Kong: Skull Island or Godzilla Prequel

This article does contain spoilers for the film Kong: Skull Island.


Kong: Skull Island is another reset of the King Kong franchise. That being said, it is not a bad film; not a great one either.

First, let me say what this film actually accomplishes.

  1. Puts King Kong in the same universe as the 2014 Godzilla film
  2. Sets up Godzilla 2 (looks like Godzilla Destroy All Monsters)
  3. Sets up Godzilla versus King Kong (rumored Godzilla 3)
  4. Gives an idea of how Monarch was founded

That being said, this movie is nothing more than a set up for expanding the Godzilla (2014) universe. The 2014 movie had left people wondering: who are Monarch? Beyond that simple question, the 2014 Godzilla is a great standalone film that provided the potential for sequels. Kong lacks that stand alone feel. Throughout this film it feels like it is a set up film. The island world is shown, teased at, and then semi-subtle references to events that took place in the Godzilla 2014 universe during the 1970s are presented. Once the references start flying, most viewers will get the gist that this is a setup film.

Here is the simplified story outline, this way I avoid serious spoilers, beyond the obvious “let them fight” climax.

  1. First recon satellites find legendary island
  2. Research group sets off to explore said island
  3. Monarch uses Communist Russia as a reason to tag along with the research group
  4. Sam Jackson’s character and his team are introduced
  5. Go to the island
  6. All hell breaks loose when they drop bombs and anger the giant Ape
  7. Travel to the other side of the island to escape, meeting monsters and NPCs along the way
  8. Godzilla fights the giant armor headed bipedal lizard snake things
  9. Kong wins
  10. Closing exposition and setup for Godzilla 2 (might as well be called Destroy All Monsters)

That is an incredible simplification of this film, but if you are expecting anything deeper, you will be sadly disappointed. The characters in this film on the whole are forgettable. This is to be expected as they are just a driving element in causing the giant monsters to beat the ever living snot out of each other, in what can best be described as a celebrity death match.

Samuel L. Jackson has recently been on the villain kick in his roles, and as human characters go, you could call him a villain in the simple terms. His character Preston Packard is a Viet Nam commander who has a hard time accepting that the war is over, and that the USA has given up/lost this war. He is lost without the war and is looking for something to focus his energies on. Through story elements Preston Packard become Captain Ahab obsessively seeking revenge on his own white whale. This sub-plot becomes the driving force behind a number of senseless deaths in the film. The character is neither sympathetic nor even likeable and his quest for vengeance is ultimately his downfall and that of his team.

Tom Hiddleston     is introduced as a former SAS expert tracker James Conrad. David Fielding (Original Zordon from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) covered my sentiments on this character on his blog

they missed the boat and should’ve put Kebbell’s character more at the forefront and ditched the SAS tracker character altogether – but as Hiddleston has more star power


– David Fielding (https://therealzordon.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/the-trouble-with-giant-monsters/)

At points, his character detracts from the story because he simplifies and speeds up the journey across the island. He is the expert “scout” and “can track a falcon on a cloudy day.” His character comes across as a result of a focus group who found that Toby Kebbell’s Chapman could not carry the movie as the sympathetic hero. I will return to Chapman later in this article.

John Goodman plays the obsessed Bill Randa, the founder of Monarch, and the only character who is actually excited about being on this island. The character is both secretive about what is going on and exploring with a wide eyed wonder. His secretive nature about what he knows is a true detriment to the story, which is common in disaster movies as a way of forcing the characters into situations that could have been avoided by this archetype divulging a little bit of information about what his organization does, and what he was expecting to find on this expedition.

John C. Reilley, who I typically do not like because he is often cast as stereotypical stupid comedy relief, actually was one of the redeeming characters in the film. His character, Hank Marlow, is a crashed WWII pilot forced to live on this island with the natives. He has survived this long by being intelligent and respecting the living creatures of this island. He consistently tries to introduce reason into this party by reminding them over and over again to respect the creatures of this island. This introduces the only character that you want to see make it off the island by the end of the film.

Of the characters worth mentioning, there is Mason Weaver played by Brie Larson. By best description, she is there to include the token female element, fulfill one of the King Kong tropes (Kong falls for the female lead), and give Conrad something to ogle. The character is a photojournalist who covered the events of the Viet Nam war. Through some magical means, she gets herself onto this expedition and forms a pseudo relationship with Conrad. A big problem with her character is that she has grown too worldly. She has seen so much that she does not fulfill the “Damsel in Distress” trope. This trope is something, that while most people want the character to die horribly, it helps create an urgency and need beyond “we have to get off this island” to protect and fight to survive. A strong female character can still do the “Damsel in Distress” if the writers take the time to write her strengths into the character and allow her the opportunities to put herself into the unfortunate situations. The “Damsel in Distress” is a way of putting the characters in jeopardy and force them to explore in ways that a normal human would never do. This is a horror and monster movie trope, and without it, the film feels more like a disaster movie.

Death… death… and more death. You have to admit that going to see this movie, you have the expectation that giant monsters are going to kill humans in oddly humorous ways. As a viewer you expect it, you are waiting for it, you want to be amused and entertained by these forces of nature killing the stupid humans. Here is where the real problems start to crop up.

In the 2014 Godzilla film, there was a build up to seeing Godzilla fight the MUTO in California. The deaths along the way were meaningful. They left you with this feeling of awe and wonder at the power of Godzilla and the destructive force of Godzilla and the MUTO. The devastation was there, a lot of it left to the imagination of the viewer to fill in the blanks. This filling in of the blanks let the viewer become involved in the film by having to think and imagine everything else going on. You followed Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Ford Brody on this adventure as a traveling companion; you still wanted to see him get squished or eaten for being a generally unintelligent character. While it is not a great movie, in some ways is superior to Kong.

Monsters, monsters, where are all the monsters?

Contrasting Godzilla 2014 is Kong. The film presents you with a world that you and the characters are experiencing for the first time together, but unlike Godzilla, the viewer wants to experience and explore this world as it is completely foreign to the viewer.

While the party makes their way across this island, they encounter five giant monsters that are not Kong or the Skull Crawlers (and have a giant ant mentioned). They are a Giant Octopus, Spider Thing of Death, Yak, Camouflage Tree Bug, and another Yak. On an island with limited size—so much so you can travel across it in two days via foot and boat while also taking a side trip to kill half your party—you should encounter more than 5 non-starring monsters. One would expect that mega-bugs would be everywhere; one would expect that the party would be trying to avoid these giants or at least become aware of more than what they encountered in the film. The party travels along with what feels like a bad Dungeon Master who just airlifted a random monster, monster swarm, or a giant monster as if to say “Here’s a monster now because… I don’t know… I need them.” The other issue is that the characters react in a way that makes it feel like you are playing a bad D&D adventure where the players have a monster compendium in their hand to look up what the monster is, then take that knowledge to play their character. Their reactions never seem to be of fear and reverence to what is on this island. Kong’s monsters seem to be thrown in at random times just to kill some unsuspecting character or remind them they exist here for no reason.

Deaths of main characters at times seem cruel. While in the real world, deaths occur like this all the time, in a film, deaths of main characters need a meaning. If there is not a meaning, the viewer is left with feeling of disappointment. This happens a couple of times in the movie. The deaths of characters for no reason other than to present a cruel world and make the viewer cringe (MAJOR SPOILERS):

  • John Ortiz’s character, Victor Nieves, is a whiny scientist, similar to Martin Ferrero’s Gennaro (the lawyer) from Jurassic Park. He is going to die. It is a trope that the whiny character is going to die in a humorous way. Gennaro dies while hiding in an outhouse being gobbled up by a T-rex, it was funny. Victor Nieves get carried off by a small reptile bird monster, which starts out as amusing, then mid-air a number of these “birds” proceed to draw and quarter him. The problem is that the viewer is expecting “gobbled up hiding on the toilet” and instead gets a gory, poorly CGed sequence. There was no humor in his death, and the audience actually made an audible response, not laughs, but more shock and disgust. The death also occurred at a point where there was no perceived danger, so the death was more uncomfortable, teetering this movie more into the realm of disaster movie.
  • The first quarter of this movie is driven by Chapman, a character that the story makes a significant effort to get you to like. This is the character that you as a viewer want to go down swinging if he is going down. You are built up for this. You want him to live or die fighting. In the end his death is tragic, unheroic, and cruel. Again, the audience at my screening was audibly disgusted and disappointed. The overall feeling was that this is not what should happen in a giant monster movie. Survival horror or disaster film? Yes. Giant monster film? No. Even how the rest of the party discovers he is dead is cruel and unfulfilling: his skull and dog tags are vomited up by the monster that ate him.
  • The last of the unnecessary, cruel deaths is that of Bill Randa. I know many people will disagree with me in that his death was unnecessary or cruel. From a story point that is probably true. His death was, in some ways, meant to be a comedy death. His camera flash starts going off randomly while he is standing still taking photos. He pauses, realizes what is going on, goes “oh shit,” and is gobbled up. As he is being swallowed you see his flash going off, over and over again, as he is being digested and the rest of the party is trying to kill the monster. My problem here is first, watching the flash go off over and over again giving the illusion that he is still alive while being digested. Secondly, this is the only character in the entire film that wants to see this world and prove he is not crazy. He wants to learn and explore. He needs to get off the island to believably build Monarch to what it will become. The Monarch person who does live, does not present himself with enough confidence, wide eyed wonder, desire, and drive to lead Monarch to what we will see in Godzilla 2014.

One last thing to note before I wrap this up, the CG in the film at times breaks the believability. A traditional rubber suit and animatronics would have worked better for the handful of close-up sequences between Mason and Kong. The worst offender of this was the night scene, a scene which is traditionally flattering in films of this genre. Kong looked good until they composited him face to face with any of the characters. Again, there is also the death of Victor Nieves, which looks bad to the point of almost hand drawn animation.

Looking at this film, I wonder what genre it is supposed to be? Is it survival horror? A classic Giant Monster movie? A Sci-fi film? A disaster film? A classic horror film? An action adventure film? A war movie? It needed to pick one. The collection of sub plots gave the film a disjointed feeling, making me wonder where it was going and why. This made all the characters forgettable in the long run and you could have easily substituted Godzilla in for Kong and no one would have been the wiser. I think if it picked one or two sub-plots it would have helped this film be something special, memorable, beyond being a prequel for Godzilla 2014 and a setup for Godzilla 2 and Godzilla vs. Kong.

Overall: 3rd Gear

Monster Hunter International

Have you ever started reading something without knowing why you chose it, not been crazy about the beginning, but kept going anyway? I can honestly say this week’s topic is the first time I’ve legitimately had that happen, ie choosing a book to read without even seeing a blurb, coming close to giving up after the first chapter, but after a few more, finding myself far more interested than I expected to be.

MHI

I’m talking about Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia. It’s the story of Owen Z Pitt (who his friends call Z), a man from a military family, who decides to go into accounting in an attempt to live a quiet and ordinary life. One night after working late and getting ready to go home, his boss comes in and reveals having been turned into a werewolf. Of course, a dire battle ensues, and Owen eventually pushes his opponent out the window to smash onto the pavement many floors below. Owen himself sustained major injuries as well, landing himself in the hospital for a few days, followed by a large paycheck courtesy of a government fund set aside for the hunting and killing of supernatural creatures, and recruitment from the Monster Hunter organization.

As I mentioned above, being thrown into heavy battle from page one like that really turned me off. I found myself not really caring about the main character, probably more for his gun policy than anything that was happening to him, but the early onset of blood and guts certainly didn’t help. To be honest, as I’ve found with watching Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, the other characters in the story make the plot much more appealing. For instance, the driving force on Owen’s path happened to be the ghost of a Jewish toy maker from the World War II era – and he was probably the most interesting character of all.

Despite how important love and romance were to the eventual resolution of the conflict, the way it was handled in this book was extremely forced: man likes woman; woman is already in a relationship with someone else; the other man is kind of a jerk, but has something happen to him; woman falls for main character. While it would have made the book longer to draw out the development of the new couple, it would have also certainly made it more believable.

I can pretty much guarantee your mileage will vary with this one. It was kinda neat seeing mystical creatures in slightly more realistic circumstances, but I’d probably suggest you be predisposed to this genre before giving it a try. This is book one of a series, and I’m not sure I’ll bother looking into the rest of them.

Rating: 3rd Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

The Myst Reader

Those of you who know me are probably aware that I don’t play a lot of games – video, tabletop, or otherwise – and when I do, I tend to stick to only a couple genres. That being said, the subject of this week’s article shouldn’t really surprise anyone either.

Myst Reader

The Myst Reader, by Rand and Robyn Miller, is a great example of a video game story that has crossed over into the fully written medium. In the original Myst game, the player (unseen because it’s experienced in first-person, from their perspective, with no option to change the camera angle) is tasked with saving Atrus, who is one of the last remaining members of the D’ni community. In the sequel games Riven and Exile, we help him save his wife while working do defeat his father, and then dealing with his sons, respectively.

As expected, the novelization allows the curious player to delve more into Atrus’ life and the world of the D’ni. The Myst Reader is actually an omnibus anthology of three books – The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana, and The Book of D’ni. The Book of Atrus tells of his formative years, from the beginning of being abandoned by his father. His grandmother Anna raised him, teaching him to be curious and studious of the world surrounding him, laying the foundation he needed for when his father came back to teach him how to write Books. It ends beautifully with the opening lines that the player is introduced to the game series with (which is honestly one of my favorite things with stories like this – for a prequel to run right up to the beginning of the existing canon). The Book of Ti’ana goes back even further, telling of how Anna, who is fully human, came to join the D’ni community, and the society’s eventual downfall. The Book of D’ni goes foreward, past the end of the Exile game, to tell the story of Atrus’ return to his family’s home, and attempting to rebuild the community.

Being that these books were written by the same people who worked on the games, it’s to be expected that they have the same tone and structure of the stories that came before them. In the games, the player tells the tale, to the point that very few other people are seen, let alone interacted with, over the duration. That’s the real beauty of the novelization, though – as much as the players can learn about the D’ni, Atrus, and his family, from working out the various puzzles set up in each Age, there’s a phenomenal amount of background information that can only be gleaned from being presented in this other format.

People who have played Myst and its sequels will probably get a lot out of reading this book. For others, your mileage may vary. However, even with as many references as are made back to the games, it does stand pretty well on its own. Each volume is available individually, but if you decide to pick it up, I recommend the omnibus in order to see the entire story.

Rating: 5th Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

Tokusatsu Big Bang

Hello everyone, I hope you’re enjoying your weekend. If you live in the United States, I hope you’ll get to see an excellent fireworks show tonight!

In lieu of a formal review this week, I thought it might be nice to plug a project I participated in recently, called the “tokusatsu big bang”. What that means, is that a group of writers agree to cover a specific series of topics, in this case the video genre of tokusatsu, and then a group of artists selects which story they’d like to make an accompanying non-written piece for. When the writer and artist are finished, they post both parts on the same day, for everyone to partake.

All of the stories are linked at tokubigbang.dreamwidth.org, and cover recent series of Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and Garo.

Please enjoy!

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

Never Go Back

One of the best things in literature is finding an author you can go back to again and again. They keep publishing new work, and every story is as compelling a read as what has come before it.

This week, I’m talking about Never Go Back, by Lee Child. This book is volume 18 in the Jack Reacher series. Yes, this is the same Jack Reacher that had a movie starring Tom Cruise, and yes, this is the 18th book. The movie was based on One Shot, which is volume 9, but enough about that.

Never Go Back

Jack Reacher grew up in the military, and eventually became the commander of an elite unit of the army’s military police (MP). After his term of service, he didn’t settle down, though. He has been spending life wandering from one town to another. During the events of 61 Hours, he finds himself in rural South Dakota, and eventually gains remote assistance from the woman currently in charge of the 110th. By the end, he’s decided to head back to Washington DC so he can meet her in person. However, when he gets there at the beginning of Never Go Back, it’s only to be brought back into service while various army lawyers are working to assemble obscure cold cases against him, that he was sure had either been resolved, or hadn’t existed in the first place.

To be honest, these books are vaguely formulaic. It would be difficult not to be, with such a long-running serial. Reacher arrives in a new town, is faced with a new problem (often, but not always, something he ends up sticking his nose into by accident), and then spends the rest of the time trying to resolve it in proper MP fashion, before moving on to the next leg of his journey. What keeps the reader coming back, though, is the specifics of how each case is handled, along with the occasional opportunities to see into Reacher’s past as it becomes relevant. Probably the best part is that Reacher is a wanderer, so it’s easy to drop into one challenging situation after another – allowing the series to continue as long as Mr Child is willing to revisit the character.

I came into this series by recommendation from a friend, with One Shot. Including that, I’ve read six of the later volumes so far, and really don’t feel like I’m out of the loop by not going back to the beginning (the first book is called Killing Floor). What I didn’t realize, though, was that even though it felt like I’d read several of them in chronological order, there had been other volumes released in between. That all being said, if you decide to pick this one up, you shouldn’t be afraid to make your selections based on which summaries appeal to you.

Rating: 4th Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

Heat Wave

As far as I know, television programs that get translated into books are few and far between (usually it’s the other way around). It’s an exciting thing from all perspectives, though, because it allows the media to produce more and varied merchandise, and the audience gets to take their visual idea of the story and move it into the realm of the fully imaginary.

Heat Wave

The subject for this week is one example of just such a situation. I’m referring to Heat Wave and its sequels, which sprouted from the television series “Castle”. On the show, the title character is a writer who had just killed off the main character from his cash-cow series of novels. When the police come looking for him because someone’s committing murders like those that have taken place in his books, he discovers he’s found his next main character. Of course, everyone else around him makes it into the books as well (except his daughter, sadly), and it’s incredibly easy to tell who’s who.

In the books, Jameson Rook is a freelance, award-winning news writer who’s always in search of his next big lead. Friends with many of New York City’s big-wigs, he finds his way to the side of police detective Nikki Heat, who naturally isn’t exactly thrilled on the matter. Much like their television counterparts, they solve several cases together. Unlike Richard and Kate, though, they get intimate in volume 1, just as Castle joked when manuscripts of the book were circulating on the show. Everyone’s character is pitch perfect, which adds charm where the actual story may be lacking in substance.

This series isn’t meant to be anything other than a silly hook to bring a little bit of the tv world into the real world, and it’s actually pretty successful in that regard. Reading these books will feel like watching episodes of Castle, especially when events from the show are transcribed into the text. If you’re a fan of the show and you’re looking for something silly, this is one to check out.

Rating: 4th Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

Konami, WAKFU, and more Gamestop?

In this fun filled episode we review and discuss Wakfu. Discuss Konami and Hiedo Kojima, speculating what is going on with Konami. Then wrap things up talking about Gamestop, again, and its recent acquisition of ThinkGeek.com.
This is also the debut episode with T.J. Condon!

Read more

A Wrinkle In Time

It’s always fun to pull books from my archives, especially ones that were so formative to my taste in literature, and have stayed with me ever since.

a wrinkle in time

This week, I’d like to discuss the classic children’s series A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. It tells the story of Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and her new friend Calvin, as they are tasked with rescuing Meg and Charles Wallace’s father from the clutches of evil – no joke. Dr Murry is a physicist who had been working on tesseracts and their use in travel. One day about a year before the beginning of the book, he disappears without a trace. The three kids proceed, accompanied by the odd ladies Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which, on a mind-boggling adventure across the universe.

The great thing about a series like this, is that even though the plot is generally so fantastical, the reader can’t help but follow along for the ride because the author makes the characters so real. Meg, for all she discovers about herself over the course of the first book, starts out basically as a delinquent – she’s not a particularly good student, and often picks fights to make up for it. Calvin, on the other hand, is the third oldest of eleven children, is relatively smart and athletic, but otherwise considered the odd one out of his family. He takes comfort in spending time with the Murrys as a change of atmosphere. Charles Wallace is the unusual one – completely aware of himself from a very young age, he didn’t start talking until he was four, and then it was in full and complete sentences with complex vocabulary! The only two average characters in the series are Meg and Charles Wallace’s twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, who are featured in a later book titled Many Waters.

If there was ever a series of books I read growing up, that I’d like to see portrayed on screen, I think this would be it. What I didn’t realize before sitting down to write, of course, was that it was done in Canada, back in 2003. As such, I am unaware of how well the stories were conveyed, but I do still think it would be interesting to see given the full treatment.

This was probably the first series of books to help me bridge the gap from just reading fiction, to igniting my interest in science, science fiction, and fantasy. I’m due for a re-read, and I recommend it to you as well, whether it’s your first or third time looking at it.

Rating: 5th Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

Who Censored Roger Rabbit

Upon recommendation from our leader Mr Gogal after posting my first book review of the summer, I delved head-first into another interesting tale. He knows I’m mostly into mystery, action/adventure, and fantasy stories, and handed me something I came to realize sat squarely in my wheelhouse.

roger rabbit

I’m talking this week about Who Censored Roger Rabbit, by Gary Wolf. It features a world where cartoon characters exist in three dimensions alongside human society. Well, not quite alongside – segregation is a heavy theme that’s touched on at nearly every opportunity, and is even integral to the mystery’s resolution. The narrative is told from the perspective of the private investigator, Eddie Valiant, who is approached by Roger at the beginning of the story to look into his employment contract. Roger claims he was promised to be made the lead character of his own comic strip, which was never fulfilled. Eddie is reluctant to take on a Toon client, but does so anyway with the offer of a considerable sum of money as payment. When Roger and his boss later turn up dead, he decides to finish working the case anyway, to satisfy his particular brand of integrity and curiosity.

In the grand scheme of things, there were really only three aspects of the story I struggled with. One was the constant mention of segregation. I started to wonder pretty early on if this book was allegory for the ongoing civil rights struggle, despite its otherwise off-the-wall nature. The second thing was how long it took me to wrap my brain around the concept that the Toons didn’t actually talk audibly. Except for those few who actively suppressed it, most non-humans spoke using comic strip speech bubbles. It was interesting because it introduced the added aspect of another way to express how a character was feeling, but it made for very tortuous “he said, she said”. Third, there was an awful lot of alcohol and cigarettes. I figure this is more due to the genre and era, but it still bothered me how much emphasis was given to them.

I was told before starting, that Mr Wolf kept the culprit a secret until the very end. I didn’t believe it, because usually there are hints at it all along the way of the plot, but it really is true. There’s a tiny bit of foreshadowing in a couple places, but there’s no actual indication of who the culprit is until Eddie comes to the conclusion himself. It’s refreshing, in light of how most mysteries are written nowadays. I was also told that it doesn’t have much in common with the movie version, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but since I only watched that once many years ago, I’ll need to see it again before being able to comment properly on it.

Paper copies of this book are in limited supply, and even the mass market version is more expensive than anything on the shelves that happens to be more recent. I recommend that if you decide to pick this one up, grab a digital copy to your favorite reading device.

Rating: 4th gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

The Codex Alera

I read something once where Jim Butcher explained that his first “swords and sorcery” book left much to be desired. I don’t know what it was called, let alone have a chance to read it, but what he’s published since then has definitely piqued my interest.

alera_furies_midsize

This week, I’m talking about the Codex Alera, a six-volume book series that starts with Furies of Calderon. The story is about Tavi, a young Aleran, who aside from his wits is otherwise relatively unremarkable. Of course, that’s what makes him so special. Most of the population of Alera has ongoing working relationships with one or more elemental “furies”, that is, water, fire, wood, earth, metal, or air. Despite coming from a frontier community where they make use of furies just to survive, Tavi grew up with none of those abilities. After a near-death adventure which he and a new acquaintance narrowly survive, he finds himself admitted to the school in Alera’s central capital to learn about diplomacy, warfare, and other skills deemed valuable to the nobility, which he employs counter to everyone’s expectations.

alera map

About half way through the series, the reader finds out that there’s more to Tavi than meets the eye, after which everything for him and his family changes. It was beautiful to watch him try to balance every aspect of what faced him after that. I wish I could say more, but it’s such a major plot element, that I don’t want to spoil it for new readers!

As a fan of fantasy novels from a young age, I really enjoyed this series, especially coming to it by way of another one of Mr Butcher’s series (which I’ll likely be addressing later). I remember reading once that his inspiration for the furies was taken from other stories that feature elemental creatures, like Pokemon. I think one of the greatest things about this series, though, is to see a character who is missing something that everyone takes for granted, explore other aspects of himself to find the strength to work around it.

(in case anyone was wondering, this series is where my current online handle comes from)

Rating: 5th Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

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