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