Showing posts with label high fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label high fantasy. Show all posts

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Review Time! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Red Sonja: The Falcon Throne



Red Sonja The Falcon Throne Title



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Title: Red Sonja: The Falcon Throne

Red Sonja The Falcon Throne book cover
Author: Marguerite Bennett

Contributors: Aneke, Marguerite Sauvage

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ (M/F; F/F)

Amazon: UK - USA







A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

Ahhhh, Red Sonja - the She-Devil with a Sword.

We come once again, my nerdlets, to the opportunity to review a Red Sonja book (which apparently, as a woman, is beyond my expertise; but it turns out girls can review comics. #TrueStory.)

And to see that this Sonja story had Marguerite Bennett at the helm?

I hardly dared get my hopes up at the prospect of Sonja being given the book she deserved... but I think my fervent prayers to the feminist gods were at least somewhat answered.

Strap in guys, 'cos I got some stuff to say.






Premise:

Hyrkania's king is dying. Sonja believes the kingdom will be better off with someone who... well, basically, isn't her... in charge.

Instead of the She-Devil, someone else comes in to fill the power vacuum.

But will this new leader be a force for good? Or will the prejudices he stirs up become Hyrkania's shame?






Best bits:

WOW. Dudes, this was the Red Sonja book I've been waiting for.

Finally, Sonja is freed from the prospect of painful chainmail wedgies and having to make pathetic doe-eyes at Conan that make her fans (well, some of us,) want to barf.

Instead, we have a still-sexy she-warrior who gets to wear warmer (though still not especially protective) clothes into battle, and doesn't have to worry about rust in her most intimate areas!

(Does anyone else flinch at the idea of non-lined chainmail underwear? *shudder*)

The (in)famous chainmail bikini is the costume male creators and fans have chosen again and again for Sonja; essentially they want an overly-sexualised Barbarian Barbie.

But as Sonja makes very clear - NO-ONE owns her!






red-haired woman






There's also a clear political message throughout this book - hatred against people who are different to you goes against everything that makes us human.

Sonja is revolted by the clear bigotry and outright racism that creeps into Hyrkania, and even more revolted by the support this bigotry has from the people.

Instead of a strong female leader, they have a douchebag bigoted dude. Kind of timely, don't you think?

Sonja's bisexuality is not ignored here: too often, Sonja's character is manipulated to erase her queer aspects - she becomes de facto straight in so many of her books.

But with Marguerite Bennett at the helm, we have a queer woman making sure Sonja is given her dues.

There are also people of colour (PoC) characters with agency, and complexity, and lives of their own.






Not so great bits:

Ok, so, my main problem with this book is that it comes dangerously close to White Saviour territory.

For those who don't know, the White Saviour trope is where a white person comes along and rescues the PoC characters - the implication being that they couldn't possibly rescue themselves, and need a white person to come and do it for them (which ofc is utter sh**.)

This trope reinforces the ugly idea of white superiority, and places PoC in a position where they are never the hero, only the victim.

Here, the PoC characters are pretty much doing things for themselves, but the final save-the-day business is achieved by Sonja - the white heroine and symbol of inspiration.







sword stuck in the ground







It all plays out a lot more complexly than just white-girl-saves-PoCs, but... I'm not saying this necessarily goes over the line, but we can certainly see the line from here, y'know?

And even seeing the line is worrying guys. I don't want to be anywhere near that line.

Parts of the plotting in general are... confused? Maybe? It just feels a bit hectic and out-of-control in places in terms of plot.

Maybe this is a side-effect of trying to make the plot twisty and action-filled, when really, all that was needed was to follow the characters' lead.


There's a bunch of gore and violence pretty much everywhere, swearing, and some non-explicit sexual content.






Verdict:

We verge uncomfortably close to white saviour territory here (*squints suspiciously at book*) and that's not cool.

Aside from that, though, this is the Sonja book her (true) fans have been waiting for - she kicks butt, looks sexy, but never betrays her character or her dignity.

Bennett's Sonja is strong. Bennett's Sonja is my Sonja, finally brought to the page.

This book is a major step-forward for the character. I just hope it can be built on and improved in the future.









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Monday, 29 February 2016

The Month in Review(s) - February 2016

Ah, February - a month of storms and Valentine's cards. And books of course.
 
Check out all my reviews from this month...
 

organising, categorising

Kids

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (aka just 'The Lightning Thief') by Rick Riordan - Fantasy, Mythology

Adult

Today Means Amen by Sierra DeMulder - Poetry
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Classics, Romance
The Trouble With Wolves (aka 'The Trouble With Weres') by Leigh Evans - Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Werewolves, Fairies/Fae
Omega Beloved by Aiden Bates - Romance (m/m,) Paranormal, Fantasy, Werewolves, LGBTQ+, Short Story

Graphic Novels

Grumpy Cat Volume 1 - Kids, Humour, Media Tie-In
Red Sonja/Conan: The Blood of a God - Fantasy, High Fantasy 

Popcorn Reviews (Film)

Seventh Son (2014)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Review! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Red Sonja/Conan: The Blood of a God

red sonja/conan graphic novel coverTitle: Red Sonja/Conan: The Blood of a God

Author: Victor Gischler, Roberto Castro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Series: Red Sonja/Conan (#1-4)
Release Date: 16 Feb 2016

Amazon: (UK - US)

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
This is a crossover between the wonderful she-warrior, Red Sonja, and Conan (i.e. the Barbarian,) which I really was looking forward to (swords and battles and two legends together, what could be better?)
  

Premise:

Red Sonja and Conan combine (mercenary) forces to defeat the foul schemes of an evil sorcerer - Kal'Ang; is there more to this battle than there seems?

Best bits:

Nothing does barbarian sword-and-sorcery quite like Red Sonja or Conan do; and if that's your shtick (guilty, as charged!) then look no further than this book.
I also love the art - well executed, and in some places verging on beautiful; certainly striking, though the covers (including the cover gallery included in this volume) are variable in both quality and the amount of anatomy on show.
And the characters rock: that is the major strength here.
Both Red Sonja and Conan (wearing his hair in a heavy-metal style-y - as all the barbarians are doing these days,) are strong and admirable characters, who, quite simply, take no sh**.

Not so great bits:

I felt like the story could've done with just a touch more fleshing-out. It was nearly there but there was just something missing - I honestly couldn't tell you what.
And I'm going to say it again. And I will keep saying it until it is no longer true. Sonja is over-sexualised in this book.
True, Conan wears very little clothing (though let's be honest, this is for the male aspirational angle rather than anything sexy,) but Sonja nearly pops out of her tiny coverings more than once - and please don't get me started on the horrendous posing, and the cringe-worthy flirting with Conan. (Sigh.)
Also, I imagine chain-mail wedgies are uncomfortable. Just saying.
Oh, and the gore, violence, swearing, and sexual content won't be to everyone's taste (though I honestly don't care.)

Verdict:

I enjoyed this book thoroughly - sturdy sword-and-sorcery fare that's well implemented and excellently illustrated.
I still have issues - but I still love Red Sonja in particular. I just wish she was treated in a way that's worthy of her awesomeness.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Popcorn Review! - Seventh Son (2014)

The Film/ TV Adap: Seventh Son.

The Bookish Inspiration: The Wardstone Chronicles/The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney (published in the US as The Last Apprentice series.)

Main Cast: Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander.

Director: Sergei/Sergey Bodrov.

BBFC Rating: 12A.

Amazon: UK - USA.



Opening credits:


I'd never read any of the books by Joseph Delaney, so didn't really know what to expect when watching this film - except that it looked kind of high fantasy-ish and was based on kids' books which are aimed at sort of 11 or 12-ish and up.


Premise:

'Spook' Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) recruits a seventh son, Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes,) to become his new apprentice in the fight against bad magic and the diabolical plots of the evil sorceress Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore.)

Is this the life Thomas wants to lead? And can they stop Mother Malkin?


Best bits:

Julianne Moore is decidedly both batty and beautiful in this film - and clearly enjoyed playing the part. B**ch be crazy.

I love all the robes and the magic and the Ye Olde Worlde feel to this film - it makes it seem more believable, and more involving.

Ben Barnes and Alicia Vikander clearly have a level of on-screen chemistry which made their will-they-won't-they relationship feel more engaging. I really liked this aspect, because unlike most romance, this didn't feel forced, and managed to contribute to the plot by creating questions of loyalty and morality.

Oh, and there's a bit part for Kit Harington, which is always good.

Not so great bits:

Parts of this felt... under-developed? I don't know - I guess that there was so much plot to cram in that the subtler nuances sometimes got left in the dust.

I felt like maybe this was trying to be too many things at once, instead of grabbing one or two of the main themes and playing them out.

There's a bunch of violence, implied sexy times, and some gore/horror which may not be suitable for everyone.


Popcorn Worthy?

This was a sort of background-noise, veg-out film, rather than something which blew my world. It was still watchable, still enjoyable - just missing a little bit of the wow factor.



Buy Now UKBuy Now USA - IMDb



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Friday, 1 January 2016

I Got Ninety-Nine Problems, and Sonja Ain't One

You know me, yeah? The bookish rebel with a penchant for all things nerdy.

I appreciate a good graphic novel. I don't even mind the odd naked lady (I have little shame left at this point.) So when I'm complaining about over-sexualisation, it's for a reason.

What am I blathering on about? Well my erstwhile readers, as a measure of how well, or not so well, my blog is doing, I sometimes Google it. (I know, I know, but really - the search engine is right there and it's not like I'm googling my name; it's for research... *hoping you believe that.)

So, I'm there, googling away, and come across a link to my Red Sonja: Black Tower review on a Facebook group. And at first I'm like, yay! Someone knows I exist! And then I read the first comment...

facebook comment



 
I was like... hang on, did this guy just completely dismiss my opinions... purely on the grounds that I'm a young woman?
 
And did this guy even read my review?
 
Firstly, it was the degradation involved, not the realism. If I wanted to criticise realism, then the mad as a box of frogs storyline would've been in the firing line... though as I mentioned in the review, I was kind of loving the bonkers aspects.
 
Also, I think my problem was more with the lack of outfit, rather than the outfit itself. But eh, potato/potahto. If you want to ramble on about bikinis then don't let me stop you (am I bovvered? - sorry, Catherine Tate moment.)
 
Last time I checked, strange though it may seem, characters were an integral part of story; funny that. Therefore, anything that bugs me enough to move me to write about it, is fair game my dears. Otherwise it would be dishonest. And I don't do that.
 
'Why state the obvious?' he asks. Because I don't like what that obvious implies - that Sonja needs to be nearly naked, butt and boobs to the wind, in order to be popular, powerful, successful, and worth-while. That somehow all her other qualities aren't enough.
 
I really love Sonja. She herself is not my problem. It's people who can't see past the bikini, and never draw her in actual clothing, that annoy me.
 
And despite the flaws, I do like the book. Strange that, a 'female reader' - who clearly could never be the target audience of anything and therefore has no relevant opinions *rolls eyes sarcastically* - liking a graphic novel, and having things she both likes and dislikes about it.
 
It's almost as if I had a mind of my own or something... but maybe I'm just confused. I thought I was 20-something, not 20. You might not think the 'something' matters, but as someone who gets ID'd for things all the damned time, it kind of matters to me. Personal niggle that.
 
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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Comics Wrap-Up - She's a Rebel

Graphic Novels

This week, my graphic novel reads have been all about girls who kick butt.

Rat Queens Deluxe Edition Volume 1 follows the not-suitable-for-kids adventures of Violet, Hannah, Dee and Betty - four adventurers who make up the 'Rat Queens' gang. It's very fantasy-based, so includes elves, mages, orcs, and the like. It's pretty awesome, and in no way afraid of gore and full-frontal nudity.

My full review of Rat Queens can be found here.

Red Sonja: The Black Tower, is another graphic novel which features a warrior woman. I love Sonja, and enjoyed this truly random adventure that felt more than a little bit cracked - but I totally understand that this won't be to everyone's taste.

You can find my full review of Red Sonja: The Black Tower here.

Single Issues

The Amazing Spider-Man #611 is a bit lacking in terms of plot, but awesome in terms of Deadpool. I love Deadpool; he rocks, so much - and I totally love the randomness and pure insanity that he brings to everything he touches.

Plus, the combination of Spidey and Deadpool is sacred to fan circles - what with the shipping of Spideypool and everything (this is where people who make fanfiction and fanart etc. have decided that Spiderman and Deadpool are romantically involved, sometimes to quite graphic effect. Fangirls and boys have very vivid imaginations. I've seen some things folks, I've seen some things.)


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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Review! (Graphic Novel Edition!) Rat Queens Deluxe Edition Volume 1

Title: Rat Queens Deluxe Edition Volume 1.

US Title Link.

Author: Kurtis J Wiebe.
 
Contributors: Stjepan Šejić, Tess Fowler, Roc Upchurch.

Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, High Fantasy.

Series: Rat Queens (#1-10.)

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
 
I'd heard Rat Queens talked about on various sites as being worth the read, so when the chance to review the Deluxe Edition (US link) of Volume 1 came up, I decided to give it a shot.

Premise:

Palisade is a city filled with adventurer gangs - the toughest being the Rat Queens. The Queens are made up of Violet the dwarf, Hannah the elven mage, Dee the apostate (ex) cult priestess, and Betty, the smidgen (kind of like a small elf.)
 
Unfortunately, the girls are soon going to have something more on their minds than just the normal bar-brawls and quest-type cash jobs.

Best bits:

This has a fab style, bright but with a real gothic-fantasy-art kind of vibe. It's not unlike the style of artwork in Death Vigil Volume 1 (you can see my review of that here,) and when I saw that Stjepan Šejić was a contributor, that kind of made sense.
 
What I really loved was that here were female characters who, yes, are beautiful, and yes, enjoy their sex lives, but also have wobbly bits and (relatively) realistic curves. They're shaped like actual people - which is a little odd considering most of them aren't human, but meh, c'est la vie.
 
The whole book has a vivacious blend of humour and seriousness, which keeps the plot positively zipping along.
 
And you have to laugh at Betty - she's a weird mix of adorable and terrifying: what's not to love?
 
The extras (cover gallery, shorts, and special 'Braga' story,) are a nice addition.
 
Not so great bits:

This isn't a book for the easily offended (man, I end up saying that a lot - is it just the type of thing I read?) There's a bunch of violence and drugs and swearing, some sexual content, and some full-frontal nudity. So, yeah, just a day at the office really.
 
It did take me a while to get into this book - I don't know why, it just didn't grab me straight off. Once I got into it though, I was hooked.
 
The only other thing I would really mention in terms of down-sides is that some of the details of the Rat Queens' lives pre-Queens feels a little stuffed in. I don't think that that level of detail was actually needed for all four of them at this point. An off-hand comment here and there would've cut whole pages with very little disadvantage to the story as a whole. But, as complaints go, it's a very minor one.

Verdict:

A fun and bold graphic novel where the ladies take centre stage without losing the complexity of their characters. These chicks kick butt, with plenty of sh**s and giggles along the way.