Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Book Reviews

Star Wars – The Old Republic: Deceived
Paul S. Kemp
Titan Books

Available from 25th March - £17.99 (Hardback) & £29.64 (Unabridged Audio CD)
Review by Brad Harmer

The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic ramps up the action and brings readers face to face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order’s Dark Lords – Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular Deceived and Hope trailers.

Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Corsucant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous – something Malgus would never want to be, but cannot stop, any more than he can stop the rogue Jedi fast approaching.

Her name is Aryn Leneer – and the lone Knight that Malgus cut down in the fierce battle for the Jedi Temple was her Master. And now she’s going to find out what happened to him, even if it means breaking every rule in the book.

Darth Malgus is the real star of Deceived, and what a great character he is. He’s a double-hard bastard when it comes to the fight scenes, and he’s a scheming, sharp-minded politician when he needs to be. What’s more, his motivation and the source of his power has be to one of the most unique ever – and it’s amazing that it hasn’t been tackled before.

The action scenes are clear, exciting and really easy to follow. Lots of Star Wars type explosions and action here!

There are a couple of downsides, though. All of the characters who aren’t Malgus are pretty weak, and it’s hard to take an interest in anything they do. This is more of a shame when there are plenty of characters who just aren’t giving enough time – and this brings me on to my second point. Deceived is Force-Unleashed-Twoingly short. It runs in at a mere 255 pages in hardback. It’s a story that could have stood at least another hundred pages. One can only hope that there will be more books to cover the characters and territory this one left unexplored.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
An entire Jedi Temple is massacred, explosions, lightsaber wounds, blaster fire, Force Push, Force Lightning, Force Choke and (one of E14 lesser used categories) explosive decompression.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Stang and Kriff.
Summary: An enjoyable Star Wars novel, but possibly the darkest since the Darth Bane series. Darth Malgus is a great character and I certainly hope that we see more of him. Deceived is somewhat on the short side, though – so, if you’re not an Old Republic nut, it may be worth saving the pennies and waiting for the paperback. 8/10

True Blood – Volume One: All Together Now
Alan Ball, Mariah Huehner, David Messina, David Tischmann
IDW Publishing

Available Now - £18.99 (Hardback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Blood and passion mix on a hot rainy night at Merlotte’s as Sookie and the usual suspects settle in for the long haul. Until, that is, they find themselves unexpectedly trapped by a vengeful, vile creature, one who feeds off the miserable shame of others – and none will survive until morning unless all their dirty little secrets are revealed. So Sookie, Bill, Eric, Sam, Tara, Jason and Lafayette are forced to dig deep and tell painful tails of their pasts – the kind you never willingly reveal!

This is a real wasted opportunity. It just doesn’t feel like True Blood. None of the characters feel like themselves – especially Bill Compton and Eric Northman – and their dialogue is truly atrocious, frequently coming across as stilted and hard. This feels like botched fan-fiction, and not what you expect from a professionally released tie-in.

The artwork is pretty good, to be fair, and all of the characters look like who they’re supposed to be. It's just a shame that they don't act like it.

The story picks up a little after the half-way mark, but it’s just too little too late by that point. A tragically wasted opportunity. Let’s hope it can pick it up again in the next volume.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Vampires, blood, stabberising, scuffling.
Sex/Nudity: Frequent depictions of and references to sexual acts.
Swearing: Frequent and strong.
Summary: A relatively strong ending doesn’t manage to save the mess of poor characterisation that precedes it. One for real obsessives only. 3/10
Comics Corner

2000AD #1726
Available from Wednesday 23rd March

Review by Brad Harmer

A new Judge Dredd story kicks off this issue and, so far, it looks to be a good one. Good sense of humour, lots of action and a sarcastic undercurrent. If that isn’t what Judge Dredd is all about, then I don’t know what is!

Shakara is still grinding ponderously to a halt. Frankly this dreary coda has been banging on for far too long now, and the ending can’t come quick enough.

Flesh, on the other hand, is actually improving. The story showcases Pat Mills at his action packed, dark humour filled finest, and the framing of the panels is really creative. Whilst I’m still not a fan of the style (it looks like Tesco Value Ezquerra), the use of long vertical panels for some of the flying combat scenes really lends it some dynamics. It’s fun.

This week’s Future Shock continues the trend of bland and barely acceptable sci-fi tales. This one is well drawn, but the story is piss weak once again. There have to be better amateur submissions than this, surely?

New series Dandridge looks to have some real promise. It raises your curiosity with the 2000AD quirk that you know and love.

All in all #1726 is a relatively solid issue, and not bad jumping on point, to boot. 7/10

QUESTION THEM AND BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN

A remote Island, located just off the coast of the British Isles - population under five thousand. At first sight, Peyton Island is the perfect setting for a quiet life. Unspoiled by the decadence of modern living, Peyton is guided by 'old time' values and a solid community spirit. However, when the sun goes down, 'Peyton' is a victim to the night. A strict curfew prohibits any residents from going out at night - the curfew was established by the Major and is enforced by the Patrol Men.

Patrol Men is a grungy and grimy British horror film where only one thing is certain: Bad things will happen.

Thanks to our friends at Crabtree Films, we've got two copies of Patrol Men 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 Monday 28th March, making sure to put "Patrol Men" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

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

Patrol Menis available from Monday 28th March, priced £12.99.

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

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