Monday, 23 April 2018

Dragon Age: Delinquisition part 1: Sent to Spy

The first part of a new comedy, intended to be read by people who have finished Dragon Age: Inquisition (both to get references and avoid the spoiler problem).


The Keeper hates me. It’s understandable. I’m younger, smarter, more popular. But this is beyond the pale. There’s a human war going on, and it’s fantastic. The dopes are killing one another by the thousand, templars killing mages, apostates murdering clergy, and the peasants getting caught in the middle. But now there’s a peace conference (they’re bound to try and kill each other), and the Keeper has ordered me to go and spy on them. All I have to do is cross the sea, hike into snowy mountains in the middle of nowhere (typical human stupidity, they’re having the meeting near a decrepit temple, miles from civilisation), and spy. Nobody will notice a Dalish elf in the midst of a load of humans, will they? Well, I’ll survive, if only to come back and spite the Keeper. One day, the clan will be mine. Oh, yes. The clan will be mine.

The snowy mountains are picturesque but bloody freezing. Anyway, got myself some dumplings, mushrooms, a little wine, and a nice hiding place. What’s the worst that could happen?

The temple exploded.

Found myself in a nightmare full of giant spiders. Unsure whether it was the Fade, or those mushrooms were dodgy. Either way, I barely escaped. To top it off, the halfwit humans arrested me for the having the temerity to survive!

Just been interrogated by the two most stupid women in the world. One asked why she shouldn’t kill me there and then (they blame me for the explosion), the other said, barely a moment later, that they need me. Naturally, the round-ears have no idea what to do, but hope that I can help them (which makes the earlier death threat all the more stupid). The angrier woman, Cassandra, took me outside. Turns out the explosion also ripped a hole in the sky, which is growing larger and defecating demons all over the valley. Apparently, a magical green scar I’ve acquired is the solution.

Cassandra took me into the valley to meet her associates. The first is a slaphead elf who makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The other is a dwarf with a smart mouth, nice crossbow, and a penchant for exposing his chest hair. Also, my scar sewed up a tear in the fabric of reality. Turns out I really am indispensable. More surprisingly, the sexual tension between Cassandra and Varric (the dwarf) is staggering.

As expected, the humans were too busy bickering to actually decide which way to go and it was up to me, as bloody usual, to decide. We went through the mountains, rescuing a squad of hapless humans along the way. Could’ve sworn one of the lady soldiers used to be a Kirkwall guard who arrested me one time… Anyway, we reached the first rift, beneath the heavenly orifice. Long story short, visions were seen, demons emerged, and, as always, I kicked arse. And then collapsed.

Woke up in a comfy bed, in a little hut I didn’t recognise. A tame elf-servant came in and fell to her knees (not averse to that kind of thing but I was more concerned about whether or not I was about to get hanged). She told me Angry Cassandra was waiting for me in the chantry. A huge crowd was waiting for me on the walk there, but they didn’t seem like a lynch mob. Quite a lot of them were saluting me, speaking in hushed tones. Inside the chantry (an overblown stone affair within which round-ears sing to their fairy in the sky), Cassandra and Leliana (not sure if they’re sisters or married, or both, but they certainly argue a lot) told me they were breaking away from the human religion and forming a new organisation. And they want me to join.

This is perfect. The human war is ongoing, and now a new power is rising. A power led by me. Bow before your new elven overlord (overlady?), pathetic humans! [Obviously I’m keeping the elven supremacy angle on the sly. But once I’ve established my authority, it’s coming. That, and my revenge on the Keeper for sending me on what she thought was a suicide mission].

My only concern is the name. They want to call it the Inquisition, which sounds a bit tortuous and murdery to me. Anyway, who cares? My own private army sounds good whatever it’s called.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Tales of Knights and Nitwits: Episode 11

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Having rescued the probably-still-doomed Nightstalker from the indignity of being shoved up his own fireplace, Lord Grimshag is no nearer to finding the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Or is he... ?

Meanwhile, Freya is seriously reconsidering her travelling companions and Temujin is distracted by thoughts of a frisky nature.


Monday, 16 April 2018

Review: The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski

Like many people, I really enjoyed The Witcher 3, and when a fellow of sound judgement suggested giving The Last Wish (the first, I think, Witcher book, the body of which the games are based upon) it seemed like a good idea.

The Last Wish is a collection of short stories interspersed with a continuous mini-storyline of Geralt recovering from a particularly grim wound. Violence is fairly high, there’s a helping of strong language, and sex is minimal and painted in a hazy watercolour rather than the explicit detail some others prefer (personally, I think the hazy approach is better).

The short stories are often around 50-60 pages in length, covering a particular monster contract or similar. As with the game, there’s an element of complex morality woven into what might be otherwise straightforward plots, which both elevates the story above the average and helps to deepen both the character of Geralt himself and the world in which he fights.

Writing style is a little difficult to comment on neutrally because I have a lot of Witcher imagery from the game to fill in any blanks there might be. I found the writing easy to read, and also moreish, often reading rather more than I’d expected. There’s no pat on the head and slab of explanatory text, instead, knowledge about Witcher skills (for example) is conveyed through actions more than words.

It’s a charming mix of old school European fairytale and modern day grim cynicism.

The translation from the original Polish is perfectly good with only occasional slips (a U in ‘evaporate’, and one apostrophe was back to front, though I suspect that was someone else’s minor mistake).

All in all, very enjoyable and I intend to read more of this series in the future. I’d give it four out of five.


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Tales of Knights and Nitwits: Episode 10

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Through blind luck and sly scheming, the depraved journalist Temujin has managed to persuade the virtuous and brave Freya, Keeper of the Green Forest, and infamous murder enthusiast Lord Grimshag to accompany him on his perilous quest to the Abandoned Ruins of Woe and Certain Death. En route, the mismatched trio are on their way to meet an old chum of Lord Grimshag. What could possibly go wrong?