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Reviews Written by
Brian Ashe "Fantast" (Ottawa, Canada)

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Game of Thrones: Season 3
Game of Thrones: Season 3
DVD ~ Peter Dinklage
Price: CDN$ 33.99
15 used & new from CDN$ 24.50

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More, please, Sept. 3 2013
This review is from: Game of Thrones: Season 3 (DVD)
The third season of Game of Thrones is almost the same as the third volume of the series of novels. It is just as good.

Game of Thrones is one of (possibly the) best fantasy series ever written in English. No major character is entirely good, and none is entirely evil. All are human, but with major character flaws. All have completely understandable motivations. This is one of the few series that gets it right. Despite the necessary presence of night walkers, of giants and dragons and sea monsters, it is centred on the people and their interactions. Love, hate and betrayal: human. Sex, money and power: human needs.

The format follows closely that of the book, with episodic development of the major strands of plot and character. By now, it's possible to see how this convoluted tale could end: there are only a few ways for all the surviving factions to come together, and this season is every bit a middle of the book season. It develops the threads of seasons one and two and adds a few hiccups along the way. Daenerys matures, as do her dragons. The Lannister dynamics shift dramatically. Jon Snow, Bran Stark, and especially Robb Stark have life-changing experiences.

Season three gives us what we expected after seasons one and two. Now we have to wait for season four. More of the same, please.

Centurion (Bilingual)
Centurion (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Michael Fassbender
Price: CDN$ 5.88
27 used & new from CDN$ 1.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film, historically dubious, Nov. 19 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Centurion (Bilingual) (DVD)
Eagle of the Ninth. Find out what really happened to the ninth legion! Well, sort of...

Without spoiling the movie, this tale of revenge and racism moves along nicely. Good plot, good acting, spectacular cinematography, and a really nice score. The tale of a Roman centurion and his interactions with the barbarian Picts has a gritty historical feel and good gory action. This is a movie in the style of Gladiator, and every bit as good. Arms and armour are more or less realistic. Costumes are fine, though they sacrifice historical accuracy for sexiness. Definitely worth seeing.

by Stan Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
59 used & new from CDN$ 1.12

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Standard fantasy for fantasy-lovers, Nov. 5 2012
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
This is a fat book with attitude. That's the good part. Snarky, quick-tempered, battle hardened, tough, and muscle-brained, Vikings are nothing if not consistent. Oops, I meant orcs. Or maybe barbarians?
The problems with this book are several. First, the story line is generic fantasy. Nothing wrong with that if the characters or the setting were interesting. They're just OK. Second, the characters are stock. Third, the writing is humdrum. Fourth, the ecology/geography makes no sense. Distances telescope, winter goes tropical, and there's nothing for all these (pseudo)-intelligent races to live on.
Any one or two of these problems could be retrieved by a good story line or good characters, or if the orcs had some special characteristics other than being thuggish humans. Unfortunately not. Ultimately, this ends up being banal and a bit of a time waster.

Price: CDN$ 12.88
46 used & new from CDN$ 6.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Great second album, Nov. 5 2012
This review is from: Babel (Audio CD)
Basically a continuation of the first album "Sigh No More", and that's a good thing. Tuneful, good rhythms, great lyrics, and no letdown. Play it once, you like it, play it twice, you're addicted. For fans of blues, rock, folk rock and indie bands alike. There is no weak song on this disc.

Hitch (Fullscreen) (Bilingual)
Hitch (Fullscreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Will Smith
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 36.17
42 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent comedy, Jan. 7 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Will Smith as a relationship consultant is a funny enough idea to start with, Combined with Kevin James hot for a superstar model, and several other screamingly hilarious episodes. One of my favourite comedies. My wife and my parents loved it, too. Great esp for anyone over 30.

The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps
The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps
by Peter D. Ward
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.18

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellently written doomsday, Oct. 11 2011
This is a serious book written in an engaging manner. The science is impeccable. Even the IPCC recognizes that the old 2007 prediction was too low, and newer satellite data predict up to a meter of sea level rise by 2050, not 2100. A mere sea level rise would be uncomfortable, not catastrophic, were it not for the associated changes in ocean currents, affecting weather patterns and ocean ecology. More fish extinctions, less protein from the sea. Drought in the American midwest, an ice age in western Europe, drought in the Sahel, floods in many other areas, and a positive feedback mechanism of less ice/less permafrost with methane liberation leading to further rising temperatures, etc, etc. This book is a must read. Unfortunately, climate change deniers will continue to deny the evidence they disagree with, and nature will take its course.

Offered by megahitrecords canada
Price: CDN$ 13.91
40 used & new from CDN$ 3.81

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great soundtrack! Can we see the movie?, June 14 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Rome (Audio CD)
What a well crafted soundtrack by Danger Mouse with Daniele Luppi, Jack White, and Norah Jones, among others. Norah's voice on "Rose with a broken neck" is as fabulous as ever, and the pseudo soundtrack sounds so real, I really really want to see the movie. Something weird and Italian, like Fellini, or Wertmuller. Or maybe a Spaghetti Western, from which some of the themes and overtones seem to be taken. Some of the musicians, too.
A smooth, sweet, sad, angry and ragged movie this is. A soundtrack you will listen to many times.

Pure Blues
Pure Blues
Price: CDN$ 19.74
35 used & new from CDN$ 5.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Bluest blues by a white man, June 14 2011
This review is from: Pure Blues (Audio CD)
This is the best ever blues album by a white man.
From "Don't want you woman", you know this is going to be good. Nice, standard blues song
"Bluest blues" is my favourite alltime guitar solo, with a story line, words and music that my daughter called the saddest song she had ever heard. Right on.
Then "I woke up this morning" -- classic blues riffs with a solid bass line, probably my second favourite guitar solo, though there's competition now.
On it goes, with only the last song a little weak. Anyone who enjoys blues guitar should check out Alvin Lee, especially this album.

Sea of Cowards
Sea of Cowards
Price: CDN$ 14.11
68 used & new from CDN$ 4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hard rocking blues, May 28 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sea of Cowards (Audio CD)
Jack White and friends have not disappointed in their second album. Excellent, hard rock with a bluesy edge. Alison's half broken voice goes so well with the music, it's an instrument all its own. This is perfect grungy hard blues. Even better than Horehound, their first. Keep on rockin'.

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 4-Book Boxed Set: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows
George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 4-Book Boxed Set: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows
by George R.R. Martin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 22.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best incomplete fantasy, May 27 2011
George RR Martin has produced a great, sprawling fantasy series covering most of the world, focused on the struggles for power on Westeros, loosely based on northwestern Europe. Much of the physical geography, weather, and other aspects of world-building are familiar, and the world to the East is also loosely based on medieval Europe and Asia. The magic system is well thought out, again based on Norse and Celtic mythology, and the dragons fit in well with what we all "know" about them.

Excellent political intrigue. You get to feel empathy for a bloodthirsty dwarf, for a psychopathic killer, and for many more "normal" characters who experience hurt, betrayal, and often violent death. The action is rough (i.e.; good guys die) but realistic in a medieval sense. The motivations, feelings, and actions all make sense in terms of the story line. The characters draw you in.

Unlike Rothfuss, Jordan, or many other recent fantasy series, this one does not centre on a small group of main characters. This series follows many powerful interest groups at once, exploring their inner politics as well as their often violent interactions.

This series has been slow in coming out, which may help to explain the excellence of the writing. It is tight, never overblown, and keeps the reader's interest deep into the night. This also explains why it has been difficult to "rev up" as each new volume comes out, as you forget the alliances and enmities developed in the last volume. That is one good reason to have waited for the first 4 volumes to have appeared together. And the fifth is just about to come out. A Game of Thrones ranks up there with Goodkind and Erikson, far surpasses Jordan, and should be on anyone's shortlist of the best political fantasy series ever.

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