Category Archives: Fantasy

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters – Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Given how much I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I decided to give another Austen adaptation a try – Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I had high hopes, but my only expectation was that the main plot points remained the same, and on that front the novel did not disappoint.

Overall the novel was mostly consistent, and generally well written. There were a few times, I felt that some passages were a little long-winded and perhaps not as concise as they could have been. It was in those moments I felt the shift between the tone of Austen and that of Winters’, the subtle differences were all of a sudden much more obvious. In my opinion that was a shame, as I felt it disrupted my flow as a reader. I kept having to remember that the book is an adapted contribution from two different writers.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

As you would expect from an adaptation, there were plenty of new plot twists and new character development moments to enjoy. Some I would arguably say are more exciting than others, some I would say might not matter if they had been included or not. But combined they certainly added a new layer to the original novel.

This added layer was most evident in the new character traits attributed to the Dashwood’s and the Steele’s. Elinor Dashwood in particular, became a much more exciting and likeable character, than was possible in the Austen’s original version. This was simply achieved by a slightly more up-tempo pace throughout, and of course the addition of new events into the plot.

It was good to see that although this was an adaptation, Winters’ had taken care not to leave any wide open plot holes, or major character misalignments. Sure if you’re specifically looking for them I’m sure you’d find them, as you would in any book, film or play. But for me, Winters’ took enough care and paid enough attention to detail, that by the end of novel I felt that all the interlocking stories had been satisfyingly concluded.

Whether you’re a fan of adaptations or a fan of Austen, this is definitely a novel I’d recommend other readers try. But, for a true comparison, it is always worth reading the original too – and I do mean READ, not watch a film or TV series adaptation!

12 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Jane Austen

Suicide Squad, Volume 4 Discipline and Punish, by Ales Kot, Matt Kindt, Patrick Zircher

As always Suicide Squad is well drawn, descriptive and reasonably action packed. I once again fell in love with Harley Quinn and her spunky quips and it was an interesting concept to see the Suicide Squad’s progression from being submissive to Amanda Waller; to beating Waller herself into submission.

James Gordon Junior’s issues with the Mother complex and reading someone actually wanting to refer to Waller as ‘Mother’, was creepy and left a bad taste in my mouth. No doubt this was how it was meant to feel and it’s great that a graphic novel can produce such a strong emotion. It would be interesting to know how other readers reacted to it.

Suicide squad #4One thing in this volume, which I particularly disliked was the over-use of captions, such as ‘DEADSHOT. SHOOTS THINGS’. At first they were reasonably useful, a re-cap of who’s who, then with the introduction of James Gordon Junior and Cheetah they were snippets of potential back-story to flesh them out as characters, but after that they were unnecessary, irritating and a little ridiculous. Each subsequently unnecessary caption felt like a poor attempt at humour that, spoilt an otherwise entertaining page.

 

Getting several more detailed backstories was fantastic, it had to happen before the series is closed and it has been a long time coming. However I did feel that the inclusion of so many, made it particularly difficult to follow the plot as it became a little bit of a mish-mash.

 

I enjoyed the sudden appearance of Cheetah as she is fascinating as a character. One of the exciting things I take from these graphic novels is that you never know who might show up, who might get their head blown up and who might be (repeatedly) resurrected!

 

Overall I did enjoy the novel, it remains one of my favourite comic book series, but this particular volume is far from the best and certainly not my favourite as an individual novel. The Suicide Squad team had been Waller’s puppies since the day she rolled in, I find it hard to think that they would miss it as much, as the writers of this volume would have us believe. I feel there was much more potential and exploration to be had from this plot and it’s missing something. In the end it felt a little bland and out of character, in comparison to the previous 3 volumes. But I do look forward to seeing what volume 5 will bring and I hope we see more of Cheetah!

 

© Gemma Feltham 26th July 2014

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Fantasy, Graphic novel

Dark Solus: An Assassin’s Tale, by David Andrew Crawford

Dark Solus: An Assassin’s tale is a fantasy tale that is truly filled with adventure, battles and some raw emotion. The start of the n but novel is intriguing and suitably suspenseful, it certainly sets the scene for the kind of world the reader is going to enter; at the same time it’s not overly detailed so the rest of the novel has plenty to offer.

Moving on as you read further you’ll find the novel has a good pace, with interesting characters being introduced all the time, consistently adding depth, intrigue and much appreciated context to the events of the main character’s (Dark Solus) journey. However during my reading I was not totally taken with the choice of names used. Whilst the names are somewhat unusual and therefore fitting with the fantasy genre, it found all but the name ‘Mephisto’ was somewhat lacking. In this I include Dark Solus. His name does fit the role he must take on during the novel and befits his history, but I felt it was somewhat out of line with my perception of the rest of his character.

Dark SolusCrawford has a good use of adjectives, his depiction of a hell-horse is not only unusual as I’m normally greeted by hell-hounds or the knights of hell and even the apocalypse horsemen, but it’s also an incredibly thoughtful quite frankly beautiful and depiction. Another impressive nod to this skill is the paragraph in which Mephisto transforms himself into an imaginatively detailed, well-timed and a plot twist which hints at other striking plot twist possibilities. In keeping with this level of detail is the magic lessons between Dark and Mephisto, which I found very interesting as this is an area of fantasy I find many authors skip over, or rely on the reader to assume the character’s level of skill.

By Chapter six the reader will have proof that Crawford is capable of producing believable, engaging and detailed battle scenes time and time again. Although violent in nature (as most epic battles are) and seemingly cruel, Crawford never lets the reader forget that all the violence and cruelty comes from a boy with a tragic past and a promise to fulfil and perhaps readers will feel more sympathetic towards Dark for this.  By chapter seven a story of love, loss, revenge, and magic has truly blossomed into a decent work of fiction.

At one point in chapter seven I found an amusing homage to what I could only recognise as Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson and ‘The Stigg’. Though amusing it was unnecessary and I felt it actually spoilt the atmosphere of the novel, by removing me as the reader from the world of magic I’d settled into, making it feel all the more out of place.

It’s clear there are a variety of literary and cultural influences within Dark Solus: An Assassin’s Tale from the Greek fates, harpies, Hades and Kraken like creature; to Viking Thor and Loki (Lore) right through to Tolkien’s dwarves with a lost home. Not forgetting the trials of Heracles (Hercules) which are clearly reflected in the quest Dark undertakes throughout his journey.

It’s a bit of a mish-mash but Crawford pulls apart each influence,  using only what’s necessary and doesn’t let his inspirations digress from telling Dark’s story. As a reader picking out each influence as you read further is interesting and I found myself all the more engaged with the novel by being able to do so.

There are plenty of back stories Crawford could utilise and expand upon into short stories, which I would certainly be interested in reading. It has such a rich mythology and detailed sub-plots that there are plenty to choose from and fan fiction fantasy writers would also do well to give this novel a try.

Overall Dark Solus: An Assassin’s Tale is well worth the read for fantasy lovers, but also it’s got a bit of everything so it’s a good choice for introducing young or reluctant readers to not only the genre but reading in general which is always a plus.

© Gemma Feltham 2nd June 2014

1 Comment

Filed under Fantasy, Supernatural