The Victorian Hawk Dragon has currently reviewed the following:
Lilith - Queen of Vampires - Queen of Night
In the Doors of a Vampire, in the Blood Lust of the Moon. In the Riddles of a Serpent, in the Whispers of the Twilight. That's just where you'll find her, the First of her Kind, the Oldest of the Old, the Queen of the Vampires - a Midnight's Seductress, Adam's First Wife, a Princess of Darkness, Lilith:
For in Midnight's Verse, was it not written ... That only on the Darkest Nights - would you Dream of Lilith. I saw her once, with Fiery Red Hair, Temptress of Men, worry of Wife. I saw her twice, with guise of the Serpent, Charmer of Faithful, bane of the Husband. For this Vampire called Lilith, knows only too well - the Lure of the Lunar! For in Daybreak's Verse, was it not written ... That only on the Sunniest Days - would you Ponder of Lilith. I saw her once, down by the Pool, Fountain of Fun, worry of Half. I saw her twice, down by the River, Silver of Line, fret of the Other. For this Vampire called Lilith, knows only too well - the Warmth in a Hug! For in Sleepless Nights, was it not written ... That only on the Hottest Eves, under the Reddest Moon, of a Stormy Night, in the Velvet Sheets, of a Midnight's Realm - could a Vampire called Lilith, bring to bear, her Curves of Seduction, and her Charms of a Serpent. For this Queen of Vampires walks within, thy Paths of the Temptress ... A Vampire's Powers of subtle curves, that blend and twist, with Bite of Fang. A Heavenly Body that knows for well, the Spell that She Casts, in Want of Touch. A Vampire's Spells of perfect form, that twist and turn, with Rend of Nail. A Flawless Guise that knows for well, the Sins of this Night - Desires of Taste, Forbidden Fruit! For Lilith knows, only too well, the Charms of a Snake, and the Fork of a Choice ... Be thee Good as Gold, or Bad as Boy - she knows thy type, flutter Bad. Be thee White as Saint, or Red as Fire - she knows thy guise, Fiery Heart. Be thee Nice as Pie, or Sin of Cake - she knows thy taste, Chocolate Flake. Be thee Wait in Line, or Jump thy Queue - she knows thy way, Careful Sneak. Be thee Toe thy Line, or Do what Thou - she knows thy Time, Follow Me. Be thee Know thy Place, or Speak as I - she knows thy Path, it's My Way! For this Vampire Queen, forever took - thy Paths of Temptation, and the Sins of the Night :) For this Vampire Queen, walks hand-in-hand, with Pillow Talk, and Missing Time! And so it was ... A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith abide? Her answer came: a Fantasy City, at the Edge of Midnight :) With her stone-like Pillars, and her Sheets of Passion, she barres the way, to her Sin of Sins. A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith reside? Her answer came: in her Fantasy Domain, at the Red of the Moon :) With her Ruby Veins, and her Darkened Side, she guards the way, to her Heaven's Body. A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith lie? Her answer came: in her Fantasy Realm, at the Foot of the Bed :) With her Sensual Sheets, and her Silken Touch, she guides the way, to her Midnight's Kiss. A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith seduce? Her answer came: in your Mind's Eye, at the Start of a Dream :) With her Wish all the Way, and her Mistress Spells, she knows the way, to her Fruits of the Vampire! For Lilith is ... A Fantasy Being, where all Men wonder, for the Barest of Seconds - what if ... I listened to the Call of the Serpent? I agreed with the Logic of the Snake? I smiled with the Sanity of the Python? Well then ... I'd be a Vampire of the Night! Both bowing and betrothed to Lilith. I'd be a Vampire of the Night! Both protected and slaved to Lilith. For I would be a Vampire King, from Dark Fantasy Falls, with my Kingdom in the Night ... A Prince of Darkness would I be, with Power to shake - the Foundations of the Earth! But ... With a Whisper to Adam, from this Eve - Lilith has no need of Kings, but I do of Eve :)
Being the fourth Vampire novel, in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, do I find this Dark and Urban Fantasy Tale, to be a passionate mix of both Anita's Love Life, and thy Secret Realms - of thy Werewolves:
Being hip deep in both, it's as though Anita, is on the verge of drowning ... Her Passions Run Deep, and a Promise is a Promise - Deputy Numb Nuts :) And yes, there's a fair amount of humour, within this Fantasy Tale! For me though, is this intermixed, with an important underlying theme - that of Family ... There's the Werewolves and their Pack Order. There's the Vampires and their Hands Off. There's the Spook Squad and their Silver Bullets. And in the middle of all three, can you find - Anita!!! I liked the fact that Anita, refused to give up her friend - even if her boyfriend, was his Alpha. I liked the fact that Anita, shed a tear or two - even if her rival, was her Jealous. I liked the fact that Anita, stemmed the flow of blood - even if her colleague, was her Rag (aka joker). For it's Anita's Character, and her sense of self, that flows throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Enemies, and their stance of power, that stalks throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Weapons, and their sense of comfort, that beds throughout this tale. And in all of this? Is there Jean-Claude, who wants a date! Fairs Fair Anita, give me a chance to woo you - as you did to me :) Now, if there's one part that shocked me (the most) within this tale, then I would say - it's the hierarchy of the Werewolves. The tale here, gave me a sense, that they were all: out of control! Insane Pack Order, seemed to help with this ... There's two Master Werewolves, but neither has - over all control. One prefers Peace - the other: Head on a Block. One requests Anita - the other: Seeds of Lust. One's Richard. One's Marcus. One's Marcus. One's Richard. For it's Werewolf Central, that's Caged behind - Closed Doors, and Sound Proof Walls. Or is it? As in this tale, did I find that the Secrets of the Werewolves - flowed like a River :) And in that River, that goes by the name of Shape Shifter, did I find both Mythical Creatures, and their Fantasy/Lore ... For example: I've never heard of a Naga before, but here - is their an Immortal Being, with the Skin of a Snake. I've never heard of a Were-Swan before, but here - is their the lowest of the Shape Shifters, especially in Feathered White! And of the Werewolves themselves? I was most intrigued, because their Human Lives, seemed to be lived in the pursuit, of challenging their Human Shackles. There's two that I would say, challenged this more than others - and no, it's not the Alphas! The two Fantasy Characters that I'm thinking of (one Woman one Man), both made me laugh (especially the woman - over whose rules she follows!), and both surprised me (over just how low they could steep - in their pursuits of pleasure?). Fortunately, throughout all of this, did I find Anita's Character - to be a rock. Even if at times, it is only the cold hard steel, that she clamps down on - but where is her gun? Choices! Choices! As for the other Characters within this Fantasy tale, it's mostly Cops. I didn't like some of these, and neither does Anita. There's a whole part (near the beginning of the book), that just seems totally crazy - with certain Deputies, taking their orders, too literally ... It is also here that I feel, that the tale does a decent job, of portraying some of the lunacies, of interstate boundaries (between various police forces) - although as you will see, there's a twist here to! And as for Anita? It made me laugh, that she was concerned primarily, with an important question (or two): Can she date a Werewolf? Can she date a Monster? AKA: Is Richard really a Monster? And what of Jean-Claude? Choices! Choices! Fortunately for Anita, does she have a trusty friend to help her: a Penguin or two :) Overall: I enjoyed reading about the Werewolves within this tale, even if I feel, that some of their Urban Fantasy, shocked me a little (as it seemed a little Darker - than I've encountered before). I also found myself thinking, of the Wolf in Werewolf - more than the Man in Werewolf. Although the twist towards the end (involving a Witch and her Magic), brought new meaning to the term - Shape Shifter! For it's a Witch's Spell, that Anita Blake does cast. For it's an Animator's Gift, that Anita Blake, can look a Vampire in the Eye. For she's a Vampire Hunter, with a Werewolf called Richard, a Bounty Hunter called Death - and a Promise is a Promise! Deputy Numb Nuts :)
My third outing into the Fantasy Vampire Slaying Realms of Anita Blake, comes with both some draw-dropping moments, and some as-you-would-expect, white Roses from Jean-Claude:
One particular part of this Fantasy Tale, caused my draw to drop the most! It's pertaining to a particular question: how old can a Vampire be? Now, I must confess - I'd never really thought about this before ... And yet, Anita had me pondering this question (for quite some time). Whilst I won't name the Vampire here, I too, like Anita, was fooled by his Fairy Glamour! Another draw-dropping moment, was the realisation of just how - Rivers of Blood, Anita's Urban Fantasy Realm can be ... Part of this comes from the Circus of the Damned itself (a Fantasy Location) - where who can tell what's real, what's Dark Fantasy? Part of this comes from Anita's interactions, with the other Vampires within this Tale - which I feel, is mostly due, to the fact that Anita has more Master Vampires after her, than you can shake a stick at! Two of these (Master Vampires) want her Love (or maybe just her Body?). Two of these want her as a Human Servant (but she can only serve one Master). And Anita is, no one's Human Servant - as she carries more Knives, and Guns, plus Crosses, to drive that point home. I guess I was just struck (or is that staked?), by the brutality of some of the Vampires (within this tale) - which at the same time, also contrasts well, with the fact that at least one, likes to wear a Suit and Tie ... Mixed in with this, is the fact that Anita is still on retainer, to the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (aka the Spook Squad) - which for me, takes more of a back seat, in the second half of this novel. Despite this, there was still one draw-dropping moment: when I was in awe of an Animalistic Vampire, that had managed to tear through a five feet thick silver door, that was also adorned with crosses - as it raised a question ... How could any human stand against such power? Well ... Anita's not entirely human herself any more, which is probably just-as-well, as a Lamia (a Mythical Creature that can turn from a human into a snake), has set her eyes on her! In any case, I found myself laughing, at the character of Anita's friend - Edward. In one chapter, Edward considers torturing Anita, to get the name of the Master of the City from her - whilst in another chapter, is Edward at her side again, helping to bandage a wound on her back (after a Master Vampire thought he owned her). I was especially pleased, with the amount of Lore (related to Mythical Creatures), that I found within this Tale ... The first of these, was concerned with Vampires. As through this Tale, did I learn more about what it is to be a Vampire's Creature: as a Vampire has an Animal that it can call. In the case of Jean-Claude, it's Wolves (including Werewolves). In the case of another Master Vampire (the Oldest I have heard of), it's Snakes (including Lamia). Where as in the case of Anita's first Tale (Guilty Pleasures), it was Rats (including Were-Rats). Then did I learn more about Werewolf Lore - for I learned that the older a Werewolf is, the more able it is, to pass for human (when in human form), and the more likely it is (especially in my opinion), to recover from injuries, that would kill a human. For someone like Anita (a Necromancer), I enjoyed the twist that she could not tell, that Richard (her date/lover) was a Werewolf, and that she could not tell, how old the Oldest Vampire (in this tale) was, other than from a conventional source (aka a study book!). Added to this, is the fact that Anita now has an Apprentice (whether she wants one or not), who she sets about (with some persuasion), to teach her Animator skills to (aka - the ability to raise Zombies from the Grave). This in-turn, plays right into the Powers of the Vampires, where her Apprentice, soon realises just how powerful, these Master Vampires can be! In Conclusion: This Dark Fantasy Vampire Slayer Tale, is packed full of plots, and sub-plots throughout the entire novel. There's so much going on, that the book could just-as-easily have been called, Anita's in Hot Demand :) It is somewhat contradictory then, that I feel that the end of this book, was somewhat rushed ... I would have enjoyed a longer Final Fight, even if the cause of Anita's quick victory, was due to the fact that she shared Jean-Claude's/Alejandro's Vampire Strength (on account of being his/their Human Servant). In any case, Anita has one rule she still won't break - she doesn't date Dead things! And as for those white Roses? Well ... She gave them away :) And as for Richard? Well ... A Werewolf may be a Monster, but a Werewolf is still, very much alive! And after all, Anita is, and always will be - a Necromancer :)
This is my second outing into the Fantasy World of Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter. It's an outing that I found had me questioning the morals, that some Fantasy Characters have, and learning more about Anita's personality - within the Realms of Voodoo:
The tale starts where it finishes really - in Harold Gaynor's presence. Yet, between those pages, did I find a tale that both surprised, and exceeded my expectations. I think part of this allure, comes from the pondering of a question: who/what exactly is The Laughing Corpse? Which ironically, I tended to forget about within this tale, but was reminded of every-time, I glanced at the cover :) It was not until half way through this tale, that I knew what it was - and it was not until the end of the tale, that I gained the who, or at least a suspicion of the who, that I felt the term/title applied to! In doing so, did I like the fact that this tale, goes to great lengths, to explain Anita's role as an Animator (one who raises the Dead for a living). Whilst being a somewhat lonely occupation, is there an honoured/abided by rule - that when one Animator dies, that all the other Animators, attend their Funeral. This may not seem like much, but it does introduce the concept of a family hierarchy. And in that hierarchy, did I find all manner of twists ... First: is the fact that an Animator, who Anita learned her trade from, Crosses the Line. So far Across that Line, is her friend, that Anita finds that she doesn't really know, who they are any more! Second: is the fact that fellow Animators, do not have to be polite all the time, often seeming distant - but they can be snapped right back in (to focus), when it comes to family concerns. Anita helps one of The Greats (in the Realms of Animators plus Voodoo), only to discover - that his Brother, was Not So Great, after-all! Third: is the fact that not all Animators have to be Living, and that those who are Dead, have no concept of - Drawing the Line. And it is this theme, that I found, helped connect me to Anita's Character further: as she very definitely does Draw the Line, and there's one thing that she won't do, in this Midnight Realm of Animator (except in self defence). Yet here did I find some irony, for in the name of self defence, will Anita do whatever it takes - which lead to a somewhat eye raising finale to this tale (for me). It also lead to a realisation that Anita is more powerful than both I, and many others, have thought before ... This goes for both Jean-Claude (her so-called Master Vampire), and for her sworn Enemy (within this tale): Dominga Salvador, High Voodoo Priestess and Admirer! Well, I say Admirer, more the Godmother of Animator/Voodoo, who wants Anita to help her with a business venture ... It is here, that Anita Draws the Line again, and in doing so, does Anita have a Midnight disturbance, which is the stuff of Nightmares really! Especially for her Penguins ... Suffice to say, Anita is gunning for Dominga after this, but she still has a job to do: investigate the local murders, and find a killer Zombie. In doing this, does Anita explain more about her Powers of being an Animator ... It's more something she Feels, she can just talk to the Dead. It's more something She Is, she can just Raise an entire Graveyard. For Anita is, and always will be, a Necromancer! Who just-so-happens, to have her best friends wedding to attend, doesn't like the bridesmaids gowns, and why on earth - did she set her alarm for six in the morning? Overall: An Urban Fantasy tale, that binds Vampires, Werewolves and Animators together - within the Dark Fantasy Realms of Voodoo. Dominga Salvador is Voodoo Incarnate, who compels Anita to do something she doesn't want to do. And no, it's not to be a bridesmaid! It's Voodoo Magic, but it's not quite the same as a Master Vampire's, nor is it the same as a humble Animator's ... For Anita is a Necromancer, and her language is - ma petite :) A.K.A - I just love Anita Blake, but not that coffee!
Guilty Pleasures - Anita Blake - Laurell K Hamilton
When it comes to a Fantasy Novel, that combines both Dark Fantasy (Vampires) and Urban Fantasy (Hidden Realms within a Modern City), then you really can't go far wrong - with Anita Blake and her Guilty Pleasures:
This Vampire Hunter Novel, holds a special place within my heart - as it's the first such tale/story, that I ever read :) Having been used to reading Sword and Planet Fantasies, I found this book/author a little different at first - as Laurell appears to be a fan of few pages to a chapter, but many chapters in a tale (which was totally different to what I was used to). Fortunately, I soon connected with Anita - and was glad that I did, as there's several parts about this novel, that I really like. First: Anita is not your typical Vampire Hunter ... She's only five feet tall, has an addiction to coffee (yuck!), has a strange sense of humour (only laughing at her own jokes), sees Vampire Hunting as her non-primary job (at least initially), and collects fluffy toy Penguins (which really made me laugh!). It was here that I fell for Anita's Character :) Second: Anita knows just what it's like, to have to juggle multiple jobs at once ... First and Foremost, Anita is an Animator (as in she raises the Dead for a living). But she's also the Spook Squad's supernatural advisor (being called in on Undead Cases), and a Vampire Hunter - which in this tale, starts to take precedence, as it usually keeps her up till 3 am or so! As such, Anita knows just what it's like, to have hardly any social life, an even crappier dating life - and a dozen pure white, long stemmed Roses, from a Vampire she doesn't want to date (even if she's attracted to him!). It was here that I started to feel that I knew Anita :) Third: Anita just seems to be like so many of us ... Up to her neck in challenges, that come looking for her, whether she wants them to or not! In the case of one Vampire (Valentine), that's very strongly a not - but with her Trusty Stake, or is that her Shotgun? Anita goes looking for the things that scare her :) Thank goodness for Sigmund - her favourite toy Penguin! It was here that I connected with Anita's sense of humour. Fourth: The shear amount of Dark Fantasy Creatures that Anita encounters ... There's Vampires and Ghouls, there's Werewolves and Were-Rats. There's two Master Vampires, contrasted so different - one Coffin one Rule, One Marker, one Scary. One is Jean-Claude. One is just Wrong! And it is this Master Vampire, donned Nikolaos - that both Anita and I, fear to encounter. For the character of Nikolaos, sends a shiver down my spine! She does worse to Anita, which I found slightly ironic - as just possibly, both have a sense of humour - that's akin to each other? In any case, I loved the interactions between Anita and Nikolaos. It was here that I learned more about Vampire Society (such as Fantasy Vampire Powers, and the concept of a Human Servant). Fifth: the fact that Anita is still a woman ... She can't decide what she wants to wear, gets cravings for both coffee and food (although there's a twist to the latter), fancies the wrong guy (even if he does have a fit body!) and often fails to take her own advice - even when she made it up :) Overall: I found this Fantasy Novel, a great introduction to the Realms of Vampire Hunting - that's also different, to other Dark/Urban Fantasy (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I found Anita's character to be both engaging and likeable (especially her sense of humour). If there's one part of this tale that I don't like/find odd - then it's the Fantasy Character called Edward. He's a Vampire/Bounty Hunter, who Anita builds up to be - Death on Two Legs. Yet, when it comes to several encounters in the storyline, Edward is the first to behave like a scaredy-cat - where as Anita is doing what she loves best, seeking out the things she fears, and sticking a Stake (or a Sword!) through them :)
In Velvet's Kiss, Paths be Grinned. In Midnight's Realm, Chains be Torment. Born of Darkness and of Fire - this Witch's Glamour, Seduction of thy Steps to be:
Standing in her Under Verse, thinking of thy Spells to Cast. One Chant here, one Rhyme there - Halo of thy Witch's Soul. Guarding in her Nether Realm, musing on thy Powers to Use. One Bite here, one Touch there - Dancing of thy Vampire's Heart. Warding in her Darkest Guise, dreaming of thy Fun Tonight. One Wink here, one Smile there - Knowing of thy Lilith's Ways ... In Sorceress Power, with Licks of Flame. In Sorceress Might, with Flicks of Fire. In Sorceress Stance, with Dance of Orb. Liliana - Queen of Witch! A Necromancer's Power, with Walls be Damned. A Necromancer's Might, with Guards be Bone. A Necromancer's Stance, with Dreams be Dark. Liliana - Queen of Vampire! Thy Forbidden Power, with Lures of Heart. Thy Forbidden Might, with Chains of Soul. Thy Forbidden Stance, with Robes of Serpent. Liliana - Queen of Lilith! For it was indeed, I'd come across her in my Dreams ... With Gold of Jewel and Silver Vine. With Curve of Fit and Shapely Moon. With Flesh of Sin and Brunette's Hair. With Eyes of Pool and Luscious Lips. With Lace of Leg and Golden Crown. With Paths of Neck and Shoulder Fine. Thy Witches Queen - donned Fairy Glamour! For it was indeed, I'd come across her in my Nights ... With Cold of Rock and Earthly Grave. With Tight of Press and Stony Place. With Field of Fright and Rivers Run. With Eyes of Lost and Tempting Gate. With Web of Snare and Hellish Glow. With Chains of Arm and Spider's Fang. Thy Vampires Queen - donned Sweetish Scent! For it was indeed, I'd come across her in my Way ... With Quests of Fire and Trusted Steel. With Light of Cave and Shrouded Glimpse. With Steps of Chance and Rising Heat. With Eyes of Lure and Lusting Way. With Robes of Queen and Purple Gleam. With Powers of Witch and Vampire's Reign. Thy Lilith's Queen - donned Empress Liliana! Queening of her Subterranean. Master of her Darkened Way. Mistress of her Dragon's Breath. Liliana ... Royalty of her Kingdom's Rule. Be-speller of her Darkest Night. Commander of her Foundries Fire. Liliana ... Regal of her Empires Dark. Caster of her Gemstone Bright. Forger of her Army's Might. Liliana ... Said to Me: Rise in Power, Rise in Might, Rise in Status, Rise in Fight, Rise in Rule, Rise in King, Rise in Heart, Rise in Time - for Liliana donned Necromancer, and her Midnight Spell :)
When it comes to a Role Playing Game (RPG) that allows me to masquerade as a modern Vampire, you might just-be-able to get me to admit (with the twist of an arm), that this is indeed my favourite:
I like the fact that this game starts with the asking of a question that's on the mind of many a Vampire fan: What race of Vampire would you like to be? Whilst there is the option of answering some personality-style questions (to determine the answer), I decided to choose my characters Vampire race directly: Clan Brujah - as I liked the idea of my character being a rebel, who specialised in hand-to-hand combat, and who had some residual traits (from his human days), as a Special Forces operative! When it came to allocating my Vampires initial skills/abilities (upon the Character Sheet), I managed to get confused - as I failed to realise that I had to click the black dots/circles (to advance that particular skill/attribute to the next level). I then made another mistake - as I'd managed to select Skip Intro (which left me wondering how-on-earth my character had become a Vampire in the first place). Any way, once I made it through to the game play, I found myself getting lost again! So lost in fact, that I took a break from the game (for around six months), and it was only my desire to conquer it (that made me play it again). I am now so glad that I did, as I have experienced one of the best Quests (in a game) that I have ever played/seen: the Ocean House Hotel - which is in fact haunted! So haunted, that I found myself jumping out of my skin when: various objects were thrown at me, several doors opened by themselves and a Lady in White simply ran out in-front of my Vampire (which really made me jump!). There were also some spooky voices, and creepy Piano music, both of which, helped suggest the idea of a Poltergeist (and the thought that I wanted to play this Quest/Level several times). Unfortunately, my love of this level is matched equally by two control issues that I really don't like! The first: The elevator within Club Asylum - which has often made me feel like crying. How many times have I selected floor two only to have it open the elevator at floor one? No, no, no! The second: The constant flick between first and third person cameras. I usually play the game in third, then suddenly realise it's in first (changed by the game), then I'm having to press keyboard Z (to get back to third), then I'm having to press Z again (because I need to shoot). The camera controls in other games, just don't seem to be as annoying (as they are in this one). Despite this, the game goes a long way to making up with the way that it handles character conversations: the character (your chatting with) is usually centred on the screen, providing you with various numeric key-press options (to select your desired question/response). I like the fact that the game allows me to turn subtitles on (no more wondering what a particular character said) and that you can select/use certain seductive lines (assuming you have a high enough seduction skill/attribute). My favourite character conversations have to revolve around the two feuding sisters: Therese and Jeanette. With Jeanette being my personal favourite (as Therese tried to have my Vampire killed). Saying that, I also quite like the interactions with the character VV (as she makes me laugh!). Yet even this (conversation system) has some differences in consistency - the most noticeable being the fact that some conversations feature a high-quality (3d) character model, that's been rendered over a low-quality background texture! I have also encountered two major variations in frame-rate. The first being when my Vampire runs around outside in the rain, and the second being when my Vampire suffers a Final Death (although I suspect that both of these can be solved by dropping the particles slider-value). My second favourite Quest has to be Grout's Mansion - as it's another location that proves to be sufficiently spooky! On the Mansion side there's: Marble Floors with Grandfather Clocks, and Winding Staircases with Hidden Passages. On the game play side there's: several Puzzles (the Candlestick Holders that you have to flick in the correct order - to open Hidden Doors), numerous Ghouls (that can attack you five or six at a time - although they are also a good source of Blood) and getting lost (how many times have I seen this red/green Hall before?). Yet the Mansion does not want to let you go, as there's also: fun with electricity (until you notice the switches and learn how to crouch) and fun with fire (perhaps a Vampires worst enemy) - as you struggle to find your way out! Another part of the game that I really like is it's ability to surprise you - especially in terms of it's Characters. First: there is the Doom Sayer - a Female Fire Brandishing Zealot who appears when your taking a quick stroll down an alley in Santa Monica (not hard to kill, but try doing it without attracting the authorities!). Second: there is the Character called Chastity - a Female Vampire Hunter who caused my Vampire lots of grief (ironically, after I had spent a fair amount of time within the Character Sheet, spending Experience Points, ensuring that I had matched levels of Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Brawl and Dodge - all of which, made no difference at all, as she was still hard to kill!). Third: there is the Character called Vick - a Gun Totting Bishop who really did test my patience! The fact that my Vampire had a lower humanity level (too much feeding on passer-bys) meant that he constantly wanted to Frenzy (meaning I kept loosing control of my Vampire, whilst the Bishop Vick fired another volley!). It felt great when I finally managed to dispatch Vick (to read his own Sermon!). Overall: this is a game that has caused me to experience both amazement and frustration. The amazement stems from it's fantasy locations (some are very pretty with great story-lines), together with it's variety of supernatural beings (some have personalities that just seem to engage you). The frustration stems from certain elements of it's control system (the first/third person camera battle mixed with elevator fun), together with the feeling that I kept getting lost (where to next? - my Quest Log seems to have much more in it, than I've solved!). When the amazement and frustration are taken together - you end up with a game that has you wanting to replay certain levels, whilst Hammering a Stake into others!
When it comes to a Role Playing Game (RPG) that allows me to masquerade as a Vampire, I'd be hard-pressed to name one better than this:
I like the fact that this game starts with a twist - as it's a while before you become a Vampire! The games storyline sees you take control of the character Christof, a Medieval Holy Knight, whose been injured on the battlefield (by an enemy arrow). Almost mortally wounded, it's only with the caring of the Nun Anezka, that Christof eventually recovers. Yet in doing so, Christof falls for Anezka, and the games storyline gains an important sub-plot: a wound for which there is often no cure - the Power of Love! I like the fact that this game strives to contrast the differences between Christof as a Human, and Christof as a Vampire, yet at the same time - it also fights to highlight the similarities! Whilst Christof is still Human, you undertake a Quest within the Bonn Silver Mines - to rid them of whatever Evil lies within. It is hear that you learn the basics of control: left-click to attack an enemy, left-click plus hold to powerfully attack an enemy. It is here that I first appreciated the quality of the graphics: as various flames/torches light your way, whilst leaving the shadows to themselves. It is also here that you shall encounter your first challenges: Just how do I drain the water from the Crossing? Just how do I kill the War Ghoul? And just how do I kill the first Vampire Boss? The answer to all three is essentially the same: left-click, left-click, left-click! Yet, as Christof is a character of strong Faith, perhaps some Holy Water shall save the day? The games storyline then gains another important sub-plot: as Christof fights to retain his Soul. His Desire for Anezka places it in Peril, yet it is the attentions of a Vampire that truly tests his Character ... I was excited when Christof becomes a Vampire - as this is when the game comes truly alive! I'm also a fan of the Vampire Mythology that's found within this game. First: there is the fact that there are several races of Vampire (such as Cappadocian, Gangrel and Nosferatu - each with their own particular traits, skills and appearance). Second: there is the idea that Vampires have their own beliefs and traditions (Christof is recruited by the Philosophers of Caine - the Brujah, whose primary aim is the collection of Knowledge). Third: there is the concept of Vampire Lore (that the Brujah only take from Humans the Blood that they actually need - not a drop more). Fourth: there is the suggestion that not all Vampires are the same (that the Brujah actually see themselves as Guardians of Humanity, and as such, are less interested in the Blood Lust that's often associated with Creatures of the Night). I was impressed by the games use of animation and narration to highlight several of these ideas (especially the part where Christof views the Scrolling Tapestry). Playing as a Vampire is much more exciting than playing as a Human! There's plenty to learn (as a Vampire) - and you shall earn your Fangs (so to speak) at Petrin Hill Monastery. Lesson One: Looks can be Deceptive - as the Monastery looks all Quite and Peaceful, yet open that Wooden Door, and you shall soon have plenty of opponents to fight - as there's Vampires and Skeletons (usually armed with Swords and Arrows). Lesson Two: Vampires require Blood. When Christof (and his friend Wilhelm) become low on Blood, they shall start to Rampage (possibly even feeding off each other). To counteract this - you need to learn the Art of Feeding! There's plenty of Monks around the Monastery for you to feed on (and slaying an enemy this way does not affect your Humanity levels - which comes in handy). Lesson Three: Sometimes the ability to fight is not enough - you have to use your brain as well, together with switches and keys. Many an Evening did I fight Mercuio (the Vampire Boss of the Monastery), and many an Evening did both Christof and Wilhelm die (to his Green Gas). Yet it was, when searching around, did I find my first special weapon: a Femur (bone) that introduces Mercuio to the Grave! The games more than just about fighting though. One part I really like is managing the equipment that my Vampires wear. Once you've found enough Gold/Jewellery/Jewels, I like to equip my Vampires (via the Blacksmith) with: Studded Leather Armour, Gauntlets and a Light Helm - which helps improve their combat/defence capabilities. Another part I really like is the Character Advancement screen: with each Quest you complete, you earn Experience Points, which you spend to make your Vampires stronger. When I have enough points, I like to increase (in this order): Strength, Dexterity and Stamina (as I feel that these help to establish the central core of my Vampires abilities). When it comes to Spells and Magic, it's a must to upgrade Blood Healing (as it quickly heals your Vampires, usually for less blood), and in the case of Wilhelm, his Feral Claws (a favourite of mine - as he's often at the fore-front of an assault). I also like to equip each of my characters with: two Scrolls of Awaken (so that they may wake fallen comrades) and a Scroll of Walk the Abyss (so that a doorway can be opened between the current Quest and your safe haven - a great way to save travel time, which also allows you stock up on valuable supplies!). Overall: I have spent many an evening playing this game! I found that I became fully immersed in the storyline (especially with the twists regarding Faith, Love and Souls). Yes, there are some frustrations (such as when you accidentally tell Christof to feed off Wilhelm), but there's also a great amount of fun (such as when you destroy the rampaging Golem). I was stunned by the beauty of many scenes (especially those that reflect a decorated ceiling of a Castle/Palace unto the floor). The most draw-dropping part of the storyline (for me), was when the Time-line changed (as I wanted to remain in the Medieval), and felt totally lost (at first) running around in the Modern Age. Even so, this is still my favourite Vampire game to play!
When it comes to finding out about Mythical Creatures, this is my favourite book to read:
I like the fact that I can watch a fantasy film, or read a fantasy novel - then (usually) consult this book, for the background/history of the mythical creature (that I was interested in). Its entries are organised alphabetically - which saves time, when you know the name of the mythical creature (that you wish to lookup). With the reading of numerous entries, I have realised that mythical creatures originate from many places, and that several countries will often share, the same belief (in a particular creature). For example: some are found in the beliefs of ancient cultures (such as the American Indians), some are found in a different time (such as the belief that humans, could at one time, converse with the animals), some are found in nature (such as the belief that monsters are responsible for the shaping of the Earth/Weather) and some are found in specific locations (such as the side of a mountain - or a secluded loch). Three adventure-fantasy entries that I enjoyed reading are: Dragons (a wealth of information on - I especially liked the descriptions for Japan/China, together with the connections to strength, power and treasure), Elves (with several different views of) and Trolls (who are usually bad news - for adventurers/travellers). Two dark-fantasy entries that I enjoyed reading are Vampires (present throughout time and culture) and Werewolves (who have an interesting connection with ancient battles and warriors). The book also has entries for many lesser-known/local mythical creatures, a good example being the Great Horned Serpent (who was/is believed to help keep the waters of the Great Lakes calm). I like the fact that some entries also cross-over with others, for example: both Dragons and Elves have connections with Will-o'-the-wisps (where such lights were perceived as being gifts from them). I also like the fact that the book considers the mythical properties of animals that we live with today (such as Cats and Dogs). Overall: This is a book that I enjoy consulting - but can find it hard to put down! I think part of this is due to the paper that it's made from - it just feels somewhat magical (especially with its inviting/oldish smell). For the most part, this book is text-based, but that doesn't seem to matter - as I find images come easily (from my imagination). At almost seven hundred pages, it's quite good to pick a random page and put your feet up!