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Saturday, July 20, 2019

My Thoughts On. . .



Artesans of Albia – Circle of Conspiracy
Though Lord Rykan is dead, his legacy of rebellion lives on. A legacy that not only threatens the safety of King Elias and Hierarch Aeyron, but the world itself.
But who would dare such an outlandish scheme? And why? Even worse, how might Colonel Sullyan’s own family be implicated?
One thing’s for sure, the poison of treachery runs deep on both sides of the veil, and it will be costly indeed to excise it forever.
The Circle of Conspiracy, a well-paced and delightful romp through the world of artesans that grants you a deeper insight into one of the best, well thought-out magical systems I’ve seen in years. (It really is that good). Not only does the story involve you from beginning to end, but its great fun and well worth the effort of reading all three books in one go.





Orange is the New Black: Seasons 1 - 6
Some might not be aware, but Orange is the New Black is based on the real life experiences and subsequent memoir of Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, who spent 13 months at FCI Danbury.

The TV series revolves around Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties living in New York City who is sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Penitentiary – a women’s minimum-security prison – after being convicted of transporting a suitcase full of drug money 10 years previously for her then girlfriend, Alex Vause, an international drug smuggler.
Because the offense had been committed 10 years previously, Piper had settled down and moved on with her life. She was now law-abiding and due to get married to her fiancé in the near future.
The series sets out to show how Piper’s circumstances are turned upside down by her incarceration, especially as she is reunited with her former lover, Vause, who involved her in crime in the first place.
Along the way, we see how Piper – along with all the other inmates – struggle with the inherent problems of trying to balance petty rules with the underground code existing behind bars. Each series brings something new, with flashbacks helping you see how each main character ended up in jail, and especially what makes them tick.
To provoke contention, the series incorporated added tension from the collapse of the prison and its takeover by the Management & Correction Corporation (MCC). Standards drop, allowing the introduction of new guards. Some are clearly not up to scratch, while others are psychologically unhinged, creating a melting pot of simmering discontent. That discontent comes to a head when a prisoner is killed, and series 4 ends in the instigation of a full-blown riot.
Series 5 continues with the revolt itself. Some prisoners attempt to negotiate better conditions and seek justice for the dead inmate and her family. Others pursue their own interests and behave like animals. A few tuck themselves away, trying to avoid conflict on all sides.
Unfortunately, the guard who incited the riot in the first place is critically wounded by an inmate. This ultimately leads to disaster, for SWAT teams storm the building and drag the women away. Season 5 ends with them being driven away in buses to new destinations.
The consequences of the riot are shown in season 6. Chapman – along with a number of her fellow inmates – are transported to Litchfield Maximum Security. Investigators are looking who to blame, and the girls have to tread very carefully to avoid the “life” or 10 year sentences being dished out with liberal abandon and no real effort to discover exactly what went on.
There you go – a brief synopsis all in one breath. The thing is, I don’t think any amount of writing would do this series justice (get it?) J I’d seen it advertised for some time and ignored it, only to give it a go on a whim.
Guess what? I took to it almost immediately, as it not only concentrates on how prison life will change even the most decent of people, but also how various forms of corruption, funding cuts, privatization, guard brutality and discrimination can make a bad situation much, much worse. And the kick-in-the-teeth? We all know this happens!
A poignant, moral reminder to us all.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

This Week's Review Of...


The Power That Preserves
In the Power that Preserves, Stephen Donaldson brings the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever to an end.
Lord Foul has mastered the Illearth Stone, altering the course of nature. The Land has been seized in the grip of a devastating winter that leeches all life away. Everything will die and the Arch of Time will fall. . .
. . .Unless Thomas Covenant accepts the Land and its predicament is real.
Sick to the back teeth of being used, by Foul; by the Creator; by the Lords and everyone he comes across, Covenant chooses another way and embraces the paradox he represents in one of the best face-offs between good and evil ever written.
A truly stunning conclusion to one of the best adventures ever written.


Lucifer – Series 4
For those of you who have already seen the show, Lucifer has the premise of the devil walking the earth while helping a detective solve murders. Rather odd, on the face of it, but as fans will know, there’s an odd link between Lucifer and Chloe, and the two are drawn together by forces beyond their control.
Based loosely on the character introduced by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg in DC’s The Sandman comic series, Lucifer has built an overwhelmingly loyal fanbase that helped save the show when Fox said they were going to cancel it at the end of series 3.
The ruckus they caused came to the attention of Netflix, who took the show on and – I have to say – kept a successful recipe bubbling nicely, even adding a spot of spice to it in some places. Lucifer series 4 is crisp, dark, sexy and brimming with superbly handled special effects. It’s irreverent, gory, fun, and downright entertaining.
This season concentrates on the deeper aspects of each main character, and of course, lets us see how Chloe handles the truth now she knows Lucifer really is THE devil. To ensure the calm waters of plain sailing aren’t allowed to make things too rosy, we have the addition of two new characters: Eve – yes, the woman who took the fruit from the tree in Eden and Lucifer's first girlfriend; and Father Kinley, a priest devoted to hunting the devil and preventing the fulfillment of a prophecy spelling the end of the world.
As I mentioned, Netflix ties things together rather nicely, even relating back to a prophecy mentioned in series 1 that adds a touch of ‘rightness’ to the developing plotline. And well it should, for it is intimated its fulfillment might cast a pall of doubt over Lucifer and Chloe’s relationship.
And THAT’s what it’s all about! Will they . . . won’t they?
Ah, you’ll see. And unlike the hordes in hell, you’ll be begging for more.