Monday, October 07, 2013

Ulrika the Vampire: the trilogy complete

High hopes
The first volume of Nathan Long's Ulrika the Vampire series- Bloodborn, which I reviewed back in 2010, exceeded expectations sufficiently to ensure that picking up further volumes was a no-brainer for me. Volumes 2- Bloodforged, and 3- Bloodsworn, were duly added to my Warhammer Fantasy fiction bookshelf last year. I didn't know what to expect from these books but my hopes were pretty high after the first volume. Would Nathan Long be able to sustain my interest and excitement as he further developed the tale of the tragic destiny of one of my favourite characters in my favourite fantasy world?

Vivid characterisation
Freshly blooded and still bearing emotional hallmarks of her human identity- a proud young women of position, mature beyond her years by virtue of her martial experience, Ulrika chafes under the yoke of her new elders and betters- the Bloodlines: creatures for whom a year passes in the blink of an eye; who have nothing better to do than bicker, scheme and intrigue while human generations live and die as pawns in their powerplays, and as their prey and cattle. Among these, her new kind, Ulrika finds herself cast down to the status of a mere infant. Intrepid and independent she instinctively rebels against this subservience, launching herself on a quest to survive without surrendering to total damnation.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

On 'The Russian Front': a hit of that digital rush!

Opening the offensive
I said back in June that I was "going to master the first Operation on CCIII:TRF if it kills me". I procrastinated, as is my wont but eventually got down a couple of weeks ago to 'Blitzkreig: the War Begins', which links together the first 3 maps with which I am well familiar from previous battles with Close Combat: The Russian Front. I felt a bit intrepid: five days across 3 maps with a campaign system metagame of whose workings I have the barest clue- a whole new level of digital gaming ambition for yours truly. Sure, I can win the first map on autopilot, probably the second one too, but what unknown equipment might the Russians bring to the table, and what about factors like attrition, and resting and refitting? I could soon find my small platoon sorely depleted.
The first battle briefing

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Guilty pleasures and morbid imaginings

A guilty secret
The oft-mentioned mellowing effects of age are a true fact, well observed in the case of yours truly. A phenomenon which began with my increasing squeamishness in my mid-30s, the most extreme example of this effect is the case of one of the most hated figures in recent times here in Britain- the late Margaret Thatcher. I shared this hatred quite viscerally, to the extent that, back in the early/mid-80s I used break out into fits of apoplectic rage at the mere sight of her on the TV, and the sound of her in her prime still sends shivers down my spine. And yes, I went to the local party on the day of her death. I didn't sing, I didn't dance, but I'd promised myself I'd turn out and that was a promise I could not but keep, but that's another story.

"Who's got the last laugh
now you mad old bat?"
I blame ex-Chancellor and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for spoiling my party (no, no, not the Labour Party- that had stopped being 'my' party 20 years before the moment in question). No, Brown spoiled my Thatcher's 'death-day' party when, on the occasion of becoming prime minister in 2007, he followed his predecessor Tony Blair's lead by inviting Thatcher for a photo opportunity on the steps of 10 Downing Street. The moment was truly pathetic, this one-time demented ranter cut down by senile dementia and rolled out for all the world like an old-time mummified Soviet Communist Party General Secretary to give her doddering seal of approval to the latest simpering heir to her so-called 'revolution'. And in that moment I couldn't help myself, I felt sorry for her.