Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Dwarves – A Book’s First Impressions!

I started reading The Dwarves by Markus Heitz last week in my spare time at work. I’ve had my eye on the game since it launched on Kickstarter, and wanted to find out the story behind the game. The book is 730 pages long, or, for a frame of reference, the same length as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

In just a week, I’ve gotten to just shy of 1/4 of the way through. Also keep in mind, I get about an hour a day to read, at most. The Dwarves starts us off 1,035 year in the past in the 5,199th Solar Cycle. It is here that the catalyst for the events of the book are to happen. We follow the Dwarves of the Fifthling Kingdom as they make their final stand against the Perished Lands.
The Dwarves of the Fifthling Kingdom have always stood watch against the hoards to the north, but a disease has wiped out most of them. A strange curse comes from the North with the invaders. When a Dwarf falls, he is brought back, soulless, and fighting against his kin.
As more fall, the gates that have remained closed since the dawn of time, open for the first time, allowing the invaders access to all of Girdlegard.

We then jump to the 6,234th Solar Cycle, where we meet our hero, Tungdil Bolofar. He’s a Blacksmith. A Dwarf that is living in a kingdom of men. He has never met another Dwarf. After a series of events, Tungdil gets sent out on a journey, his first quest. Which is good, because he yearns for adventure, and the possibility of meeting another Dwarf.

Along his way, he meets some kind strangers, but also gets thrown into bad situations, including being forced to sneak out of an Orc encampment, getting his leg caught in a wolf trap, and other hang-ups.
Tungdil has never fought. He was raised as a Blacksmith and scholar. Where I stopped, Tungdil had just killed his first Orc, and is about to take on another.

The further I read, the more I look forward to playing the game that just released based on this novel. I’m only on page 177, and I would highly recommend picking up The Dwarves by Markus Heitz.

If you are interested: http://www.dwarves-game.com/

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Mass Effect – A Book Review

That’s right! It’s time for a Book Review! I have recently read the three Mass Effect Novels written by Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer of Mass Effect 1. I have not read the fourth book, Mass Effect: Deception, as it has been widely disregarded as canon, however, BioWare has made changes to fix that issue, so I will be reading it here soon.

Mass Effect: Revelation is the first in the book series, and follows off of David Anderson’s encounter with Saren, as well as how he got to know Kahlee Sanders. Anderson and Sanders end up having one of those relationships that would have worked, if both of them weren’t married to their work. When they are together, things are great and it’s as if a day hasn’t passed between them, but when they say goodbye, it isn’t sad, because they know a serious romantic relationship would never work between them, so thy remain very close friends.
This book primarily details Anderson’s role as a Lieutenant and Saren’s observations of him, as Anderson is up for Spectre status, in what would make him the first human Spectre. Saren has already made his decision about Anderson, being that Saren’s brother died in the First Contact War at the hands of the humans, Saren refuses to believe that a human should ever be a Spectre, let alone part of the council. Anderson’s journey starts when he is sent to find a survivor from an attack on a top-secret Alliance Research base. That survivor is none other than Kahlee Sanders. Saren is trying to track her down as well, but because he believes she is the attacker, and considering they were doing illegal AI research, Saren wants her head.
Upon finding her, Anderson takes her into his own personal protective custody while they try to figure out who would want Kahlee’s boss dead, and why he was being so reclusive near the end. While digging deeper it is discovered that Kahlee Sanders actually is the only child of First Contact War Hero John Grissom. The man Grissom Academy was named after. They track down Grissom, and he has become a bitter old recluse in his later years. He offers help after some coercion, as Anderson and Kahlee are being tracked by bounty hunters.
Anderson and Kahlee grow closer as the novel reaches it’s conclusion, and as always, the council refuses to believe Anderson, while Saren tells them he is not a viable candidate for the Spectre Program. The evidence of what Kahlee was working on gets buried by the Alliance when the truth comes to light and Lieutenant Anderson is promoted to Captain while Kahlee heads off to work on another project dealing with Biotic children.

Mass Effect: Revelation takes a deeper look at Saren, Anderson and Kahlee’s pasts and gives a little more depth to the characters in the games. Saren’s hatred for humanity allows the Reapers to take control of him and push him even further, leading to the outcome of Mass Effect 1. You start to understand Anderson a little more, and learn a bit about Kahlee Sanders as well. Drew Karyphyn did an amazing job of fleshing out characters that already had a lot of depth to them.

Mass Effect: Ascension is the second book in the series and deals mostly with Kahlee Sanders and a man named Paul Grayson. Kahlee is working on the top-secret Ascension Project, which allows children with Biotic talents to develop them properly and learn how to control their powers. Gillian Grayson is the daughter of Paul Grayson and is in the Ascension Program as the most promising student. She also has high functioning autism.  Paul Grayson is a Cerberus Operative posing as the owner of a company, in order to feed an inside man vials of an experimental substance to his daughter. After several tests are conducted by the Illusive Man and the inside man is found and captured, Grayson pulls his daughter form the program.
Kahlee is suspicious of Grayson and decides that she needs to go with them under the cover of the fact that she is Gillian’s teacher and needs to help her. It’s at this point that Grayson decides to run from Cerberus and take care of his daughter. Kahlee helps to hide the both of them by making a deal with a Quarian on his pilgrimage. Cerberus manages to track them to the Flotilla and attempts to take them out. Managing to escape by a thread, they are able to find a good place for Gillian to hide, which is on a Deep Space Exploration vessel with the Quarians. After sending her off, Kahlee returns to the Alliance and Grayson goes into hiding, but not before taunting the Illusive Man that he’ll never get his prize, Gillian, because she’s beyond his grasp.

Ascension takes Kahlee’s story and fleshes it out a bit more with what happened to her after the events of Mass Effect: Revelation, and shows her as not only a Marine, but also as a teacher, and someone whose only flaw is caring too much. She is the only one who believe Paul can turn his life around, and ends up getting proved right.

In Maas Effect: Retribution the Illusive Man uses Kai Leng to track down and capture Paul Grayson. Upon his capture, the Illusive Man implants Reaper technology into Grayson to experiment. After a time, Grayson gets rescued and the Reapers take over, making him kill his saviors and steal their ship. The Illusive Man makes a deal with Aria T’Loak to kill Grayson, and she decides to re-negotiate once she captures him. Grayson ends up killing her men and escaping Omega and heads to Grissom Academy to steal information about human Biotics at the will of the Reapers.
Anderson and Kahlee follow Grayson there with the help of Kai Leng to track him down and stop him by any means. Upon arriving at Grissom, Anderson finds two dead guards. He tracks Grayson to a control room while Kahlee gathers the security staff and the kids to get them to safety.. Meanwhile, Kai Leng is strapped into a chair on the shuttle, and tries to escape. After a rough fight with Grayson, Anderson gets knocked out and Kai Leng breaks free. One of the kids from the Ascension project gets out and helps Kai Leng find Grayson.
Grayson at this point has captured Kahlee, and Kai Leng tricks the child into almost killing Kahlee. Upon recovering from the Biotic blast, Grayson shoots the child and fights Kai Leng. After a few moments, Anderson shows up and shoots Grayson with a shotgun blast. The Reapers then abandon his body, leaving him to die. Kai Leng walks up and executes Grayson once and for all, and Anderson shoots Kai Leng in the legs before letting him go, so he can help save the child’s life with Kahlee, while they wait for he security and medical teams.

Retribution takes a closer look at what the Reapers are capable of in a single human host, as well as a deeper look into Kai Leng’s history. It delves a little deeper into Anderson and Kahlee’s relationship as well as how the Illusive Man operates and what makes him tick. You also end up seeing a more desperate side of Aria T’Loak.

The Mass Effect books really expand upon the universe that’s already been created. Drew Karpyshyn has done an amazing job with the characters he and BioWare created, giving them more depth and showing more history that shows a bit more of why they are they way that they are.

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