Cursed: The Red Lake (Episode 4) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the fourth episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first four episodes of the series, watch out because there are spoilers below.

The fourth episode starts out with Nimue on the run, Arthur captured and headed toward the Abbey with the Red Paladins and Merlin off on a risky meet up. Arthur’s sister who we learned in the last episode is (spoiler) Morgana, has faked that she was attacked by Nimue and convinces the church that she is on their side. Morgana’s lover is not so convinced though.

This episode introduces several new characters to the series. Nimue meets an ally, Merlin talks to a quite memorable character, and a character from the first episode makes a reappearance. And for the first time The Grail is mentioned. This is important considering the legend of King Arthur.

At its heart this show is about the prejudices that humanity has toward the other. Fey creatures are slaughtered ruthlessly and punished by the church. This episode continues to explore that theme.

It’s clear that at some point our main characters will have to converge together once again. But for now they are scattered to the winds and pursuing their own agendas. I don’t want to get too much into what happens because I would rather not spoil the episode but the stakes increase here.

The beginning of the episode gets us right into the action but it does drag a bit in the middle. Stick with it though because the last third of the episode is really good and let’s just say that the episode title is quite appropriate.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: Alone (Episode 3) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the third episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

The first episode established the magical world we see and the second set the stakes higher. The third episode is called Alone but it could just as well have been called mistakes are made.

Heads up that there will be some spoilers in this review so feel free to watch the episode first if you don’t want that.

Nimue who was attacked in the last episode wakes up to find that she is in the Abbey which is full of the people who want to kill all of the Fey kind. Nimue, of course, is one of the Fey people and is in serious danger. To add to her troubles, Arthur has absconded with her sword. This sword is known as The Devil’s Tooth but we would know it as Excalibur.

Arthur does the thing he shouldn’t and tries to ask his uncle for his blessing to join a tournament. We get a little bit of the back story of Arthur here and find out that his father was honorable but died early and his uncle is a hard man. Arthur’s uncle does give permission for Arthur to fight but soon regrets it.

I don’t want to spoil what happens with Arthur too much but let’s just say he does not end up in a good position at the end of this episode.

Meanwhile, the Weeping Monk, knows that some Fey person is in the Abbey. Nimue ends up in the awkward position of having to save the life of the man who attacked her in the last episode. She uses Fey healing poultices which is quite dangerous considering where she is. We learn more about the Abbey and one of the sisters in it in particular. I don’t want to give away who she is but if you know the legend of King Arthur, it’s a pretty major name drop.

Meanwhile, Merlin still seems to be searching for the sword and in debt to whoever the Shadow Lords are. And the king, Uthor Pendragon is on the hunt for Merlin.

The whole episode ends on a bit of a cliff hanger.

I won’t say this is one of the best episodes so far but the events in it are important to the story and I am eager to see what happens next.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

August 2020 TBR

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to share with you my August 2020 TBR list as it currently stands. Note that some of this could change as I do tend to be a slower reader and some books may get pushed back a little. There may also be books added if I see one that peaks my interest in ReedsyDiscovery. I do my best to get through, but there’s only so much time. This month I plan to continue some fantasy series, check out a non-fiction book that I have wanted to read for quite some time, and review a book from a blogger that I follow and have had on my back burner for far too long.

1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I predicted last month that I might not get through this one in July and I was right. I am intending to read this one this month but it is long and I need to get it from the library again so we’ll see if I have enough time for it. I have read a few chapters and am pretty into it so far.

This is the first in the Broken Earth series and won the Hugo award. It’s the story of how the world ends, for the final time. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series but I haven’t ever had the chance to pick it up until now. I’m looking forward to it. The author says she likes to write about ordinary people in extraordinary situations and I really want to see how that is handled because that can either be done extremely well or extremely poorly in fiction. From all the accolades that the series has gotten, I am betting this is done extremely well.

2. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

After my raving review of how good The Eye of the World is, how could I not put this on my list? It’s the sequel and I don’t know much about it other than the fact that I can’t wait to get back to the world that Jordan built. I’m curious to know if this series suffers from the sophomore slump or not but even if this one isn’t the greatest volume I will absolutely keep reading the series.

3. Misericorde by Cynthia A. Morgan

I am reviewing this one for Reedsy Discovery and the review will be out on 8/11/2020. What got me interested in reading it is the first line of the description, “It’s the year 2446, and the first three Horsemen of Revelation’s Apocalypse have ridden.”

Talk about setting the stakes high at the beginning! I’m interested to see where it goes and how this is all handled and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you.

4. Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne

This is a dystopian science fiction novel that I have been meaning to read and review forever. You can actually read a good chunk of this yourself if you check out Kent Wayne’s blog. I’m excited to read this and I know there are more volumes once I finish the first so it should be a fun ride. If you want to read some of this for yourself go here. And while you are there check out Wayne’s other books and his podcast. He has a bunch of great stuff on his blog and I think you will like it as much as I do.

5. A Song for the Void: A Historical Horror Novel by Andrew Piazza

I am a sucker for both horror and history so this is a great combination for me. It’s my horror book for the month and I will be reading it for Reedsy Discovery. The review for it will be out on 8/22/2020. Anything that promises surreal horror fantasy along with a dose of history is right up my alley so I can’t wait to dive into this one.

6. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju

I actually don’t read a lot of non-fiction books. I usually prefer fiction because I tend to want to escape reality. This book is a bit old and has been sitting on my shelves for about eleven years. It’s surprising what you find in the middle of a pandemic. Anyway, I think that the history of comic books is seriously fascinating and I’m hoping this book will add to my knowledge on the subject. Since this is the last one on my list, it is possible it will get pushed until September but we’ll see.

Well, there you have it, that’s my list for the month. I will do my best to get through as much as I can. If the blog goes radio silent for a few days toward the end of August, it’s a signal that I am furiously reading as fast as I can trying to just get one last book in before the month changes.

Let me know what you think of my list and if you have a TBR I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Bookishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Lies, Inc. – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another book from my July to be read list. I know it’s August but I was close. And boy have I got a weird one for you today.

SUMMARY

When catastrophic overpopulation threatens Earth, one company offers to teleport citizens to Whale’s Mouth, an allegedly pristine new home for happy and industrious émigrés. But there is one problem: the teleportation machine only works in one direction. When Rachmael ben Applebaum discovers that some of the footage of happy settlers may have been faked, he sets out on an eighteen-year journey to see if anyone wants to come back.

REVIEW

2/5 STARS

It is the far future and Earth has become overcrowded. To make matters worse, the planets in the solar system that might have been habitable could not for one reason or another be colonized. But one company has a solution. A satellite found a planet that did have a habitable environment. For years now, people have been stepping through a teleportation gate that will take them to this planet. It seems like a perfect solution and a perfect paradise with plenty of room. At least, that’s what the videos that come back seem to indicate. Not everyone in the world is convinced. One man, Rachmael ben Applebaum is convinced that the videos from this planet are fake. He happens to own a ship and wants to go to the planet and see if anyone there is dissatisfied and if possible bring them home. The problem? It’s an eighteen-year trip to get there.

While this sounds like a great setup and could have made for a classic Phillip K. Dick novel full of interesting ideas about the future and the meaning of life and governmental control. Instead, we got a novel full of bizarre images with a plot that just barely holds together and never quite works.

The opening lines are brilliant. “The Sub-Info computers owned by Lies, Incorporated had been caught in an unnatural act by a service mechanic. Sub-Info computer Five had transmitted information which was not a lie.”

This is the type of opening that makes the reader think we are in for an incredible ride. However, by the next page, our main character is hallucinating about rats because of this. It just gets stranger from there. There is a plot that can be followed relating to the planet and the companies that are competing for dominance on it but at least a good third of the book is a bizarre collection of hallucinations including a book that tells the present and the future and strange alien creatures that eat their own eye-stalks for food.

This was a missed opportunity for what could have been a brilliant deconstruction of government, authoritarianism, capitalism, and espionage. Those elements are there but they are not explored nearly as much as the odd hallucinatory monsters that our main character is infected with, creating a dizzying narrative that simply does not make enough sense.

If you like Phillip K. Dick’s books and want to read all of his work, of course, this should be on your reading list. But, if you are a casual science fiction fan and want an introduction to Dick’s incredible work, go with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Also known as Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) It’s a much more engaging read.

Hallucinatingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Journeys Through Faladon: The Titan Divide – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

“Elves, dwarves, humans… Jödmun; you mortal races are all the same, little more than ants crawling on a round table, oblivious to those sitting around it.”

It has been centuries since the Mountain Birth, a magical calamity that turned the Jödmun from men into… something else.

Part curse, part blessing, the Jödmun need neither food nor shelter, living as veritable stone men. One among them, Ürbon the Wanderer, will emerge from his people’s centuries-long isolation.

A chance encounter with an unusually violent elvish people leaves Ürbon without a ship, without his men, and without direction, changing the course of his life forever.

In a journey across the vast world of Faladon; from the sandy Savarrah desert to the lush Forgotten Isles, the Human Kingdom of Ravenburg to the bustling port-city of Venova, Ürbon will gather to him unlikely friends and dangerous enemies, each seeking a weakness in his stony flesh. This is his tale.

A new fantasy adventure unfolds with it’s first installment – Journeys Through Faladon: The Titan Divide. Faladon is the first Epic Fantasy Universe created by more than 40 co-authors – pushing the limits of collaborative writing and the fantasy genre.

REVIEW

4/5 STARS

Urbon is a stone giant who is on a quest to find his friends and an ancient artifact. As his ship is sailing, it is attacked by elves. This kicks off a series of events that finds him making new friends, exploring unknown places, and making vicious enemies.

Journeys Through Faladon: The Titan Divide is filled with a metric ton of action. It’s non-stop throughout the entire book. There are bloody battles, magical and insane gods who can cast magic spells and hordes of vampires that challenge Urbon and his little party. The battle scenes are fun and exciting and a great joy to read.

This book was created by more than forty co-authors. With that you would think that too many chefs are in the kitchen and sometimes the bouncing back and forth between characters is a little dizzying but overall it works. At times it would have been nice if the action slowed down a little bit so that we could get more character development. Urbon and his lizard man side kick are great fun to read about and it would have been nice to have a little bit more in there about them. The world seems full and lived in and there is some world building done but it would have been nice to have it a little more fleshed out so the reader knew about the world.

While the plot might not be the most complex plot and the characters are mostly engaged in battles the whole time, this is still a great read. This is like a summer blockbuster movie, you come for the action and it’s highly enjoyable, even if it’s not the most intricate movie you have seen.

With so many co-authors one would think it would be easy to lose the plot but the authors keep it together and move the story along at a breakneck pace and it comes to an overall satisfying conclusion which will make the reader look forward to the next volume.

If you are a fan of fantasy adventure full of action and humor, such as the Discworld series this book should be a welcome addition to your shelf.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1) – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I knocked out another book from my July TBR list and I want to give you my thoughts on it. Okay, actually it was from my June TBR and carried over because I am a slow reader but I finished it and I am now going to review it.

SUMMARY

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs―a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts― five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

REVIEW

5/5 STARS

The Eye of the World is the first in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It’s a fourteen volume sweeping fantasy epic that was decades in the making. It is also poised to become a huge, big budget production on Amazon Prime Video. After finally reading this first volume, I can see why.

If you know me in personal life, you know that I am a huge Tolkien fan. I love his stories and the massive world building he was capable of.

Like a warm and comforting bath, The Eye of the World starts out much the same that Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings does. There is a small town, with regular, common folk, who just go about their lives and would be happy if the troubles of the outside world never came to them. Like in Tolkien’s story, trouble comes knocking. Trollocs (think sort of beast men although I had trouble not thinking of them as Trolls tbh) come to the small town of Two Rivers, right at the time of an annual festival.

These Trollocs attack Rand al’Thor, who goes by Rand and several of his friends get involved either by defending themselves or helping Rand in some way. It seems that there was more to this attack than any of them thought.

A small party of people band together, including Rand’s good friends Mat and Perrin and the girl he has always loved, Egwene. They are not entirely defenseless, as there is a Gleeman (think a bard), a warder (think a ranger from LOTR) and an Aes Sedai (think a female Gandalf) who help the people from Two Rivers along the way.

I don’t want to give too much more away because I don’t want to give spoilers but this is definitely a “hero’s journey” tale. That being said, there are still plenty of twists and turns that you will not see coming.

The world that Jordan builds is impressive. It’s enormous and full of memorable characters. I haven’t read more than the first volume but I get the impression that small details given in this book are going to matter greatly in the future tales.

Reading this book, I was fully engaged the whole time. I know that there were sections where the reader was given a little too much exposition in the form of an info dump but I didn’t care. I found the information involved so fascinating that I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. In some ways, I don’t want to see the show because I doubt anything put down in reality will quite match what I have in my imagination.

If you are a lover of fantasy, this book is for you. Especially if you love epic quests, valiant heroes and villains that are completely villainous. This book is by far the best fantasy book I have read this year and I have read a lot of great fantasy. I suspect this might be the best book I read all year, although I do plan to read the sequels so that remains to be determined.

For more years than I can remember, any time I would pick up a fantasy book, someone at the book store would ask me if I had read The Wheel of Time series. I was never sure if that was because there was just a rabid fan base for Jordan or if the story was really worthwhile. Well, let me tell you, I will always love Tolkien but I think Jordan may have a shot at being equal in my heart. I do not say that lightly at all. I’ve never read any other fantasy book and thought that it was as good as Lord of the Rings. Sure, many are similar but as good as? I’m not sure yet since I have not read all the volumes but if any series is ever going to be that good, it is hands down The Wheel of Time series. So, if you are like me and you have spent too many years not getting around to reading these books, stop what you are doing, get your hands on a copy and get reading. I promise you this is worth the time.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

P.S. Have you read The Eye of the World? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below, just don’t spoil anything in the next volumes. 🙂

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Invasion of Aeronbed – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

Eirwen and Fridis, the first of the seven-volume Ravenstones series, began the tale of an unlikely friendship between an unassuming polar bear and an intrepid eider duck. Their travels took the pair to Vigmar, a mountainous Empire at war with its neighbor, the Kingdom of Aeronbed. Fate has placed the inexperienced bear in command of Vigmar’s quarrelsome forces, and he is immediately beset by the demands of leadership. Fridis, meanwhile, overcoming misfortune, seeks to unravel the many mysteries of the Empire’s capital, Blakfel, and confront its scheming rulers.

Volume 2, The Invasion of Aeronbed, continues the story. Eirwen has decided that Vigmar must invade its neighbor to bring an end to the long-standing conflict. The decision on his own role in this invasion will lead to unintended consequences. Fridis, meanwhile, ill-equipped for such violent confrontations, must stay behind to fend for herself. Although she discovers a satisfying role in Blakfel, danger lurks for her in the capital’s byways and castle towers as much as on any battlefield.

REVIEW

4/5 Stars

The first of the Revenstones books had the reader meet Eirwen, a polar bear, and Fridis, an eider duck, who were destined to become good friends and intrepid adventurers. The second volume picks up where the first book left off, with Eirwen in charge of the forces of Vigmar, while Fridis is becoming ever more popular in the city of Blakfel. The pressures of war, the politics of a kingdom, and the danger lurking around every corner don’t let up in The Invasion of Aeronbed.

The book is a well thought out sequel that, if anything, improves upon the original. The stakes are higher, the danger more personal, and the reader is easily engrossed in the tale. While Eirwen is out dealing with the ramifications of war, Fridis is left alone to deal with the forces of palace intrigue that wish to do her harm. The mysteries go deeper, while the action intensifies. The likable polar bear and duck are separated but their stories remain intertwined and it was satisfying reading both accounts.

One thing that might improve the book a little is more back story on some of the characters we meet in Vigmar and what their purposes are. However, the cast is large enough that there might not be enough time to delve into that with too much depth.

The book manages to expand upon both the war that rages between Vigmar and Aeronbed while keeping perspective on the personal stakes for the characters we met in the first volume. It’s been an interesting ride so far and I am looking forward to seeing where the author will take us next. If the title of the next volume is any indication, it looks like we may get a fresh perspective which will be interesting to see.

If you love fantasy books full of huge battles, nefarious political maneuvering, and long-lasting friendship, you are going to love this volume. This is only the second in a seven-volume set, so there is plenty of story to come and I look forward to reading more.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Eirwen and Fridis – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

On an isolated ice floe, a young polar bear wakes up from a long sleep, only to discover he is utterly alone. Seemingly overnight, all his friends have vanished. What to do? Thus begins the bear’s self-examination and life-altering quest. His ensuing search will take him to a strange and unpredictable world, where he must confront danger and embrace adventure at every turn.

The first volume of the seven-part Ravenstones series introduces the reader to Eirwen, a lonely polar bear, and Fridis, a spirited duck, as they face mystery and intrigue, testing their mettle and ambition. The Ravenstones deals with good and evil, friendship and loyalty, overcoming doubt and obstacles, reinventing oneself – and in so doing discovering one’s true life purpose. Here the well-meaning and the wicked play out their roles in the midst of prophecy and wizardry, politics and spectacle, peace and war, and betrayal and sacrifice.

REVIEW

4/5 Stars

Like the polar bear that this story is about, it starts a little slow and hesitant. Eirwen has awoken to find that his friends are missing. He is a bear who is a little slow to take action and takes some time thinking through things before making a decision. Once he has decided to take action, he is determined to see it through to the conclusion. Eirwen decides to go look for his friends. Along the way, he meets a raven and a duck. The trio team up together to find the bear’s friends. It’s not long after that when Eirwen, the polar bear, and Fridis, the duck, find themselves in a kingdom at war.

The two friends must make their way in this new world while never forgetting the original goal of Eirwen’s quest. That’s no easy feat as there are animals everywhere with their own agendas, positions of power, and determinations to gain power.

The book really gets going once Eirwen and Fridis make it into the land of Vigmar and soon find themselves involved in the complicated politics of a land at war. Fridis is energetic and feisty while Eirwen finds himself becoming more confident and decisive as time goes on.

The adventure is quite enjoyable and the reader is pulled along in the fantasy. There is a bit of head-hopping where we go from one character’s point of view to another abruptly but otherwise, it’s an intriguing read.

This book is about talking animals so it’s easy to think of it as having comparisons to Watership Down or The Wind in the Willows. While those comparisons make sense, the political intrigue and epic battles are better compared to the likes of Lord of the Rings or similar epic fantasy books. If you love fantasy books with magical happenings, political maneuvering, and high stakes, you are going to love Eirwen and Fridis.

Tomorrow I will be back with the review of the second volume in the series so be sure to check back for that.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Cursed: Cursed (Episode 2) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the second episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

While most of us are waiting for The Umbrella Academy season 2, Netflix has been kind enough to drop a few excellent shows while we wait. In my opinion Cursed is one of the better ones. There won’t be many spoilers for episode 2 in this review, but I might reference things from episode 1 so if you haven’t, feel free to go watch that before you read this.

While the first episode did an adequate job of introducing characters and the idea that we are seeing the story of the Lady of the Lake, the second episode takes it up a notch and starts getting into the story.

Through a series of flashbacks we get to know the back story of Nimue and how and why she might be the one who is cursed. We also see Merlin’s continuing struggles to please his king. Additionally, the villain of the series is becoming more ruthless and dangerous toward Nimue and people like her.

A lot of the episode shows Nimue’s interactions with the sword she acquired in the first episode, as well as her developing relationship with Arthur. It’s still not clear to me by this second episode that the Arthur hanging out with Nimue is the Arthur, but he certainly could be.

The visuals continue to be stunning and the actors are all doing a fantastic job so far. They are able to walk the balance between being in a magical world but giving it enough realism that it doesn’t get ridiculous.

I think the main question being asked in this episode is who or what exactly is cursed. I’m not going to give you my opinion on that since I don’t want to give spoilers but let’s just say it’s a multiple choice answer.

I feel like this episode really got the story going and I’m looking forward to the next one. There are some mysterious characters we might get to know more about and there’s certainly going to be no lack of fantasy elements.

Have you watched Cursed yet? What do you think of it so far if you have? Let me know in the comments below.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Get Slick Dungeon’s 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids

Hi Everyone, Slick Dungeon here.

I’ve been posting about gaming with kids on here for a while now. I came up with 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids and I want you to have it. If this is something you are interested in, all you need to do is add your email address below and sign up for my biweekly email newsletter. In my newsletter I will send you a tip about Dungeons & Dragons or other RPGs, especially as it relates to kids. I hope you enjoy the free PDF and it’s yours to keep whether you continue to subscribe to my newsletter or not. I’m a little new to the whole email newsletter thing so it may take a full day before you receive your PDF.

I will have more stuff like this for you in the near future so if you like this or want to see something specific, drop me a line and let me know.

Gratefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

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