Crecy – a one-shot comic about the 1346 slaughter at Crecy in France by the English

Crecy, comic cover

I’m not a historian but do have a passing interest in both history and comics. Recently I read Crecy by Warren Ellis which is an overview of the Battle of Crecy, as told down the lenses to the reader by a racist lout English bowman.

And it’s really worth a read, but some aspects play to particular tastes.

In short – it’s good.

I’m glad to have read it and was also interested to see how the writer and artist took a very confined scope and brought a story into it. The reasons and backstory is glossed behind the view of the main character, with enough context to allow the story to land on the page.

Crécy is a graphic novel written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Raulo Cáceres, depicting some of the events surrounding the historical Battle of Crécy. The graphic novel was published in 2007…

For – Arts style (a) suits the period darn well. In fact it is beautifully matched to the setting. There is no overstylised covering of the panels or tricks, and reflections of art from the period is used in places to make a counter illustration style very effective. The use of black and white makes the mud and blood mix, and the gore is stark. I really like the art, it’s a key reason the comic is very accessible.

To the camera voice (b) of the main character is very useful to draw in the reader, as is the modern language used to the reader as constructed to the language of the character when they are “on-stage”. His narration does help join the story together so that the reader follows all the events; although it’s not a complex story.

Panel transitions are clever (c) and the story moves very well. It’s also a good primer on the battle (d) which fed to my interests and the level of detail in the maps and tangential information is great. I’ve no idea if they’re accurate but they are well suited.  Continue reading

Autumnlands – a good read

Autumnlands is a comic that I wasn’t sure about, but quickly liked. The story starts simply and gets more fantastic and magical as it progresses. After reading the first collection there is certainly more going on in the backstory that will be revealed than the initial story gives you – and I’ve several guesses that I’m keeping to myself for now. The wider story arc called “Tooth and Claw” plays out in issues I’ve not yet read but am looking forward to. Weird magic (floating cities, rituals of summoning, muto corpus / animal based hybrids in Ars Magica, lightning spells), beasties, rapid melee with swords and spears – what’s not to like?

Autumnlands by Image Comics

A neat little primer for medieval studies

I found a neat little book in a book shop this week on the Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages, named Thinking Medieval, by Marcus Ball.

A review from Goodreads said,

Okay, so this isn’t really a mass-market paperback, but nor is it an over-the-top practice in being an erudite ass. Bull’s examination of what we mean–and what we DON’T–when we talk about the Middle Ages is funny, fast, and incredibly well-argued. Although it can be a little depressing (as a medievalist) sometimes, it’s very honest about the field and its uses and what those interested in the medieval era should be aware of when they’re discussing it with those studying it, those mocking it, those thinking they know about it, and everyone else.

The book is not about the history of the period all, but acts as a primer for the way to start thinking about the medieval period in a study context – how to think about the era as a student.

I find it interesting as a fan of the period that I’d stumble upon a book like this randomly.

It feels like a gateway book for more serious consideration into understanding the period from an academic perspective.

I’m really looking forward to reading it in full, and what I’ve read so far is very informative.

Middle-Earth From Space

Here are some stunning visualisations on what Middle Earth might look like from space, as created by a set of insane folks (via Middle-Earth From Space). Kind cool.

ME-From-Space-01me-from-space-02me-from-space-03

Quote for the day – Fairy tales go to Westros to die

GRRM is the anti-romantic. Fairy tales go to Westros to die.

a_song_of_ice_and_fire__wildlings_by_skworus-d5s0bpa

Over here on IO9 there is a little thread about what will happen to some characters. It has spoilers in it for those folks who are watching the TV show, but have not read all the novels. I really think this captures what A Song of Ice and Fire’s setting is like.

The hate for GRRM’s treatment of characters is there in the comments, as to is the love for the very same cruel, unbalanced, and distasteful setting. I love it.

Picking who will be alive at the end of the next book is a fun game, and I won’t ruin the TV folks day by guessing here. My prediction though is a confrontation between the big two families of Starks vs Lannisters for who gets a solid piece of a Targaren, and then takes the throne. If you think any of those families are out of the running you’re cont considering how sweetly perverted GRRM is.

Art was found via Google search on Deviant Art, by Skworus (tumblr)- and is darn nice.

A quick review of Tides of War by Christie Golden

As a Warcraft fan of many years (pre-dating my playing of the wow mmo) and also an avid reader of any fantasy and scifi novels, be they pulpy, macabre, serious, or comedic. When the novel was announced to be the lead in to the Mists of Pandaria expansion for WoW I was interested.

It took a long while for me to get my hands on a borrowed copy, but now that I’m finished I thought I’d best share what I think was and wasn’t in the novel.

The quick review: The novel is OK and readable for wow fans. As a score its about 13/20 for the reasons below. Note there are spoilers below. Continue reading

The New Death, quick book review

It is a great and wonderful thing when new authors step up into the limelight, especially when they present new work. Here is a short review of a short story and poem collection called The New Death, and others by James Hutchings.Cover of The New Death, by James Hutchings

I am a fan of Gothic literature, dating back to a set of short stories by Picador called Tales of the New Gothic which my parents ruefully purchased over 20 years ago. I’ve still that book too, and I remember fondly how quirky and odd it was in my reading experience as a young reader. It was like a gateway drug to Edgar Allen Poe and Silvia Plath. I loved it.

The New Death is similar, although even more diverse as it contains a range of poems, snippet writing, and short stories all of which fit snugly into the gothic / alternative fiction theme. As writing it is bloody odd. It is also enjoyable. Throughout the work are many nods to other authors typical of the theme, and there is also a reoccurring theme where a mood, passion, or essential entity is presented as a more human creature. Death, Love, Ambition, etc are presented in stories as themes and characters. Readers familiar with the Neil Gaiman Sandman series will see some parallels.

Much of the material is also fable like, or has an essential message. Some messages are blunt, such as the dislike of reality TV and vapid fame. Others are more subtle, like the many ways to present death and desire as a personalities.

The tone of the writing is not suitable for young readers as it touches on adult themes, but it also seems to remain symbolic enough so that a mid-teens reader would not be shocked or alarmed.

The Amazon store quick summary is intriguing, firstly for taking a broadside at the Twilight vampires (which I totally agree with), and secondly because it acknowledges that this is a strange collection:

44 stories. 19 poems. No sparkly vampires. There’s a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it – but from which direction?

As an offering of disclosure I didn’t randomly find Jame’s writing, he contacted me and asked if I’d be interested. That said, I’m glad he did as it’s a good book for poetry and gothic lit fans, especially younger readers.