Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton

A new and corrupt Emperor seeks to rebuild the ancient structures of Villjamur to give the people of the city hope in the face of great upheaval and an oppressing ice age. But when a stranger called Shalev arrives, empowering a militant underground movement, crime and terror becomes rampant.

The Inquisition is always one step behind, and military resources are spread thinly across the Empire. So Emperor Urtica calls upon cultists to help construct a group to eliminate those involved with the uprising, and calm the populace. But there’s more to The Villjamur Knights than just phenomenal skills and abilities – each have a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything they represent.

Investigator Fulcrom of the Villjamur Inquisition is given the unenviable task of managing the Knights, but his own skills are tested when a mysterious priest, who has travelled from beyond the fringes of the Empire, seeks his help. The priest’s existence threatens the church, and his quest promises to unravel the fabric of the world. And in a distant corner of the Empire, the enigmatic cultist Dartun Súr steps back into this world, having witnessed horrors beyond his imagination. Broken, altered, he and the remnants of his order are heading back to Villjamur.

And all eyes turn to the Sanctuary City, for Villjamur’s ancient legends are about to be shattered…

Whether it’s feisty cover art debates, reviews, or interviews, Mark Charan Newton, author of Nights of Villjamur (REVIEW) is no stranger to the readers of this blog. I enjoy promoting the work (and grinding the gears) of Newton, who I think is one of the bright up-and-coming young writers of the genre. City of Ruin was an improvement in almost every facet over Nights of Villjmaur; if The Book of Transformations continues Newton’s trend upward, we’re all in for a treat.

To help us decide whether the excitement is justified, Newton has recently published Chapter One of The Book of Transformations on Newton’s blog.

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An illustrated refresh for Rothfuss' THE NAME OF THE WINDAlongside, well… everybody, I’ve been looking forward to finally getting my hands on The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss’ sequel to his super-debut The Name of the Wind, for years. When I received my copy a couple of weeks ago, I dallied with the idea of re-reading The Name of the Wind for the first time since it was first released. After three years, I was understandably rusty on some of the finer points of the story. But that dalliance lasted only about 15 seconds before I cracked under the pressure and started reading The Wise Man’s Fear. I tried to hunt down a detailed synopsis but could only find the inadequate one on Wikipedia. Alas, I pushed ahead anyway.

Lucky for me, and every other reader too eager to re-read The Name of the Wind, Rothfuss, along with his buddy Nathan Taylor, has published a fully illustrated (and predictably humorous) recap of The Name of the Wind to catch us all up.

Would you believe that one of my most anticipated videogames is an iPhone game? No? Well, watch this trailer:


And this one:


Yeah. Combining the sensibilities and graphics of old-school adventure games and Zelda-style exploration with the intuitive iPhone interface, Sword & Sorcery EP hits all the right notes with me. It also doesn’t hurt that developer Superbrothers is able to convey more atmosphere and emotion with their pixelized hero and setting than most blockbuster games achieve with all the normal mapping and ambient occlusion in the world.

You can find out more about the game on the official Sword & Sorcery EP website.


I never played The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. With its huge, expansive world and sandbox mechanics, it should have been right up my alley. I think, though, I was turned off by the incredibly generic British Isles-inspired setting. It was a pretty rendition, prettier than anything that had come before, but in light of games like World of Warcraft, it just seemed so… blah.

Now, Skyrim‘s snowy, mountainous setting and horn-helmeted, long-bearded Norsemen, that’s something I can get behind. It’s amazing what a small change in scenery can do to inspire a bit of enthusiasm. Hopefully developer Bethesda can learn from some of the mistakes that plagued Oblivion (which, admittedly, were also a turn off for me).

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim releases on November 11th, 2011.

Old Man's War by John ScalziFrom

Paramount Pictures has acquired screen rights to the John Scalzi novel series Old Man’s War, with Wolfgang Petersen attached to direct and David Self adapting the tale into a large-scale science fiction project. Scott Stuber will produce through his Stuber Pictures banner, with Petersen also producing.


Stuber’s currently producing the Peter Berg-directed Battleship, Keanu Reeves-starrer 47 Ronin and the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds drama Safe House.

Petersen hasn’t directed a film since the 2006 pic Poseidon. That film didn’t work, but before that, the Das Boot helmer had an enviable string of blockbusters: Troy, The Perfect Storm, Air Force One, Outbreak and In the Line of Fire.

And a synopsis, for those who haven’t read the novel:

You’re seventy-five years old, your wife is dead, and your life is winding down. What do you do next? If you’re John Perry, the answer is simple: You join the military. The Colonial Defense Forces take Earth’s senior citizens and retrofit them young, strong bodies — and then throws them into the unending war humanity is waging against other civilizations up there among the stars. John Perry is in the middle of it all and learning fast to survive, because the alternatives — for him and humanity — are grim. And it’s in the middle of this struggle for survival that Perry meets a woman who seems achingly familiar…

Old Man’s War is one of my favourite novels. It’s a wonderful companion to classics like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Haldeman’s The Forever War, taking the same basic premise (raw recruit in intergalactic war), but putting a more contemporary spin on the setting and some of the scientific concepts. If this ever makes it to the silver screen (which, lets be honest, it’s Hollywood and I’ll believe it when I see a trailer), I think it will be an easy transition. John Perry, the protagonist and narrator is charming and charismatic, an aspect that should transfer easily to the silver screen through some deft casting. Most amusing, though, will be the outraged Avatar fans proclaiming its concept of sleeving humans in superhuman bodies as a huge ripoff.