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mbogle (ireland)

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Ranks of Bronze
Ranks of Bronze
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical armies in a SciFi setting, 23 Aug 2006
I have just finished rereading this book and found it as enjoyable the second time around. The premise that an advanced alien empire has a number of "trade guilds" which solve their problems militarily within the limits of the civilization which they deal is novel and a clever angle.

A roman army is purchased from earth after its defeat by a trade guild looking for soldiers to be used in 'negotiations' with cultures of a similar level of military.

The author does a very good job of describing the military positioning and battles between the Roman legion and their various opponents. At the same time you are shown the aliens view of the troops as nothing more than 'useful' assets to be used when needed.

A good book to read, if you enjoy military sci-fi, with a completely new idea at its heart.

I also agree with another poster that the new cover does nothing for this book. I have the older version which actually made me want to buy the book off the shelf!!

Darkstar One (PC)
Darkstar One (PC)
Price: £0.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun to play with an easy learning curve., 17 Aug 2006
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Darkstar One (PC) (Video Game)
This game is both fun to play and easy to operate something which suits my game preferences. You start out as normal in a simple ship which can be upgraded throughout the game by collecting artifacts which given the skill style upgrade path allows for further customisation.

The controls are easy to operate and the fight sequences filled with enough nail biting action, as seven pirates decide to make your life hard, that the adrenalin will flow. This is the best part of the game and is both easy to control and fun to play.

There are also a number of missions available from transporting goods to hunting pirates which are good fun initially however after a few hours are very similar.

It is probably this part of the game that is the most problematic as all of the artifacts needed for upgrading your ship are immediately displayed as you enter a new system and after a while most of the stations etc look very similar. Trade is very formulaic ie buy where the goods are produced and sell where they are not. As a consequence the main long-term draw to the game is the space combat, but this is done very well.

As a word of warning the English version was released with a copy protection system that read continually from disc causing severe lag on some machines. The good news is that a patch has already been released to solve this.

Ravensburger Snails Pace Race game
Ravensburger Snails Pace Race game

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun, 4 July 2006
A great game where the snails crawl accross the board trying to beat the other coloured snails. The object of the game is to see which snail gets to the end first. There is no winner as the first and last 'wins'. The snails progress by each person throwing a dice and if it lands on a colour then the snail of that colour moves. Although the red snail always wins (surprisingly enough our son is able to create a competitive game out of a non-competitive one)he has spent many fun hours playing with his friends. A great game that encourages children to wait their turn and co-operate in a game situation.

It can also be fun for adults while I must admit although the idea is so simple I still find it hard to understand why!

Overall great value for money and while some electronic toys are broken very quickly this just keeps going and is always pulled out to play with.

Harry and the Dinosaurs Tell the Time
Harry and the Dinosaurs Tell the Time
by Ian Whybrow
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time made easy, 4 July 2006
This book is a great way to explain to your child about time and help them to understand reading a clock in a fun and easy manner. The clock is robust and each page tells a different time with a miniture clock to give them hints about what the hands should point to.

It is one of my sons favourits (age 4) especially as he just loves the series. This makes telling the time fun for him especially as the correct clock face is also hidden behind a folding corner. He guesses and then opens up the page to prove he is right. (however by this stage he probably also has the words memorized as he has insisted on reading and playing with it so often!)

The Bonehunters: Malazan Book Of Fallen 6 (The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
The Bonehunters: Malazan Book Of Fallen 6 (The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
by Steven Erikson
Edition: Paperback

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gathering of threads, 11 April 2006
This is the first book in the series, which gathers all the previous plots together and starts the progression towards the climactic end to the series. There are two more books in this series still to be published.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and marvelled at the way Erikson has managed to bring all of the previous characters and plots together. One of the most enjoyable parts of the series for me is that each of the characters offers so little of their motivations at each encounter. This may be frustrating if you wish to understand their motives for each event but much more satisfying, as Erikson obviously has done extensive characterisations, overall. Like in life you slowly get to know the characters through the books and build up a mental picture of them and the way they behave. Like in the previous books many threads are tied up however there are just about as many started..
Unlike the others I strongly recomend that this book not be read in isolation. This is because the characters and plots are being carried over from the previous five books and in order to enjoy the book to its potential and to understand the underlying motivations of the characters you need to have read the previous books. The benefit in this is that they are all excellent and well deserving of 5 stars.
If you are looking at reading the other 5 I suggest reading them in the published order:-
1) Gardens of the Moon
2) Deadhouse Gates
3) Memories of Ice
4) House of Chains
5) Midnight Tides
To all the Erikson fans out there here is a book that continues a fantastic series. Buy it now and prepare to lose the next few days happily engrossed in this great book.

Incubus Dreams: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Volume 12
Incubus Dreams: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Volume 12
by Laurell K. Hamilton
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This could have been so much better, 29 Mar 2006
This is my first Anita Blake novel and unfortunately will probably be my last. There is certainly a story for fans of the series within this novel however as it is my first I was not able to pick up on the interplay between characters which has obviously been created over the past several books.
I say this because I write this review as someone who has not grown attached to the characters and as such cannot comment for fans of the series. For this please see other reviews.
The book itself is over 700 pages long but could be 300 pages. As another reviewer has commented the other 400 pages is thinly disguised erotic fiction with Anita having sex with the closest man/men. The problem is not with the fact that this occurs it is with the fact that this occurs so frequently and most of the encounters could have been written by copying and pasting in the previous encounter. No noticeable plot advancement and certainly I found myself skipping pages towards the end.
The plot seems to be almost incidental and no real detective work involved. Characters are introduced and seem to be awaiting further books to be fully developed. Anita's powers develop and develop however are not satisfactorily explored to their full. Plot twists are opened but subsequently left dangling.
What I found most annoying however was that there was a good book in there. The characters are developed and the plot had so much potential that I was left feeling frustrated.
In my opinion this is definitely not a book to read if you have never read this series before.

Galactic Civilizations 2 (PC)
Galactic Civilizations 2 (PC)

65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sequel, 28 Feb 2006
If you have played and enjoyed Galactic Civilizations 1 then this is a must. Yes I have played it (over the last few months in Beta and over the last few days in the final retail version as I downloaded it directly from Stardock).
Like the first game this is a turn based strategy game and although you now get to view the battles (very useful for deciding which of the three types of weapon your adversary is currently using. This allows you to design ships to counter that type of weapon.) you cannot control the battles.
The game is now rendered in 3D and looks very professional and even allows you to design your own ships, which look completely different on the main map. This allows you to immediately see which type of ship you have and if the better course of valor is to run.
The main changes are:-
1. - You can now play any of the races and not just humans. Each race has its own benefits.
2. - Each planet has a certain number of tiles, which can be used to produce your factories, farms, research, entertainment, influence generating or wonders. This means that you have to think much more about which structures you build as you cannot build everything. Some of the tiles also offer specific benefits such as Farming * 100%.
3 - 3d environment. Graphically it is a vast improvement and fun to build your own ships from the basic structure to deciding what additional components and structures you wish to add. OK some of the structures are purely cosmetic but it adds to the whole feel.
4 - There are now 3 types of offensive weapons and their corresponding defenses. This adds much more strategy into building up your fleets as each race may have developed different types of ships. Know your enemy and you will not be lacking. Don't and that dreadnaught could be taken down by a couple of cruisers armoured against its batteries but using a weapon you cannot defend against!!
5 - This now comes with a complete campaign from the start. It is not a pushover as I am finding out.
6 - The game is much more polished and allot of time has been spent in animation and the user interface.
7 - The tech tree is much larger and follows a number of different paths. ie the different paths open up new types of building and improvements on old ones which can be upgraded rather than being rebuilt on your precious tiles.
One of the things however that I like best about this game is that the company that is building the game is also the producer. What this means in reality is that any patches / augmentations / new maps are immediately put up on its site. I have found that for Galactic Civilizations 1 there were constant improvements being added and a support department that actually answered its forum's. I add the last as I have been burnt badly recently on other games.
As a summary this is a worthy sequel to what I consider one of the best turn based strategy titles. If you like Civilization IV type games this is a must. If however you are looking for real time strategy games then this may not be for you. There is no multiplayer however the ability for random games to be generated and 10 civilizations to chose from means that you will never be board. I still play the first game and I bought that 3 years ago!

Civilization IV (PC DVD)
Civilization IV (PC DVD)
Price: £5.49

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Civ IV is the best in the series, 19 Dec 2005
Having played all the Civilization games including Alpha Centuri et al I must say that it was with trepidation that I heard that a new version was coming out. I dutifully rushed to the shops on the first day and purchased the game. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. It is in my opinion the best yet. The interface is much cleaner and the ability to see your city's infrastructure from the main map makes deciding what to produce much easier.
The Graphics are a step improvement as well with a much more 3d look to everything. Generally if you liked any of the previous games then this is a must have. If however you have been waiting then this is the one to buy.
Remember it is a turn based strategy title so there are no point and click commands for your units AKA Command and Conquer however there is a vast array of decisions re land sea and air units that can be built or will you look for a diplomatic or Space race (tech) victory.
I have been playing this game for weeks and no 2 games are the same and the difficulty levels mean that I have only been able to consistantly beat the game on the mid difficulty level. As for diety level I think you would need to be one to survive past the stone age!!
In summary this has great replay value with constant thinking behind each strategic decision.

Dungeon Siege II (PC)
Dungeon Siege II (PC)

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable - Point click and destroy., 15 Sep 2005
This review is from: Dungeon Siege II (PC) (Video Game)
I have nearly finished the game and although normally only play role-play games aka Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights I must admit I have thoroughly enjoyed the action of this game.
This is most definitely only for those wanting a hack and slash type of game as nearly all of the fighting involves clicking on a monster holding down the mouse button and occasionally using a special power for maximum damage.
While this may appear very one-dimensional a degree of strategy is added by the selection of what party members you take. The combination of Melee, Ranged, Combat Mage and Nature Mage (a.k.a. cleric/druid with all the healing and buffing spells). Each class can further specialise in a number of paths. Do you wish a Melee tank then specialise in Shields, a destructive powerhouse, then two-handed weapons, or a whirling tornado of death, then use of two weapons. Likewise the Combat mage can specialise in Death, Lightening or Fire magic.
Although like the first Dungeon Siege you are forced along a predefined path meeting hoards of monsters at every turn a degree of questing has been added to allow a little diversity in the trip. There are definitely enough pieces of armour etc to keep anyone happy. These have been fun collecting as whenever you believe you have found the best combination another piece comes along shortly after that is better.
There are some problems however most notably with the path finding of your companions and the annoying ability of some to stand there while you are trying to survive another onslaught.
That aside however the action is intense with the continual spawning of monsters ensuring that you are always in combat. A clever system of experience point reduction if the monsters are more than 5 levels away from your base ensures that 'camping' for those extra experience points becomes pointless and results in your only real way to gain levels is to progress through the game.
I have enjoyed the game as a break from my normal fair and would recommend this to others. It is however most definitely only for those who enjoy the hack and slash type games as all other facets of the game are a distant second. (Although the makers have made an effort to bring these in.)

The Symphony of Ages Set
The Symphony of Ages Set
by Elizabeth Haydon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.11

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic series well worth owning, 30 Jun 2005
If you do not own any of the books then this is a great way to have all three. Each of the books is good in their own way but in my opinion must be read from the first to third in order to fully understand the plot and story as it tells the travels of three individuals and their unexpected friendship.
Rhapsody, the singer who can alter objects by song (yes reminiscent of the Spellsinger books but better in my opinion), Achmed, a talented assassin who has a very blunt approach to the world, and Grunthor, the Firbolg warrior (AKA an Ogre.
The series follows their journey through a number of trials to the eventual "will they save the world" climax.
Not an original plot I must admit however the characters were enjoyable, the world well described, the society interesting and
the adventure page turning.
If you like David Eddings, Juliet E. McKenna and Robin Hobbs you will enjoy these. They are best described as a feel good series that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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