Any recommendations for reading any of these?
Well, I am currently sitting in economy class about an hour away from Melbourne airport, on the final leg of a rather exhausting trek. Even though I have spent most of the last seven hours in some sort of daze while my body clock tries to catch up with Australian Eastern Standard time (and the fact that I have spent the last 28 hours either in an airport, or in the air – though in reality we left London Thursday morning and will arrive in Melbourne Friday evening, which makes it around 36 hours, though eight of those hours are technically missing hours – then again we did gain them on the way over, if it wasn't for the fact that six of those eight hours involved the plane flying up, dumping all of its fuel, flying back down, and then forcing us to change planes).
Anyway, I still had this one graphic novel to read, and fortunately in between snippets of sleep (I am too stingy to pay for anything more than economy class), I did manage to read it, not that it was a huge story. In fact it was just your basic fantasy novel in comic book form – a lone elf comes to the city and stumbles upon a dragon cult, and in the end they fight, and kill, a dragon. Okay, maybe that was a bit of a spoiler, but honesty, what to you expect from a fantasy story? Isn't that what happens in The Hobbit? The difference is that this story is done in comic book form (though I'm sure there is a comic book version of the Hobbit floating around somewhere).
One thing that I noticed though was something that C.S. Lewis touched on in the previous book that I read: Of This and Other Worlds: the idea of why the comic book is loathed so much as a form of literature. His suggestion is that it is loathed simply because it mixes two forms of art, and both of them tend to be pretty bad. Not only do you have what is in effect a play (the comic book artists tend to create a script prior to drawing the pictures), but you also have multiple drawings that go with the story, and act to explain what is happening. Actually, I have seen some comics based on Shakespeare plays, and while the story is basically Shakespeare, the art is anything but, and because the actual art is to bad then the book is dragged down with it (it is short of like a bad performance destroying a great play).
The other interesting thing is that like science-fiction it does take a while for comics to enter into the mainstream. This hasn't always been the case, particularly with the Francophone comics such as Tintin and Asterix. However putting them aside (particularly since I don't view the Francophone comics the same as I do the Anglophone), when many of us think of comics we usually think of superheroes, bad artwork, and things that children read (ignoring the fact that quite a lot of adults still enjoy comics). However, it is interesting that even then I tend look down on the comic book as a lesser form of literature, and while I have read some, I really have no desire to go out and pay money for any more (unless I am reviewing a comic book store).
Oh, and since it is set in Balder's Gate apparently there is a reference to the computer game of the same name in the form of Misnc the ranger and his miniature giant space hamster. The problem is that I played the game so long ago that I barely remember anything about the game, that is until the connection was pointed out to me. I sort of remember Minsc, but since, like books, I tend to only play a game once, an once finished I tend to forget all about it and go and do something else. I do know that the game had something to do with Balder's Gate, but then that is pretty obvious from the title.
I knew I would like Lionel Savage from the start. The poor poet's not impoverished for a lack of sales but from spending his income on books. To climb out of poverty's pit, he hatches a quixotic scheme that lands him in an unhappy marriage to a "vapid, timid, querulous creature," whom Savage accidentally ends up selling to the devil at yet another of the new bride's insufferable masquerades. One thing leads to another, and Savage and a motley cast of characters embark on a madcap adventure to Hades, Hell, Sheol, and/or the Underworld, in order to bring her back.
The Gentleman is Forrest Leo's first book, and I certainly hope it won't be his last as this zany, witty, light-hearted novel is entertaining, fast-paced, and fun. The illustrations are a nice addition to the plot, and I particularly enjoyed the repartee between Savage and his butler Simmons. (Think Jeeves and Wooster-- but with Jeeves willing to strip down to his skivvies for the sake of art!)
The Gentleman is just what I needed to help pull me out of the doldrums that this current election-cycle has me in. It was nice to be able to sit back for a few hours, drink a pot of tea, and enjoy a book that really needs to be made into a movie or Broadway show just as quickly as possible.
One thing this world needs more of is fun, and Forrest Leo delivers.
I recommend this to fans of P.G. Wodehouse and as a nice companion read to go along with "The Devil and Tom Walker."
(ARC, but views my own.)
Well, it is my second to last night here in Adelaide and I have to say that I am going to appreciate being home in my own bed on Saturday night. Okay, it has been interesting working out of the Adelaide office for the last three weeks, but it has also been quite exhausting working a full day and then going exploring in the evenings so that I can have more businesses to write about on Yelp (and the other websites). At least I managed to visit the three comic shops in the city: The Adelaide Comics Centre, Pulp Fiction Comics, and The Comic Shop, as well as what is now the only gaming shop left in Adelaide Infinity Games (not that they actually stock any roleplaying game products).
Anyway, after really enjoying the first graphic novel, when I went and checked out Pulp Fiction Comics and trying to work out what I was going to buy I suddenly discovered that they hadn't written just one, but all three of the Drizzt prequel novels (though some seem to argue that these novels were written before the Icewind Dale trilogy). As such I decided to grab this one, and since I was meeting up with a friend of mine (who I had passed the first one to previously) I decided that I would mark this one as a 'read immediately' – which I managed to do to my amazement.
So, after Drizzt leaves his people to go into voluntary exiles he ends up spending years alone in one of the caverns, however because he is isolated from all other intelligent creatures, his bestial nature begins to take over, and when he is discovered by a drow patrol (from house Do'urden no less, since they are attempting to track him down due to the fact that his existence means that his house is out of favour with Lloth), he realises that he must do something about it. So he decides to take a risk and rocks up at a deep gnome stronghold expecting that by doing so he will be executed. However one of the gnomes remembers the mercy that he showed him and decides to vouch for him.
Unfortunately, he simply cannot escape his former life, especially since his mother creates this zombie assassin to go and track him down. This does lead to quite an interesting adventure and they travel to all parts of the underdark and even get captured by the mind flayers (who then discover that their powers are useless against a zombie assassin – actually the word zombie makes this creature sound weak, and I have to say that it is anything but).
The main theme of this part of the story is the idea that people aren't supposed to live outside of a community. I would say civilised society, but some may argue that the Drow society is hardly civilised (but then again isn't the modern capitalist society just as cut-throat as the Drow society?). However, it is not the question of civilisation but rather the question of community – living with other people and having people to communicate with. When one cuts themselves off from others one begins to loose the ability to be able to communicate with them, to understand a concept of manners, and how one is to act around them. It is interesting that there is that ideal of the Grizzly Adams type of character that lives in a hut in the mountains with only a bear as a companion, and in a way that lifestyle is an idea (and a fantasy). Sure, some have that desire to completely withdraw from humanity because, well, humans can be little more than pricks, however even if that is the case I believe we humans are social creatures, and we thrive and grow much better surrounded by people than in isolation.
Actually, as a side not, it turns out that Grizzly Adams was a real person, however the TV series, as is typical of Hollywood, is only based on the guy.
Mind you, as I was rereading this before posting it I suddenly realised that there is a second theme (wow, a Dungeons and Dragons novel with two themes) and that is how difficult it can be to escape from one's past. In fact it can be really hard to escape from a bad group of people. As I have mentioned humans are social creatures, and if the only people that you know are these bad people, then many of us would rather stick with the bad people than risk being alone. I remember a lady at work bemoaning how her son had become caught up with drug users, and that it was had from him to break away from them because to do so meant that he would have no friends. The same is true when you make enemies, because is many cases these enemies won't let you get away that easily. Sometimes in fact they will hunt you to the ends to the Earth to make sure you pay (though I am speaking in extreme terms here – sometimes these people are too lazy to actually do anything beyond bitch about you behind your back).
Okay, here I am reading another graphic novel despite the fact that I constantly proclaim that I don't like graphic novels. So, the question is, am I a hypocrite? Well, not entirely namely because I have broadened my areas of writing to include businesses, which means that I write on Yelp, True Local, and Trip Advisor (though Trip Advisor doesn't have a list of comic/gaming shops in its database, despite the fact that I used to travel just to check out the gaming shops), and since most of the people on these sites don't review comic books shops I decided to step up to the plate and do just that. However, if I'm going to review a comic book shop it means that I actually have to buy something from it – a comic book – which is why I land up with all these graphic novels.
Anyway, this one actually turned out to be pretty good, but that is probably because it is based on a pretty good book. When I was perusing the offerings at one particular comic bookshop in Adelaide (owned by some guy named Wally, who by the way has absolutely no customer service skills, but has been in the business for thirty years and seeing off most of his competition) my eyes fell upon this particular book, and having quite enjoyed the original book (and not wanting to grab another Marvel comic – let's wait until Captain America: Civil War hits the cinemas before I go for a Captain America book), I decided to grab it.
I guess the idea of not having any expectations on its content worked in this case because I was instantly hooked – in fact I couldn't put it down, to the point that I had to resist the temptation to put my feet up on the table at work and just finish reading it (I'm sure the boss wouldn't have been all that impressed if I had done that). As I said, it is based on the original novel, and does add a new dimension to it – you get to see that Matron Malice isn't actually this old hag but a pretty attractive woman (but then again she is an elf, and they don't age all that fast).
Anyway, if you haven't read the books, but are looking for a story full off intrigue, backstabbing, and nasty monsters, as well as some good old fashioned Dungeons and Dragons adventure, then this is definitely something to check out. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I am half tempted to see if the other volumes are available, and if they aren't, then to keep an eye out for when they are released and snap them up immediately.