The Red Knight by Miles Cameron

The Red Knight by Miles Cameron is the first part of the Traitor Son Cycle. The book features a realistic approach to knights and the warfare of medieval times. The author’s Medieval History Degree shows and you won’t see another fantasy book telling you so much about knights. Reading this book, you’ll feel like a knight trapped in heavy plate, your vision limited, foes pounding you from all sides. You’ll slip in mud, get splattered with blood and gore, and fight impossible odds. The Red Knight is military fantasy of the best kind.

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The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit – Theatrical Movie Poster

The Review contains slight spoilers for the movie. If you’ve read the book, you needn’t worry. If you haven’t, you don’t really need to worry either.

I’ve recently managed to watch the third and final installment of what started as another amazing journey after the screening of The Lord of the Rings, but became a farce that hasn’t got much to do with Tolkien’s masterwork. They might be good action and fantasy movies (and still above many other movies released in the fantasy genre), but they chop up a beautiful story and add stuff that makes no real sense or enhances the movies in any way. I still believe that making a two-movie series out of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and staying close to the original would have been better for the studio, the director and staff, and the audience.

The last movie has only reinforced that believe. It’s in many parts the weakest of the three movies and is more a caricature of the original story. I hold with what I said in regard to the second movie: These movies should not have been called The Hobbit. It’s not The Hobbit. It’s not even close to The Hobbit. The first “review” I heard in regard to this movie was from one of the authors I follow on Twitter, who basically said that he went into the movie with low expectations and was still disappointed. My experience was similar.

The movie is without question high quality cinema, as long as you don’t count story and some of the actors. In such a high budget movie, couldn’t they find some actors that actually manage to convey some of the ridiculous emotions inserted into this story? The ending, which is a sad parting of ways, has scenes in it that nearly had me bursting out in laughter. Simply because the actors (especially the elvish ones) could not convey any kind of feelings. They simply were unable to do more than look abhorrently ridiculous, making a disgusting perversion of what should have been a devastating experience. Not to mention that the writers for these scenes seem to have let someone be in charge that had no business writing scenes for such a high quality movie and series. If you’re around on the internet (and especially reddit) you’ll probably have seen some of these scenes immortalized as memes to ridicule and laugh about. For me, it was a hollow laugh, as I couldn’t help but see what might have been. These movies could have been so much. But they chose to be something you watch once, then you ignore they were ever made.

As with the other movies, this one has its high points. It looks absolutely gorgeous all around and has amazing images of both landscapes and buildings. If you’ve watched the second movie, you’ll know that the old dwarven kingdom is breathtaking. I liked the change in Thorin Oakenshield too, though I’ve heard others found it rather annoying. Still, it was an important point of the novels, so I’m glad the curse of the gold got taken up so well. The fights can be impressive too, at least the single combat battles, where the dwarves and elves (and some humans, hobbits, etc.) do their thing and kill half the orcish population of Middle Earth. As unlikely as these scenes tend to be.

What annoyed me to no end were the battles. They lack any kind of realism, are mostly strategically and tactically ignorant… no, quite suicidal. I’ve never been in a medieval kind of battle, but I assure you, most of us could probably lead the forces in this so aptly named movie better than their actual commanders. If you think about that all of these commanders are supposed to be experienced and accomplished generals, that makes the movie an unrealistic farce. I don’t ask for something highly realistic, but when you see the elven army letting the supposedly hostile dwarven army so close to them they could nearly touch you can but shake your head in wonder. The elves, accomplished with their bows, choose to give up their main advantage against the heavily armed dwarves. Brilliant! Maybe I’m just too dumb to see the tactical advantage it gives your army when it’s unable to fire a single arrow before heavy infantry breaks them in half.

The rest of the battle is similarly lacking in intelligence. Later, the elves charge head on into the orcish attackers, ignoring that the dwarves already set up a pretty sturdy looking shield-wall. Not only do they give away a major advantage without need, they make it harder for their own allies to use their powerful bows. You can’t shoot into a melee where your own forces are mingled with the enemies. Being elves that might work somewhat well, but I assure you: they will kill a lot of their own men in the same instance.

The movie is riddled with such unrealistic expectations of war and conflict. Not to mention that all armies seem to be very small all in all considered. When the eagles come to take out the second “army”, that rather looks like a single (rather small) battalion, it gets taken down near instantly. That wasn’t the tide-turning second army I’d expected, full of the fast breeding orcs. Oh, and these orcs? Bred for war and living in constant conflict? They get taken out left and right by fishermen, humans armed with shit and pickles that have never seen a battle in their life. Poor orcs, I bet they were forced by the director to throw their lives away needlessly, without resistance.

So, the main question still stands: Is it worth watching?

If you’ve watched the first two, watch the third too. Depending on how much you enjoyed the other two movies you’ll have to decide if it’s worth going to the movies for it (and maybe even watch 3D, which I’ve heard is a waste of money) or if you can wait until you can rent it somewhere or it runs in regular TV. Fans of the The Hobbit book will likely be disappointed once again, as I was. For anyone else it might proof to be an entertaining evening. Just don’t expect too much.

A Field Guide to Earthlings by Ian Ford

In December I read something unusual for me. Not fiction, but rather a view from an autistic man with the Asperger syndrom on NTs (Neurotypical people, meaning “normal” people). I’ve become more interested in the Aspergers syndrom some months ago for personal reasons. I’m generally interested in the human psych, so it’s not that far off the things I read and research about from time to time, but I’d not looked into autism before. Continue reading

My 2014

As promised, I’ve got a more personal look at 2014 for you here. It’s grown somewhat large, so I apologize in advance. I promise it’s an interesting look at my year of 2014 and my general set of mind.

2014 was a year of change for me. Of important change. Changes I should have sought earlier. In hindsight, that’s easy to say, but going to look for these changes couldn’t be called easy. While the changes were minor, they were a step in the right direction. Especially the knowledge that my family and my close friends know much more about the real me now is reassuring.

Still, my life is and probably stays everything but perfect, so while change has come to my life, it’s not the mayor sweep, but rather a soft breeze.

If I don’t count the understanding and support of my family and friends, the most important change for me in 2014 might be something you’d find strange. At least if you haven’t suffered from something similar.

I can finally sleep.

To understand why this is such a deal, you’d first have to understand that since I was very young, I was unable to fall asleep quickly. Now, quickly is a nice word. Quickly can mean about anything. For me, falling asleep quickly meant I’d only lie awake for an hour until I finally drifted into sleep. Not to mention that I’d frequently wake up for a few minutes either deep at night or very early.

I’d already gotten used to that, so imagine my surprise when I learned that when you’re unable to fall asleep for 20 minutes a few times a week, you should consult your doctor. As I needed on average 90 minutes to fall asleep, that number seems incredible low. I don’t like to go to the doctor for anything (because it’s often a waste of time and I’ve had some bad experiences), so I developed my own strategies to deal with my insomnia. That worked somewhat, but the more stress I had, the harder sleeping became for me.

The reason my inability to fall asleep quickly haunted me so much can not only be attributed to the general lack of sleep it led to. Of course it’s not ideal to be exhausted throughout the whole day, but you learn to live with that.

Much worse are the nights. When everything is dark and silent, you lie awake and count the minutes. Nothing to distract yourself, you’re left with only your own thoughts, and oh can those be dark. Crushing even. Throughout the day I do my best to not think too much, so I’d dread the night, when I would go to bed and then there was nothing else but me with myself. For an hour, or two, or even more. No escape.

At least until now. I get some medication that nudges sleep and the average time I need to fall asleep has gone down to about 30 minutes. That’s apparently still much longer than what other people need, but it has been a weight off my mind. Getting more sleep has helped me greatly, as I’m not as exhausted as before. It has also given me more energy to deal with everything in the day.

My sleep has again deteriorated in the last two months, mainly because of the stress from failing university. Completing my bachelors has been my goal and I’m close, have been trying to finish it for the last two years. In 2014 the bachelor thesis and some other papers were my main concern. University has gotten harder over the course of my study, not in terms of difficulty, but rather for me personally. Some things are just retarded and have no practical use…but I digress. That’s not what I want to talk about here.

Important is that I’ve failed all of these tasks. Writing them wasn’t easy and took a lot out of me. And it isn’t that they were bad. It’s hurtful irony that my professor told me I’d have gotten a very good grade, if only this little detail had been different. It’s disheartening to fail repeatedly, especially when the failing was only scraping by a great grade or at other times rather incomprehensible. It’s especially disheartening when there’s a distinct lack of success in your whole life.

Still, I’m not here to rant on some sort of injustice. While I do not always agree with how university works in Germany, in the end it was my personal failing that led to this lack of success I’ve had over the last years. That acceptance doesn’t make it easier and I’m still unsure whether or not I’ll ever be able to finish my bachelors.

The failings have made my last months rather unpleasant. That was coupled with the general lack of energy I often feel in the winter months. It’s one of the main reasons why I didn’t really manage to do much for my blog in the last months. Neither did I manage to do much of anything, but that’s a story for another day.

While my blog is getting bigger and I’ve managed to do more and attract more visitors than in 2013, it’s still somewhat stagnant all said and done. I like writing for my blog, but some sort of discussion between me and my (rather few) readers would be nice. As such, the few times I’ve had such conversations have always been very important to me. Silvia Feder, my first and at the moment only Facebook friend, has brightened my day with our discussions and I’m very thankful for her encouragement. It’s an incredible feeling to know someone enjoys what I’m doing and that gives me a reason to keep going.

Other changes were in regard to my appearance. That’s important for me for different reasons.

I’ve now got glasses and a beard (still growing, my face is a slow-grower and I can’t get it to go faster…). The glasses are needed. Not overly so, but it’s much easier to make out small details and read writing that’s farther away than my own nose. Growing a beard had been a thought I’d entertained for some time now, but was always scared of the process and how I’d look. This summer I thought to myself “Fuck it, I’m doing it” and now I’ve got my very own beard.

One of the reasons for growing it has been that I look young. I’m 25, but had still been asked for my ID just a year ago. That becomes old really fast, I tell you. So I grew a beard in the hopes it might make me look older. Seems to work. I’ve gotten some compliments, so it was a good choice growing one, even though I’m still trying out how to shape it and such. It’s a growing experience (haha!).

Another reason why I looked forward to both my beard and my glasses was that both would do their part to hide my face. Because while I don’t consider myself horrendous I don’t really like to look at myself in the mirror either. I do small things to try to mitigate my looks, with the glasses and the beard doing their part now.

Another part of that change was that I’ve grown out of my T-Shirts and have now opted to wear shirts instead (I hope these are the right words in English, these two types of upper body wear are easier differentiated in German). I generally go for convenience and comfort over anything (one reason why I like my hair short), but have no adopted the button shirts for myself. Another attempt to look more “grown up”. It’s working, as I’ve gotten some compliments on how mature I looked. They were from people I hadn’t seen in many years, so not sure how much the compliments were credit to recent changes or in regard to the small steps I’ve managed to take forward over the course of the last few years.

I’m sorry this became such a long and possibly boring post about myself. I thought it might be time to give this blog a more personal note. I’m still debating whether or not to share more about myself, as there’s a lot I’m not saying (as you might have guessed from reading this). I hope you enjoy what I’m doing here and I’ll do whatever I can to become more active again. I’ve plans, but often lack the energy to do all the things I’d like to do.

If you found something interesting on my blog, please feel free to tell me about it. That ensures that I know I’m not just screaming into empty space, but what I’m doing has real value not only for me, but for other people around the world too.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Just a few days ago, I put my Best of 2014-List online. Red Rising was part of it. Shortly later, I published my list of the books I’m looking forward to the most this year, with Golden Son being the first book, as it was released three days ago. I finished the book yesterday and I’m still speechless. I loved the first. Maybe I’m a bit biased with my love of Dystopian Sci-Fi, but I know Red Rising has been a grand success, especially for a debut book.

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Books to look forward to in 2015

As promised, I’ve got a small list here of titles I’m looking forward to a lot with year. Many series are getting new installments and I’m hyped for many. I hope you find something that interest you too. 2015 looks to be an awesome year for genre literature!

If you’re looking for a more broad list of what books will be released in Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror let me direct you here. This is the official /r/fantasy list of upcoming books and it’s long indeed. A wonderful resource for any reader!

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My Best of 2014

First off, let me make it clear that this list is MY personal list of the best books I’ve read this year. If you don’t agree with my choices, please keep in mind that they are the books I’ve chosen, so this is not some kind of Overall Best Books of 2014 list. If you haven’t read some of the books on the short list, I can only encourage you to try them out, as they are all exceptional in their own right.

As the list only encompasses the books I’ve read this year, it will be short and to the point. I’ll refrain from posting books I’ve read this year that were released prior to 2014, even though these books had the quality to make this list. The standing in the list has no bearing either, as I’m not trying to rank these books, but rather want to tell you which books I enjoyed the most this year and why. Continue reading