The Victorian Hawk Dragon has currently reviewed the following:
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Part Two
No indeed, the Elves do not! But what of Men, can they throw back the Darkness of Sauron, all by themselves? For a Time, does this Classic Fantasy Tale, appear to suggest (at least to me), that Men very well can! Or perhaps instead, I to (like Boromir), was under the Spell of Darkness, and the Power of the One Ring, to Rule them All:
For the forth point, on why this is one of the best, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novels, that you can ever read - is it's range of Dark Fantasy Creatures ... At the Head is Sauron, a Dark Sorcerer, whose Magnificence of Old, is only hinted at (within this Tale). Even so, did I quite enjoy, the Chapter called The Council of Elrond, as it lays the seeds, for the Character of Sauron, in the Later Days of Middle-Earth. He wants the Ring, the One Ring that he made, the One Ring, that he placed much of his Sorcerers Powers in! For me, the One Ring, goes hand-in-hand, with Sauron's most prominent, Dark Fantasy Creatures - his nine Black Riders. Who are akin to Phantoms, with no physical form, other than Dark Visage in a Cloak. They wield Blades, that are both Cruel and Evil. I shuddered when Frodo was wounded (by such a Blade), at the thought of what he could become - a Wraith of some-kind! I feel that Frodo was right, when he chooses to avoid the Black Riders, even though doing so, meant entering the Old Forest (the lesser of two Evils). I found myself sitting, on the edge of my seat, when Frodo was racing for Rivendell (the Elven home of Elrond), with Black Riders chasing him! Added to this, are Sauron's Black Dragons (although here in this Tale, is it just the briefest of glimpses - with a bow shot from Legolas, downing the Dragon). And yet, are there also, other Dark Fantasy Creatures, at work within Middle-Earth - although I feel, that they have no direct knowledge, of the One Ring itself (and thus, do not directly, answer to Sauron). For example, I liked the Orcs and Goblins of Moria, together with the concept of the Balrog (a large Fire Breathing Western Dragon of a Daemon) - who to me, is one of the Oldest of the Old. An Elemental Dragon/Daemon, that lives in the Hottest Fires of the Earth. Yet do I find, that both the Balrog, and the One Ring, have a connection (at least in a saying): Delve Too Deep in Greed, and Pay the Price! The Black Riders delved too deep - what once was King, now Phantom of the Night (and Day!). The Dwarves delved too deep - what once was Moria, was lost to Dark (Durin's Bane - a Balrog!). And of the Wraiths? The Barrow-wights, sent a shiver down my spine! As there's something Unnatural, about former Kings, and Warriors of Old, that feel that they, still have a Hold, on the Living. Wake up Frodo! Fifth: is it's range of Fantasy Swords ... I've always liked the idea of Magical Swords, and the background build-up, to the Sword of Elendil, is no exception: a Sword that was shattered, upon an enemy of Old (Sauron), that is reforged, and renamed Anduril (Flame of the West), the Weapon of Kings (borne by Aragorn) - made me want one :) Added to this, is Gandalf's sword, Glamdring - which I for one, have long desired, to look upon! Yet, do I like the fact that Glamdring (borne by the mighty), is also matched by Frodo's short-sword Sting (borne by the lesser/Little People), as both gleam/glow blue, when in the presence of Orcs - which if you think about it, would be slightly scary, whilst deep in the Mines of Moria! Sixth: is it's range of Fantasy Castles ... For me, there's four that immediately spring to mind: i) Rivendell. The Fantasy Realm of the Elves, with it's Last Homely Gardens, and it's Waterfalls of Sea in Dream, and it's Ford of Guardian Horses (in Force of Water - commanded by Elrond). I liked the idea, of Powerful Elf Lords in Rivendell, that could resist the Darkness, at least for a Time :) ii) Minas Tirith. The City of Men, the City of Kings, that is foremost in the Defence, against Sauron's Armies. I to (like Frodo), found Hope growing in me, at the description of Minas Tirith (within this Tale) - especially at the mention, of it's Towering Battlements :) iii) Minas Morgul. Is perhaps the clearest indication to me, of the One Rings power to Corrupt, as what once was Good, fell into Ruin (owing to the neglectfulness of Men), and became a Fortress of Darkness! I did not like the thought, of both Fear and Dread, to be found there - in the plenty. iv) Lothlorien - not a Castle as such, more a Stronghold in the Trees of the Elves. I liked the idea, that the Elves of Lothlorien, climb upwards, and live in a Kingdom amongst the Treetops :) As to me, a City in the Trees, feels like a strong connection, to the Roots of the Earth, and Nature. Seventh: is the Hobbits themselves ... I found myself, constantly amazed in this Tale, that the Affairs of the Mighty (such as Wizards, Kings and Sorcerers), are at the Mercy, of the Little People: Frodo Baggins, and his trusty companion - Sam Gamgee :) For even with all of Sauron's Might, he can't find a Hobbit! But Gandalf can, yet bows to Frodo - for Frodo is the Ring Bearer :) As chosen by - the One Ring. And what of Merry and Pippin? I find these two Hobbits, to be of less importance (especially in the second half of the Tale), but Gandalf holds them in High Respect. I like this, because the Good Deeds of the Tiny, can unravel the Dark Deeds, of the Mighty :) Overall: An amazing, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novel, that took me longer to read, than I had expected - as I reread several parts (especially the Mines of Moria). I also feel, that there's a deliberate shift, in the concept of the Main Fantasy Character (as you read this Tale). It's always Frodo, but at the beginning, I thought for a while, that it was Gandalf - until he met his match! I especially like the fact, that this Fantasy Tale, is a David verses Goliath, that's played out on a bigger scale - with Powerful Elements, on both sides :) Finally: The One Ring, is a Ring of Power, is a Quest of Power, between Good and Evil - whose Fate is most directly, in the Smallest Hands of the Land, the Underdog: Frodo Baggins :)
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Part One
A Classic Fantasy Tale, with a range of Fantasy Characters (including Elves, Dwarves and Men), that sees a Quest of Power, through the Roots of Adventure, in the Darkest Days of Middle-Earth. With a guiding Wizard, and a bare foot Hobbit (one of the Little People), it's The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring:
I've always thought, that this is one of the best, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novels, that you can ever read :) There's several reasons for this ... First: is it's use of Humour ... I found myself laughing, when Sam (one of the Hobbits), is pulled through the Window (by Gandalf the Wizard), after having eavesdropped, and making out that he hadn't - he was cutting the Lawn you see! I also laughed, when Gimli the Dwarf, tasted some Cram (a Travellers Bread), having not believed, that it will taste very nice (even raising an eyebrow) - then promptly eating, the whole piece! I also found humour, in the strangest of places, such as when Gandalf had nearly been destroyed - well, well, he flew down some stairs, after encountering a foe, that he could not best, whilst joking about it! Second: is it's range of Fantasy Locations ... First and Foremost, my favourite is the Dwarven Mine/City of Moria. I especially liked the Ancestry of Moria, that it was once the most prized, of all the Dwarven Realms (owing to it's Mining of Mithril - the Dwarven Wonder Metal), which was in-turn lost, to the Orcs/Goblins and Durin's Bane (a large Fire Breathing Western Dragon of a Daemon, that even the Elves Fear). Moria is now a dark place, which Gandalf leads our Adventurers through, with his Bobbing Wizards Staff of Light (akin to a Will-o'-the-wisp). I especially liked the idea, of Moria's Dwarven Doors, that can only be seen in Moonlight (and opened with a specific word/phrase). I also found comedy here, as I laughed at Gandalf, being outwitted by a door! Of Moria itself, did I like the idea of staircases hewn from stone, together with cavernous pillars (that defined a City in Starlight), together with Tombs of the Fallen (still blessed in daylight), and Treasures of the Deepest Mines (that Dwarves still dream of). I also liked, what I feel was the reason that Moria was built (by the Dwarves) in the first place - a Magical Lake (called the Mirrormere), which Shines with Stars in it's Waters so Deep :) It is with some irony then, that although I love the Green Places of this World, that I have often felt a Desire, to explore the Dark Halls of Moria myself! In stark contrast to Moria, are the Fantasy Woods, of the Old Forest. It's a mythical place, that Tales of Old, used to scare young Hobbits with - and yet, Frodo Baggins (the main Fantasy Character of this Tale), decides to venture that very way :) Now I like Woods, and I like Trees, but the Trees of the Old Forest, are not like other Trees (they can move/walk, and they can talk/be-spell) - it's Old Man Willow you see. He's a Magical Willow Tree, who does not have the Hobbits best interests at heart! Although I find the Old Forest to be a Dark Place (perhaps even more so than Moria), it leads to one of my favourite Fantasy Characters - Tom Bombadil :) He's such a fun/comedy element, that it's hard to feel all Dark and Gloomy, when he's around (especially with that Bobbing Hat of his!). Now it feels to me, as though Tom is some kind of Nature Fairy (as he's always been concerned with Trees) - yet even if he isn't, then his sidekick (Goldberry), is certainly a Water Fairy :) In any case, I like the fact, that both Tom and Goldberry, tend to the Old Forest, and look after Frodo (after Old Man Willow, gets his Roots to him). To me, the Old Forest feels as though, it's full of Magic - both Good and Evil, that's just kind-of mixed together, in it's raw, natural form. It's a powerful place, that I feel, could have played a larger part in the Tale (together with Tom Bombadil). Third: is it's range of Fantasy Characters ... The Fellowship of the Ring, is itself comprised of a Motley Crew: four Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin), two Men (one called Aragorn, one called Boromir), one Elf (called Legolas), one Dwarf (called Gimli), and Gandalf (the Wizard). I like the idea of the Fellowship (aka our Adventurers), because it is a contradiction - you have powerful members (such as Gandalf and Aragorn), mixed with weaker members (such as Merry and Pippin). Whilst in the middle, do you have members that are a bit of both: both in terms of alignment (such as Legolas is to Trees and Nature, whilst Gimli is to Stone and Anvil), and in terms of not judging a book by it's cover (such as Frodo at first appearing weak, but over time, does Frodo become the appointed/recognised strongest, Ring Bearer). Of these Fantasy Characters, would I say that my favourite is Gandalf, though I wouldn't normally like Wizards! Gandalf is an exception, for he's more like a Warlock - a Wizard and a Warrior, all rolled into one :) Next would there be Aragorn - as I like the fact, that he is descendant from Kings (although I'm not so keen, on his Strider personality, in the earlier parts of the Tale). Then would there be Gimli, as there's a fair amount of humour, surrounding his character: A Dwarf! Which plays right into, the grievances between Dwarves and Elves (with several twists in friendship, along the way). In any case, I especially like the portrayal of Elves within this Tale. I like their connection with Nature (especially of the Woods, plus Spells of the Sea), and I like the fact, that there's at least three, families of Elves found, within Middle-Earth: those from Rivendell (who were there at the start, when Darkness first showed it's face), those from Mirkwood (who still have dealings with Men, and is the home of Legolas), and those from Lothlorien (who Guard a Treasure of Middle-Earth, and befriend the Fellowship). I also liked the way, that the Elves are used, to underline an important point/theme (within the Tale): the Elves may be Powerful, blessed to live much longer than Men, skilled in the Art of Combat (especially Bow and Arrow) - yet just like the rest of Middle-Earth, they do not have the power, to throw back the Darkness/Evil by themselves! Or do they?
One of the most masquerading Fantasy Characters, that can be found within the Fantasy Realms, of my Warhammer 40,000 Ork army - is no other than my Ork Killer Kan(s):
For in the Heat of Battle, is it all too-easy for me to forget, that an Ork Killer Kan - is no Dreadnought! So if not a Dreadnought, what exactly is an Ork Killer Kan then? Well ... I shall answer in two parts. First: in terms of assembly and painting ... The hardest part for me, was ensuring that the Killer Kan, sat reasonably upright - when glued into it's base. I found achieving this, to be harder than you'd think - as my Killer Kan, is leaning backwards slightly! It also took me a while, to find the ideal pose for the Power Claw - eventually deciding upon, aiming for above head height (aka take that you bigger Dreadnought!). As far as the painting was concerned, I decided to under-coat in Chaos Black, dry-brush in Gun Metal, and work in some contrasting Ork'y colours: Dragon Red (for the Power Claw, Ork Lip/Banner and View Slit), Angel Green (for Power Conduits and Ork Teeth/Bolts), Golden Yellow (for Power Conduits and Ork Teeth/Banner) and Ushabti Bone (for the Horns on the front). I then mixed in a twist, with some Tuskgor Fur, upon various belts and wraps (being dry-brushed in Ushabti Bone), together with a dab or two, of Shining Gold - upon each rivet. This was followed by a dry-brushing everywhere, in Shining Gold (the really old one), to complete the masquerading look, of this particular Ork Killer Kan :) Second: in terms of game-play ... Battle One ... Being a fan of using new models, in smaller Skirmishes at first (so I learn how to use them), I took a single Ork Killer Kan, and included it with 26 Slugga Boyz, and a Gretchin Mobz of 30. Against this, a friend wielded 18 Khorne Berzerkers - both armies totalling around 360 points. Now each army, was itself split into two main flanks - with my Ork Killer Kan, joining 13 Slugga Boyz, and 15 Gretchin fodder (in Da Front!). This was just as well, as I was soon on the receiving end, of 18 Khorne Berzerker Bolt Pistol shots - slaying 12 Gretchin. WWAAUUGGHH! My Orks replied in kind: with 18 Grot Blasta shots, 26 Slugga shots, and six Big Shoota shots from my Ork Killer Kan (split over two turns). The result of all this? Two Khorne Berzerkers fell - to the Kan's Big Shoota :) My Gretchin then bore the brunt again, as they were charged by the Khorne Berzerkers - slaying 18 Gretchin. Unfortunately, my Slugga Boyz had lost their charge advantage (the Khorne Berzerkers having used, their 3 inch consolidation move to engage them). Fortunately, this made little difference - as my remaining 24 Ork Choppas, were soon cutting down Khorne Berzerkers! And in the back? Did my Ork Killer Kan, bring his Power Claw into play - with a charge, and 3 dead Berzerkers (from instant death). The Khorne Berzerkers, were now loosing rapidly: 5 dead, 4 dead, 3 dead, 2 dead - leaving just 1 Khorne Berzerker (as 3 had been lost earlier due to Ork shooting). It felt as though, my Ork Killer Kan, had never really been challenged (which indeed he hadn't!) - though he still grinned at the end, as his Slugga Boyz, dragged down the last remaining Khorne Berzerker :) Battle Two ... Having compared the statistics/profile of an Ork Killer Kan, against a Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought (Bjorn the Fell-Handed) - did I start to think: their very similar! A battle against Space Wolves, would cause pause-for-thought on this :( Bjorn opened fire with his Assault Cannon, which amazingly bounced off (with some bad shooting) from the Killer Kan's front armour. My Killer Kan then opened fire, with his Big Shoota (which also bounced off - as Bjorn's front armour, is just too thick). My Killer Kan then charged Bjorn - but as he prepared to raise his Power Claw (he missed!), did Bjorn simply smash him, with his Lightning Claw (causing a Crew Stunned result). Having lost his charge advantage (and the ability to move/fight), was my Ork Killer Kan, then ripped to bits (on the next turn). In my Battle Lust, had I made one mistake - I'd forgotten about the points difference, between an Ork Killer Kan, and a Venerable Dreadnought (125 minus 45 equals 80 points less!). But, was it really a disadvantage? A Power Claw for 45 points? A masquerade or not? Battle Three ... Was against Space Wolves again :) Yet this time, did I wield a more sensible unit of Ork Killer Kans - three of them :) It was whilst they were fighting against Bjorn, that I feel that I learned so much more, about the weaknesses, and the advantages of Ork Killer Kans. As this time, it was my friend that was under a masquerade - as he believed that Bjorn had the upper hand. Bjorn opened fire with his Assault Cannon (tearing a Killer Kan to bits), then charged into the second Killer Kan (also tearing this Killer Kan to bits). Unfortunately (for Bjorn), whilst this was going on, did my third Killer Kan, sneak around the back of Bjorn - and tear Bjorn apart, using his Power Claw!! Overall: for some time, did I find myself wondering at the difference, between the Ork Killer Kan's failure in the second battle, and their success in the third battle. After looking at their profiles, comparing against a Space Marine Dreadnought's - did I eventually realise, that they are in-fact very similar (and hence a bargain in terms of points). But the difference lies, in whether you get a chance to bring their Power Claws into play! The more Killer Kans you have, the greater the chance that you can :) Thus, one on one, fairly even - as both the Killer Kan and Bjorn, strike at the same time (Power Claws and Power Fists both strike at Initiative 1). But three on one, confers all sorts of advantages to the Killer Kans (as they have potentially 6 to 9 Power Claw attacks, compared to a Dreadnoughts 2 to 3, or 3 to 4 for a Venerable). WWAAUUGGHH!
I'm really impressed by this (fantasy) drawing book:
I like the fact that the book breaks everything down: it starts by considering the stick figure, followed by the stick figure in action. Then it's into basic shapes (such as squares, triangles and circles) for building up the basic human shape. It then considers finer details: faces, eyes, mouths, hands and feet. At this point, you are up to page 20 (out of 143). The rest of the book is where the real magic happens! Tutorials on drawing a large range of characters: Dwarves, Elves, Kings, Orcs, Queens, Warriors, Witches and Wizards. There's even a section on scenery, so that your characters are not just standing by themselves. The book concludes with some tips on colouring (when using markers, inks or watercolours). In short: an impressive title that can help you increase your drawing abilities.