Review: Clariel: the Lost Abhorsen

Thought I’d jump in this evening with another review. Tonight’s book is Clariel by esteemed fantasy author Garth Nix. A little background- this is a prequel to The Old Kingdom series, which Nix wrote the central trilogy for back in the 90s and 2000s. As one who was extremely taken with the core books of The Old Kingdom back at the time, it was fun to go back and revisit the series like this, particularly with a relatively obscure character from the series’ lore.

Clariel is a girl born into an influential bloodline, with relations in both the royalty and the Abhorsens- those who keep the dead down. As a naturally reclusive girl, she desires nothing more than to flee the capital and live alone in the forest, but events forever conspire to keep her deep in the city where powerful entities maneouver her like a chess piece. Of course, a person can only be manipulated for so long before they snap.

The book makes for a thrilling read, particularly the final act. Expect thick politics, magic, and of course spirits from beyond this realm of reality- it is an The Old Kingdom book after all. The audiobook for this one was rather good as well, with Graeme Malcolm reading.

100 Chapters of Civilization Battle Royale

Hi there folks. Good lord, I can’t believe we hit 100 chapters- but this October it will have been two years since I began my endeavour, releasing one chapter a week to adapt the entirety of the Civilization Battle Royale. Well, here we are- and 100 chapters in we are rapidly approaching the endgame. In The Thin Green Line, Forces are mobilising for what will be the final war of this epic game. I estimate we have another 20 chapters of content remaining, give or take a few for wrapping up, so I can say with some certainty that the book will be complete in the first few months of 2019, perhaps around February.

Dungeons & Dragons continues- at the moment the players have worked out that an evil organisation is hunting one of them- but they could be after one of two players, so it’s all resulting in delightful paranoia. The two of them have escaped the wreckage of the Prophet I, but it seems their problems are only just beginning.

In other news, I’ll be starting my first actual lectures at the university soon, which I am looking forward to delivering. It includes a unit that centres on tabletop games, including D&D– which is literally perfect.

Until next time!

The Rings of Pelagius

Hi folks.

I ran a wonderful Dungeons & Dragons session last night, one I had put considerable planning into as the culmination of the party’s recent quest. Continuing on our sci-fi adventure, the party had been searching for a lost science ship known as the Prophet I, last seen in the rings of Pelagius, a vast blood red gas giant in an unclaimed region of space. Our players began having strange dreams and headaches as soon as they arrived in the system, but they were able to complete the side-quest on a nearby moon to fire up a relay tower with which to locate the craft.

Last night they found and boarded it, only to discover that the interior was immaculate, warm food left out on the tables, the television in the corner playing some old comedy movie… The party were incredibly suspicious of course, and determined that the two spacesuits in the corner were not only enchanted, but had something inside. After going right up to the glass case they were in, their cleric had the smart idea of using the spell command on the enchanted suits, with the order to reveal, and I read out the following text:

You cast the command, and the space suit on the right begins to turn. Its body creaks as it faces you, one hand reaching up to the golden visor that obscures its face. As it pulls back the visor, you see the emaciated corpse within- and suddenly everything changes. The lights go out, and you see how the room truly is; a horrifying husk of a living space. Most of the furniture is broken, the floor littered with blood and rotting debris. Messages have been scrawled over the walls in haphazard, jagged letters. “I must pour it out of my head”, “This is the dream”, and much more illegible mess. There is a shrine against one wall, a painting of the planet and rings in blood and some other dark liquid, maybe engine grease. Below is the message “Praise the red god”, the letters irregular and smeared. Turning back, you see the second space suit suddenly jerk into motion- and both begin to step towards you.

They were then trapped for several quite nasty fights. In time, they discovered that something about the planet itself was off; it corrupted the minds of those who tarried near it for too long. Alas, the poor crew of the Prophet I had been there a very long time. They were able to rescue the lone survivor in the cargo hold, who had sealed themselves in there and constructed magical barriers to keep the madness at bay- and then they got the hell out of there. As they flew away, they spotted the frozen body of a lone crewman who had thrown himself out of the airlock years prior- even in death, his body bowed in prayer to the red planet.

It was a great session, and one I very much enjoyed running. They were highly unnerved by each new horror as they progressed further into the ship. D&D has been on my mind a lot recently, as I will be running a unit with the university focused around tabletop gaming.

In unrelated news, the Civilization Battle Royale is approaching its 100th chapter. I’ll make a post about it in mid September when that comes to pass. I have also added a bar for it with the other novels, as its now over three quarters of the way to completion. Till next time!

Solent & Sci-fi

A new job is on the horizon for me! Starting in the new academic year, I am moving on from my video game desing teaching role at the college to lecture at Southampton Solent University! I am really looking forward to the new changes and opportunities over there. The university has some truly amazing facilities for video games- and I’m already working out lectures for the game art students over there.

The Civilization Battle Royale Novel hit 120,000 words this week with its 92nd chapter. The novel is a little over two thirds of the way to completion judging by the progress of the game over on Reddit, which is itself close to finishing.

On the side, I’ve also been running a new D&D campaign for my close friends, using some custom rules and homebrew content to develop a science fiction setting. The first puzzle of the campaign involved them having to stop their capsule from spinning chaotically as they entered the atmosphere of another planet. The control panels of course had no markings on them, the labels having long since rubbed off- but they did adjust the pitch, roll and yaw of the craft. It proved for some entertaining if panicked experimentation on their part, but they did land successfully.

The Missing Few Trailer, and more CBR

Hi there folks. The wheel of time turns, and I can’t believe it’s March already. A few little tidbits to share with you guys; check out the latest trailer for The Missing Few, a video game project I have been working on for the last two years as a technical artist. I just uploaded the 72nd (!) chapter of the Civilization Battle Royale novel. With this latest installment, the book is now over a hundred thousand words in length and drawing into its final phase, as great futuristic empires battle it out for global dominance.

Civilization Battle Royale hits 60th Chapter with a Bang

The title says it all. Sixty chapters now- covering the first 4700 years of the great game. In that time, countless nations have risen and fallen, technologies developed and made obsolete, and religions have spread and faded. The world now broils in the atomic age, and boy are some things going to be changing. As always, the page for the project has the entire book up for grabs, totally free.

My next main book, Tales from Aquis just went through its third major proofreading. I’m currently working on structuring the second act of the book, which is shaping up quite nicely.

Review: Warbreaker

It’s been a while since I did one of these- but I thought I would jump back into the frey with another of Brandon Sanderson’s projects; Warbreaker. This book has a special place with me, owing to the unusual manner in which it was written. Sanderson wrote and edited this book publicly- that is, regularly uploading drafts for all to see here on the internet- and eventually released the book as a free download when it was done. It was a stroke of genius; and an important inspiration for the Civilization Battle Royale Novel I’ve been working on. I loved how open the process was. It’s not something that suits every book of course- I wouldn’t dream of writing a Dragon Creek book in that manner- but still, I find it amazing.

Onto the book itself. The story is another of his powerful high fantasy epics. Siri, a princess of a tiny alpine nation is forced into an arranged marriage with the God-King of Hallandren, a powerful nation with armies of undead soldiers. Unless she can muster political means to stave off invasion, her home will be overrun by the armies of Hallandren in a long and bloody war. The book hinges around its rich magic system- with wealthy magicians using the souls of the poor as an energy source- and a large cast of colourful characters. It’s definitely worth checking out; and it is up for free on Sanderson’s website.

CBRtN- Anniversary! New Schedule, and Chapter 52

Hi there folks. The prologue of the Civilization Battle Royale novel was first uploaded on the 12th of October, 2016. 51 chapters later, today is therefore the anniversary of the novel!

I have a couple of announcements to make. First off, the novel is going to be moving to Thursdays at 18:00. In part this was because my schedule with work and so on has changed, but the developers and I also agreed that moving it out to the quieter end of the CBR week would be a good idea generally.

Rather than leave a larger-than-normal gap between chapters, I decided to launch chapter 52 today. As we move into the second year of the novel, we move into a new age of the world out there- this chapter is set in 1 AD, where Henry Morgan is plotting from a beach in the Azores. The age of intercontinental empires is well and truly at hand.

Until next time!

Civilization Battle Royale Simulation Resumes

The Civilization Battle Royale novel, which you have surely been reading up to this point, is of course based on a simulation over on Reddit, where AI players control large nations and armies in a heavily modded version of Civilization V. About a year ago they ran into difficulty with the save file there, and things were looking pretty dire. Today, after paintstakingly recreating the game tile by tile in a fresh save, the game resumed, and they are ploughing on ahead with new content. I’d like to congratulate the community who worked on that on their steadfast resolve and thank them for the sheer amount of work that goes into running such a beast. The simulation holds the Guiness World Record for the most viewed strategy game of all time, and is now about two thousand years ahead of where the novel is at this point in time, so if anyone wants to have a sneak peak at where the book is going to take us you can of course view the original game. I’m watching the new developments there with bated breath, and I’m already dreaming about what the novel will be like by the time it gets up to that point.

Of course, the novel is still rolling; a new chapter has launched every week since last October. Come to think of it, we are rapidly approaching our first anniversary on that front. Regardless, go experience the Civilization Battle Royale, in whatever incarnation you most enjoy.