Yawn yawn yawn. Man, it’s been a while since I posted anything. I think I’m just going to post a list of things that I keep intending to post here, but never get around to it.
I’ve been playing Untold Legends: The Warrior’s Code, a PSP hack-n-slash that is a vast improvement on the first installment in the series, and is everything a PSP game should be in terms of the interface (makes maximum use of the limited number of controls in a flexible and straightforward manner) and gameplay (you can pick it up for a couple minutes at a time and come back to it hours later without losing your place).
I also just finished reading Legend, by David Gemmell, graciously loaned to me by Chris Taylor. It’s one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in years*. What I really like about it, though, is its lack of scale. It seems like every fantasy novel you run across these days has to be about some dark villain conquering the world, bringing death and destruction and The End of All Things. Legend is about a single battle for a fortress guarding a pass, fought over the course of a few weeks. This brings the action down to a more human scale: the story is very much the same as the tale of the Alamo or Thermopylae–particularly the latter. Concentrating on one battle and the events leading up to it allows Gemmell to give the characters and events a lot more depth than you generally see in fantasy novels, and Gemmell doesn’t put it to waste: the book is full of blow-by-blow descriptions of battle to match the Iliad for bloody detail, and takes every opportunity to delve into the motivations, strategic and tactical, of characters on both sides of the wall.
The humanization of the enemy in Legend is another departure, for the better, from your recent fantasy norm. Although there is a clear line between protagonist and antagonist, the antagonist is no more evil than Ghengis Khan, Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, or Xerxes of Persia, and the “good guys” are never entirely sure that they deserve to win, or have any delusions about the importance of their victory in the greater course of history. Fantasy isn’t the only genre with a tendency to cut its villains out of cardboard, but it’s about the worst offender, and its nice to read a book where the moral continuum of the human condition isn’t flattened to black and white.
So, yeah, a good book. You should read it if you get the chance.