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Stephanie Noverraz "crooty" (Lausanne, Switzerland)

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Myst V: End of Ages (Mac/PC DVD)
Myst V: End of Ages (Mac/PC DVD)
Offered by Games Heaven
Price: 14.41

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Such a letdown., 29 Sep 2005
This is almost insulting. I'm outraged.
I've been a fan of the Myst series since Riven, always eager to immerse in the stunning, utterly beautiful sceneries, and there to push switches and pull levers, to tackle the mind-boggling puzzles that would lead me to more dream-like places.
And I was a bit disappointed when Uru came out, with its real-time, third-person interface, because it wasn't exactly was I was expecting, graphically. But then, it was advertised as a side-quest, so I didn't mind too much, especially when Myst IV: Revelation came out with its good ol' QuickTime VR and video-overlaid characters.
So when I heard that Myst V: End of Ages was coming out, and that it'd be the last episode, I really expected the series to end with a flourish. Admittedly, I was slightly surprised by the rather short, one-year gap since the previous instalment, but I trustfully put it down to technical progress.
Well I was wrong.
Visually, Myst V: End of Ages is closer to Uru. Again they traded the QuickTime VR for a first-person navigation that allows you to look around as you walk from point to point. As you might deduce, this real-time rendering implies models with a lower polygon count, and lightmaps. What is gained in movement fluidity (which, by the way, is not required to solve puzzles à la Myst) is lost in image quality, putting the whole trademark atmosphere in jeopardy.
Same story for the characters you meet throughout the game, who are now CG with a video mapped on their face. It's ugly. The Motion Capture hasn't been corrected, or not enough, and the characters' feet are either sliding or entering the ground. They also tried to impress us with cloth movements, but with such a low polygon count you can often see it go through the characters' legs. Really, what were they thinking?
As for the puzzles, even though a couple of them were a bit tricky (but mostly because the symbol I drew on the tablet wasn't quite accurate), they were for the most part repetitive and unchallenging. Proof is, I finished the game in one day.
This is such a letdown.

The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A concise history of Middle-earth., 14 Sep 2005
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Paperback)
The Silmarillion is a quick glimpse into Tolkien's life's work, into his Creation. It tells of the making of Arda by Ilúvatar and the Ainur, of the coming of the Elves and Dwarves and Men to Middle-earth, but also of their corruption and the great battles that lead to the downfall of their civilization.
I read the Silmarillion for the first time 7 years ago, and I must admit my English wasn't good enough then, so I really struggled with the language. I wasn't as familiar with Tolkien's world as I am now either, having only read the Lord of the Rings in French two years before, so it only seemed to me like a confusing succession of names. I didn't enjoyed it.
Now, after a second attempt, I'm proud to announce I changed my view. Even though of course the Silmarillion still ressembles much more a history book than a novel, and even though I still found it hard to concentrate at times, and even though I still mixed all the characters' and places' names, I could match the words with John Howe's illustrations. Therefore everything took colour and became three-dimensional. And I even drew some of the scenes myself.
And now I want to read it again... so that must be a sign, right?

The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 7) ((Delete) The Chronicles of Narnia)
The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 7) ((Delete) The Chronicles of Narnia)
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rather exciting beginning for a syrupy ending., 18 Aug 2005
This is the seventh and last (chronologically) Chronicle of Narnia (after The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair).
This final volume is more or less cut in two parts. In the first one, an Ape called Shift bullies and forces his companion Puzzle the donkey to wear an old lion skin on his back and to pretend he's Aslan the great Lion. Allied with Calormenes, they start slaughtering Talking Beasts and doing other evil deeds.
To Tirian, the current King of Narnia, and to his dear friend Jewel the noble Unicorn, this seems like a most unusual behaviour for Aslan, so they set out in search of the truth. They'll call children from our world to their aid: Eustace and Jill.
Ensues a battle opposing the King's small party to the Calormenes and the Men and Beasts they've managed to cheat.
In the second half of the book, like in a mirror image of the adventures of Digory and Polly in The Magician's Nephew, we witness the unmaking of the World by Aslan (the real one this time). Like in a curtain call, all the characters (but one) from the previous volumes return for the final journey to the forever kingdom of Aslan.
Whereas the beginning was rather exciting, I found the ending really too syrupy and allegorical. It was also very shocking to see the absence of Susan explained by "she's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations." With its oldish style, and the fact that the baddies, the Calormenes, have a definite Middle-Eastern profile, I felt that the book was really anchored in the 1950's. I must admit I'm glad to have finally finished the series.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2)
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Duller than expected... unless you start with this tome?, 27 May 2005
This is the second volume (chronologically) in The Chronicles of Narnia (after The Magician's Nephew, before The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; The Last Battle).
This book takes place during World War II, many years after the events of The Magician's Nephew, and tells the story of four young siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. They are exploring the big house of an old Professor (which I'm guessig is Digory from the first book) where they've been sent during the air-raids, when Lucy enters the old wardrobe in en empty room upstairs to hide in it.
Only this wardrobe is actually a direct passage to the world of Narnia, and Lucy finds herself in a forest on a snowy night, the only light that of a lamppost. There she meets a Faun named Tumnus, who is indeed very amazed to meet a legendary Human, an invites her to tea. In the cozy warmth of his home, he tells her of the evil White Witch, who is turning everyone who opposes her to stone, and whose spell on Narnia makes it always winter and never Christmas.
When Lucy finally gets out of the wood and then out of the wardrobe again, no time has actually passed, and of course, when she tells her story to her brothers and sister, none of them believes her. Edmund in particular likes to make fun of her.
On another, rainy day, when they're all playing hide-and-seek in the huge mansion, Edmund decides to hide in the wardrobe and he too finds himself in Narnia. But instead of the Faun, he meets the White Witch, who lures him with Turkish Delight (his favourite sweets) and by making him believe that he can become King if he brings her his brother and sisters.
The book then tells the adventures of the four kids in Narnia, meeting a friendly couple of talking badgers and all kinds of other fantastic animals and creatures, among then the powerful Lion King Aslan, and helping them save the world from the evil usurper Queen.
Reading the series in the chronological order rather than in the publication order, I found that The Magician's Nephew was actually a kind of spoiler for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think that I would have been more enchanted, amazed and curious about the world of Narnia if I hadn't read all about its creation in the first book. I would have wondered about the lamppost, for example (and it would have been nice to read about the Lion's song later). Knowing about it in advance, I'm sure I found it a tad duller, because I wasn't discovering it at the same time as the kids. This is a nice story, and I know it's a Classic, but I must say it's not as captivating as I thought it would be.
I advise you read it in the publication order: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; The Horse and His Boy; The Magicians Nephew; The Last Battle.
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A Hat Full of Sky
A Hat Full of Sky
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noble values sewn into a captivating story., 19 May 2005
This review is from: A Hat Full of Sky (Paperback)
Noble values sewn into a captivating story.
This is the second book in the Tiffany Aching series (after The Wee Free Men and before at least a couple more with the tentative titles of Wintersmith and When I Am Old I Shall Wear Midnight).
Tiffany is now eleven, two years have passed since the events of The Wee Free Men and the incident with the Fairy Queen. She's learnt a few tricks since then, like the ability to step out of her own body, which is actually very handy when your only mirror is too small and you want to check if your hair is well combed at the back of your head. Although she likes wearing that invisible hat Mistress Weatherwax gave her.
Now Miss Tick the witch is bringing her to the mountains, to Miss Level's cottage to be more precise, an old witch with two bodies, where she shall begin her apprenticeship.
Her news friends, the other witches' apprentices, and especially Annagramma Hawkin, mock her because she's only good at sheep and cheese, and Miss Level only helps old people or acts as a midwife and she's not even doing proper magic, and of course Tiffany's not even wearing proper witch clothes with stars and sequins, let alone a real witch hat. In the end, Tiffany's apprenticeship turns out to be not exactly what she expected, but much, much more.
And all that time, the little blue fairy men, the Nac Mac Feegle, are watching over her. And what they find out is that an evil spirit, a Hiver, is pursuing Tiffany, waiting to take up her body the next time she steps out of it. Rob Anybody and his mates set out to help her.
I really really love the Tiffany Aching books. In them, and probably because they're aimed at a younger audience, Terry Pratchett manages to philosophize in a much more accessible and discreet manner than in his lastest (adult) Discworld books (like Thief of Time). The values he teaches here, through the relationship between people, or between people and the land, are very noble ones, and they're seemlessly sewn into a storyline that is in itself very captivating, and of course very funny. I really really love the Tiffany Aching books.

Monstrous Regiment: A Discworld Novel
Monstrous Regiment: A Discworld Novel
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discworld farce., 2 May 2005
Polly Perks is a young woman who works at her father's inn, the Duchess (named after an iconic Borogravian figure). However, since it is one of the numerous "abominations unto Nuggan" for a woman to own pubs in Borogravia, she realizes that if she wants to keep the Duchess, she needs to get her brother Oliver back from the front. Indeed, Borogravia is at war, again, with one of its neighbours.
So when the recruiting party goes through town, she cuts her hair, disguises as a man, kisses the portrait of the Duchess and gets the Shilling. Now she's in Sergeant Jack Jackrum's army, along with a group of other makeshift soldiers, among which Maladict the reformed Vampire (who's given up blood for coffee), a Troll and an Igor. Soon enough she learns to walk and swear like a man, and to wear a pair of socks in her trousers.
I found Monstrous Regiment hard to get in at first, because I got all the names and nicknames mixed up and I wasn't familiar with military vocabulary, let alone military slang. But in the middle of the book the story started flowing more naturally and became much more exciting, and in the end I liked its "farce" twists and turns a lot.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Puffin Fiction)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Puffin Fiction)
by Roald Dahl
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.82

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story!, 3 April 2005
As the title implies, this is the story of Charlie. Charlie Bucket is the only son of a very poor family. He lives in a very small cottage just outside of town, with his Mom and Dad, his two Grandmas and his two Grandpas.
Charlie absolutely loves chocolate. Alas, his parents are so poor they can only afford to buy him a bar once a year, for his birthday, which is awaited eagerly. Needless to say that passing by Willy Wonka's enormous chocolate factory, the most famous in the world, on his way to school every day is close to torture for poor little Charlie.
Until the day Charlie finds one in only five golden tickets in the whole world that entitles him to a visit of the reknown factory.
I decided to read this book before Tim Burton's adaptation comes out. What a wonderful children story, full of adventures and twists and turns! The factory's a fantastic place, the characters are great, especially Grandpa Joe, and I'm looking forward to seeing the talented (among other qualities) Johnny Depp as Mr. Willy Wonka. And Quentin Blake's illustrations are excellent. Definitely something I'm going to read to my kids (when I have some). I ran to the shop right after I finished it to buy its sequel: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

Fool's Fate (The Tawny Man Trilogy, Book 3): Book Three of the Tawny Man: 3/3
Fool's Fate (The Tawny Man Trilogy, Book 3): Book Three of the Tawny Man: 3/3
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you for the magic!, 29 Mar 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the third and final book in the Tawny Man trilogy (after Fool's Errand and the Golden Fool).
Now that Dutiful has accepted the Narcheska's challenge, everyone is getting ready to sail to ice covered island of Aslevjal to slay Icefyre, the last male dragon. But the Fool wants to bring dragons back to the world and so he's strongly against the killing of Icefyre. Fitz is now torn between his duty to his future King and the love of his best friend the Fool. To cap it all, the latter has told him he's foreseen his own death on the glacier. Fitz and Chade have to do everything possible to prevent the Fool from accompanying them to the Out Islands.
The sea voyage to the city of Zylig, their first stopping place on the Out Islands, is not a pleasant one. Thick gets seasick and ill, and takes it all out on an already much guilt stricken Fitz, who's in charge of him. Day after day, the simpleton's Skill-music dampens the crew's spirits and threatens the whole expedition. Fitz will ask Nettle in her Skill-dreams to help Thick go through his ordeal.
They finally arrive at destination, to discover that the Out Islands political system is strongly matriarchal, with customs much different from those of the Six Duchies. There Prince Dutiful meets the hetgurd, a council of warrior clan chiefs and learn that they too are against the slaying of the dragon. Why then does Elliania want the dragon killed? Dutiful faces a terrible dilemma. Must he risk a political blunder? Finally the Prince decides be true to his word to his fiancée, and so they all set out to Aslevjal for a long trek to the heart of the glacier.
Again, what a fantastic, wonderful, amazing story! Of the ones that makes me wonder at the magic of books, and Robin Hobb's in particular: my eyes where following the words and lines and paragraphs, but my mind's eye was always elsewhere, holding on to the railing of a ship, walking on field of bright white snow, taking care not to fall into crevasses, in cold caverns of blue ice... I was seeing the events thought the characters' eyes, living the same emotions. I laughed, I cried of joy, I cried of pain and grief, I suffered with them. Like Fitz I grew fonder of Thick, I wanted to know more about Nettle... and I'm deeply in love with the Fool.
Oh Megan, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Fool's Errand (The Tawny Man Trilogy, Book 1): Book One of the Tawny Man: 1/3
Fool's Errand (The Tawny Man Trilogy, Book 1): Book One of the Tawny Man: 1/3
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No let down!, 16 Jan 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the first book in The Tawny Man trilogy (before The Golden Fool, and Fool's Fate).
Fool's Errand takes place fifteen years after the events of the Red Ship Wars. Fitz, who goes by the name of Tom Badgerlock, now lives a quiet life in a remote cottage by the woods with his wolf Nighteyes and his foster son Hap, a mismatched-eyed boy brought to him years ago by Startling.
The Minstrel's visits are the only regular ones he gets, bringing him comfort but also news from the world around. The only other people he ever sees are the casual travellers stopping for shelter, such as Jinna, a hedge-witch Hap once met when Starling took him to Buckkeep for Springfest.
But all of a sudden his former life comes knocking at the door, when one day the visitor turns out to be Chade. Fitz's old secret mentor, now the queen's counsellor, asks Fitz to return to Buckkeep to teach the Skill to Prince Dutiful, Queen Kettricken's son and heir to the Farseer throne, and to Nettle, his own daughter, whom he's never met. But at first, although well-knowing he's the only remaining person trained in the Skill, Fitz refuses to go.
Weeks go by, and during that time Hap, a teenager now, says he wants to find an apprenticeship. Of course Fitz wants the best master for him, but ashamedly realizes he hasn't put any money aside for this day. Hap has no choice but to leave and find jobs to pay for his apprenticeship.
And while Hap's gone, Fitz gets another unexpected visitor: the Fool, whose colour has changed to a tawny gold, is now a very well-respected, if a tad excentric Jamaillian nobleman known in Buckkeep as Lord Golden. All summer they make up for lost time by talking about their youth together and about what happened in their lives since they parted fifteen years ago. Slowly Fitz picks up thread of his old life.
Until Hap returns, empty-handed. But soon Fitz has news from Buckkeep: Chade is calling for help, as Dutiful has gone missing. Was the prince kidnapped by the Piebalds, a group of Witted rebels claiming that the Prince also has the Wit? Indeed, despite Kettricken's new laws, people with this magic are still being persecuted and murdered. Or did the solitary, introvert boy just run away from court duty? The prince's bethrotal with an Outislander Narcheska, to secure peace treaties, is in two-weeks' time. Something has to be done, quick. Reluctantly, but also seeing this as a good opportunity to ask Chade to help Hap in return, Fitz finally agrees to go. He sets off with the Fool, Nighteyes, and Laurel, the queen's hunstwoman and confidente.
It's weird. I think in the beginning I got the same feeling of disappointment I get each time I've been expecting something for a very long time. It can be a book, a film, or my favourite band's new album. You expect the new thing to be exactly the same as the old one, but it's not. Of course it can't be. So I was finding the story was a bit too slow, and that Fitz was worrying too much about his wolf's mortality. Moreover, I was travelling and sadly could only read Fool's Errand periodically, which made me think I was losing interest inbetween reading sessions. But the truth is, each time I picked it up again, it wasn't long before I was hooked, living the story as if I was part of it. So I grew even fonder of the Fool, or was sometimes shocked by Fitz's violent reactions, etc. In the end I realize my favourite author hasn't let me down, and this sure is one of my favourite books.
I'm very excited about what's going to happen next now, and I'm very intrigued by the feathers Fitz found on the beach. Quick, on to Golden Fool!

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials)
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable., 30 July 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the third and last book in the His Dark Materials trilogy (after Northern Lights, or The Golden Compass in the US, and The Subtle Knife).
This volume starts just where the previous left off: after the conflagration on the hills near Cittàgazze, Lyra is nowhere to be found. Looking for her, Will meets two Angels, Balthamos and Baruch, who urge him to bring the Subtle Knife to Lord Asriel. He promises to help them, as soon as he's recued Lyra.
Lyra is actually in another world, where Mrs. Coulter is keeping her asleep with drugs, and telling the local population that she's a holy woman and that she's trying to heal Lyra, so as to be left alone and unquestioned. Soon though, with the help of a little village girl named Ama and of two tiny spies in the service of Lord Asriel, Gallivespians known as the Chevalier Tialys and the Lady Salmakia, Will finds her again and saves her.
But now the most dangerous part of the journey begins, because both children want to go to the Land of the Dead, to make amends and try to rescue Roger and Will's father.
As for Dr. Mary Malone, who crossed into Cittàgazze and then in yet another world, she meets a strange people called the Mulefa. Living with them for some time, she finally learns their language, make friends and discover they also know about sraf, the Shadow particles she was studying in her laboratory, or what Lyra calls Dust. She'll build a spyglass to see sraf and understansd its purpose.
Meanwhile, Father Gomez, an emissary of the Church, is on a Holy mission to kill Lyra, to prevent her from committing the original sin again.
I still don't know what to think of these books. The story is sometimes very moving, with some heart-wrenching passages, but the rest is sometimes dull and not very believable. I didn't think this final book tied up all loose ends either. It was enjoyable, but I wouldn't call hid Dark Materials my favourite series.

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