Tag Archives: books

Audio

Ready Player One – Comparative Opinions S.2 E.7

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! Hosts Holly and David made it to see Ready Player One and… they have thoughts. They try their hand at spoiler-lite, which really means trying to keep the book references to a minimum… and then it’s like a full on LitFlix comparing the book and movie. Hope you enjoy!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday, or for our weekly news podcast, Week in Geek.

https://www.facebook.com/ComparativeGeeks/

https://twitter.com/comparativegeek

Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Audio

2017 Retrospective – Comparative Opinions S.2 E.2

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week hosts Holly and David reflect back on 2017, for their favorite movies, TV shows, books, board game, and video games. They didn’t all come out in 2017, but that’s when the hosts got to them! Then they look forward at their excitement for 2018. Let them know what they missed!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday, or for our weekly news podcast, Week in Geek.

https://www.facebook.com/ComparativeGeeks/

https://twitter.com/comparativegeek

Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

What to game, what to game?…

I’ve hit a bit of a slump after finishing listening to the two books in the Kingkiller Chronicles. That was filling my evenings and I was doing chores and playing a bit of Magic: Puzzle Quest while listening. The books are phenomenal, and the audio book was a great presentation as well.

However, kind of like the Amazon ads, I hit a “show hole,” or in this case a book hole, and I wasn’t sure what to read or listen to or do next. I had put 80 hours into listening to the Kingkiller Chronicles, with more and more towards the end.

I have a few books out from the library: Jo Walton’s The Just City out in print, and Station Eleven in audio book, but neither seemed quite right (although I have finally started listening to Station Eleven: liking it so far). But really, what I felt like doing was playing a video game.

I was immediately stopped because we have not yet setup the X-Box 360 in a new place at the new house. This limited my choices considerably, although it especially brought me up short as I was starting to think about replaying something like Final Fantasy XIII-2 (which is not yet backwards compatible) or Diablo III (which had a fancy X-Box One version come out so won’t be backwards compatible).

Given our recent discussion of replaying versus new material, I turned next to thinking about new games. There’s not really one I’m looking to play that we already owned, but now that we don’t have a data cap, the idea of buying a digital game and downloading it doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. Final Fantasy XV isn’t as cheap as I’d like it to be (might be an okay $20 game). I’ve heard such rave reviews of Witcher III that I strongly considered that one, but with the digital game I can’t tell if it’s equivalent to the “Game of the Year” edition which would have lots of the content as well. I did check for this at the store in town as well, but no luck… Hmmm, maybe an Amazon purchase…

My search for a new game to play leaving me unsatisfied, I turned to games I haven’t completed yet. I got started with Dishonored 2 and was liking it alright, but I also felt like I wanted to play in a different way than vaguely stealthy and want to start over – I’m giving myself a bit more time before doing that! On the other hand, I was well into Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, but it’s been long enough since then that diving back into the end feels daunting. Same with Kingdom Hearts 2 HD.

There was playing a classic, as well. I had started playing Final Fantasy VII on the PSP, but when it ran out of power it lost my progress during what is apparently a super long section without a save point – working your way up Shinra Tower! I could play it or VIII easily enough on the PSP or the PS3, but those didn’t feel right.

I also got to thinking about Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition, which I had picked up on the computer but haven’t played because I haven’t really played anything on the computer in some time. I had this one recommended to me on Facebook recently by Jeremy, as well, so I may turn to it next…

But the game I ended up picking back up, however, is Mass Effect: Andromeda. The news that this game will probably not have DLC or sequels took some wind out of my sails in terms of finishing the game. However, it also felt like a game where I’ve played recently enough that jumping back in wasn’t a problem, I’m far enough that I feel the completionist desire to finish it, and knowing that I’ll probably just finish it and be good with it, I’ve decided to mainly just focus on the main story and companion quests. Hopefully I knock this one out soon!

Of course then, I might just be back into another bout of wondering what to play…

Audio

Rewatching, Rereading, Replaying – Comparative Opinions Episode 60

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, Hosts Holly and David get a little meta and talk about the tension between seeking out something new and reading/watching/playing something that they’ve experienced before. How do you decide between these two things?

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

https://www.facebook.com/ComparativeGeeks/

https://twitter.com/comparativegeek

Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Book Musing – Eragon

I mentioned recently that I had finished reading the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, and that I was trying to think of how to review them. For one thing, the books have been out for years – and it’s even a re-reading for me. For another thing, it’s a four-book series, and I’m done with all of them. So while it’s tempting to do one gigantic review, I don’t think that’s a good idea…

I think that conceptually this series has a lot going for it. It is very much so an author trying to bring a lot of modern understanding into the fantasy genre, trying to bring complex modern thoughts and knowledge both into that realm. Much of fantasy tries to recreate that medieval mindset, but Paolini eschews that.

There’s also the structural conventions of the genre – and of the hero’s journey – that Paolini both incorporates and actively works against. The most obvious is that, while the trilogy is the most common series length, Paolini takes what feels like it is starting out as a trilogy and turns it into a very compelling 4-book series.

So instead of book reviews, I think I’ll write up some musings on each of the books. I’ll think of them a bit in relation to each other, and in these larger terms. But also of course some consideration for the details of the book itself. So first up: Eragon!

The Hero’s Journey

So first up, yep, this book starts us on a hero’s journey, a chosen one who was before totally unconnected to the world he is about to find himself in. Living in a small, out-of-the-way rural village. Actually, scratch that – on a farm, outside the village. Way out of the way. Despite being located near “nowhere” on the map, Eragon the farm boy finds himself soon to be Eragon the dragonrider.

In many ways, it’s hard not to fall back on conventions like this. By having a character this ignorant of the world, the political struggles in it, the magic and races dangers, you have a whole lot of room for storytelling, world-building, and exposition.

There’s a bit of exposition one-upmanship, however, because dragons and their riders can speak telepathically with no one else hearing – thus allowing the main character and his bonded companion, the dragon Saphira, to talk through whatever is going on in the scene. It was a new way of approaching a normal sort of storytelling.

Eragon learns quite a bit throughout the book, but really just enough to be thrust into situations where he is in well over his head. He is saved on numerous occasions by the people around him, which matches with the general reality that heroes need friends, allies, and quite a bit of luck to survive and to be heroes.

There are quite a few normal sorts of elements, as well, especially a set of prophecies that Eragon receives. I do love a good prophecy, and there is a great deal of import given to these prophecies throughout all four books, which just makes them better as far as I’m concerned.

How Much of This Did He Plan?

Alright, I may have been spoiler (or at least detail) light so far, but that may change a bit here. That’s because, there are several items which you learn in later books which drastically change a re-reading of Eragon! That was my number one takeaway from this book, that it had a whole lot more meaning and significance a second time through.

To be that important, it could really only be one thing, and that’s identities. To be fair, there’s a lot of people met in Eragon, and we learn more about most of them throughout the series, all of which improves our perspective on them. But there are a couple of characters that take the book from interesting to heartbreaking. The amount of innocence contained in Eragon – that is progressively lost as the books drag deeper down until you’re in full-on war at the end – is astounding. I also didn’t remember how late it is that you actually get the most important spoiler!

I’ll avoid actually saying what it is here, although now even just saying something I’ll have new readers trying to guess things they might not have otherwise, and returning readers perhaps trying to remember (like I was) what details they were needing to piece things together at the start. Feel free to message me (@compgeeksdavid) if you’d like the full spoilers!

Much Room for Growth

Kind of like in my discussion about The Gunslinger recentlyEragon is a first book that clearly left the author feeling the need to infuse more into his story, and into his storytelling. It hits on a lot of the traditional elements. I imagine it felt safe for, say, the folks who decided to make a movie of it (I haven’t seen the movie, only a few brief moments on TV before turning away). It seems kind of ordinary.

I think the later books are where things definitely get interesting, in a lot of respects! Throughout the series, Eragon kind of remains a chosen one savior of the world character, on an over-arching quest, but he’s not the only person in the world. He may not even be the best hero they have, as that distinction might need to go to Arya. But he’s the Chosen One, which carries on additional weight in terms of politics, motivation, and war. You can’t afford to lose him. His freedom of choice is limited.

The larger political landscape that Paolini builds does a lot to frame the hero in a larger context. You really only just start to get a taste of this in this book, in its final region, the final climactic battle and fairly abrupt ending – but really, things fall apart from there!

But that’s to be continued when I muse about Eldest!