Brandon Sanderson has done it again with his latest Mistborn novel, Shadows of Self. Shadows of Self is a continuing story of Waxillium “Wax” Ladrian which continues on with the spaghetti western styled story we first saw in book, The Alloy of Law. The twists and turns this novel has you going through are so wonderfully crafted that just when you think you understand what is going on and what the villain of the story is trying to do, Brandon throws in a twist blown right in from the roughs that has you spellbound and amazed at his wizardry with words and plot twists.
If you are worried about jumping into a series at the 5th book you don’t have to be because this book is it can be read as a standalone novel, but if you are someone the loves details and the intricacies in the novels. Some of the history and details of the story could make you feel a little lost and like your missing something if you haven’t read the prior Mistborn novels.
However I can’t express how much fun this book was to read. There were various components that had me quickly drawn into the action. I never did I feel like I had to read through the book as the action was waning and it always felt like there was so much happening and it was so well paced that I wanted to know more. So much so that it was difficult to put down. The story doesn’t let up and it really pulls some strong punches as it forces Wax to explore the relationship he has with his god and his faith. Even though this is a fantasy novel many of us can related to this on a personal level and it’s a struggle at one time or another we’ve all faced.
The comedic timing in this book between Wax and Wayne is brilliant and every character within the novel is well written. You will quickly find yourself routing for the villain all the while wondering how Wax will save the day. This is a fantastic read I would recommend to anyone and one you should pick up.
Also the next book in the series the “Bands of Morning” is schedule to release in January so we won’t have to wait long to see what happens to Wax and Wayne after the events of this book.
Brandon Sanderson's website: http://brandonsanderson.com/
Shadows of Self:
Bands of Morning:
Magic Item Compendium Premium Reprint (Dungeons & Dragons 3.5)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Page Count: 286
Cost: $49.95 ($33.41 at Amazon.com)
Release Date: 07/16/2013 (Originally 3/13/2007)
Wizards of the Coast has done a great job with the premium reprints of Dungeons & Dragons books from past editions. I’ve been especially happy with the adventure collections and the reprints of AD&D 2.5. Having it in my hands now, I have to admit, it’s a wonderful resource for any person who likes to run a Dungeons & Dragons game using 3.0/3.5 rules. Is it necessary? No. After all, it’s missing a lot of basic items, so if you just have the big Compendiums from 3.5 (Rules and Spells) you’re going to be missing out on the common items of all, ranging from simple staves to the mighty vorpal sword or Holy Avenger. So unfortunately, while a fine resource, the Magic Item Compendium is missing a few item and isn’t as complete as I would like it to be.
I have to admit, I was surprised when I saw the Magic Item Compendium on the docket for a premium reprinting back when it first came out. After all, it originally was released in March of 2007 – a little over six years ago. You can find the original quite easily still, and for a fraction of the premium reprint, so unlike a lot of the other premium reprints which were out of print for at least a decade and a half, the Magic Item Compendium reprint feels like it will be a hard sell.
When you first take a look at the premium reprint of the Magic Item Compendium, you can instantly tell the difference between this and the original printing. The original had greenish-blue cover and the art featured a long haired, one-eyed Paladin with a red scroll in one hand and a magic sword in the other. The art and cover design was not very appealing. The premium reprint, however is so much better, it’s hard to put it into words. The cover is bone white with gold lettering and it both looks and feels like a mystical tome. The cover art is simple but amazingly effective. You have a potion with a red stopper and a gold dragon curled around it. The cover also features both etching and embossing, which just makes the book fun to just rub your fingertips across. Had I seen the original Magic Item Compendium back in 2007, I would have derided the cover and not even bothered to look at the contents. With the premium reprint however, I wanted to rip open the shrink wrap and read what lay between the hardcover binding, simply from the cover design. It’s hard to justify paying for just a swanky cover, but if you’re a 3.5 fan and have yet to pick up the Magic Item Compendium, this is definitely the version you want.
The book is divided into six chapters: Armor, Weapons, Clothing, Tools, Magic Item Sets and Using Magic Items. Each chapter gives you a list of qualities or effects to the chapter’s item for a magic effect. Then the chapter moves into specific premade items, for those of you who don’t want to build and calculate your own magic items. Oddly enough, a lot of key, almost iconic powers are missing from these chapters. For example, with weapons you’ll find there is no way to build a Defender, Flame Tongue, Frostbrand and the like, yet you CAN make a permanently blessed weapon. This, to me, is a perfect example of why I didn’t care for Edition 3.5, as it tries too hard to come up with “wacky” or overpowered unbalanced options, but then forgets the core and/or simple ones that made D&D popular and memorable to begin with. I understand they are easily found in the DMG, but the Magic Item Compendium really needed to include some of those iconic powers in the same manner they list all the new ones. This needed to be a one-stop shop, rather than just another weighty tome you carry around just IN CASE you might have a use for it at some point. Most D&D fans would rather be able to have, say, a sword of sharpness and know that, with a certain roll of the die, a limb gets lopped off, rather than to have to keep track of the fact their sword is a desiccating, fleshgrinding mindfeeder with Ghost Strike, and all the different rules, DCs and rolls that go along with it. In an attempt to include every possibility for a magic item, the Magic Item Compendium forgets the most basic and important magic weapons, and also overcomplicated the entire concept of magic items to the point where it feels like all the fun is sucked out of them by this process. I know some people must find having to have a separate piece of paper just to keep track of how to use your weapon fun, but I sure do not fall under that category.
Basically, what I took away from the Magic Item Compendium is that it is for gamers that want to roll-play instead of role-play. It’s for munchkin min/maxing gamers who would rather spend more time looking up precisely how and what to roll (and when) rather than trying to tell a fun story with friends. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not the type of gaming I enjoy. The second edition AD&D DMG has pretty much all the rules you need to make magic items, and it takes up, what, one-thirtieth of the space and works just as well? As does the regular DMG for both 3.0 and 3.5. Now, if you like to design magic items or are looking to supplement a previous list of magic weapons with the sheer myriad of options that the Magic Item Compendium offers, then knock yourself out, as this book works wonderfully as a detailed supplement that is nothing but “100% crunch”, as they say. However, it just doesn’t work as a standalone compendium (which is what the name implies), as it’s missing too much stuff. When you think of a compendium like the rules, spells or Monstrous ones, it implies a book you can just pick up and be the only one you will need for that specific niche. Unfortunately, it’s just not true in this case. I hate to be so negative in this review, as I’ve loved all the premium edition reprints Wizards of the Coast has put out so far, but the Magic Item Compendium just seems to be a mish-mash of well meaning ideas without the necessary common sense to make them stand on their own. I guess when you advertise a book as quote, “collecting the most popular magic items in the D&D game and presents them in one easy-to-reference tome” and its not all there as NONE of the most popular magic items from D&D are in this book AT ALL, I get a little disappointed.
Do you remember back in July when we had author Timothy Zahn on the show and he mentioned his upcoming Star Wars book “Scoundrels”? Its out now and this book is Timothy Zahn’s return to the Star Wars universe and he delivers us what he called a Star Wars meets Ocean’s Eleven, starring Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando, and a number of other characters for those of us who have read any of the Expanded Universe would know (and several new characters, too.)
The story is set just after the events of A New Hope, Han Solo is as we know in debt to Jabba, and is looking for a score that will settle his debts with the crime lord. When one that is too good to be true falls into his lap. It’s a daring heist and he’ll need a team to pull it off. He brings in a whole host of criminals, rogues, and scoundrels and they get set to work.
The story Zahn has created written very well and is straightforward for the long-con structure. That’s not to say there aren’t any twists and turns, like any good Ocean’s story there are MANY twists and turns, but they’re almost to be expected for this kind of story. Zahn manages to find ways to twist them one step further than you’d expect. There truly is nothing predictable about this book. And every time our scoundrels get a bead on how to do things, a new hydrospanner is thrown into the sublight drive.
The book is highly entertaining and enjoyable. I had a smile on my face and chuckled the whole time while readin. Tim’s writing just does that. It’s sure of itself and knows what it’s doing. To quote Bryan Young of Big Shiny Robot, “there aren’t enough Star Wars books that maintain that light-hearted sense of adventure that permeates Star Wars. Too often they’re brooding affairs”. Sometimes you just want a fun Star Wars book, and this book delivers just that!
The assortment of characters is great, from the con-men employed to Han and Lando’s delicate relationship. It all rang in such a way that it made me very happy. I also really loved the way Winter was used in the book, and how they actually played on the recent destruction of the planet Alderaan. In the movie it really didn’t seem like enough attention was paid to the fact that billions of people were killed on Alderaan and there are people in the galaxy who felt it. Zahn gives us that window through Winter and utilizes her better than I can ever remember her being used.
This book is a great read because the book ends in a way that forces you to want to immediately start it over again, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who does. It’s a totally different experience reading it over from the beginning knowing what you learned through the first read through. Just know that there are revelations you learn by the end of the book that almost require a second reading.
I would give this book 5 star. Its excellent Star Wars book and a must read!
I remember the day I picked up my very first Forgotten Realms boxed reference set. It included some game materials, a really awesome map and a bit of background information to start your own campaigns. But never did I think I would ever see such an in depth look as Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster’s Forgotten Realms. It really is a masterpiece of Ed Greenwood‘s imagination.
Taken from Greenwood’s original notes from the late sixties, the Forgotten Realms were adapted in the seventies for game play with the original Dungeons & Dragons and finalized in the eighties for release with the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game books. By far the most popular and well known of all the official settings, the Realms are packed with well developed and powerful non-player characters (known as NPCs). This tome gives gamers a plethora of formerly unknown information, thereby not just amplifying our collective knowledge of Faerun but also expanding the possibilities in a campaign setting.
And when I say it is full of information, I’m not kidding. This book includes everything from typical foods to economics to everyday entertainments. Covering specifics such as how to become a noble at court and individual alliances between kingdoms, it also speaks to the more mundane things like education, local judiciary systems, and clothing differences by area. There really is something here for everyone. Whether you are a DM running a campaign in this setting or a player just wanting more reference material while reading the scores of novels set there, this is the most comprehensive compendium I have seen on the subject.
I wish I could detail every section of this book, but to do so would take far more time than if I just tell you it’s more than worth the price and your time to read it. Never before have I seen a section in a D&D reference book that described the variety of woods, children’s toys or types of rope and chain available. If you use the Forgotten Realms as a game setting or even just plan on writing a story or two based on it, this is the epitome of Faerunian information. My favorite parts are the scribblings of Greenwood from his original notes; it’s amazing to see how far this world has come in the past four decades since he first imagined it.
I really urge you to pick this up. As I said before, it’s the ultimate reference piece for the Realms and one that I think could be a crucial piece to any dungeon master. I love this book for the detailed look into this long lasting world. I hope you find it as appealing as I do. And to end this review, I quote Elminster: “Behold the Realms, from its lightless nether depths to the stars that twinkle down upon it. Make it thine.”
Fans of The Forgotten Realms RPG setting will be excited to get their hands on an upcoming supplement penned by the setting’s creator, Ed Greenwood, this month. Wizards of the Coast is publishing Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster’s Forgotten Realms, a 160 page supplement (although the sell sheet indicates 192 pages…) for Dungeons & Dragons. The hard cover will be on shelves on October 16th and carries an MSRP of $39.95.
The Forgotten Realms is the most successful and widely known Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting ever created, and it owes its existence to creator Ed Greenwood.
This 160-page hardcover book describes the campaign setting as it lives and breathes in the imagination of its creator. Through the alter ego of Elminster, Archmage of Shadowdale, Ed Greenwood presents the Realms as a setting where companies of crazed adventurers are born and have rich lives, and where they get to call the shots. In this book, Ed presents a world where friendships are forged, endless intrigues unfold, and heroes wage war against the monstrous inhabitants of famous dungeons and untamed wildernesses.
For those FORGOTTEN REALMS fan, this book provides a rare glimpse into the setting as imagined by its creator, with new information on its visible and clandestine rulers, various merchant and trade princes, the churches and mercenary companies of the Realms, renown magic-users and secret societies, adventuring companies, and the web of alliances and enmities that connect them. The book is aimed at all Forgotten Realms enthusiasts, including players of every edition of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game.
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have tag teamed so many novels of the years that they have become a household name to fantasy readers. Rage of the Dragon is the third installment in their latest series, the Dragonships of Vindras. Here is a blurb from the inside flap of the cover.
Skylan Ivorson is the gods-chosen Chief of all Vindras clans. But the gods from whom the Vindrasi draw their earthdwelling power are besieged by a new generation of gods who are challenging them for the powers of creation. The only way to stop these brash interlopers lies within the Five Bones of the Vektia Dragon—the primal dragon forged during the creation of the world—which have been lost for generations.
With the Gods of the New Dawn amassing a vast army, Skylan finds allies in former enemies. Calling upon the ogres to fight their common foes, the Vindrasi soon find themselves in the middle of an even larger war. Skylan and his Vindrasi clan must sail the Sea of Tears into the heart of the Forbidden Empire of the Cyclops, to implement a cunning yet delicate plan that risks his life and leadership at every corner. But a new enemy lies deep in the sea, one who draws upon powers never harnessed by land dwellers.
For me just seeing the names Weis and Hickman on the cover is enough for me to want to read it. When you add in gods going to war and dragons I can’t turn the pages fast enough.
It is becoming quite typical of series written by this duo to start off rather slow as your trudging along in the story. What really makes Weis and Hickman good at what they do though is that there is always payoff for your patience. They take their time building the story, introducing you to the characters. Perhaps we have become a cultural too inundated with technology and instant gratification that we cannot wait for the action to start. Well, you have to wait with a good book. I will tell you this much, when the action starts, it gets your heart beating. It is in conflict that Weis and Hickman truly shine. The battle scenes in this book are thrilling and so well conceived and written that it is easy to visualize yourself standing there at Skylan’s side.
This is good, fun, fantasy. If you haven’t started this series yet, do so, and know that you need to have a little patience, let the story grow and you will be rewarded. I’ll be honest though and nostalgia’s sake their best work will always be the Dragonlance Chronicles. However, that being said, this is still a great story that is well written and most assuredly worthy of a read.