Author: michael Page 1 of 31

The Qubit Zirconium

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Keyforge book The Qubit Zirconium by M. Darusha Wehm, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Keyforge

The Crucible is a giant word larger than the sun, an artificial planet that is constantly under construction by the the Architects.

They gather their materials by transporting them from other planets and worlds, often bringing that worlds inhabitants along for the ride.

The world contains every environment imaginable, from bustling urban sprawls, to deserts, to jungles, to meadows and everything in between.

The Architects communicate through the ethereal Archons who themselves are completely in the dark about the purpose behind the Crucible.

And so they gather bands of followers, to gather Æmber, a psychic substance that can be forged into keys that unlock the vaults if they architects.

Keyforge itself is a unique deck card game, developed by Richard Garfield, the developer best know for Magic: The Gathering and King of Tokyo.

It’s a really good game, you should go check it out, but I am not reviewing the game here, but I will soon.

The Story

The story sees alien detectives, Wibble and Pplimz, a team consisting of a floating fish and a snappy dressed cyborg, look to clear the name of a former client who has been accused of theft.

The case quickly gets complicated, and the pair find themselves embroiled in a race to find a missing gem that potentially has the capability of utilising the power of the architects and endanger everyone on the Crucible.

The story starts off slow as the detectives, who very much have an odd couple vibe going on, with Wibble being a thrill seeking extrovert and Pplimz being a lot more formal and cautious, travel to a crashed Star Alliance ship to do some basic PI work, and they are doing it more out of boredom than anything else, knowing the client is unlikely to be able to pay them.

The story gradually begins to pick up steam as the pair find a lot of dead ends, which have the advantage of introducing us to more aspects of the Keyforge setting, and soon they find out the item their client is accused of stealing could potentially have the power to destroy the Crucible.

The book picks up pace as they travel to other parts of the Crucible desperate to find the Qubit Zirconium, and whilst it lacks any real action, or overt danger, there is a bit of tension as they conduct the investigation.

Conclusion

The book is ponderous, and that’s not necessarily a bad, thing. I think its set out to give a good introducing to the setting, to really explore the world, and to show us the craziness of life on the Crucible.

I really enjoyed the characters, there were some obvious tropes being introduced, the Star Alliance are a thinly veiled Federation after all, and the Martians are the very picture of the little green men we joke about, but again, the card game is very much about taking obvious tropes and twisting them ever so slightly.

I very much enjoyed the story, but the conclusion did fall a bit flat, it just kinda played out and it didn’t really feel that interesting, it just happened, and the urgency of the situation sort of just fizzed out.

A big thing I like was the normalisation of characters introducing their pronouns, something you rarely see, but I can imagine would be vital somewhere like the Crucible, and there was also an acknowledgment that non-binary people exist, and indeed Pplimz is non-binary themselves.

I do want to see more work around this pair, but I would hope the end is a bit more interesting, as I said, it works, but there is little to make you feel any sense of urgency in those closing chapters.

I am gonna give this book 3 out of 5 stars, I would have given it a 4, but then ending just didn’t excite me anywhere near the way the rest of the book did.

The eBook is released on the 13th April and the paperback hits the shelves on 24th June.


Quiet Easter

It’s been a quiet week, I have a few things waiting to come to fruition so I am gonna keep this short and sweet.

I hope you guys had a good Easter.

I published a couple of videos this week, one which was an unboxing and review of the Daylight Conpany Lumi Tasklamp, and a review of Instar Soap+

What I Am Modelling

It’s been a slow and hard week.

I started out by painting the first of my Flesh-Eater Courts, an Abhorant Arch-Regent.

I then picked up the Herlads of Nurgle, but stuff going on in my head really kept me from any painting.

I did build stuff to ensure my next twenty of so projects are ready to paint, and apart from a squad of Peltasts for my Mechanicum, they are all built and primed.

I decided I needed an easy win to get back my mojo, so I painted this Knight of Shrouds for my Nighthaunt.

And then I managed to finish off the Sloppity Bilepiper, Poxbringer and Spoipox Scrrivener for my Nurgle Daemons.


So what’s coming up next for me?

  1. Zone Mortalis Terrain
  2. Adeptus Mechanicum Onagar Dunecrawler
  3. Horticulous Slimux
  4. German Heer Infantry Squad x 10,Lieutenant & Riflemen x 2
  5. Necron Crypteks x 4, Cryptothralls x 2, Flayed Ones x 5 & Canoptek Reanimator
  6. Kill Team Arena & Pariah Nexus Terrain
  7. Blood Ravens Heavy Intercessors x 5 & Captain with Master-Crafted Heavy Bolt Rifle
  8. Mechanicum Termite
  9. Battlezone Objectives
  10. Flesh-Eater Courts Crypt Ghouls x 20

What I Am Reading

I finished The Qubit Zirconium by M. Darusha Wehm and a review of that should be up tomorrow.

I have now started Blood of the Emperor and am a decent way though that now.

What I Am Playing

Played a bit of Star Wars Squadrons which was a lot of fun.

On Easter Monday, me and the girls played a couple of board games, we started with Pandemic: Hot Zone North America which was a lot of fun and we managed to beat the game nice and convincingly.

Then we played Ticket To London and Megan absolutely whooped mine and Lindsay’s arse!

What I Am Backing

I am still backing Gloomier, the profits I made from crypto mining is paying for that.

And I have also backed the Wowstick drill, I love the screwdriver so the drill should be good for hobby work.


  • Mood:- Hot
  • Caffeinated Beverages Consumed:- 4
  • In My Ears:-
  • Tabletop Game Last Played:- Ticket to Ride London
  • Video Game Last Played:- Star Wars: Squadrons
  • Book Last Read:- Blood of the Emperor – Various Authors
  • Movie/TV Show Last Viewed:- Deep Space Nine
  • Current State of Projects:- Horticulous Slimux 60% done, mostly Mulch left to do

Unboxing and Review of the Lumi Tasklamp from the Daylight Company


Resolutions Update – March 2021

I had a slow start to the month but I have managed to get 324 models painted to date this year.

My T’au got a big boost with two Ghostkeels, three Riptides and a Stormsurge joining their ranks this month.

An in general I am happy with how everything else is going.

Paint 2000 points of Necrons for Warhammer 40,000 – 29% Complete

For the Necrons this month I added a squad of Warriors, some Scarabs, two Royal Wardens and two Overlords to the done pile.

I decided to share the list I am aiming to build this year and it’s as follows:-

+ No Force Org Slot [3 PL, 55pts] +

Bound Creation [2 PL, 40pts]
. Cryptothralls [2 PL, 40pts]
. . 2x Cryptothrall: 2x Scouring Eye, 2x Scythed Limbs

Viral Construct [1 PL, 15pts]: Canoptek Plasmacyte [1 PL, 15pts]

+ HQ [17 PL, 310pts] +

Chronomancer [4 PL, 80pts]: Aeonstave

Overlord [6 PL, 100pts]: Warlord, Warlord Trait (Sautekh): Hyperlogical Strategist
. Tachyon Arrow and Hyperphase Glaive [5pts]: Tachyon Arrow [5pts]

Skorpekh Lord [7 PL, 130pts]

+ Troops [34 PL, 750pts] +

Immortals [8 PL, 190pts]: 10x Immortal [170pts], Tesla Carbine [20pts]

Immortals [8 PL, 170pts]: Gauss Blaster, 10x Immortal [170pts]

Necron Warriors [6 PL, 130pts]
. 10x Necron Warrior (Gauss Flayer) [130pts]: 10x Gauss Flayer

Necron Warriors [6 PL, 130pts]
. 10x Necron Warrior (Gauss Flayer) [130pts]: 10x Gauss Flayer

Necron Warriors [6 PL, 130pts]
. 10x Necron Warrior (Gauss Reaper) [130pts]: 10x Gauss Reaper

+ Elites [19 PL, 390pts] +

Canoptek Reanimator [4 PL, 80pts]

Flayed Ones [3 PL, 65pts]
. 5x Flayed One [65pts]: 5x Flayer Claws

Lychguard [7 PL, 140pts]: 5x Lychguard [140pts], Warscythe

Skorpekh Destroyers [5 PL, 105pts]: Skorpekh Destroyer (Reap-Blade) [35pts]
. 2x Skorpekh Destroyer (Thresher) [70pts]: 2x Hyperphase Threshers

+ Fast Attack [15 PL, 335pts] +

Canoptek Scarab Swarms [4 PL, 90pts]
. 6x Canoptek Scarab Swarm [90pts]: 6x Feeder Mandibles

Canoptek Wraiths [5 PL, 120pts]
. 3x Canoptek Wraith (Claws/Particle Caster) [120pts]: 3x Particle Caster [15pts], 3x Vicious Claws

Triarch Praetorians [6 PL, 125pts]: Rod of Covenant, 5x Triarch Praetorian [125pts]

+ Flyer [8 PL, 145pts] +

Night Scythe [8 PL, 145pts]

All I need to buy for this list is a Night Scythe.

Paint 1000 points of Early War Germans for Bolt Action – 40.6% Complete

I painted the Mortar Team and Infantry Support gun this month, along with a second Heer Infantry Squad and a Sniper team.

Paint The Scourge for Dropfleet Commander – Complete

In a surprise move, I crushed this resolution this month.

It’s been made easy using the airbrush and the colourshift paint, and I am super happy to have completed this resolution.

Paint 2000 Points of Flesh Eater Courts for Warhammer Age of Sigmar – 12% Complete

At the very end of the month I managed to start on this by painting the Abhorant Archregent!

Other Resolutions

  • Paint Blackstone Fortress and it’s Expansions
  • Bring my Mechanicum to 3000 points for Horus Heresy, including the Warhound Titan

Completed Resolutions

  • Paint The Scourge For Dropfleet Commander

So what’s on the list going into next month?

  1. Zone Mortalis Terrain
  2. Adeptus Mechanicus Onagar Dunecrawler
  3. Heralds of Nurgle x 3 & Horticulous Slimux
  4. German Heer Infantry Squad x 10, Lieutenant & Riflemen x 2
  5. Necron Cryptexs x 4, Cryptothralls & Flayed Ones x 5
  6. Kill Team Arena & Pariah Nexus Terrain
  7. Blood Ravens Heavy Intercessors x 5 & Captain with Master-Crafted Heavy Bolt Rifle
  8. Mechanicum Termite
  9. Battlezone Objectives x 6
  10. Flesh-Eater Courts Crypt Ghouls x 20

Stop Paying Scalper Prices!!!

I am currently in the process of building a PC for Megan, she wants to play The Sims again and misses having a desktop. Most of what’s going in her PC is essentially my cast offs.

She is getting my old case, a bunch of my old fans, a salvaged PSU, and my old 3400G as her CPU. I have bought for her a monitor, motherboard and SSD, but still need to get her some RAM, a mouse and a keyboard, once they are in, she will have a working PC.

The one missing thing is a GPU, I have intended for her to have my 1660 Ti, when I replace it with a 3060 Ti or a 3070, but alas the GPU market is absolutely crazy right now.

Thanks to a combination of an actual shortage of silicon, social distancing reducing production capacity, a logistics nightmare (now made worse thanks to a silly boat), a drought in Tiwan, demand through the roof thanks to lockdown, a cryptoboom, bots/scalpers, and the biggest generational leap in GPU performance in many generations, we are seeing prices of GPUs being sky high and availability at practically zero.

But what annoys me is that people are paying the prices being demanded by scalpers, for example I am seeing RTX 3070s being sold for over £1000, that’s a card that should be selling at £500 for the Founders Edition.

Because people are paying those prices, its keeping the price for everyone else artificially high, and I really think the only way to combat this is to basically tell people no, we will not pay those prices.

I have basically accepted I won’t be getting a new GPU this year, and I have a suspicion that my PC will probably miss the 3000 series GPUs and end up getting a 4000 series one, if this keeps going on the way it is.

So what I am imploring you guys, stop giving scalpers the money, refuse to buy cards above RRP, the supply situation isn’t going to resolve itself, but the more we keep making it easy for scalpers to make money, the longer the high prices will last!

We can only beat this if we all work together!

What I Am Modelling

I started the week by working on a squad of Sagittarium Guard for my Custodes.

A bit useless in game but they look really nice.

I also painted the 81mm Medium Mortar Team and 7.5cm LeiG Light Artillery for my Bolt Action Germans alongside these.

These will make up some nice support for my infantry.

And then I moved onto the Royal Wardens and Overlords for my Necrons, these were painted to be a lot more, all together there, and in better condition than the warriors.

For #MarchForMacragge I decided to face down the Primarch himself, Roboute Gulliman.

This model has say intimidating me for the longest time, and now I am not sure exactly what it is that I had to fear, he was a joy to paint.

That then lead me onto a German Heer Infantry and a Sniper Team for Bolt Action.

And avoiding the Dunecrawler, I started work on a set of leaders for my Custodes, two generic Shield Captains, one armed with a Sentinel Blade and Shield, another with the Castellan Axe, plus the characters Ixion Hale, Trajann Valoris, Valarian and Aleya.

I have now started on the Flesh-Eater Courts Abhorant Archregent.


What’s coming up next week on the painting queue?

  1. Zone Mortalis Terrain
  2. Adeptus Mechanicus Onagar Dunecrawler
  3. Flesh-Eater Courts Abhorrent Archregent
  4. Heralds of Nurgle x 3 & Horticulous Slimux
  5. German Heer Infantry Squad x 10, Lieutenant & Riflemen x 2
  6. Necron Crypteks x 4, Cryptothralls x 2 & Flayed Ones x 5
  7. Kill Team Arena & Pariah Nexus Terrain
  8. Blood Ravens Heavy Intercessors & Captain with Master-Crafted Heavy Bolt Rifle
  9. Mechanicum Termite
  10. Battlezone Objectives

What I Am Reading

I published my review for The Deacon of Wounds, which you can see here.

And I started on the next KeyForge book, The Qubit Zirconium, which I agreed to review for Aconyte, so far its really good and I hope to have a review up for you later this week.

What I Am Playing

No video games played this week 🙁

But I did play a game of Aeronautica Imperialis with Megan, and I am planning on doing a battle report for this later in the week.

What I Am Backing

Currently just backing Gloomier, but I need to talk to the girls about how we are funding it, Lindsays birthday has left me broke!

What I Am Cooking

Nowt cooked this week 🙁


Why Do You Defend Trans People?

So I am gonna write a serious post here, not a long one but serious.

I was relentlessly bombarded a few months back by a friend of a friend who as it so happens, is a major TERF.

She was unhappy that I pointed out that JK Rowling is not a very nice person in regards to her attitude towards transgender women.

The tile of this post is a cleaned up version of the questions she initially put to me, trust me it was a very nasty way of saying it.

And one of her final tirades before I blocked her, was that the only reason I wasn’t transgender was because I would make a fuck ugly woman.

And let’s be clear here, I would absolutely be a fuck ugly woman, but still, that comment got right under my skin.

I spent a good couple of months questioning what it meant to be a man, if I even was a man. I hate that a TERF and a troll actually got under my skin like that.

Anyway, basically I came to the conclusion that I am a man, and to me being a man isn’t about how hairy my chest is, or how strong I am, how many birds I pull, how much I can bench etc.

But rather it was up to me to define how what being a man means to me. To me, being a man means sticking up for the under trodden, it means standing up to bullies, it means setting an example of how to be a good person for my nephews and nieces, and it means just enjoying my life and helping others to live their truth.

So why am I telling you this, well at the end of the day the whole argument came down to me, defending my trans friends, and I have, a rather large number of them.

I don’t care that they are trans, they tell me they were born in the wrong body, then fine, I will absolutely accept their true identify, refuse to deadname them and make sure I work my arse off the get their pronouns correct.

Trans people aren’t out to get special privileges, they aren’t trying to get into spaces reserved for the opposite gender, they just want to live their lives in peace and happiness.

Of all the trans people I know, most of them given the chance would have chosen not to be trans, to face the discrimination, abuse and bigotry is not something I think anyone would willingly choose.

No, they were born that way, and as a cisgendered person, it’s my responsibility to be welcoming to accept them and to be ready to stand up and defend them when others won’t.

I am not writing this expecting any brownie points, I know I have my blind spots, especially with my non-binary friends. The concept of non-binary is something I have trouble understanding, but just because I do my get it, doesn’t make it any less real. And I will make sure I do my best to get the right pronouns and address them by their preferred forms of address.

This song by Sunday Comes Afterwards helps to summarise how I work to figure it out.

In the long run, I was very wrong about my ideas of gender as a young man, I thought the way to be a man was very different to how I feel now, I was so caught up in the idea that I had to be hyper masculine like my dad, that I forgot to access what I could bring to the table of manliness.

What I bring is less masculinity and more compassion and what would probably be described as girly feminine traits, and there is nowt wrong with that, because us men could use those things I think.

Takes all sorts of people to make this crazy world we live in, and when it comes to gender, I realise from my own questioning, that it’s not exactly a binary thing, and sometimes, you aren’t put in the right end of the spectrum.

So guys, when someone asks me again, why do you white knight for trans folk, I do so because it’s the right thing to do, and I would do the same for any of my friends.

And really, don’t we just want people to be happy in themselves, and trust me, even with all the negatives (mostly caused by bigoted cis folk), trans people are happier when they are allowed to be who they are supposed to be.

And let’s face it, if the ayatollahs of Iran can recognise the validity of transgender people, then I think the rest of us can as well.


The Deacon of Wounds

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Warhammer Horror book The Deacon of Wounds by David Annadale published by Black Library, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first, I am also friends with David on Facebook, but I suspect that’s more about him connecting with fans rather than being a big fan of mine!

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Warhammer Horror

Warhameer Horror is a new imprint from the publishers of Warhammer fiction, Black Library, which allows authors to publish the more horrific stories set in the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 settings. And lets face it these universes are pretty grimdark and teeming with horror and all sorts of nasty and gribbly things.

The Story

This story is set in the Warhammer 40,000 uiniverse, and is about the world of Theotokos, which is a dying planet, ravaged by drought and now faces a terrible plague, called the Grey Tears.

The only man who seems capable of saving this planet is the Arch-Deacon Ambrose, a charasmatic priest of the Adeptus Ministorium who genuinely cares for his world and wants to make the lives of its people better, unlike the worlds ruling Cardinal Lopez who only cares for personal enrichment.

But when Lopez suddenly dies, Ambrose is thrust into the role of leading the planet, but the choices he makes leads him down a dark path.

Lets start out by saying that this story requires you to have a good gag reflex, as there is a lot of nasty and disgusting body horror, it is after all about a plague. And coming out now in the middle of a global pandemic, you do recognise the panic and fear in the cities inhabitants.

And we get a good look at the Ecclesiarchy, which we really haven’t had like this in quite some time, as a big fan of the Sisters of Battle, I feel like I now have a better idea of how the priest that accompany them work.

Conclusion

This book really tells the story of the rise of Ambrose to the highest office on the planet, and his, and subsequently planets fall from grace. Despite being a relatively short story, is one that is very well handled and works well with Davids writing style.

Ambrose journey from a caring and approachable person to someone so very different, happens in a relatively short period, but it happens in such an incremental way that it feels so very natural.

But I am gonna be honest here, the book has an issue that another reviewer on Goodreads, Jenn, summed up very nicely, we have little grasp of the characters other than Ambrose. We seem to have some amazing supporting characters, but none of them are developed well at all. I think if you added another couple of chapters, it would have elevated the book up quite a bit.

A bit of development of the romantic subplot would have gone a long way, the lass he loves simply can’t be that oblivious to his amorous feelings. and as Jenn said, given is importance to the motivations of Ambrose it felt poorly executed.

The horror is disgusting and very revolting, and at points made me physically gag when reading the book, and the conclusion whilst slightly obvious was handled very well, and still was shocking in the way it happened.

Rating this book is difficult for me, I want to give it a 4, but I am varying between 3.5 and 4.5 because I am just unsure how to rate it given the shortcomings.

Its not a bad book at all though and was very enjoyable, its skin-crawlingly good and I think its biggest weakness is just its slightly too short and compromises were made.

So with that in mind, I recommend this book, its deep on lore and an insight to the workings and politics of the Ecclesiarchy as well as a creepy and horrific tale of a planets doom.

The Deacon of Wounds is out now as a hardback, eBook, MP3 audiobook.


Not A Great Weekend

I am a day late with this blog update, I will be honest my weekend didn’t go the way I planned it at all.

I had to go out on Saturday and stuff just was crazy all round, and honestly I am exhausted and very tired.

My body is still giving me issues, the whole being unable to climb stairs properly is really getting to me.

I am gonna maybe start having a mid week post, but I am going to experiment with that this week.

Hopefully this week will be a touch better.

What I Am Modelling

I started the week by doing a big bunch of priming and airbrushing, which lead. To actually painting the entirety of my Scourge for Dropfleet Commander!

This also meant I got the Timeworn Ruins from Mortal Realms painted, two sets in fact, one from my Subscription and one from Forbidden Planet.

I then turned my attention to a squad of 10 Necron Warriors and their accompanying Scarabs.

I also worked on some Munitorium Armoured Containers for my Zone Mortalis board, these were painted with Death Guard Green as the base colour and then made to look nasty and a bit rusty.

I then started putting my last T’au Empire model for a little while on the table, a KV128 Stormsurge which is armed with a Pulse Blastcannon.

I am now working on the Mortar Team and the LeiG for the German Heer, and the Sagittarum Guard for the Custodes.


So what’s coming up for me this next week in terms of painting projects?

  1. Zone Mortalis Terrain
  2. German Heer 81mm Medium Mortar Team & 7.5cm LeiG Light Artillery
  3. Custodes Sagittarum Guard x 5
  4. German Heer Infantry Squad x 10 & Sniper Team
  5. Necron Royal Warden x 2 & Overlord x 2
  6. Adeptus Mechanicus Onagar Dunewalker
  7. Custodes Shield Captain x 2, Ixion Hale, Trajaan Valiris, Valerian & Aleya
  8. Flesh-Eater Courts Abhorrent Archregent
  9. Heralds of Nurgle x 3 & Horticulous Slimux
  10. German Heer Infantry Squad x 10, Liueteneant & Riflemen x 2

What I Am Reading

I finished First Team by Robbie MacNiven, and you can read my review here.

I also devoured the Litany of Dreams by Ari Marmell and the review for that is here.

I then read Deacon of Wounds, which is my first official review for Black Library!

My review for that will be published tomorrow!

What I Am Playing

Just a bit of Star Wars Squadrons during the week and a couple of hours on Sunday.

What I Am Backing

The Dungeon Masters Little Black Book successfully funded and I am really looking forward to this!

I have also decided to back Gloomier: A Night At Hemlock Hall because I absolutely love Gloom, I just gotta talk to the girls about what level we should stick at!

What I Am Cooking

Sadly nowt this week 🙁


Litany of Dreams

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Arkham Horror book Litany of Dreams by Ari Marmell, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Arkham Horror

Anyway that put to one side, let’s look at this book, by first looking at the game Arkham Horror which is a cooperative game, originally designed by Richard Launius, and is now in its third edition which was released in 2019.

It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games, a subsidiary of Asmodee, and is set in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, who are working to stop the Ancient Ones, eldritch horrors which lurk in the void beyond space and time.

It’s a 1-6 player game and you work together to gather clues and defeat the evil of the Ancient Ones and save the world.

As I said I haven’t actually played Arkham Horror but I do own its spin off Elder Sign the cooperative dice game.

The Story

Like the rest of the Arkham Horror novels, its set in the 1920s and in this case revolves around the disappearance of a gifted young student at Miskatonic University as his roommate searches high and low in his friends research for clues to his disappearance, and at the same time struggles against a litany that’s ceaseless in his mind and threatening to drive him into insanity.

The search takes on a new twist when an Inuit search for a stolen relic of his people crosses paths with him, and they find themselves joining forces to get to the bottom of the mystery and unearth a terrifying and ancient horror.

We get to delve a bit deeper into the lore of the Cthulhu mythos in this book than any of the others so far, and we have a very well rounded plot with characters with various motivations joining forces to prevent an apocalyptic event overtaking the world.

Mostly focusing on Elliot and Billy, the story is almost a mismatched buddy novel, crossed with mild horror and a bit of pulp detective thrown in for good measure.

Conclusion

The book was a very enjoyable read and a real page turner, the two main protagonists were very well developed and had just enough of a backstory to keep you interested, but without delving into too much. The motivation of Elliot, felt a little obvious, but when revealed is still highly dramatic and heartbreaking.

Billy seemed a little, well not obvious as to his background, its talked about a lot, the racism he experiences is subtle and all the more awful for that, but his background didn’t come through enough for me, I would have liked to have had this explored a bit more, but he was a very cool character.

Now I do have a negative thing to say, and that is that the female characters felt a tad underserved, we have two, strong and dynamic women in this book, and I felt that none of them got the service they deserved.

The main female character ups and leaves the group in the last quarter of the book and isn’t heard from again, so we have no idea how the events impacted her, or how she dealt with what happened. She didn’t even get in the epilogue and for me that wasn’t good at all.

The other main female character meets a tragic end, and it makes sense for her, what happens to her in the story makes what happens to her in the end seem logical, but with the dropping of the other character from the plot, I dunno, it just didn’t feel the same after I put the book down.

But regardless of this annoyance for me, the book was highly enjoyable and one I read in what felt like record time. The horror is initially slow and building, until the middle of the book when it becomes very real, some of it being almost post-apocalyptic in nature, and some feeling all too close to how things are in the world right now.

Would I recommend this book, yes, absolutely, its a solid 4.5 out of 5 for me, and to be honest had the epilogue resolved that one characters story arc, it would have been a 5.

The eBook is released on the 13th April and the paperback hits the shelves on 24th June.


First Team

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Xavier’s Institute book First Team by Robbie MacNiven, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

Secondly I am a friend of Robbie on Facebook, and whilst we aren’t best buds, we do interact with each other on occasion and I consider him a class person.

I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Marvel

Look at this point I would bore you with a bit of background to the game/universe, but lets not, you all know the Marvel Universe, if you don’t have you been living under a rock!

The Xavier’s Institute novel series is focued on the heroes that attend this school and their adventures and the two books in the series thus far (disclaimer I never actually read the first one yet) have focuses on what would very much be considered b-list heroes, which is good because it allows the authors to do a lot more with the characters than they would be able to do with more established heroes.

The Story

This is not an origin story, but you aren’t gonna need to know the background, you do get a decent explanation of the characters. Speaking of which the main character is Victor Borkowski, aka Anole, a lizard type mutant who had a really good upbringing compared to other mutants, and this story sees his dad kidnaped by anti-mutant extremists known as the Purifiers.

Pretty much this whole book is about the b-list X-Men with a little bit of Cyclops and a cameo by Kitty Pryde (The best of all X-Men and I will die on that hill), with Greymalkin, Cipher and Rockside forming the titular First Team. All of these are fan favourites but haven’t really had the exposure to the wider public before.

The story is one about family, a theme familar to those who are X-Men fans, family that is biological, adopted, genetic and forged of friendship. Mutants have often been shown to be more likely to suffer abandonment, being made orphaned or just plain abused, and this really delves into that in the unusualness of Anole having had a normal loving upbringing in an acepting community, despite being both a mutant and gay.

The family bonds we have are so often more than simple blood, they are forged in love and friendship, and this book really gets to the core of that, family is more than blood, and looks at what we would give up when our families are under threat.

Conclusion

This book is a real page turner and is to me seemingly a story in four parts almost, don’t know if that’s important but it felt like the book had four acts almost in which the feeling of the book changed quite a bit, which worked for me.

The featured X-Men are well rounded, you get a good feeling for who they are and what their motivations are, except perhaps Cipher, but I think that is intentional as she is a rather caged and guarded character.

Anole is a fan favourite and for good reason, we know that he was originally intended to commit suicide in the comics whilst struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, but just like the comics quickly realised that this would be a crass and awful thing to do, Anole here is at peace with his secuality and very happy with that part of himself, which was very warming to read.

I also liked that fact that although there were two gay blokes in this story, there was no automatic coupling, they were friends and often in comics and books, where there are two gay characters, they are often forced into a relationship by the writer, but here is a rare example of two gay men, who just enjoy each others company in a non-romantic way, and that to me makes their bond all that much stronger.

The theme of family, is infused into this book so naturally and so well, that it really makes you realise exactly how talented a writer Robbie is, it would be so easy to shove it in your face point to it and make it so obvious that its painful. But instead he has written a book that does this in a subtle way that you don’t realise how much focus the book places on the concept until you get to the epilogue, in that respect its a very well crafted book.

But thats not to say its a perfect book, and my biggest critisism is the villans, although we get some chapters from thier point of view, they feel very one dimensional, they are there, there is no background, they just exist as an obsticle with no real motivation other than hate and greed.

The big bad of the book, is sort of implied to be a mutant, but this is then forgotten about and we don’t actually have an explantaion about him. I know who he is and what his background is, but its not very well explained or expanded upon, which is a shame as the concept of him is, interesting in the comics.

To be frank, he could have been any generic bad guy and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the story which is what annoyed me about this, I feel in that respect Robbie did the character a disservice.

Same with the Purifiers, an existing organisation in the 616 continuity that honestly could have been any generic anti-mutant religious group.

All I am saying is that I think that original creations would have been better, because it really felt like the baddies were sort of not really well served in the story, and that’s not a bad thing, because the focus is and should have been the protagonists.

So in conclusion I am giving this a solid 4 out of 5

The eBook is out now and the paperback hits the shelves on 27th May.


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