Thursday 5 August 2010

Book Reviews

The Elder Scrolls: The Infernal City
Greg Keyes
Titan Books
Available Now - RRP £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Rob Wade

Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil: Umbriel, a floating city, casts a terrifying shadow - for wherever it falls, people die and rise again. And inside Umbriel's shadow, a great adventure begins - and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a deep secret. A daring spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaig, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest...

Licensed game properties, be they books or movies, are usually associated with a stigma of being...well, not very good. It's a subject of particular annoyance with me for the most part, as I've been privy to plenty of licensed properties which have turned out absolutely fine. Oftentimes, the main way to make a video game movie/book to be any good is to set it within the universe but run either parallel to the game's events or later on in the continuity. The critical success of the Halo and Mass Effect novels can largely be attributed to the fact that they fill in blanks in the games' storylines, giving people more information about events leading up to what they've played through. In this regard, I'm pleased to say that one of the best things about this novel is that the storyline is not set anywhere near the events of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It might sound strange, but the main draw of this book is simply that it works as a standalone novel in itself.

The novel is split up well, with the various principal characters sectioned off into short sections to develop their respective storylines. From the young girl and her companion trapped in the titular city, the legendary prince tracking his way across the kingdom to the spy on the trail of a conspiracy, all the characters are fleshed out nicely throughout the book. The book has some violence, which is a mix of big epic battles along with some more subtle elements of assassination and sedition.

Regrettably, the novel falls down a little on how it delivers the key information of the plot. A lot of the time, the novel relies on a short dialogue between characters to bring up a key plot point of the story, particularly in the prince's story arc. It makes for some frantic re-reading at times, because the information is so rushed that when its relevance comes into full force, you're often left scratching your head wondering if you were ever told the information. That said, however, the book is solidly written otherwise.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating :
Violence : A few sword-fights, fist-fights and some magic use.
Sex/Nudity : None.
Swearing : None.
Summary: A good quality video game tie-in novel, with the setting allowing for a much better narrative flow. However, at times the novel assaults you with too much information in a short time, making it difficult going. 7/10

The British Army’s Challenger II Main Battle Tank is one of the most awesome war machines ever built.

In March 2003, three Squadrons of Challenger 2s from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, part of Britain’s 7th Armoured Brigade, the fabled Desert Rats, gathered in Southern Iraq to prepare for battle. The Army’s newest Big Guns were going to war for the first time.

But Operation TELIC was a war which the Challenger 2, designed to operate in the fog and mud of the Central European Plain, had never been expected to fight. And one that would quickly break every rule of tank warfare including the golden maxim: never take a tank into a town.

In Main Battle Tank, author Niall Edworthy, granted unprecedented access to the Scots DGs, tells the story of an extraordinary chapter in the history of British Army. From the terrifying rescue of a stricken Challenger 2 and countless nerve-shredding raids into Basra and Az Zubyar, to the biggest tank engagement fought by the British since the end of WWII, Main Battle Tank is the brutal, blistering true story of a war that tested man and machine to the bloody limit.

Thanks to our friends at Michael Joseph, we've got two copies of Main Battle Tank to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Thursday 12th August (UK time). The first two names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

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