Tuesday 1 February 2011

Book Reviews

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Oliver Bowden
Penguin (United Kingdom)
Available Now - £6.99 (Paperback)
Review by Rob Wade

Rome, once mighty, lies in ruins. The city swarms with suffering and degradation, her citizens living in the shadow of the ruthless Borgia family. Only one man can free the people from the Borgia tyranny - Ezio Auditore, the Master Assassin. Ezio's quest will test him to his limits. Cesare Borgia, a man more villainous and dangerous than his father the Pope, will not rest until he has conquered Italy. And in such treacherous times, conspiracy is everywhere, even within the ranks of the brotherhood itself...

Having played the game that goes along with this, I can say the following two things to be true. Firstly, if you’ve not played the game and don’t own a console, this is a good way of finding out the story if you’re interested. Secondly, if you have played the game, then there’s not a tremendous amount of sense in buying what is essentially the strategy guide without the button combinations.

Don’t get me wrong; the book is largely well-written, albeit with a few English expressions creeping into Renaissance Italy. It’s just that because of the limitation of the game’s storyline being the primary storyline being followed, the book can’t really do much more than it already does, which is to say tell the story about as well as the game does. Of course, a book is always going to be more descriptive, but then on the other hand there’s side-quests in a game. Though that could be cool in a book too, maybe they’d fold out like a map in a strategy guide or something.

However, as I said, there are some annoying bits. For instance, I’ve mentioned the English stuff that makes its way into the book. Also, much like the previous book, Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance, the Italian words that are inserted into the book are not translated until a section at the very end of the book. As if that wasn’t enough, the list is incomplete, seemingly skipping at least one chapter altogether.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Bearing in mind that ‘Assassin’ is not code for ‘tickler’, have a guess.
Sex/Nudity: None particularly detailed, but strong implication that fucking took place.
Swearing: A fair bit, some in Italian but there’s a translation section at the end.
Summary: Ultimately, while the book is well written and engaging enough, from my position as someone who has played the game, I’d sooner just do that. Only really recommended for those who won’t get that chance. 7/10
Live Free or Die
John Ringo
Baen Books

Available from Tuesday 2nd February - £19.50 (Hardback)
Review by Blake Harmer

When a gate to other worlds is placed in the solar system by an alien race, the world feared the worst. However, when the first aliens to appear through the gate, the Glatun, turn out to be peaceful traders, everyone gives a sigh of relief. But when the Horvath came through and destroyed three cities whilst demanding rule of Earth so they can harvest our materials, the world needs a man like Tyler Vernon to save them, especially when he has an idea to build a thousand trillion ton battlestation to secure the solar system, but will he build it in time.

Live Free or Die doesn’t try to bore you with lots of science or politics and just concentrates on the fun stuff: plenty of action with some dry humour chucked in for good measure. This is great as it gives the whole book a nice pulpy feel and makes it easy to read and fun throughout. However, when it does incorporate the science it does it well and in a believable manner when it tries to explain the aliens’ motives and how their technology works.

Some could criticise the book for not being too engaging on the brain and for not having the most original of storylines. But if Live Free or Die was a film it would be an 80’s action sci-fi movie, and if you like your science fiction and want something to keep you entertained with explosions and humour, then you can do worse than this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Plenty of explosions and gunfights to keep all sci-fi nuts happy.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: A few, but fairly light so nothing really offensive.
Summary: An enjoyable pulpy sci-fi action adventure, which is good to see seeing as you don’t really see them any more. Chuck in plenty of action scenes, some dry humour and you have a compelling read to for any science fan. 7/10
The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You To Read
R.Spiel & Jim Trombetta
Harry N. Abrams

Available Now - £19.99 (Trade Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

For the first time in over fifty years, author Jim Trombetta uncovers a rare visual treasury of some of the most important and neglected stories in American literature: the pre-Comics Code horror comics of the 1950s.

Censored out of existence by Congress in an infamous televised US Senate subcommittee hearing investigating juvenile delinquency, these rare comic book images are culled from the author's personal collection. Many of these stories have rarely been seen since they were first issued-now revealed once again in all of their eye-popping inventive outrageousness. The Horror! The Horror! includes over two hundred covers and complete stories as they were originally seen, scanned from mint copies in the author's extensive collection.

There are no words to describe how awesome it is to see all these antique comics presented like this. As a kid I loved Tales from the Crypt and its ilk, but even they weren’t as genuinely creepy as some of these stories were!

The articles and history of the horror comic is intelligent, insightful and well written, but it’s the selection of cover art and comic reprints that are the real treasure here! Everything from vampires through walking skeletons to disembodied legs are featured, and all with an entertaining commentary. If you’re into horror comics, then this is simply an essential purchase. In fact, If you’re into comics in general, this is still well worth picking up!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Lots of shambling corpses grabbing people, some cannibalism. Oh, and some face melting.
Sex/Nudity: Some veiled references.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A truly great collection featuring absolutely top notch artwork, and informative articles accompanying each chapter. Essential for horror comic fans. 10/10


Fed up with her life and most of the people in it, high school beauty Angelica calls the pirate radio station that promises to make wishes come true. What begins as urban legend becomes a living hell as she unwittingly opens the door to an evil entity that oreys upon the souls of the innocent and turns her dreams into a nightmare.

Thanks to our friends at Second Sight Films, we've got three copies of The Open Door on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Tuesday 8th February, making sure to put "The Open Door" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy each!

Don't forget to put "The Open Door" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Open Door is available on DVD from Monday 14th February, priced £15.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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