Black Library/Games Workshop
Available from 2nd September - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer
After a series of failures, Skaven Grey Seer Thanquol is offered a chance to redeem himself by going to the island of Lustria to kill the Prophet of Sotek. Dogged by assassins and stranded in a foreign land of giant lizards, Slann, temple cities and endless jungle, Thanquol must use all of his cunning, magic and his Rat-Ogre, Boneripper, if he is to come out alive.
The Warhammer 40,000 novels seem to be out to be the darkest, grimmest, tankiest, shootiest, Orkiest novels out there, drumming home death and despair. The Warhammer Fantasy novels, by comparison, seem to want to be the pulpiest, cartooniest, Conaniest barrels of action and comedy this side of Indiana Jones. And Temple of the Serpent seems to want to up that ante once again. Temple of the Serpent reads like Robert E. Howard after a sugar and Saturday Morning Cartoon binge. The battle scenes are awesome, and this contains not only Skaven, Slann and a Barbarian, but also dinosaurs, zombies, pirates, lizard men and **SPOILER** (highlight to read) zombie pirates **END SPOILER**.
On the down side – let’s face it – reading like Robert E. Howard isn’t always a good thing, and it’s rather unfortunate that Werner has (in this instance) picked up a few of Howard’s bad habits as well. The scenery description leaves a lot to be desired, and the frequent leaping from fight to fight to action scene to fight has the knock on effect of making it read like a dungeon crawl. Dungeon Mastered by Robert E. Howard. With ADHD. On fire.
The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence: Very frequent, and very bloody.
Summary: A fun, pulp, fantasy adventure that reads like Robert E. Howard – in ways both good and bad. Fun for Warhammer fans, but there’s little here to elevate it above “average” for readers with a casual interest. 6/10
Available Now - £8.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer
Basso the Magnificent is ruthless, cunning, and above all, lucky. He brings wealth, power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he’s only ever made one mistake. One mistake, though, can be enough.
I have a problem with K.J. Parker, and that is that she comes up with great settings, great characters and great concepts for a novel, and will then completely balls it up in the actual execution by focusing on the minutiae to the exclusion of anything interesting. Here in The Folding Knife, we see several wars and battles, but from the perspective of the head of the bank, who sees it all in numbers and figures. Sure, some of his plans are clever – perhaps even devious – but what is the logic behind presenting a fantasy/war series as an exercise in accounting?
People don’t read fantasy to be bored by economics. They don’t want their hero to be a fucking civil servant, no matter how “lucky” he is (which is not an interesting character note, by the way, it just makes him seem jammy).
And at what point did it seems like a good idea to have two characters with the same name, huh?
It starts off bland, becomes dreary, and before the two-thirds mark you’ll be praying for the end.
The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence: Several large battles, including detailed blood and violence. Several detailed and gory murders. Some punching, etc.
Sex/Nudity: Sex is alluded to, but is always “off camera”.
Swearing: Some “fucks”, “shits” and “bastards”, but not a huge amount.
Summary: A dreary as buggery fantasy novel that concerns itself more with the economics of war than any actual warfare. If you’re a high-school Business Studies teacher you’ll love it, but in that case you’re probably a tosspot anyway. 2/10
Winner of the Best Action Choreography Award at the 1994 Hong Kong Film Awards, the awards for Best Martial Arts Direction and Best Editing and at Taiwan’s prestigious Golden Horse Film Festival and generally considered one of the most breathtaking and spectacular martial arts action movies of the 1990s, The Legend Of Fong Sai-yuk comes to DVD in September 2010 courtesy of Cine Asia.
Directed by Corey Yuen, the director of The Transporter and DOA: Dead Or Alive and the action director of numerous hit Hollywood action movies such as X-Men and Lethal Weapon 4, and starring Jet Li (The Expendables), Michelle Reis (Bodyguards And Assassins), Chu Kong (Once A Thief) and veteran Chinese actress Josephine Siao (Hu Du Men), the film boasts some of martial arts cinema’s most inventive and creative combat sequences, showcasing Jet Li’s legendary skill, speed and power to dazzling effect.
Set in China's Ching Dynasty, The Legend of Fong Sai-yuk tells the story of a ruthless emperor who enslaves his people, and persecutes a courageous revolutionary group that is mobilizing to destroy his powerful regime. When young folk hero Fong Sai-yuk (Jet Li) discovers that his own father is a freedom fighter who has been targeted for retribution, he embarks on a heroic quest for justice that will unite his people and create a legend that will never be forgotten.
The Legend Of Fong Sai-yuk will be released on DVD (£15.99) by Cine Asia on 6th September 2010, and thanks to our friends at Cine Asia, we've got two copies to give away! Send in your name and postal address to email@example.com before midday on Tuesday 7th September to be in with a chance of winning a copy!