Review: The Art of Blizzard Entertainment ~ Blizzard Entertainment

art of blizzardISBN ~ 9781608870271
Publisher ~ Insight Editions
No. Of Pages ~ 376 pages
Links ~ Insight Editions, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Over the past two decades, Blizzard Entertainment has had a tremendous impact on the world of games and global pop culture. From its humble beginnings as a three-person console-game development studio in 1991 to the creation of the blockbuster Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® series, Blizzard has a history of crafting stunning worlds of science fiction and fantasy. The company’s distinctive gameplay and storytelling styles have captivated an international audience numbering in the tens of millions whose passion cannot be quelled.

Twenty years after Blizzard opened its doors, the company’s World of Warcraft® boasts the title of the world’s most popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and the studio is widely recognized as one of the leaders in creatively driven game development.

An epic volume of art and behind-the-scenes insights, The Art of Blizzard® celebrates the studio’s genesis by examining the creative forces behind these games and showcasing their artistry through more than 700 pieces of concept art, paintings, and sketches. Commentary on the art is provided by Blizzard Entertainment’s own Nick Carpenter, Sam Didier, and Chris Metzen, who’ve each played important roles in shaping Blizzard’s game universes over the years.

5 Thumbs-UpWeighing in at 8lbs, this is a coffee table book in the true meaning of the word; my knees went numb as I was reading it on my couch.  Although, if you use the links above, it is hard to find a copy of this book for under $50, I found mine in the bargain priced section at Barnes & Noble, and if you want to splash out more money Insight Editions are selling a specially bound version.  However, if you already own all of the Collector’s Editions of Blizzard artwork books, this is probably not a purchase you will want to make, as many of the illustrations featured in it are in the previously mentioned books.

With over 700 illustrations this book covers the artwork from such iconic Blizzard games as Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft, with accompanying commentaries by the artists themselves.  It gives the reader a fascinating insight into the creative talents of the company as well as providing a visual history of Blizzard games.  What I found particularly interesting about this book was how clearly apparent the evolution and refinement of the artists techniques became as time passed, it was almost as if I were seeing physical proof of their confidence in what they were doing growing before my eyes.  Another aspect of the book I liked was the fan art submissions and how some of them were actually recruited into the Blizzard team.  This book covers everything from the early sketches right up to the completed box artwork; one of my favourite in the Diablo section was the Mistress of Pain.

Full of magnificent scenes and characters, what little text there is in this book has been thoughtfully placed so as not to intrude on the main stars of its pages, in fact in some places the writing is rather quite difficult to find and read.  This didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book in any way, but for anyone who has a visual impairment and wants to read the text for the back story to the images it may prove to be a challenge.

However, this book does not just focus on the well know side of the company, in this book there is also a section with conceptual art for games that never were as well as a spoof chapter containing holiday themes using the more well-known characters.  In reading this book you actually get a sense that you are in the same room with the creators, listening to them discuss, accept or reject ideas for the next project whilst also sharing with them a trip down memory lane.

I would highly recommend this book whether you are a fan of Blizzard games or just a lover of fantasy art; this book touches all the bases..

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Review: The Demon Hunter Saga (Demon Hunter #1-3) ~ Cynthia Vespia

Demon HunterThe acclaimed fantasy series comes together in one epic saga. Do you know what horrors lie beyond these pages? Costa Calabrese has just uncovered the truth about his past. Some truths should never be revealed. When you learn you’re the son of the worlds foremost and feared hunter of demons, life’s rules inevitably change. Now Costa has been chosen to walk in his famed father’s footsteps and take up the role his bloodline demands of him…whether he wants to or not. He is a killer of killers, laying waste to the scourge of evil that threatens the existence of mankind. He is the chosen one. He is the DEMON HUNTER.

2 Thumbs-UpUsually the best thing an Author can do, in my mind, is publish a trilogy they have written all together in one edition.  Not only does this save space on my groaning bookcases, but it also means that, should I really get into the trilogy I’m not running all over trying to track down the remaining books; unfortunately this was not the case here.

To start with the entire book is only 393 pages long, to me that is not a trilogy in the true sense of the word, it is just three short stories containing the same characters published together.  Those characters to me were very one-dimensional and it seemed as if the Author were trying to breathe life into something they played when they were younger.  The main protagonist was just unbearable and I couldn’t connect with him at, and because of the constant mood swings and changing of his loyalties, I actually began to wonder if maybe there was a long running typo of the leading ‘s’ not being printed in the book whenever he was mentioned.  It was as if the Author intended him to be male, but then lost their way and gave him too many of the irritating traits we women have; add to that the teenage angst and he was the most unlikable main character I have read in a while.  Even the villains were really not villains; they were easily dispatched back to wherever they came from showing no real threat to anyone in particular.

The storylines in all of the books were predictable and, any reader who enjoys fantasy as their usual fare will be able to figure out what is going on way before the Author lets us in on the plot. I felt an element of surprise and a bit more care taken when drafting this storyline would have elevated it to a different level.

The main reason though that this trilogy received a 2 thumbs review rating is brought to you courtesy of bad editing.  There were so many typos and inconsistencies throughout all three books, that in places they actually changed the meaning of the passage being read, or made that particular part of the plot laughable.  A good proof-reader and editor could have pointed this out to the Author, which in turn would have resulted in a book that was more plausible.

I so wanted to really like this trilogy but, unfortunately, in the end it just wasn’t for me.  If you’re at a loose end and want to take a look at this I’m not going to recommend otherwise, but be warned it may not be as good as you think.  I may try reading something else by this Author to see if the errors in this one were just that their skills had not been honed yet, so I’m not entirely giving up on them.

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Review: The Demonologist ~ Andrew Pyper

DemonologistProfessor David Ullman’s expertise in the literature of the demonic—notably Milton’s Paradise Lost—has won him wide acclaim. But David is not a believer.

One afternoon he receives a visitor at his campus office, a strikingly thin woman who offers him an invitation: travel to Venice, Italy, witness a “phenomenon,” and offer his professional opinion, in return for an extravagant sum of money. Needing a fresh start, David accepts and heads to Italy with his beloved twelve-year-old daughter Tess.

What happens in Venice will send David on an unimaginable journey from skeptic to true believer, as he opens himself up to the possibility that demons really do exist. In a terrifying quest guided by symbols and riddles from the pages of Paradise Lost, David attempts to rescue his daughter from the Unnamed—a demonic entity that has chosen him as its messenger.

3 Thumbs-UpThis is a strange book, not because of content, but because of the way in which the Author chose to write both the storyline and develop the character of the main protagonist.  The story is told through the words of the main character, and the settings in which the storyline takes places are experienced by the reader through the eyes of this character.  One trait the reader learns early on in the novel this character possesses is that of melancholy, and it is this trait that saturates every word, action and observation the main lead takes. This trait has a habit of making the book move at a much slower pace than I would have expected from a topic such as this, but it also serves the purpose of making the reader take time as they progress through the pages to ensure they don’t miss the meanings of anything covered.

The European location is very well written, and after having spent some time here as I could picture the twists and turns that were taken in this city.  The Author obviously thought long and hard when writing his book as to which location would serve as the best setting for this portion of their work; by choosing this one I felt they had done an outstanding job, as it lends itself perfectly to this type of storyline.  It is apparent from some sections of the book too, that the Author did a great deal of research in Milton’s Paradise Lost, and comes up with some very well-educated explanations for some of the verses which really added another dimension to this book.

Although I did enjoy this book, I found after a while the way in which it was written was becoming depressing and, although this may not detract from some readers enjoyment of this novel, I felt like it kept me from liking this read more than I did.  I applaud the way in which the Author tackled the topics covered in this novel, but I don’t think I will be reading anymore of their work as their writing style really isn’t for me.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed The Historian and also lovers of the Supernatural/Paranormal genre.

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Review: The Trust Casefiles ~ Lee Cushing

Trust CasefilesThe Trust – A secret organization comprised of thousands of independent field units fighting an eternal war against demonic forces that prey on the innocent.

One such unit is led by Alexandra Glinyeu, a Voodoo Priestess. Her top operatives are former vigilantes, Forrest King and Catherine Jordan – two people who have discovered that the demons they fight could be anyone – friend, lover or family.

This collection of their exploits include Catherine facing the prospect of potential lifelong happiness with a new love when she helps the head of a Trust library whose former girlfriend has returned as a blood sucking Nelapsi, an unidentified flesh-eating creature stalking an isolated community living on a small island, an American television star under sentence of death and an ancient evil returning from beyond the grave.

3 Thumbs-Up

Just because you feel this may be yet another vampire book and pass it over, I have to warn you that you may regret not taking the time to read this, apparently, collection of tales.  Take the time to pick this up and you will quickly discover it is something more than that; it is full of a variety of beings of both the vampiric and supernatural variety, and their coming to be included in the ‘Casefiles’.

Because of the vast number of different beings covered, not to mention a myriad of their opponents, this novel did have a tendency to become muddled at times, which made it a challenging read in a few areas.  Some parts did not quite flow on from one another and this led to some confusion and backtracking on my part as I read it.  Perhaps if this book had been broken down in to smaller bite-sized parts all the different characters would have been easier to keep track.  Also the main characters could have benefitted from a little more time being taken on their development earlier in the book as there was nothing about them that would help the reader engage with them from the start, and I found myself becoming rather bored with them in places.

With this said, the Author has invested a lot of time into providing readers with a host of unique vampires, not one of which ‘sparkle’, and showing a side to this topic the reader rarely sees, which is that they are as diverse in their nature as we humans are.  To add to this unique perspective of the vampire, the plot is equally as refreshing.  There are numerous twists and turns which keep the reader on their toes, and the plot moving along at a nice pace.  However, a good editor may have pointed out that there needs to be a few more breadcrumbs in the book, as even the most dedicated of readers can find themselves getting lost occasionally, that would be me again, and these would help them back on to the path.  Regardless of this minor point I found it to be a very enjoyable read.

I would recommend this fast paced, action packed book to anyone who likes their vampire tales traditional, but with a slight twist. Also lovers of supernatural tales would find this book enjoyable.

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