Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Book Review: The Final Empire (Mistborn Book #1)

So, yeah, I'm back to the roots on which this blog is based - Books!!

And today I have for you, on of my absolute favourite fantasy authors - Brandon Sanderson who has been surprising me with the kind of magic systems he can come up with. He's also the author who completed the extra long yet super amazing Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, who unfortunately passed away before completing the 14 book series (Yes, 14 fantasy books - buy them, take a holiday and grow a beard)

I still have the other two books of the trilogy to read, which I promise to, very soon - Not promising you guys, I'm promising myself. Fine, I'll promise to you as well. I've been reading ebooks for a while now and although I would prefer owning hard copies, a friend gifted me the entire series, so ebooks for this series it is.

Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned, the book introduces a very cool magic system called Allomancy. This allows certain people to "burn" certain ingested metals for cool powers. There are ten known metals which can be used for allomancy and the powers range from using metal to enhance strength and stamina to jumping long distances to mind control. Of course, if you try and burn other or impure metals, you get sick and die. But very cleverly, Sanderson, through the eyes of the protagonist not only doubts this information, he also challenges the rules of the game.

As far as the characters are concerned, mostly the story is told from the viewpoints of two characters. Vin, a beaten down teenage thief in the capital city full of nobles and slaves (called skaa), who has allomancy but obviously doesn't know it and Kelsier, a proficient thief-cum-rebel, who is trying to organise a rebellion to bring down the all powerful Ruler and his centuries old empire.

There are of course a multitude of other characters like the other thieves in Kelsier's group who are proficient in the use of one metal each and therefore, one set of powers. These uni-powered guys/gals are called Mistings, while Kelsier and Vin are the far more rarer two or more metal burners called...yes you guessed it...allomancers.

Vin's character arc starts from a mistrusting kid who slowly starts trusting while parallely rising from hating nobles to understanding them, while Kelsier's the bright teacher who undergoes some transformation into a hero but mostly is already there. Their interactions, however, and Vin's training is gold.

Love is used sparingly and mostly as a plot element and nicely set as a teenage first love kind. The setting is bleak with ash-rains happening through and the general mood of the populace being dull and beaten, something which Kelsier changes with a heroic sacrifice. Politics and nuances are well handled, although not Martinesque but Sanderson has his own charm.

I have a slight complaint about the final antagonist - the all supreme Ruler. While he is formidable in his own right, the only reference to him is through entries of a book which our heroes manage to steal quite early. We never really learn much about him to really connect with or against the character, so his defeat feels just a tad hollow. But maybe this all will be corrected in the next two books.

As I said before the magic is refreshingly new- no one is chucking fireballs and elves are not  firing arrows by the dozen. All in all a very engaging page turner.

Signing off,


Friday, 25 March 2016

Shank 2: A Game review

As you guys probably already know, I am an avid gamer. Or was and well..trying to be again. Don't hold me against it. I kept on writing my novel and with moving to another country, something had to give (not to mention the dearth of good gaming devices - yeah, I'm back to being a broke student for the time being).

Anywho, I was inspired to game again by my good friend, Devospaz, who runs a gaming channel of his own - Subscribe to it fellows. Sure is worth it. Especially check out his Assassin's Creed India videos - his commentary is way beyond hilarious and best, an Indian guy gives you his perspective on what the game developers got right and what they muffed up.

So he put up videos of a hack-slash comic book appearing (you say whaaa....yeah I said it too) game from EA called Shank and I loved the not-so-mindless innumerable hacking and slashing it offered. So, I decided I would try it for myself. Guess what, when I searched for it, I realised a sequel to the incredibly popular 1st part had already been released. So, I got SHANK 2! I can play Shank - the originaaal vicariously through Devo's videos, while I play the future of the chain-saw wielding, pistol-firing, shotgun-shooting, shark-teeth grabbing (yes, that happens) sequel.

As rightly captioned in the video, this is the most epic gaming scene ever in the history of every game ever created ever. If you started counting my evers, you will forever be counting evers. Anyever, the game has a cool storyline, well a semblance of a storyline (actually I have not finished the game - only about halfway through it).

Shank is a homely ex-hit mobman who goes back to his loving homeland only to horrifyingly find it under the atrocious flames of war and his mentor leading the rebellion against General Magnus' militia. His mentor - a lady (see it is a progressive game already) is captured and Shank must rescue her through wild west saloons, docks and ships, flaming infernos, and tribal pygmies who bite your face-off - literally. Still not sold on it?

Well, the gameplay will make you drool then. You have three main weapons you use at any time - knives, pistols and grenades. You gain more weapons as you go along - the trusty chainsaw comes in soon enough and you can execute a million different ways to kill bad guys. Stabbing them is easy, as is squashing them under huge crates. You can also fly in the air for a long while by firing your pistols continuously (seriously my superpower list just got rearranged - you can kill while flying at the effing same time - Superman can kryptonite himself).

Of course, the fights are not mindless hack and slash. The bosses specially require a lot of strategy and every boss is different and just tough enough to make you work for the bloody kill. The good part is even if you die, you start the game with full health pretty much just before the short segment you died in (applicable to boss fights as well), so the frustration levels never creep in too much.

There is one tiny downside. You will have to sit through an entire chapter, which takes about half an hour to get through, to save, otherwise you lose the entire progress. A small price to pay for such exhilaration.

So go play both Shank and Shank 2 or at least watch Devospaz's journey through the bloodthirsty lands of one of the ever best games ever.



Saturday, 19 March 2016

Review of Season 2 Episode 1 of Daredevil

Since I have been watching a lot of superhero shows, it only makes sense that I review them. I intend to give my thoughts on each show I watch. I will probably end up clubbing together Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow in one post.

But in other news, Daredevil Season 2 is finally here - in all its glorious...glory! All 13 episodes waiting to be watched (well I cheated and already watched 2...but it is my resolution to spread them out at least over a week). We will see how I hold up on the resolutions.

If you have not watched Daredevil season 1, you should probably slap yourself three times and go watch it like ASAP. Oh and slap yourself another four times for missing up on the even more awesome Jessica Jones Season 1 - which will probably need another post altogether. Marvel's TV series is far outdoing the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in my not-so-humble opinion (in Brighton's absence, I'm taking over the role of world-dictator-to-be temporarily - you cannot disagree with this opinion and no, I do not respect your disagreement on this topic).

Season 2 Episode 1 starts off with a typical Spiderman style catching of diamond thieves by Daredevil, except it isn't really typical. It has a Batman trilogy feel to it, which meshes in well with the dark and sombre tone of the show. Foggy (who as a child actor played an iconic role - comment below if you which movie(s) I am talking about) provides the witty banter release without being over the top, but is a kick-ass lawyer in his own right. We don't see much lawyering from Daredevil himself because well he is engaged in finding out who the heck is slicing and dicing mobs across Hell's Kitchen like an army (no literally like an army).

Enter the Punisher - one of the most violent vigilantes in the history of comic books. He isn't really shown much in the first episode but what these Marvel shows do brilliantly is to organically tease out the appearance of a villain (anti-hero in this case), so that you actually become excited for the reveal. Another thing they do brilliantly is leave every episode ending in a cliffhanger which makes you binge watch (hence the Netflix dropping entire seasons on one day).

If you do decide to binge watch, dare not spoil anything for me - I haven't spoiled anything from the first episode. I will however do a full review of the season once I finish sometime next week.

Speaking of next week- it heralds the Dawn of Justice. I mean Batman v. Superman, the super short fight. Jokes apart, while I am circumspect about DC's forays into movies (except the Batman trilogy), this may have the potential to break the bank. I certainly hope it does, because DC deserves a win to force Marvel to up its game (which I am sure they will in Captain America: Civil War - Holy Moly that last trailer).

Anyways, buzz off people, there is binge-watching to do. What? You didn't think I was going to keep my resolution did you? If you did, you haven't watched Daredevil Season 1, in which case slap yourself thrice again and four times for missing Jessica Jones and three times for Season 2 of Daredevil.

Signing off,


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Of Renewed Beginnings

Too long has it been that I have myself ventured into the lost pages of pineapple lightning. Yet as I traverse through my first sojourn as a budding author, the memories reflected in this blog bring a smile. The enthusiasm behind writing, the excitement of a blog which fell victim to the drudgery of work and the worst weapon that isn't - laziness.

Yet, I did keep writing, as a few may know. Three years it took but the novel called Tides of Magic is complete and edited with a full manuscript request already out. And it is in this bright hour that I return to you with the blog that started it all.

I will not make promises I can keep. I will not make promises. But there will be posts - more than I can manage and more than the magic number of nothing. About what? Anything and everything - except my day job that is.

Video games, television shows, movies, youtube videos (the good kind).

Let me lightning your way into an awesome world.  Hopefully pineapple (Brighton) will join in soon too.

Signing off,