A few more smallish book reviews for a few of the things I’ve been reading over the last few months:
Designers and Dragons – Shannon Appelcline
For a long time Dungeons and Dragons proved to be one of the ways that I gained the friends I had in high school. That close-knit group which formed due to our mutual love of a game without a board, where you were encouraged to act, where you’d go from Tavern to Dungeon and everything in between. Some of my best memories from High School center around late Friday nights spent laughing and rolling dice until we couldn’t focus anymore.
Designers and Dragons let me tap into that just a little bit by showing me the history of the game(s) I loved so much. Split up by decade (70s, 80s, 90s, & 00s), I have read the 70s and 90s ones so far and the amount of information I’ve gained about not only Dungeons and Dragons, but the whole history of roleplaying left me a bit amazed at how things actually went down back then. Rival groups, people creating new gaming systems over the course of a weekend, and the boom and bust cycle which seems to grip the industry every 10 years or so. The ideas people came up with, started their own companies, made mistakes, broke their word… I mean you could do a movie that would have all the drama you could ever need.
Just fascinating stuff. If you have any interest in the actual history of roleplaying I highly recommend these books.
I’ve taken a break from it for now, but I have the last 2 volumes ready to go when I am ready to delve back in.
The Red King – Nick Cole
What do you get when you get a bunch of authors together and decide to end the world?
You get Apocalypse Weird.
Each book written by a different author, the overall series gives us a view of a world gone to hell. Whether it is zombies, or rage monsters, or terminator style creatures, or anything else you could think of… the authors have carved out their own little places across America.
But it all starts with The Red King. And zombies. And trying to find a way in the new world when everything is going to shit. Luckily the best thing about zombie fiction is that while the zombies are nice to see, the real story is always about the people in the middle of it all.
But there is a bigger story going on here. Something possibly otherworldly, possibly alien, possibly older than the world itself… beings who play with humanity like masters play chess.
And the best part is that The Red King is free on Amazon.
And you can see all the books here.
The Dragon’s Path – Daniel Abraham
I have a friend who is always on a constant lookout for more good fantasy books. Whether it is in tv show form or in comic book form or novels. He’d been telling me about this series (The Dagger and the Coin series) for a few months, so I gave it a shot.
I’m so happy I did. I’m now onto book 2…
You want a book with epic stakes? You want a book where civilizations crumble before your very eyes? You want a book that main characters die?
Well then read something else.
You want to read about people wearing false masks. Trying to cover up who they really are. People on the run from their pasts, trying to avoid their futures. People who are just trying to get by in the world, and yet the world keeps laughing in their faces. That’s what this book is about. It is about a girl without a home. It is about a man who is without a company. It is about a young man who is lost in a sea of politics. And it is about an older man who is lost because his King doesn’t act the way he wished he would.
I wish I could explain more about the book. What I can say is multiple times I laughed with the characters. I had those moments where I wanted to pump my fist because something had happened. And multiple times I sat dumbfounded that one of the characters had acted so… evil isn’t the exact word I want to use… human. They aren’t heroes, they are just people who are flawed and make mistakes.
And I am utterly taken with the entire story.
John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.
He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!
He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.