Tag Archives: R.A. Salvatore

Reading of Books #28

Another edition of my book bit, with a lot of new books read. R.A. Salvatore is very present with the last two trilogies of Drizzt, Paul Stanley from Kiss and Duff McKagan from Guns’n’Roses. Totally not geek + music geek edition.

Books!

R.A. Salvatore – The Companion Codex (Night of the Hunter, Rise of the King, Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf)

source: Goodreads.com

In this series of books, we pick up the dark road that the party of heroes seemed to have ahead of them in the inbetween book ‘The Companions’. Drizzt is reunited with his Catti-Bri, his friends Bruenor, Regis and Wulfgar. It seems however, that war is brewing everywhere and the Orcs are marching with support of the drow. The Silver Marches are besieged by the thousands and cities fall. The dwarves are locked in their underground citadels and no one seems to be able to push them forward. That changes when Bruenor Battlehammer picks up his plight as king among dwarfs. When he starts listening to the whispers of the old dwarven gods and the counsel of his friends and fellow Dwarf kings.

In the most desperate situations the united dwarfs of the Forgotten Realms find their brightest moment. They unearth their greatest treasures after millennia. It is not an easy fight though and much will be lot and much must be sacrificed to get there. In these novels, the world turns a bit more dark and grim and many mechanisms seem to be at work. The wheels are turning and Drizzt and the companions of the hall find themselves in the middle of it all, but also in the middle of their own turmoil and demons. Salvatore creates the profound story that looks at a world, where good and evil are not such simple concepts anymore. What is war if one loses all that holds value? What is a war if you forget the values that you fight for?

Paul Stanley – Face the Music: A Life Exposed

source: goodreads.com

Paul Stanley has always been the most mysterious member of Kiss. His biography is one of the most anticipated ones among fans of the band. The singer has always been a bit of a puzzle for most people, but in this biography he is very open about himself. Even though at times it isn’t pretty and some band experiences come out, he manages to touch his readers. Paul Stanley is the first Kiss member to write a biography that leaves him standing as a victor in the end. The book is also not as filled with spite and dislike. I can’t say that for the other ones by Kiss members and that is a pleasant thing to be sure.

Paul Stanley describes his life from his early days onward. Being born with only one ear intact (and working), turns out to be the source of most angst and insecurity in his life. It’s the red threat through his whole carreer and experiences. Reading this, it outshines even all the fame and fortune. Everything related to the ear problems seems to be key in his development. The surgery to reconstruct it, the way he positions himself on the stage and in the end how he starts working for a childrens organisation. Sure, there’s the necessary amount of rock’n’roll extravagance going on as well. You’ll get some good stories about the women, sustance abuse (of others, since Stanley never really was the crazy one on that front) and quite some Gene Simmons. Pauls story is touching and captivating, never free of a good critical look at himself, but at times blissfully unaware of his own being and impression. A joyful read for sure.

R.A. Salvatore – Homecoming (Archmage, Maestro, Hero)

That was the respons I got from mr. Salvatore himself about my earlier thoughts on the series. Now, I did get here and after 33 books I was fearful for quite a few pages that all would end horribly in tears. For the characters, but also for me since after all this time I had become quite attached to the figures in the book. This whole series has the vibe of an endgame. Things are getting serious in here and that makes for some really daunting reads. Some surprising developments and character innovations take place and we all somehow get them together for a final push.

source: goodreads.com

We find Mithril Hall at peace for once, but things are always stirring in the Forgotten Realms. The drow in Menzoberranzan have not finished with their prodigal son. Internal power struggles literally open the gates to hell and demons flood into the realm. They happen to be causing more havoc to the drow themselves than to their enemies. The primordial under Gauntlgrym stirs and Yvonnel the Eternal is reborn. Facing these great enemies are our heroes; Drizzt, Catti-bri and Bruenor. Their other two friends are on a quest of their own, where Regis and Wulfgar will find great challenges and old companions on their road. Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxl site with the heroes…  but things get really interesting when a runaway archmage joins them and a very important priestess of Lolth. But what if your real enemy is within your own mind?

There’s a promise of more to come though. This is good, because I love these books. Unfortunately, mister Salvatore has announced he will not answer any questions on the matter for now.

Duff McKagan – It’s So Easy (And Other Lies)

source: goodreads.com

I’ve never really been a fan of Guns’n’Roses, but when I heard their bass player talk on the Danko Jones podcast about his book. I knew I had to read it. Duff McKagan is the epitome of cool, the laid back voice, the self awareness and self depricating jokes… In his book he is telling the world his story including all the stupid decisions, bad choices and all about the rampant drug and alcohol abuse that brought him to his knees and made him rise up again a new man. The book starts with the McKagan of now. He is walking out of the backdoor of his house during his daughters birthday party and finding two kids making out. He goes through a mental checklist of drugs, sex, alcohol and other things… it’s a funny opener and shows how comfortable McKagan is in writing about himself. Then the good stuff starts.

Duff McKagan is a Seattle-born musician. People sometimes forget that he was in a bunch of bands in the past. It’s good to get some info on that too with his early bands. Also a near death experience at an early eage seems to have contributed to his personality. The writing style is casual, almost off handed as if things just emerge and happened, but sometimes we get back to the internal monologue from the start. Especially when bad things happen. A rock’n’roll book with drugs and alcohol has a lot of grief in it. McKagan never makes light of that. He is funny when he talks about himself, jovial when it concerns weird things that happened to a bunch of guys and cordial when he writes about problems in the band. He always seems  to have the right tone for all situations, never goes down avenues of boring thoughts and just keeps this easy to read. One of the best rock’n’roll bio’s I’ve seen this far.

The Reading of Books #21

So here we go again, reading books like there is no tomorrow. Well, there usually is so… well, this time I have read some Dutch literature in the form of Harry Mulish’s books, a book about reggae and ofcourse some works of R.A. Salvatore.

Michael De Koningh – Young, Gifted & Black: The Story of Trojan Records

source: Goodreads.com

Ska, reggae, rocksteady and more are the typical sounds of Jamaica. The genre came across the sea and captured a generation of young Britons and left a lasting impact on the music we know as pop. If you tell the story of reggae, you need to also tell the story of Trojan Records. A label so intertwined with the rise and growth of the music, that it has almost become synonymous with the genre. This book tells you everything about the growing genre from one perspective, but also what is around in the world where Trojan developed. The labels, the artists and the weird gold rush that the record industry undertook in that time and age.

This book is not about idealistic record producers and a label with a golden heart. Trojan Records never started from any good will, but as a means to make a lot of money of something not many others were jumping onto. The reggae genre was at first considered obscene, shocking and ill fitting to British society. The keen skinhead crowd was not helping that image much either. The book also contains a dense discography and further lists with information concerning the label, it’s productions. A must have for the fan or collector of Trojan releases, but also for those who just love or would  like to investigate Jamaican music.

R.A. Salvatore – The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy (The Thousand Orcs, The Lone Drow, The Two Swords)

source: Goodreads.com

Well, another trilogy by R.A. Salvatore that I can mark as read. This trilogy is in a way much more grim and definite than others. Where the characters seemed to pretty much walk away from events unscaved, that is about the change when they face a foe that is so much mightier than others. Luck is not on their side and the shifting mechanisms of their world is much bigger and complexer than ever before. Though there is one of those phases, where Drizzt feels he lost everyone only to find them again, things are not whole in the end. The characters are much more introspective, less a coherent unit and that makes for some uncanny story telling.

The orc tribes are uniting under one God-gifted leader, named Obould Many-Arrows. Where the orcs have always been a race of merauding recklessness, Obould is a different cookie altogether. WIth his sight set on a kingdom for his people, a place on this earth to call their own, he sets out on a bloody crusade and the heroes appear to be right in the middle of his path. This leads to the grim story of an all out war. Not a skirmish, a chase or a battle, but entrenched, long lasting war. R.A. Salvatore manages to translate the experience of war to the fantasy realm with a great effect. This is maybe one of his finest hours in writing. The book really takes the reader into a much grimmer direction and the end might not be what you would hope to find, but in a way it’s also unavoidable.

Harry Mulisch – Siegfried

source: Goodreads.com

Harry Mulisch is one of the most well known Dutch authors, but I rarely read anything from his works up until now. This book is the story of a writer, much like Mulisch himself, of international fame who goes to visit Vienna for a reading. During an interview he mentions Hitler. Hitler has been the topic of many, many books, but no one ever really managed to get to the core, the essence of the figure. The main character promises he will attempt to capture HItler, to trap him in a frame of fiction. The writer is struggling with many thoughts about this project, of the past and maybe with himself as well. Then the story becomes strange.

An old couple approaches the author at the reading. They’ve heard him speak on television about Hitler and are keen to speak to him. The next day he meets them in their appartment, which is not the standard he lives in, but accomodating. There’s little special or uncommon about the couple, but they apparently have a big secret which he is sworn to protect untill they are both deceased, so their original promise is covered. And thus starts a narrative within a narrative about a son called Siegfried. The most intriguing about the book is the peculiar story in a story, the biographical elements and the irregular composition. It’s a brilliant book. If it is translated, read it for all its magic.

Harry Mulisch – Twee Vrouwen

source: goodreads.com

The second book I read from Mulish is ‘Twee Vrouwen’,  which translates as ‘two women’. It’s a book of international fame, which was even made into a film once. At its time it must have struck a nerve with its theme of a same sex relationship, but on it’s republication as a gift for the annual book week it still is a book that matters and adresses the difficulties and strange intolerance that has been part of our culture for that long. Even though things are looking up nowadays, it is good to remember and put it to life in literature how we’ve dealt with homosexuality in the past.

The story is that of two women who run into eachother. Though the main character is older, has been married and not been with a woman before, they click and soon move in together. Their turbulent relationship lasts for a couple of months and part of the book describes that period in all its complexities. Durin a visit to her mother, the main character asks her girlfriend to stay behind to not shake up the old lady who resides in the south of France. From here on all seems to go wrong and the girlfriend leaves at some point with the ex-husband. I wish I could tell you more, but you’lljust have to read it yourself. Spoilers and all, but know that a Mulisch book never goes the way you’d expect. You don’t need to be a confused Lesbian to experience the feelings this book gives you. Sure, it gives the perspective of discrimination, but the characers are sort of sealed of in a bubble experiencing things just like you could. That makes this such a strong work. It’s completely relatable.

The Reading of Books #20

In this 20th edition of books that I read, which is quite a few over time, I’m discussing Dayal Patterson, R.A. Salvatore (again), Gene Simmons and Marco Martens, who all wrote cool books that I enjoyed.

Dayal patterson – Black Metal: Into The Abyss
Cult Never Dies Productions

source: Goodreads.com

I’m a huge fan of the work by Dayal Patterson, who manages to captivate the black metal scene in his own unique way. Name it scholarly or even ethnographic at times, the man lives and breathes black metal and manages to track down the most reclusive strangers for brilliant interviews. It sometimes seems that the weirder you think they are, the more normal they seem in retrospect. In this edition of the series, Dayal digs up some old bones in Poland for example, finding the roots of that strange black metal scene and continues to search for answers.

I’ve mentioned part of the Polish scene that gets attention in this book, but more or less the outsiders like StigmataFuria and others. Another element are the Norwegian bands of the latter generation, that return to a more purist approach, like 1349 and One Tail, One Head. The best part is how open Patterson gets to talk to some of these artists, of which some never did an interview before. It opens up a scene that has been shrouded in mystery and trust me… It doesn’t take away any of the magic.

Gene Simmons – KISS and Make up
Crown Publishing

goodreads.com

Gene Simmons is an enigma, a character larger than life and hated and reviled as much as he is loved and praised. Gene is a straight shooter and always speaks the truth. No surprise then, that his book details his humble beginnings with as much detail as his later sexual adventures, poverty, riches and glamour. It also features a lot of history of Kiss that before was hidden behind the paint and more or less a mystery. We’ve moved on to a time where things have aged enough for some of the truth to come out. After the accusing books by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, the book of Simmons feels much less cool and more raw and honest.

Why does that matter? Because for example Frehley, whose book I read, is glorifying his own behavior most of the time and rarely speaks with any warmth of the bandmembers he shared the stage with. Specially Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are depicted as money grubbing monsters, regardles of the fact that Gene Simmons saved his life. Simmons seems to lament the path of the others and speaks as candidly about his own failings and shortcomings, even insecurities and such as about others. This is a book of a sober man, who is honest, but that’s my opinion. It also is a really kick ass story, isn’t it?

R.A. Salvatore – The Sellswords (Servant of the Shard, Promise of the Witch King, Road of the Patriarch)

source: Goodreads.com

It’s surprisingly nice sometimes to take a side step in a long series, and so it is with the Forgotten Realms ‘Legend Of Drizzt’. In the short series titled ‘The Sellswords’ we focus on the characters of Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle. Two oppertunists, who venture to a new land to reap the fruits of whoevers labour after daring conflicts with the mercenary bands Bregan D’arte. It’s a great bit of reading and a completely different kind of adventure with more depth and knowledge about the characters you might loathe or secretly love already by this point and will get to know and understand much better by the time you finish.

During the first part, Jarlaxle gets challenged for his leadership of Bregan D’Arte, so he has to flee with Entreri. During their flight they meet up with Cadderly (who has met Drizzt and company before, but is known from the Cleric Quartet). In the second part we fnd the duo in the Bloodstone lands, fighting with, alongside and against King Gareth Dragonsbane in an attempt to gain riches while doing rightious things (known from the Bloodstone Pass series from the eighties). In the final part we travel to Memnon with Artemis Entreri to find his past and illuminate the merciless killer he has become, where we will find something new and surprising in the character. A lovely journey for the reader.

Marco Martens – Rubberboot

It’s only a little booklet, but in it we find stories that are recognizable and funny, sometimes touching and familiar. Marco Martens used to be active in hiphop and now in a sort of spoken word setting. Poetry is also part of this short bundle. An enjoyable, though brief read that you can probably still pick up somewhere if you’re lucky. If not, than you don’t.

Marco Martens is a talented writer and story teller. This book is a small display of his talents, but I hope it won’t be his last endeavour in the written word. Like his record ‘Ieder Huis Is Uit Vertrekken Gebouwd’  (out on Bastaard Platen), his writing is a mixture of humor, nostalgia and grief, all packed up into a nice cocktail that sticks. You can read it here.

The Books I Read #19

I read some more books, so I guess it’s time to share those with you, with works by R.A. Salvatore, JJ Koczan, Ace Frehley and the mighty Henry Rollins! Enjoy and pick them up if you can.

R.A. Salvatore – Paths of Darkness ( The Silent Blade, The Spine of the World, Servant of the Shard, Sea of Swords)

source: bandcamp

Ok, one more serial for now, since right now I had my fill for a while of the saga, but Paths of Darkness is indeed something else. The focus is less on the character of Drizzt, but more on others like the barbarian Wulfgar. After the traumatizing events in the previous books, people have been damaged, broken even. The collateral needs to be resolved before the band will be able to join together once again. It’s a welcome new thing in an otherwise endless string of group adventures, which I think is an interesting switch, though also showing you that nothing lasts really.

Though I wouldn’t want to pin that responsibility on the author, I think in a way the topic of trauma is very present in this book. The effect on a person and the intense fase of trying to work your way through it. The struggle the character Wulfgar goes through is heavy, complex and confusing to all surrounding him. The turmoil is well described by Salvatore and really given context and explanation. This is something that made this series of books very powerful, and worth reading. The following set is also exploring a similar side road, so thatś something that’ll come up in another series of books.

JJ Koczan – Electroprofen

source: twitter (author)
source: twitter (author)

JJ Koczan is an immensely productive guy who manages to keep up the blog ‘The Obelisk’ all by himself. To me, that’s amazing and inspiring at the same time and I’ve had the pleasure to meet JJ on Roadburn and found out he’s a humble and friendly guy, totally in it for the music, nothing else. That is something you see in his book too. I don’t know too much about JJ’s experience as a writer, but there’s something about his style that speaks to me as a music fan as well. In a way the form of this book can describe as a collection of songs too. Short, losely connected stories and poems work together to create a whole.

I enjoyed reading this short novel, as a bit of a dark exploration of humankind. I have the sense that there’s a personal vibe to the stories as well, which I think makes it so much more connecting and powerful, striking the right notes with the reader. JJ demonstrates his skill for putting down a good story here and I hope he keeps at it. I would love to read a doom laced full story of him one day. The book is out on War Crime Recordings, not sure if they still have any…  It would be worth your money to pick this up to support this talented gentleman in his writing, because I’m keen to read more. Check out his website on music for more of his writing, which follows a similar personal expression.

Ace Frehley – No Regrets

source: goodreads

I have to admit something to you, my dear reader. I’m a fan of the band Kiss. It started gradually, but I definitely would have to refer you to the podcast where Danko Jones interviews Abbath about Kiss for the spark that ignited my interest. Now, you can appreciate Kiss as a whole, but delve into the four individuals and that is one crazy journey. My first Kiss bio this far was none other than the oe of Ace Frehley, who played guitar in Kiss three times and left each one. Ace is a likable guy in the media, but was also a troubled person for years with substance abuse. His take on things is a bit different and I’m tempted to believe he missed the point on some topics, but hey…

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/266318867″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Ace is quit laid back and proud of his troubled past, but also likes to inform you around the end of the book how he believes in Aliens and has met them. The weird supersticions he has take all sense of truth away for me, but his perception of the history of Kiss is in general plagued by little consideration for there being another side to the story. Ace is mild and understanding for most of the book, but at some point keeps going on at Gene SImmons and Paul Stanley in a way that is hard to validate or check anywhere, but makes them the bad guys. I have not read all the others, but in the bio of Gene SImmons there’s atleast an attempt to paint a complete picture. Ace sees himself as a victim and his victory on alcohol not too long ago is his biggest victory. It’s still a great book full of saucy material. Read it if you can! Because for all his weird stories, Ace Frehley tells it like a true storyteller.

Henry Rollins – LA Weekly Articles 2011-2012

source: goodreads

Though Henry can spin a yarn, his ability to offer short and to the point stories on stage is reflected in his columns for the LA Weekly. In this book he offers a collection of those from a certain period of time between 2011-2012 that he wrote, but before any editor touched them. It’s some typical Henry material that you’lll easily get into if you like his ideas, and also will inspire you to read more of his work and check out the music he encourages… nay, urges you to check out. Old jazz and blues all the way up to metal, every week another good bit of advice for the ears. It’s really some added value that you’re getting right there from the man who fronted Black Flag and Rollins Band.

If you don’t feel affinity with the opinions of mr. Rollins, then there’s always some room for debate on most topics. The door is always half open, except when it comes to hatred, homophobia, racism and such, those are very clear and so is the opinion of Henry about you if you think such things are fine (usually thats pretty much the issue). The book serves well as a continuous read, but also just to take one item at the time. It’s immersive, personal and filled with the typical wit you find in the work of Henry Rollins. Specially his bits on the Bush administration are usually hilarious. His fandom of Rush Limbaugh (sarcasm) is a recurring theme, that makes Limbaugh look exactly the way he should. It’s just great stuff, read this!

 

The Books I Read #18 Dungeons & Dragons

I kind of stopped mentioning the books I read for a while. Mainly due to the fact that I was stuck on the same saga for a while. I’ve started reading the ‘Legend of Drizzt’ series by R.A. Salvatore.

I mentioned a few of those books already in an earlier post. Since I shunned my responsibilities since, I have to now catch up with these things for a bit, to regain my self respect. I’m going to discuss the Drizzt series books from the start and the comics I’ve been checking out on this topic.

R.A. Salvatore – The Dark Elf Trilogy (Homeland, Exile, Sojourn)

goodreads.com

In the first series we are immersed in the world of Drizzt Do’Urden, warrior, thinker and hero of the Dungeons & Dragons Universe. Drizzt is born underground, in a place of certain death and evil: The Drow city of Menzoberranzan. On the night of his birth his elder brother is killed by his sibling, which means the life of Drizzt is spared. A third son would be sacrificed to the chaos goddess Lolth. Drizzt is raised in the matriarchal society under the tutelage of his father and the weapons master of house Do’Urden, while the matriarch watches. His father, Zaknafein, installs a different moral code in his son, one that strays from the evil path of the Drow and will set Drizzt apart from his kind.

The storytelling is such as to really allow the reader to immerse in the otherworldly and unholy beauty of these realms, specifically the hard to imagine Underdark, where the drow live. One could argue that Salvatore is engaging in the nature vs nurture debate here as well, since the character of Drizzt only starts to really be discussed after the real ethical questions are being raised. Before this point, he is an empty vessel in a way, following the path layed out for him. Once Salvatore opens up the characters, it feels elaborate and completely in sync with how D&D players would express their characters. The journey is quite beautiful, but very solo Drizzt. It is a necessary story that allows the reader to appreciate and embrace the character and the element that is Drizzt in the further stories.

R.A. Salvatore – The Icewind Dale Trilogy (The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, The Halfling’s Gem)

goodreads.com

In the second trilogy we fast-forward a little bit to a point where Drizzt has made some friends in the northern valley of Icewind Dale, a place of thieves, robbers and outcasts trying to start new lives. His friends include dwarven king Bruenor Battlehammer, halfling Regis and Catti-bri, human adopted daughter of King Bruenor. The characters are introduced during the story, slightly lifting up the veil on their backgrounds, while a threat grows in the dale. Not only do the friends need to unite, they’ll also need to unite the bickering villages of the vale, who have only once managed to work together to save their hides.

It is also the story of another character, namely the barbarian child Wulfgar. During the battle where the villages united against the Barbarian tribes, he was spared and indentured by Bruenor. We find the child coming of age as a man with the right mindset and principles, but the stubbornness of his own people. In the story the characters develop and find themselves amid the turbulent times they are part of. Ofcourse the story kicks of a leap to the next trilogy as well and much further adventures for what becomes the ‘Companions of the Hall’.  Where the first book focuses on what can be called pretty much ‘survival’, this book focuses on other D&D values such as diplomacy, wisdom and cunning.

goodreads.com

R.A. Salvatore – Legacy of the Drow ( The Legacy, Starless Night, Siege of Darkness, Passage to Dawn)

The events in the previous trilogy lead to an expansion of the world that the adventurers face, but also brings forward a longing for peace and home. Unfortunately the figure Drizzt has become a much desired prize for the evil drow, his own people. The matron mother of the city of Menzoberranzan decides on a hunt for the rogue drown to appease the displeased deity Lolth. In fact, Lolth herself has a hand in the whole events, tricking a great demon into cooperating with her against the prodigal son of her people. This reconnects the reader with some old familiar figures and brings us back to the Underdark, the realm of the drow. Dramatic events start to unfold soon, which will reshape the personalities in the game, even assassin Artemis Entreri, now a mortal enemy of Drizzt.

The tone of these novels is much more grim and dark, similar to their setting. Where battles are usually briefly mentioned and the focus is usually in the Drizzt novels on the interaction and experiences of the characters, this time a full out war is part of the story as well. It makes the story bigger and more grim than the previous outings. Also noteworthy is the return of some other elements from the previous books, that prove that history is not something for archives but a real thing that can come back to haunt you. In this book Salvatore also chooses to connect Drizzt to some other figures from the D&D universe, which is for a long time fan an absolute pleasure obviously.

R.A. Salvatore – Legend of Drizzt: The Graphic Novel Omnibus Vol. 1 & Vol 2

source: amazon

When a book has so much detail and characteristics embedded in its way of telling the story, the big challenge of course is to bring that to a visual medium. Luckily, there are plenty of capable artists and the team that worked on these first two installments of the two trilogy’s of Drizzt are definitely worth your reading hours, if not only for the strong way of transferring the story to a new medium, without completely bastardizing the text. In fact, much remains the same, apart from the painting parts about the landscape. Those are replaced with stunning images of the realms and the characters.

Granted, sometimes the drawings don’t correspond with your expectations, but that’s an inevitable qualm you’ll have with any adaptation. Ofcourse here and there sections are left out or minimalized, but you can’t prevent that from happening either.  When a fantasy story doesn’t have a film or something, itś always great to have something that offers you a visual experience. These comics definitely do that for you.

Cover image; Website Wizards of the Coast

The Reading of Books #17

Some books I read, by Houellebecq and Lévy, Felica Day, R.A. Salvatore and David E. Ewalt, so a lot of geeky stuff again (Dungeons & Dragons).

Michel Houellebecq & Bernard-Henri Lévy – Public Enemies

source: goodreads.com

It’s a fascinating idea to have to of the most influential thinkers (regardless if Houellebecq looks at himself in that way) of the modern times to go into a letter exchange with eachother. Do that with these two leading french intellectuals and you’ve got something special going on. Both are on different sides of the spectrum, but in their letters the interest and respect clearly shines through. When the book begins we can find some stabs and misconceptions, but gradually it becomes an intimate and deeply intellectual exchange.

The two men are united in their self deflating humor and loathing for their roles in life. Loathing and love, because both seem to be addicted to where they are and the way they are perceived in the public eye. I do think that this exchange finds no equivalent in other European nations, this is an exchange embedded in the french form of a ‘public intellectual’, which is a new concept, that rarely actuallye embodies any sort of true intellectualism in other nations. These men however, are deeply involved in knowing the self and therefor int rying to comprehend the other. The fact that they manage to convey it in a convincing and witty manner even makes this a better read, worthy of your attention.

David M. Ewalt – Of Dice and Men

source: goodreads.com

I have only recently embraced the world of D&D, but David Ewalt had done so many, many years before me and knows the game, the history, the rules and the story well enough to tell the tale of D&D itself, which he does in a captivating, spectacular and immersing way. Well, that should be enough of convincing, but let me go a bit deeper into that. Ewalt is a journalist for Forbes, so we’re talking about serious business here. The man had left his roots behind and somehow started to export his nerdy past as an explorer, an ethnographer if you will.

Ewalts trip into the history and dense development of D&D and its affiliates gets a personal touch through that, with a warm and fond approach to the subject matter and some reverence for the key figures like Gygax and Arneson. While the personal fire rekindles, the story becomes a beautiful legend told with much love and warmth, but always remaining that of a journalist trying to tell you more about this phenomenon. There is definitely criticism and analysis, but it helps in understanding that beauty of D&D, it’s about characters, flaws and strenghts. It’s about what you can do when you combine the best of all. Ewalt brings that together in a great read.

Felicia Day – You’re never weird on the internet (almost)

source:goodreads.com

The book by Felicia Day reads as a bit of therapy, as someone coming to turns with her own path in life a lot later in it. Turns out that’s partly why it was written and in what state the author was. I chose to go for the audiobook version on this one, because it was read by Felicia Day herself. Like the book ‘Just A Geek’ by Wil Wheaton it just happens to connect easier that way and is probably the most ‘true to the core’ experience you can get. The book is a good read for everyone who has felt like an outsider somewhere in their lives.

The book is therefor a story of Felicia’s life, filled with humor and self deflating remarks, highl lighting the problems she has faced throughout the years as an insecure person trying to deal with the world. In that way, there’s also a part lamentation of choices done wrong and hardships endured, but it’s all in good fun. We know where it ended, which is in a good place. The particularly interesting bit in the book deals with gamergate, which was a horrible part of gaming history. Being a self-appointed geek for pretty much forever, I felt alienated and truly disappointed with the gaming world after gamer gate, and that sentiment was clearly there. All in all, it’s a fun and light read about that girl who could be your neighbour. It’s great stuff.

R.A. Salvatore – Gauntlgrym

source:goodreads.com

Getting into Dungeons & Dragons requires you to start getting some footing in the vast universe of the game. No other way is better than reading the novels and letting your own fantasy shape that world the way you wish to perceive it. No other character is more intriguing and part of this world than Drizzt Do’Urden, a drow elf (a dark skinned variation, living underground and generally underground). This story takes place later in the cycle of the life of this character, which developed from a supporting character to a main player in the universe.

Gauntlgrym is an old dwarven hold, thought lost and the huge quest for aged King Bruenor of the dwarves of Mithril Hall. Together with his old friend Drizzt he concocts a plan to escape his duties as king and go fight for his ancestral home in the final great quest. This story follows their adventures, wracked with memories and their old past and is a classic adventure novel, displaying various classes, races and elements of D&D.