Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Book Reviews

Star Wars – Fate of the Jedi: Ascension
Christie Golden
Arrow Books/Random House
Available Now - (Hardback)
Review by Rob Wade

In this penultimate novel in the bestselling Fate of the Jedi series, Luke Skywalker, his son Ben, and the Sith girl Vestara are in hot pursuit of the dread power called Abeloth, who has joined forces with the Sith in a bid to take over the galaxy. The leadership of the government is uncertain, torn apart by power struggles and infiltrators, while the Sith have a terrible secret that could shake the Jedi Order to its core...

If you were to look up a definition in the E14 dictionary (which for the purposes of this metaphor will have phrases as well as individual words), the definition in this case being “Shit’s about to kick off”, the specific definition you would get reads as follows:

“The last 100 pages of Fate of the Jedi: Ascension”.

Going in, it’s fairly common knowledge that this book was going to do more setting up than resolving anything. The novel which precedes the final instalment traditionally does that more so than any other in the series, perhaps barring the first. Indeed, this novel sees the Force-strong team of Luke, Ben and Vestara exploring a number of the more traditional Sith “haunts” in search of Abeloth. Abeloth herself, meanwhile, has a project of her own to undertake, and the first big scene in the books is her demonstrating her power, which frankly gives you the distinct impression that the Jedi have their work cut out for them!

It’s not all Jedi-related plot however. The very fate of the galaxy is decided in a number of ways politically over the course of this story, from the Imperial Remnant to the Galactic Alliance as well as some big changes to the Jedi Council and their operations. In a way, this is one of the rare situations in which this novel is less than perfect, with the action at times jumping around considerably within a short space of time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s clear enough where you are and which character(s) you’re following, but sometimes it could flow a little better.

However, this feeling quickly disappeared in the aforementioned final 100 pages. Managing to juxtapose space battles and political intrigue all at the same time, the book makes you go “Oh shit!” in the best possible way when a few things are revealed. Make no mistake, incidentally, there are quite a few things going on that are all going to have a massive impact on the series. Should you buy it, then? If you’ve been reading up until now, you absolutely need to get this one. There’s ton of plot you’re going to miss out on if you don’t. If you’ve not been reading up until now, I’m not sure why you’d come in on the penultimate one in the series, but you should definitely read the series.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence: Lightsaber battles, blaster fights, space battles. All sorts.
Sex/Nudity: None, surprisingly.
Swearing: Traditional Star Wars fare.
Summary: The most engaging series in a long time ramps up even further. Apocalypse looks like being just that! 8/10

House of Fear
Various (Edited by Jonathan Oliver)
Rebellion

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

The tread on the landing outside the door, when you know you are the only one in the house. The wind whistling through the eves, carrying the voices of the dead. The figure glimpsed briefly through the cracked window of a derelict house. Editor Jonathan Oliver brings horror home with a collection of haunted house stories by some of the finest writers working in the horror genre, including Joe R. Lansdale, Christopher Priest, Christopher Fowler, Tim Lebbon and more.

It’s that time of year when the horror short-story compilations start to clutter up the shelves of your local Waterstones, only to be relegated to The Works and various motorway service stations three months later. House of Fear is, however, noticeably different to these the bulk of these releases, in that it is very good. The calibre of the contributing writers is blindingly high, and has chosen to focus on quality, rather than quantity (unlike some “Mammoth” compilations).

Like any compilation, the quality is variable, but generally the stories contained within House of Fear are very good. The Room Upstairs, a tale of repressed anguish and guilt given form, and An Injustice, probably the most moving “ghost story” I have ever read, are absolutely brilliant. Some, like The Doll’s House (a story of – “Spoiler” – a haunted doll’s house) are predicatable, but enjoyable nonetheless. The only real disappointment was Christopher Priest’s story, which was flimsy and ill conceived.

If you’re looking for some Halloween spookiness, you should certainly pick this up. The stories are (for the main part) very good, and the price is a bargain.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some descriptions of murder and violence; usually second-hand accounts.
Sex/Nudity: Some explicit sex scenes. Horror short stories seem to feel a need to do that, I’ve noticed.
Swearing: A few swears, but nothing especially noteworthy.
Summary: A great colletion of ghost stories, many with highly original takes on the genre. There are a couple of duff ones (aren’t there always?), but this is still well worth checking out. 8/10

AWESOME HORROR MOVIE GIVEAWAY


From the producer of Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage comes Shiver, the latest chilling horror from Spain.

Santi is a teenager who suffers from photophobia, a severe aversion to sunlight that disfigures the skin. He and his single mother are forced to move away from the city to a shaded, remote village in the mountains where they take up residence in an old farmhouse. Not long after their arrival animals and then people are found brutally murdered and suspicion falls on the newcomer. But in the darkness of the forest something is hiding. And now it's coming for Santi...


From Frank Darabont, acclaimed director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist comes this terrifying claustrophobic tale starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Matherson.

Hard-working construction company owner Clint is married to Joanna, but little does he know she's having an affair with a doctor and the pair are plotting to kill him and get a hefty insurance payout. One night Joanna injects her husband with poison and with the help of her lover they set about burying him in a shallow grave. But there's only one slight problem: Clint isn't dead!


Following The Exorcist, Oscar-winning director William Friedkin returned with another classic tale of supernatural horror in The Guardian.

Phil and Kate are a young couple living in an idyllic life in their LA home. when Kate becomes pregnant with their first child they begin the search for a nanny to care fo their newborn. The lovely Camilla seems like the perfect candidate for the live-in role. She's a beautiful woman who devotes herself to looking after the baby, but it soon becomes apparent the nanny is not all she seems...

Thanks to our friends at Second Sight Films, we've got two copies of of each of these awesome movies to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Tuesday 18th October, making sure to put "Horror Bundle" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of each terrifying movie!

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

The Guardian, Buried Alive and Shiver are available from 17th October, courtesy of Second Sight Films.

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

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