be a useful set-up to the events that occur in those novels (I have yet to read anything else by Canavan, so I'm not sure if she does this). What I can say from reading this first is that it is excellent as a stand alone novel, and I'm sure that I will enjoy the future books even more with the knowledge of the world that I now have.

Canavan's strongest asset in this novel is that there is no one main hero. True, her focus is mostly on the younger healer turned magician Tessia (and how her being female affects her role in society - I've seen a number of female fantasy authors do this so I know there's no real agenda there, it's just making a point that comes with the alternative perspective) but there is also a very strong multiplicity of characters that are equally in the spotlight, such as her master Dakon, and his other student Jayan.

Because of this war into which they've suddenly become embroiled, this close knit cast of protagonists have a relationship that you don't see much of in the genre. Not only are they great characters, they're characters that know each other. They know their fears, they make assumptions about their behaviour, and it feels very natural and very real. The growing and changing relationship between Tessia and Jayan, for example, would have been predictable and boring in the hands of another writer, but Canavan makes sure that the way they interact and their attitudes towards each other are what you would expect from real people.

I love Canavan's different approach to how magic works in her world. Instead of a mage simply having power built into him, they must obtain more power (once they've reached the sufficient level of training) by taking power from apprentices, or from slaves in the case of the Sachakans. This means that no magician is all powerful, and that they have a finite amount of power to call upon. This gives them a weakness that is not often seen when it comes to those with magical abilities.

I find Canavan's world fascinating in that she seems to have based many customs and cultural elements from those around her. Her native Australia is representative of the land of Kyralia, with Sachaka taking influences from Japanese culture (the Japanese like names of many characters are a bit of a giveaway, but it's also their treatment of women and their political customs that points to this). There is an in depth focus on the politics and intrigues within the magician's circle of allies, but it is done in a way that is both informative and enjoyable to read.

After a certain point, she splits the story into two parts; one following the war between Kyralia and Sachaka, and another involving the forced marriage of a Sachakan woman and her subsequent empowerment and rebellion. Though I found this hard to follow and a little confusing at first, I can see that it was a good move since it shows the reader that, even though the Sachakans are meant to be the antagonists, not all the people of that land are evil. This gives the reader an even greater sympathy for these characters, since they are involved in a war they don't want and are likely to lose everything in the process. Although it was well written and had some fantastic characters, it felt a bit disjointed in places, especially when jumping from one scenario to the next.

In conclusion, The Magician's Apprentice was an absolute pleasure to read. I became immersed in the logistics of the war between the two lands, I was enthralled by the alliances and rivalries between characters, and she integrates magic into her world in a way that feels completely believable. Highly recommended, and I can't wait to read the first of the Black Magician novels.

About the author
Jamie Gibbs is the bearded, bespectacled geek who runs Mithril Wisdom and drinks too much coffee, usually at the same time.
You can follow him on his Google+ or Twitter profiles for a daily dose of fanboy discourse.

7 February 2010

The Wolfman 2010 Trailer

No comments:
I remember a few years back when reinventing the classic Hammer Horror movies was all the rage, first Dracula, then Frankenstein, then The Mummy (and then the monster mashup Van Helsing). There's been a bit of a quiet as the superhero genre took over, but now it looks like we're back in business with The Wolfman. With an awesome cast including Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving and Benicio Del Toro, and directed by Joe Johnston (Jumanji, also directing the future Captain America movie), this looks like it will be a great reinvention of the classic movie.

 The story follows the original 1941 classic, where Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) arrives back in his hometown in order to find his missing brother. He hears of a cursed beast that has been killing the local villagers, and as he investigates further he ends up becoming that which he has hunted ...

I've bought my tickets ready for the opening day (Wednesday 10th February), so watch this space for a review!

5 February 2010

Epic Rock Radio - Power and Symphonic Metal excellence

No comments:
This is my first post in what I call "fantasy metal". This covers the genres of power, progressive and symphonic metal (usually any band that at some point or other sings about mountains, dragons, swords and such other fantastic elements - the genres are very wide reaching but that's the gist of it). The imagery in the music of these genres fits perfectly with the fantasy genre as a whole, and they're inspiring and are full of imagination.

The best place to listen to a wide range of this type of music (as well as talk to some great fans of the genre) then take a look at Epic Rock Radio [link]. It's an online streaming radio station that allows its members to request tracks from its large database of music. I've found a number of great new bands using this website, and I highly recommend it

3 February 2010

Fantasy Art Showcase - Jason Engle

No comments:
Celestial by Jason Engle
Written by

I've been prowling DeviantArt for a little while since Christmas looking for some good fantasy artistic talent to showcase on here, and at last I've found it. Here's a couple of pieces from the gallery of artist Jason Engle.

His artwork has a fantastic dynamic, and even in images where there is a single character you get a feeling of motion and action that looks stunning.

Some of his battle scenes put me in mind of the works of Keith Parkinson, and his works on dragons are, simply put, awesome. Below is a small selection of works from his DeviantArt profile (all of these images are copyright Jason Engle).

He's published some of the best of his work in an artbook called Infernum: The Art of Jason Engle. He's done work for big fantasy names such as Games Workshop, Blizzard and Wizards of the Coast (if he decides to move into book covers I can see people clamouring to get a hold of one of his work!) Click the images to visit the DeviantArt pages with more information.

Black Death by Jason EngleBloof War by Jason EngleAscendant by Jason Engle

What do you like best in fantasy art? Battles? Dragons? Scantily-clad barbarian warrior women?

1 February 2010

The Vampire Diaries hits ITV2 this month - first impressions

So the paranormal/vampire romance craze doesn't show any signs of stopping. First Twilight, then True Blood, then Vampire High and now The Vampire Diaries. The show has been commissioned in the UK and will be shown on ITV 2 on Tuesday February 2nd (that means tomorrow!) at 9pm.

The premise seems pretty standard. New girl in town Elena (played by Nina Dobrev) falls in love with mysterious yet alluring Stefan (Paul Wesley), who is also a vampire. Stefan has a badass brother, Salvatore (Iam Somerhalder) who is also a vampire. The brothers inevitably end up fighting each other (and probably with a few innocent bystanders) about which one of them gets the girl. Take a look at the series trailer from ITV2.

My first impressions of it are pretty hopeful. It's a lot darker than I'd expected, and the sibling feud might add something deeper to the story. I'm still peeved at the obligation to add romance and sexual tension into vampire stories recently, but maybe this one will be a little bit different. I've got a bit of a vendetta against vampire romance in general, so I'll try to be as objective as I can when it comes to reviewing the show itself.