I read: Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress

Published by Wizards of the Coast as part of their 3.5 Edition Dungeons & Dragons (“3.5E“) promotion materials, Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress (2007)1 Shelly Mazzanoble Confessions of Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Game (September 2007, Wizards of the Coast, Seattle WA) (“Confessions“) by Shelly Mazzanoble is a modestly sized book which enjoyed limited success following a very odd release by Wizards of the Coast. It hasn’t generated enough nerd buzz to get it’s own Wikipedia page, and my “new” copy has stickers indicating it has been sold and resold among distributors at least three times.

I vividly remember being on the official Dungeons & Dragons (“D&D“) forums at the time and a thread being created in this book’s honour, with the bold declaration “This thread is a safe space for women.”

Naturally the thread was immediately hijacked by weird Mens Rights Activists (“MRAs”) types who wanted to fight over the whether women were allowed to have a safe space, spewing the theorized projections from The Myth of Male Power (1993)2 Warren Farrell The Myth of Male Power: Why Men are the Disposable Sex (1993, Simon and Schuster, USA) as though they were long established facts. Moderators dealt with this by periodically reposting “This thread is a safe space for women.”

Largely though, the release was overshadowed by other issues relating to the changes to the Forgotten Realms, such as the thread on The Orc King (2007)3 R. A. Salvatore The Orc King (25 September 2007, Wizards of the Coast, Seattle WA) which was released at roughly the same time and raised the issue of impact of both the Spellplague, and how would kill off the protagonist Drizzt Do’Urden’s woman-as-rewardwife Catti-brie (until she comes back). Oh and it seemed to reinvent orcs as Emancipation Era African Americans right down to marrying above their race and having their own version of the Ku Klux Klan, the “Casin Cu Calas“.

It’s different because it’s in elven so let’s not think too hard about the implications.

2007 was a wild time for people who played D&D and had any sense of social sensitivity or awareness at all. Weird none of the nerds writing the Wikipedia articles want to talk about that. What’s up with that? Anyway.

So, I never read it during that time but recently decided I should do so to see if it could purge those memories from my memory and my conclusion is – I understand the reason for it less than I did when my only knowledge of it was a bad thread. Only time will tell if scrutinizing and externalizing my observations changes that.

Continue reading I read: Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress
  • 1
    Shelly Mazzanoble Confessions of Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Game (September 2007, Wizards of the Coast, Seattle WA)
  • 2
    Warren Farrell The Myth of Male Power: Why Men are the Disposable Sex (1993, Simon and Schuster, USA)
  • 3
    R. A. Salvatore The Orc King (25 September 2007, Wizards of the Coast, Seattle WA)

I read: The Calling by David Gaider

The second book in the adventures of King Maric, who is long dead before the Dragon Age: Origins game began – introduces some characters from the game in a way that is a mix of character and world building – and oddly transparent set up material.  Most oddly, it provides almost no insight into the titular topic, but rather seems to assume the audience is familiar with all the lore already.

When Dragon Age: Inquisition was released, many people expected the Architect to be the big bad or at least a pivotal figure – and reading through this novel it’s easy to see why.  It does very much set him up as a pivotal figure for future events, and somewhat rehash his goals revealed in Awakening.  Certainly the book suggests there is more than enough depth to make him the focus of a whole game in itself – its just all unrealised potential.

Reading the book, it feel a little as though watching a tabletop adventure game party consisting of a few player characters and a bunch of non-player characters included to assist.  It also unfortunately somewhat undermines the significance of the events in Origin, making the events seem oddly common due to a comical amount of negligence by various groups.

Ultimately its a story that feels very like it had a lot of potential but was under developed and under edited, being put out with a set agenda to achieve a few goals relation to the game rather than really expanding out the lore of Dragon Age or providing a satisfying story.  So much potential is on display, and yet so little of it is really fully explored.

This makes sense to a certain degree, since games are made as a collaborative effort and writing an expansion novel is largely a solo endeavour, both are done to deadlines but as the novels were secondary it seems safe to assume that less time was available (both relatively and actually)

Spoilers follow:

Continue reading I read: The Calling by David Gaider

I read: Hitman – The Enemy Within by William C. Dietz

Less a Hitman book and more a compilation of worrying fantasies vaguely connected by the presence of a character labelled as 47.  It’s like a fan fic, but written by someone who read reviews of the games.

It can be safely be said that the Hitman movies are objectively awful, yet they are both sublime masterpieces in comparison to this book – which distils the worst elements of the early game then displays a complete contempt for the rest at a conceptual level.

The story has a complete absence of tension, both due to pacing issues and the baffling assumption that in a world with competing international assassination agencies – everyone who works for the agencies directly or indirectly must be staggeringly incompetent.  Some of the plot twists could come straight out of an episode of Archer.

Approximately fifty percent of the story is spent on a side mission that focuses on trying to be shocking for the sake of shock.  The book also has a strange tendency to refer to items by their brand name, then later have details wrong.  Plot points are also put forward and forgotten in later chapters – resulting in an unsatisfying ending that resolves little and feels like it was more the result of a word target than planning.

On top of this the book spends more time describing and exploring the history of a single female character’s naked body than it ever does any aspect of the ICA (referred to only as “The Agency”), 47, his equipment or methodology.   The most stressed point seems to be 47 uses a DOVO brand straight razor.

There’s also a creepy fixation of threatening women with what could only described as extreme nipple torture (men just get regular torture regardless of their crimes or the situation).

Overall it’s a story that forgoes exploring anything from the world of 47 to instead favour instead a poor imitation professional criminal story more akin to the adventures of Richard Stark’s Parker than the globe trotting adventures of a genetically engineered super assassin who has a barcode on the back of his bald head.

Spoilers follow

Continue reading I read: Hitman – The Enemy Within by William C. Dietz

I read: Awoken by Serra Elinsen

What the fhtagn did I just read?

It seemed like madness at first, but now it makes so much sense that the apex of the paranormal romance would be between a generic middle class white girl and a the iconic Eldritch Horror deity.

Vampires? Boring. Shapeshifters? Ridiculous. Squid headed elder gods masquerading as the new kid at high school? Spectacular. It’s the high school friendly YA romance that everyone who is interested in the paranormal romance writing should study.

You got your abusive love interest who exists more as a plot point than any sort of being with a personality, you got your over the top plot point rival and you have literally the fate of the universe at stake. It’s all there.

This is not just a book that shows us the totally relatable situation of being the special person who gains the romantic attention of an ancient being beyond mortal comprehension and explores how it might interfere with the day to day life of someone so boring they simply re-read Phantom of the Opera over and over again, it’s an important historical document.

Spoilers ahead

Continue reading I read: Awoken by Serra Elinsen