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Jolly Roger "book lover" (Burntwood, UK)

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The Art of Assassins's Creed IV - Black Flag (Assassins Creed)
The Art of Assassins's Creed IV - Black Flag (Assassins Creed)
by Paul Davies
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional., 30 Oct. 2013
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Titan continue their streak of outstanding art books with Black Flag. The quality of the art is exceptional and the design and layout of the book shows the content in its best light. A good number of the pictures are full page and those that aren't are accompanied by commentary from the artists and designers.

Titan have stood out from the crowd in the field of making art books for some time and this one lives up to all that has come before. For the price (£19 at time of writing) this book is without question worth the cost. Fans of the games would no doubt be delighted with this book and even pirate fans would give this title a place of honour on their bookshelf.

When trying to find any faults with this book (aside from my usual gripe of wishing there was more) I draw a blank. It's the kind of book you can flick through time and again and just get lost in the pictures. Looking through its pages has made me more and more certain that I want to buy the game.

What happens when you pair a world class art team with a first rate book publisher? Five stars, that's what. If you're a fan of the games, concept art, pirates or just amazing art in general then click 'buy' and be happy.


Star Wars Art: Concept (Star Wars Art Series)
Star Wars Art: Concept (Star Wars Art Series)
by Lucasfilm Ltd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A big beautiful book, 24 Sept. 2013
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When I ordered this book I was expecting something good but I was still pleasantly surprised with how nice a book it is. It is a big, beautiful book filled with great artwork from all the films, some of the more recent games, as well as the spin-off shows and even artwork for things which never made it to production/release like the proposed Star Wars: First Assault and the now dropped Star Wars 1313.

The art is unquestionably high quality and the way the book is laid out means that the pictures are given pride of place rather than lengthy descriptions and interviews. Those are all well and good in their place but an art book should show art and this one does it beautifully.

It is worth noting that a good portion of the art is from the three prequel films and fans of star wars art will already have most of these pictures if they own the concept art books from the prequel films, the clone wars animated series and the Force Unleashed game. I recognised quite a lot of the pictures from books I already own and was hoping for more previously unreleased material, especially from the original trilogy (my hopes being stoked by the incredible Ralph McQuarrie picture featured on the front cover). I would consider marking it down slightly for this but Amazon don't do half stars and this book is better than four stars. So while it's unquestionably well made, and there is quite a bit of artwork I haven't seen before, I'm still left feeling like it's missing something. In fairness I should probably point out that I say the same thing about most art books (seriously, read my other review of art books and you'll see it crops up fairly often).

Who will get most out of this book? Star wars fans who don't already own any (or at least many) other star wars concept art books and those people, like me, who need to have a complete collection. Those two groups of people will be giddy as a kid on Christmas with this book. Other than that; fans of concept art will get a kick out of it and, lastly, just nerdy sci-fi geeks (also like me).

For the price Amazon are charging (£16.25 at time of writing) this is undoubtedly a bargain.


Star Trek Into Darkness [DVD]
Star Trek Into Darkness [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Pine
Price: £4.00

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just kinda nonsense, really., 12 Sept. 2013
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Immediately after watching STID my girlfriend turned to me and asked 'So what did you think?'. I said I thought it was a 3 stars kind of movie. But after spending the following two hours picking holes in it I had to conclude that it was two stars at best.

The actors are good and the direction is OK. Still too much lens flare and of course it's mostly an ADHD appeasing, eye-searing action fest, but there was nothing wrong with how it was made. Sadly the plot tries to be clever but instead is stupid. Also everything is forced to meet the script demands rather than having a script which works with what it's got. On some levels its minor (even petty) stuff about about how the warp drive now means they can go anywhere pretty much right away, more like a teleporter than an engine, but there's other stuff as well which isn't as easy to ignore. Such as the fact that Khan has 'magic super blood' which effectively means humans managed to cure death 300 years ago but no one seems to know that now. The list is pretty extensive (like I said, I went on for about two hours afterwards) and that's without even thinking about it too hard. Kinda like the writers didn't.

I think one of the big mistakes with this film is that they tried to shoehorn Star Trek 2 into the new franchise vision and all it succeeded in doing was making me want to watch Star Trek 2. If it had just tried to be its own film instead of cramming it with references to ST2 then it might have been a better movie.

Anyway, if you like a little mindless action with some superficial gloss (and sometimes we all do) then this film's not too bad. Otherwise I think you'll find it a bit disappointing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2014 10:41 AM BST


Gunslinger Girl:Finale (Gunslinger Girl Omnibus)
Gunslinger Girl:Finale (Gunslinger Girl Omnibus)
by Yu Aida
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars What a finale. Goodbye Gunslinger Girls., 27 July 2013
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The blurb on this last book describes it as heart warming but I felt more heartbroken than anything else. The ending to the main storyline is just so incredibly gentle and sad that I found myself thinking about it repeatedly for a couple of days afterwards. I even turned back to the last pages several times to re-read them.

I felt that this was exactly the right way to end the series, keeping true to the heart and style of the stories, and even feeling like a farewell to characters I've come to know over the course of the books. I'm very very hopeful that the anime series is continued and remains as true to the books as the first two seasons have been.

There is an extra chapter at the end of the book which caps it all off on a high note but I felt the real ending was with the generation 1 cyborgs.

I've followed this series over the years and have loved every minute of it so I was so pleased it had an ending I loved. It can be very hard for writers to create an ending to a series that meets with every fan's expectations (just look at the fuss over Mass Effect's ending), and I can honestly say I wasn't expecting this, but the writer has, in my opinion, got it just right.


Visions of Never: The Collection of Fantastic Art
Visions of Never: The Collection of Fantastic Art
by Patrick Wilshire
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A nice collection of artists., 27 July 2013
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Visions of Never is a nice book, well put together with the artwork well presented. There's also more in-depth interviews with the artists than you normally get although this shouldn't be too surprising since this is a showcase of six selected artists (Marc Fishman, Richard Bober, Paul Lehr, Don Ivan Punchatz, Robh Ruppel and Mark Zug).

Not all of the artists' styles are to my taste but that's a matter for each individual reader to determine, obviously, so I shan't bother to comment on the artists specifically. All I will say is that the large majority of this art is of incredible quality and represents a fantastic offering from the worlds of science-fiction and fantasy art. The interviews, though short, are also very good at getting to the heart of what drives and inspires the artists, as well as their feelings on the industry and other artists.

All in all, well worth adding to a sci-fi and fantasy artbook collection.


Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness
Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness
by Jon Ronson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work., 19 July 2013
I'm glad this isn't the first Jon Ronson book I've ever read because I doubt I'd have read any others if I had. I bought Out Of The Ordinary because I'd read Them (which was great), The Men Who Stare At Goats (brilliant) and most recently The Psychopath Test (another excellent read) and I thought this book would be more of the same.

Sadly it isn't, really. I think the mistake made here is that instead of going off to interview interesting people in interesting situations the author is instead talking about himself. Ronson avoids the pitfall of talking about himself in glowing terms but falls headlong into the other extreme of making himself look like a prat. In fact he comes across as a needy and annoying man who isn't too bright stuck in an unhappy marriage (almost every mention of his wife is negative). Worse; seeing the author through his own eyes like this has slightly coloured my opinion of his other books. I'm starting to think that this guy isn't a smart journalist with an eye for what's interesting but just an everyday dummy asking questions of the kind of individuals smart people take pains to avoid. This was an uncomfortable feeling considering I had held him in high regard as a writer.

I must confess I only got about 3/4 of the way through the book before I announced to an empty room "I'm not enjoying this" and put it aside.

The anecdotes are mundane, the humour isn't funny, the outrages are reported so blandly they seem written as such out of convention rather than actual emotion and, as I said, Ronson comes across as a bit dim and socially awkward.

But I must say this is only how I felt about this book in particular. Stick to his other books and you're in for a fascinating read but, for the author's own sake, I'd say give this one a miss.


World War Z -The Art of the Film
World War Z -The Art of the Film
by Titan Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars World War Z Illustrated Script, 24 Jun. 2013
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My first instinct was to be a bit annoyed about this book. The reason being that it states, very clearly, across the top of the cover, that this is an art book. It is even listed as 'World War Z -The Art of The Film'. But really it's more of an illustrated screenplay. At the bottom of the front cover it says that the book contains the concept art and features the script, I'd say that it contains the script and features some of the art.

However I have seen books that have done this to a worse degree(the art of Star Wars Episode 4 was particularly annoying) and aside from, in my opinion, misrepresenting itself it is a decent and well put together book which does feature some of the concept art, along with photos and production shots, and presents the script in a nice and accessible style.

So in summation I would say this; If you're a lover of art books and only want it for that then give this book a miss (despite the alluring price of £10). If you like to get film scripts then you can add an extra star to my review because as a script book it is pretty good. If the people making this book had just been more honest about what this book is then they could have avoided a number of unhappy customers (as I'm sure there will be).


The Orientalists: The Orientalists - Painter-Travellers: 1 (PocheCouleur)
The Orientalists: The Orientalists - Painter-Travellers: 1 (PocheCouleur)
by Lynne Thornton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful little book, 15 Jun. 2013
I was surprised to see this book was so small but it's still a great book, well made and with colour reproductions throughout. The text is broken up into small chapters of 2-6 pages each which focus on individual artists and showing a small selection of their work. for most it's just a couple of pictures but for the better known artists it'll be a few more.

It's good to find such a nice, accessible and well produced book on the subject. If you're looking for an introduction to the Orientalist artists, and want to see what their work is like, then it really is one of the best books around. People who are already well read on the subject, or have other books on Orientalist art and artists, will probably not find anything new here and will, in all likelihood, have books which show the pictures in a larger format.

Having said that; I fall into that description myself and I still found it an enjoyable and informative book with details on artists I knew little about.

If this is a subject you're only just starting to learn about, or have studied only a short while, then this book is almost indispensable and, if you can forgive the small size of the book, belongs in any Orientalist collectors library.


The East: Imagined, Experienced, Remembered - Orientalist Nineteenth Century Painting
The East: Imagined, Experienced, Remembered - Orientalist Nineteenth Century Painting
by James Thompson
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not what I expected., 9 May 2013
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It's important to say, before I start, that this book is not what I was expecting so my review might be a little biased (although I will try to avoid that). I expected this book to be similar to the other books on Orientalist art, namely filled with fantastic colour reproductions of the artwork, but it isn't. In fact there are no colour pictures inside and it's mostly text with the pictures too small to be fully appreciated.

So that's my first little warning. Don't buy this book if you're just looking for a collection of great Orientalist art. There are much better books for that. For affordable books I can highly recommend The Orientalists (Academy Editions) and 120 Great Orientalist Paintings (from Dover Editions. This one even comes with a CD of the art inside the book). There are other fantastic books on this subject but it can be a pricey interest.

So what is this book good for? It's a great book for learning about the subject itself; Orientalist art in general but a good selection of artists in particular. It includes extracts from the artists journals and diaries along with good notes and references. Because of this, despite my disappointment when I first opened the book, I have decided to keep it because I don't have any books 'about' Orientalism rather than just the pictures. It is filling in the gaps in my knowledge nicely and giving me a a better appreciation of the subject.

To conclude: Don't buy this if you just want the pictures. Do buy this if you want to learn about Orientalist art and artists.


The Comic Cover Art of Dungeons & Dragons Volume 1 (Checker Publishing)
The Comic Cover Art of Dungeons & Dragons Volume 1 (Checker Publishing)
by R. A. Salvatore
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A good enough collection., 12 April 2013
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I was going to give this book three stars because the art isn't of any particularly great quality. In fact the picture on the front cover is the best one, really. But then I had to stop myself and take into account that this isn't the books fault, but mine for having too high an expectation. After all, the book is clearly called the COMIC cover art of D&D, so I shouldn't have been expecting anything more than comic cover art. My silly mistake.

So, what's inside? Basically what the book title says and if that's all you want then you'll be happy enough. If you want an idea of what the pictures are like then bring to mind the marvel and DC comics you'll have seen in the newsagent. Then imagine that style but for D&D. I know that sounds obvious, referencing comic covers to explain comic cover art, but it's important for you to have a good idea of what the art's like if you're going to have a chance of enjoying this book based on expectation. Even so, it's not an outstanding work and will really only appeal to true fans of D&D more than lovers of art. If you're not a D&D fan then you can probably knock another one or two stars off my review.

If you can get it for less than £10 then you're in safe territory in terms of value for money, £15 at the most.


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