Saturday 6 March 2010

Books Reviews

Vlad: The Last Confession
C.C. Humphreys

Available Now - £6.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Dracula. A name of horror, depravity and the darkest sensuality. Yet the real Dracula was just as alluring, just as terrifying, his story not of a monster but of a man - and a contradiction. For the one they called 'The Devil's Son' was both tyrant and lawgiver, crusader and mass slaughterer, torturer and hero, lover and murderer. His tale is told by those who knew him best. The only woman he ever loved, who he must sacrifice. His closest comrade and traitor. And his priest, betraying the secrets of the confessional to reveal the mind of the man history would forever remember as Tepes - 'The Impaler'.

But Vlad's actions defy such labels. His extraordinary life burns with passion, taking him from his years as hostage to the Turk, through torture, battle, triumph and betrayal, ultimately to a last crusade - there perhaps, beneath the twin banners of the Dragon and the Cross, to find redemption for his innumerable sins.

Vlad: The Last Confession starts out like a fun, historical action adventure. There’s fighting and yelling like you’d expect, but – much like the protagonist himself – it takes a turn for the darker before too long. In fact, outside of the horror genre, this might be the most brutally and uncompromisingly violent novel I’ve ever read. It isn’t without taste and humour, however, and much of the brutality is unseen...although the repercussions of it are felt.

Whilst the ride is highly enjoyable, its rather unfortunately a dissatisfying affair. Whilst the supporting cast are fantastic; when you get to the end there’s no real sense that you know anything about Vlad as a character. Although it’s intentional that he’s only really seen from other people’s eyes, it was a gamble that doesn’t really pay off.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Frequent, brutal and gory depictions of mutilation, battle, torture and execution. Unsurprisingly, there are more than a few gory and detailed impalements.
Sex/Nudity: Some boobies. Being stabbed.
Swearing: One “fuck”.
Summary: A brutal and darkly violent read that tells its tale well, but ultimately never gives us a true handle on its main subject: Vlad. 7/10

Star Trek: Nero
Mike Johnson, Tim Jones and David Messina
IDW Publishing/Titan Books

Available Now - £16.50 (Hardback) and 12th March - £9.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Not an adaptation, this story follows the villainous Nero sort-of-before-and-sort-of-during the movie as he seeks to destroy the Federation.

Nero was something of an enigma when he arrived in the Star Trek universe in the most recent movie, so it’s not surprising that an attempt has been made to furnish him with something of a back-story. As these things go, this one is pretty good.

The introduction section, crashing into reality as the opening of the movie does is an excellent depiction of the events. What becomes interesting, however, is the different angle the narrative takes after that, when the Narada is boarded by Klingons.

The artwork is not great, but certainly good. The combat sequences suffer from a lack of the depiction of motion, and as a result it can look quite stilted. The darker sections tend to look better in general; I don't think this is the old trick of “a bad artist hiding his faults with shadows”, but rather that his style works better in darker colour schemes.

The most irritating habit of the book, however, is its habit of flipping between single page reading, and double spread “wide-screen” style reading. This is frequently confusing, and difficult to follow. Better to stick with one style.

With these faults aside, the story is excellent, travelling towards its inevitable climax with unrelenting inevitability. Trekkies should be pretty pleased with this one.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some scuffling and ship to ship combat.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: Hardly an essential read, but a fun ride for Trekkies – fans of the new movie, in particular. 6/10

1 comment:

  1. Am I the only person who initially read that title as 'Star Trek Nerd'?