Profile for Adrian M. Liley > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Adrian M. Liley
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,379,532
Helpful Votes: 34

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Adrian M. Liley (China)

Page: 1
Race for the Galaxy Expansion: Gathering Storm
Race for the Galaxy Expansion: Gathering Storm
Price: £19.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More complicated and fascinating stuff for the thinking gamer, 10 July 2009
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
When I first played 'Race for the Galaxy' I genuinely did not have a clue what was going on. It seemed rather too needlessly complicated for a simple card game.
But then.... after my third comprehensive thrashing, I suddenly had one of those moments when it all fell into place (and I understood the rules). OK, this is one of those games you have to persist with, but once you've mastered the basics, you realise how clever the game dynamic is, with a million different permutations. The expansion continues the story of galaxy domination and allows for more players and more start off planets. There's also more chance to get Victory Points with various peripheral targets.
But the best thing about this game is the clever way you can combine cards and glean more cards and victory points every turn. This requires a heap of skill especially since there's no direct combat between players. It's basically, build, explore, trade and gather victory points.
You need to be a pretty disnerning game player to get a kick out of this..... but it's fun for those who persevere.
Only drawback - the rule book is a little heavy-going with tortuous explanations which would look better in an instruction leaflet on how to put up a Korean shelving unit.

In The Earth Abides The Flame: Book Two, The Fire of Heaven Trilogy
In The Earth Abides The Flame: Book Two, The Fire of Heaven Trilogy
by Russell Kirkpatrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Really Different, 10 July 2009
After the initial questing stuff of the first book in the trilogy, 'Abides the Flame' takes its foot off the pedal a little at the start, with all the intrigue in the city of Instruere. In other fantasy books, the hero would just have to appear on a plinth and wave his magic arrow around... and everyone would drop tools and rush to join him. Not so here. People react the way people normally react. They're suspicious and just want to get on with their lives. Grandstand showing of power is met with tired reluctance and fear. Factions change, people alter allegiances and good guys become bad guys. Then of course our little band scurries down south to retrieve the arrow and save the world..... only that it's not that simple.... the main hero (Leith) hasn't a clue what to do with the arrow once he's found it and the rest of his party return to Instruere thinking the quest has failed...... Lovely and clever twist to a familiar theme. I loved the intrigues and the way RK isn't afraid to drop characters and take up new ones.
Give this triology a go... if you want something which is truly different. Sad that some of these reviewers have 'panned' this trilogy so much. Probably a bit too subtle for their tastes....

Frequency [CD+DVD]
Frequency [CD+DVD]
Price: £21.33

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Stuff!, 6 July 2009
This review is from: Frequency [CD+DVD] (Audio CD)
And I thought that IQ couldn't top Dark Matter. Well, I thought that about Subterranea when that came out! But how wrong I was... again.
Frequency is a delight from start to finish. Clever, taut, multi-layered and with intelligent lyrics. Pete Nicholls sings better than ever from start to finish. His voice rivals Jon Anderson on the high notes and there's a pure, fresh clarity justleaping from your speakers every time his strings together his melodies.
The title and first song - FREQUENCY is typical IQ fodder, but more mature;
LIFE SUPPORT is the sort of song you want to play again immediately after listening to it the first time (wispy piano and vocals hold this one together and could have easily been on the Subterranea album).
STRONGER THAN FRICTION is my personal favourite. All five of them have a good thrash at this one and come out smiling! Again, trademark IQ from start to finish... (shades of 7th House and EVER).
ONE FATAL MISTAKE is another ballad with Pete doing it all so beautifully delicately.
Not sure what a RYKER SKY is but the song is catchy and dreamlike.
My only slight worry is what the 'hoodies' with the radios are up to on the album cover. All looks a bit weird and disturbing.....
But yes... marvelous album....

AND.... if you get the additional live bit (the DVD) then another treat in store... Harvest of Souls, Guiding Light and Subterranea are sublime!!!

And after buying Pendragon's Pure and Maximo Concerto recently, it's been a pretty good year so far for neo-prog!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 13, 2009 12:23 PM BST

The Right Hand Of God: Book Three, The Fire of Heaven Trilogy
The Right Hand Of God: Book Three, The Fire of Heaven Trilogy
by Russell Kirkpatrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Read this trilogy - it has everything!, 6 July 2009
OK... reviews of the Fire of Heaven trilogy are either '5-star-brilliant' or '1-star-atrocious'. This seems strange given that it contains all the right elements for a fantasy quest novel where Good has a jolly good go at Evil in all its forms.
So... why do I rate The Right Hand of God as '5-star-brilliant?' Well, first, because it's very different.
Heroes get killed when you don't expect it, normal people really do act like normal people (i.e. they don't automatically drop everything and follow the good guy when he comes along waving a magic arrow in their faces); the bad guy is actually a pitied figure at the end, while the hero is seen as just a young farm lad who knows nothing of life outside his own village and is viewed by his own army as 'chickening out' when faced with the final battle at the end. Shades of Thomas Covenant, yes... but only in the manner of Leith being the reluctant hero. Put all this together, along with a fantastic battle sequence at the end..... which rivals Tolkien and Jordan in scope..... except incredibly this time that the good guys lose!!! and you have a truly 'different' fantasy novel.
In a way, it moves into a genre inhabited by George RR Martin, where cruelty and pain are just a few feet away at all times and kings and queens regularly switch alliances basically to save their own skin.
And to those reviewers who say RK can't write endings...... read the last 50 pages again. If you're expecting a grandstand finale and a Star Wars style award ceremony then don't bother with this trology (and the last book especially).
But if you want something which offers just that little bit more, then give this trilogy a go. It's un-putdownable (sorry) as well having a story that grips and doesn't let go right to the final pages...

Happiness Is The Road
Happiness Is The Road
Price: £16.05

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Come on lads! You can do better than this!, 15 April 2009
This review is from: Happiness Is The Road (Audio CD)
Marillion's 'Happiness is the Road' is one of those albums which you put on when you're feeling quietly mellow and needing a doze. It meanders gently through some nice quiet backwaters for a pleasant yet undemanding hour or so.

The first track, DREAMY STREET sort of sums it all up, with all the subsequent tracks melding seamlessly into one soft, padded and uncontroversial pastel shade of nothing..... It's the musical equivalent of a room decorated in egg-shell white or magnolia.

BUT..... where's the ooomph gone, lads?? Is this really the band that trotted out Incommunicado and Market Square Heroes oh so long ago or even BRAVE and EASTER, in the Stevie era? You get the feeling though, as 'Happiness' gets midway through the second disc that Pete, Ian and Mark are just dying to break their shackels and get back to a bit of noise for a change. They have a go... but Steve dampens them down a bit most times.... Shame on you, Mr. Hogarth!

To be honest, this is a goodish album, which sounds so much like a Pink Floyd effort of years gone by. For example, ASYLUM SATELLITE on Disc 2 resonating incredibly like something from Atom Heart Mother. You half expect some Echoey noises or someone eating Rice Krispies to break in at any moment.

And 'THROW ME OUT' has violins chundering away on the track as well.... sounding like a FOOL'S GARDEN effort..... you half expect Steve to break into 'Lemon Tree' at any second!

So when Steve sings out 'We need to talk' on 'WHATEVER IS WRONG WITH YOU?' I thought... never a truer word.

Also got a bone to pick with the marketing boys.....Being the idiot that I am I bought both the Double CD 'HAPPINESS' and the Single CD 'Hard Shoulder' because I stupidly thought it was something different!! It looks like that on Amazon too, where you're offered the Hard Shoulder one with the Double CD at a special price. Daft really, since it's just the same as Disc 2.

The really sad thing is that I actually enjoyed Pendragon's BELIEVE or PURE and IQ's DARK MATTER to this offering. At least, they show a bit of backbone.

So, a guarded yes to this one..... buy it if you need to calm down, put your feet up and read the paper!

Concerto Maximo
Concerto Maximo
Price: £14.11

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great concert!, 9 April 2009
This review is from: Concerto Maximo (Audio CD)
Lovely double CD full of blistering and atmospheric songs. Fantastic value too - the first CD alone measuring in at over 75 minutes and the second over an hour too. Great stuff, boys!
And in Poland again, of course. Those guys just love Neo-Prog Rock, don't they? Shame the place sounds half empty but you can't have everything! The songs are a nice mixture. 'Man of Nomadic Traits' is magnificent and segs well with 'Wishing Well'. 'Eraserhead' dips a bit at the end and Total Recall is a bit limp, but Learning Curve, Breaking the Spell and Sister Buebird save the day. CD2 is just sublime too, with 'Master of Illusion' and 'Queen of Hearts' done beautifully. Even the new offering - 'Freak Show', gets a nice rendering. 'It's Only Me' is the one 'thin' song on the CD (sounding like a Supertramp thingie of days gone by at the start). Shame there's no 'Last Man on Earth' or 'Dance of Veils' but you can't have everything!
BUT.... one thing got me thinking. You know the bit on all live albums when the lead singer does the 'talk' thing and introduces the band. Jon Anderson of Yes usually gets into his 'love' and Gaia thing or lets each musician do a solo segement, while Fish in his Marillion days shouted as loud as he could at the audience to get them all on their feet. Nick Barrett is toe-curlingly embarrassing though as he wrecks Nostradamus with his bit of nonsense introducing Scott Higham and the band.... for their crimes........ Sounds like he doesn't know what to say next and just burbles away..... oh dear oh dear oh dear.
But, when all's said and done, a MAGIC CD which you should get if you like a great 2 hours of smiling distraction!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2009 8:21 PM BST

Price: £20.84

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Losing their way a bit!, 3 April 2009
This review is from: Pure (Audio CD)
Pendragon are a really understated and brilliant band! The Masquerade Overture and Window of Life were superb in all ways, with Not of this World and Believe pretty close behind....... so... I was expecting something truly spectacular from PURE! BUT what a disappontment!..... The band seem to have lost their way with turgid heavy metal guitar work and trite lyrics, which seem to reflect Nick Barrett's rather sad and pessimistic view of life currently. The tracks: INDIGO and ERASERHEAD just seem to be an exercise in thumping away as hard as they can while COMOATOSE begins nicely and then drifts horribly as the band pull in different directions trying to sound like Floyd, King Crimson and Metallica all in about twenty seconds! FREAK SHOW and IT's ONLY ME are pretty sub-par 'B' side stuff I'm afraid. And Nick's high notes... well.... Hmmmmmmm. I was really looking forward to this album too. Right, time to listen to Window of Life again and restore some balance!!

OK.... this is 9 weeks later and I've listened to PURE many many times to give it a fair chance and I can honestly say that I have changed my mind. It is a good album and I was really unfair to pan it when I first got it..... a lesson to us all.... I should have given the thing a chance to 'grow'. INDIGO is quite possibly the best thing they've done fo years.... I hated it at first but now love the twists and turns leading to the final 6 minutes of undulating guitar work. Perfect stuff. So a big SORRY to everyone out there who read my initial outburst...... it's pretty darn good and deserves to be played really loud and with lots of bass.... maybe that's where I went wrong first time round.....
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 16, 2014 5:47 PM GMT

Consider Phlebas: A Culture Novel (The Culture)
Consider Phlebas: A Culture Novel (The Culture)
by Iain M. Banks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much the Perfect SF book, 1 Jan. 2009
Having read a considerable amount of SF from larry Niven all the way through to the current crop of Dan Simmonds, Peter Hamiltons and Kevin Andersons etc etc...... Consider Phlebus still stands head and shoulders above the rest. It not only captures the vast hugeness of it all out there in space, but also has a hero who somehow seems like you or me - a man just trying to survive and get a job done. The plot is faultless and the backdrop mind-boggling, from enormous spaceships to alien planets. And probably most of all, the ending is top notch..... which is usully the undoing of most Sci-Fi books. I was pretty close to shedding a tear as I hit the last page of this one. Yes, pretty much the perfect SF novel.

Across The Face Of The World: Book One, The Fire of Heaven Trilogy
Across The Face Of The World: Book One, The Fire of Heaven Trilogy
by Russell Kirkpatrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fantasy tale that has everything, 1 Jan. 2009
If you've read the other reviews of Russell Kirkpatrick's 'Across the Face of the World' then you might be forgiven in thinking this is just another attempt to get on the post-Tolkien quest bandwaggon. You would be wrong. Let's just concentrate on the good points: first, Kirkpatrick is not afraid to lose a few 'heroes' along the way making it deliciously unpredictable; second, he doesn't get bogged down in the typical Fantasy writer's swamp of unending genealogical family trees where Bwalin was son of Dwalin son of Fralin etc. etc. and massive pre-histories leading to the action of the book. He avoids Stephen Donaldson main hero angst, the unending splurge of Robert Jordan's epic, the gothic horror of China Mieville and even the Greek mythological overtones in Tolkien. What he is left with is a refreshing tale which never lets you draw your breath. The characters do everything 'on the run' and, as in real life, goals and objectives change as circumstances around them change. This is no grand epic to detsroy a ring or to preserve the Arch of Time. It's more how a relatively normal bunch of people can survive the horrors all around them.
And finally, what sets Kirkpatrick apart is his wonderful ability to take his foot off the pedal for a few moments, to describe the flora and fauna of the countryside backdrop and how much the characters want to abandon their quests and just live out their lives in the quiet sanity of a quiet wood.
If you want a book which will keep you enthralled, turning pages and wondering when you go to bed what will happen next and who just might not survive it all, then get Across the Face of the World. It's well worth the ride and heaps better than 90% of the rest of the current Fantasy genre.

Tales from Topographic Oceans
Tales from Topographic Oceans
Price: £12.53

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Genius, 17 Feb. 2008
Words cannot adequately describe how good this double album is. I've been listening to it since it came out in the 70s and it still offers so much. The whole concept is a multi-layered homage to Prog. Rock at its very very best. Four massively long tracks which feature each of the band's musicians to the full... from the moment Jon Anderson sings "Dawn of light...." at the very start, you're in for a rare treat. And the final 'Nous sommes du soleil' is guaranteed to blow your socks off. Coupled with Relayer and 'The gates of Delirium' this album is a work of true art and unmatchable genius........

Page: 1