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L. Hubbard (Cardiff)

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Yaktrax Walker Traction Device
Yaktrax Walker Traction Device
Price: £2.99 - £35.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Gives you grip, keeps you save, keeps your independence regardless of how bad the conditions are outside, 19 Jan. 2013
This is a first class product for walking on snow/ice. I received this as a Christmas present, and already it has got a lot of use! Just to provide a bit of background for why I think it is so good. I have a disability that means firstly, it's easier for me to slip on ice, and secondly, if I do fall, I am unable to get back up unaided. As you can imagine, icy/snowy conditions have historically pretty much made me housebound until the conditions improved. I would imagine this is the same for a lot of elderly and people with disabilities, although I know no one who actually enjoys walking in these conditions!

With this traction device, I can 100% say that I am now completely confident walking on compacted ice and snow without any worries at all. The grip this device provides is sensational, and whilst I was slightly apprehensive about how effective it would be, I was amazed how effective it was. It is also really easy and quick to fit to your shoes (but make sure you get the right device size for you).

One word of warning as other people have said, if you are indoors on polished surfaces, slipperiness is increased substantially to the point where you are more likely to slip than stay on your feet. I can't knock a star off for that though - it specifically says it is for outdoor use, so just remember to take it off when you get indoors, wherever you are.

Overall, I would recommend this to everyone. However, in particular I would recommend this for the elderly and people with disabilities who may prefer to stay indoors in poor conditions. If it works for me, it can work for anyone and means you can keep your independence and not remain housebound or be anxious of the conditions outside. This is a fantastic product for a cheap price, that does exactly what it claims.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Howard Shore's musical interpretation of The Hobbit Pt 1 is as spellbinding as his work for the LOTR trilogy, 10 Dec. 2012
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After Howard Shore's epic and award winning scores for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, being a huge film score fan, this for me was one of the most anticipated releases in years. I can say at the outset, that Shore has, in my opinion matched the quality of his music to LOTR. Building on themes already known (I'm thinking mainly of the Shire theme here), and introducing some new themes for Radagast The Brown and a new epic theme that I expect represents the company travelling with Bilbo - I haven't seen the film yet so I don't know how to describe it in context, but it is the new theme as heard in the trailer. Regardless, Shore wastes no time in returning you to Middle Earth, and it is a sensational from the opening to the final note of the album.

I won't go into every track in detail because that would be a pretty laborious read to go through over 30 tracks. There's some great choral writing in "A Good Omen" (Track 11, CD 2). There's some pretty epic action writing in "A Thunder Battle" (Track 6, CD2). The trailer/ Misty Mountains theme is used fairly sparingly, it's main appearances are in "Misty Mountains" (Track 6, CD1) - the vocals as heard in the trailer (minus the rousing orchestral accompaniment. This does later appear in "Over Hill", however, and is probably the best statement of the theme on the album. It is also reprised in "The World is Ahead" (Track 9, CD1), and is heard briefly in bonus track "The Edge of the Wild" (Track 17, CD2). The shire theme makes several welcome reprises, my favourites were in "Old Friends" (Track 2, CD1), "Dreaming of Bag End" (Track 13, CD2) and "A Very Respectable Hobbit (Bonus Track)" (Track 14,CD2). There are also occasional reprises of other themes from LOTR although they are used sparingly.

A side note on the two slightly different album presentations. The normal edition The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey , and the special (extended) edition The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are have two CDs releases, the special version has some extended cues and bonus tracks (some of which were particularly good at the end of CD2). Whether or not you go for the normal or extended edition will be very much determined by your desire for paying a bit extra for more music. Having owned the Complete Recordings from the Lord of the Rings, which is probably the best set of soundtrack releases for any film, this extended version was the obvious option. That said, it should be noted that even the extended version is not the "complete" score, which I expect will probably be released at some point in the future. These scores are also available via MP3 download, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [+digital booklet] and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [+digital booklet] for the normal and special editions respectively, which are better value for money (I do prefer to have the CD though). A recommendation if you prefer to get the ordinary edition is to pick up the tracks 14-17 on the special release only - these are great tracks that probably deserved to be on the ordinary release. These releases are also fantastic value for money, although whether you think the additional tracks and extended versions are worth the extra fiver (at the time of this review) is personal preference.

The sound quality is as good as the original Lord of the Rings recordings, that has exceptional clarity and a wet mix that gives it that extra sense of depth. The London Philharmonic Orchestra sounds fantastic, as do the choral sections. The stunning performances and mixing really cannot be understated.

As the previous reviewer remarked, the packaging for the Special Edition is a little flimsy - I have never really been a fan of cardboard CD packaging. That aside, the special edition does come with a lengthy CD booklet with lyrics to the songs present, some nice album art, and a lengthy commentary on the score by Doug Adams, who wrote this beast of a book about the Shore's music to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy > The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores (Book & Rarities CD): 1. I cannot comment on what is in the normal edition, but judging by what is said on the packaging for the special edition (that says contains "expanded liner notes"), I would imagine the notes by Adams might be excluded. Whether this would be of any interest to the casual listener is open to debate!

The negative points - I wasn't entirely convinced by Neil Finn's "Song of the Lonely Mountain (Extended Edition)" - I just didn't think it had the right Middle Earth tone, but that's just my opinion. There are also a few things that I would have done differently, for example, track 6 (CD1) contains the Misty Mountains song that was heard over the trailer, and Over Hill on CD2 has the orchestral counterpart. Having that all as one track would have been good, but this is me being pretty petty if truth be told. Negative points are thin on the ground.

Overall, Howard Shore has once again captured the essence of Middle Earth in a way that fans of the Lord of the Rings music will treasure. The new material is great, and sits alongside existing themes perfectly. It will be a years wait for The Desolation of Smaug, and already I am excited about what Shore will do for the next two installments. Make no mistake, of what will be one of the last soundtracks of 2012, it is also the finest. If you can afford the special edition, I have no hesitations in recommending it, but regardless of what album you go for, if you are a fan of Shore's music for Middle Earth, you cannot be without this music in your collection. Sensational.

***Update - now the film has been released I have read some odd things from numerous places online regarding the music in the film and on CD. Apparently, some of the best music on the soundtrack release is not present within the film, and some great music in the film is not present on the CDs (even the special edition). The latter point is not so unusual for soundtrack releases, and in the case of the LOTR, this was remedied by an expensive but fantastic "complete recordings" of the three scores. It would not surprise me if a complete recordings version of The Hobbit films surface in the future. It is unusual however for additional music to feature on the soundtrack release that does not feature in the film, although it is entirely possible that it will be used in the remaining two films. For those who are buying this soundtrack independently of seeing the film this will be of little consequence. However for those who are looking at this product having seen the film, be aware that some of the good music from the film itself does not appear to be on the CDs, but there will be additional music on the CDs not present in the film. Regardless, the music as heard on the CDs is stunning, and would recommend it regardless of how it is presented within the film itself.
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2013 1:44 PM GMT

Merlin - Series Three [Original Television Soundtrack]
Merlin - Series Three [Original Television Soundtrack]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally Merlin Series 3 soundtrack gets a release - orchestral/choral music that is perfect for the fantasy genre, 27 Nov. 2012
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The soundtracks to Merlin Series 3 and Merlin - Series Four [Original Television Soundtrack] have taken a long time to make it to album. This was a shame in my opinion, as the soundtrack that accompanies the show is outstanding. Released due to public demand according to publisher Moviescore Media (who should be given a lot of credit for these releases), the music to series 3 is stunning. An orchestral/choral powerhouse, this reprises old themes and introduces some new ones and is (mostly) a joy to listen to from start to finish.

The album has 18 tracks with a total running time of an hour. The tracks range in length from 49 seconds - "Business As Usual" (Track 4), to 7 minutes 19 - "Infiltrate the Citadel". The flow of the album is fantastic, with many of the tracks seamlessly joining together, that makes for a great listening experience.

Some of my favourite tracks include "Morgana Recuperates" (Track 3), "Uther & Morgana Reunited" (Track 5) and "Merlin In Peril - Dragon Rescue" (Track 7). To mention a bit more on what I considered to be the best tracks on the album, a highlight was the spine tingling "The Fisher King" (Track 16), which contains a slow/haunting buildup before a sensational string chord progression around the 3 min 40 mark. This track reminded me heavily of James Newton Howard's epic score for Lady In The Water, both in style, and the fact that that exact chord progression described previously forms the backbone of the soundtrack. If you like this track, be sure to check out Lady in The Water, you won't be disappointed. The slowest (and most beautiful track on the album in my opinion) is "Freya" (Track 15), with some slow choral writing and brilliant orchestral accompaniment. The album saves it's best track til last - "Finale - The Sword in the Stone" (track 18) is a seven minute suite of most of the main themes that receive an extra dose of "epic". It is a wonderful conclusion to the album.

Regarding the production side of things, the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorus were used once again. Despite not being a huge name in terms of orchestras, the quality of the performance is wonderful, as is the mixing of the orchestra and choral sections.

Overall, this a stunning orchestral/choral release that is suited perfectly to the fantasy genre. The balance between the action and slower tracks is well done (although I would be lying if I said I would play tracks such as Gaius The Goblin (that I found extremely irritating) with regularity). If you like the music in Merlin, or are just a fan of fantasy soundtracks, this album is the strongest to date and I cannot wait for the music to Series 4. Luckily for me, I am about to start listening to Merlin - Series Four [Original Television Soundtrack] as these got simultaneous releases. So do yourself a favour and do the same! Enjoy!

Imaginaerum (The Score)
Imaginaerum (The Score)

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginaerum (The Score) is a sensational album that expands on the themes of Imaginaerum using instrumental/orchestral aspects, 14 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Imaginaerum (The Score) (Audio CD)
Please be aware at the outset of this review that I am commenting on Imaginaerum (The Score), and not Imaginaerum(1CD version) or Imaginaerum (2 CD Version). The Amazon reviews seem to have merged across products, even though there are important differences between these releases. I'll comment briefly on these so any confusion can be avoided. The 1 CD version contains the album Imaginaerum, where the tracks contain vocals. The 2 CD version comes with an additional CD, which contains the instrumental version of the tracks only. Imaginaerum (The Score) (the CD under review) is a largely instrumental CD with expanded orchestral versions of all the themes you will of heard on the previous Imaginaerum releases. I thought this was a phenomenal release. That said, I listen to a lot of film/tv soundtracks and scores, where the instrumental/orchestral sound is something that I love. I know that will not be the case for all Nightwish listeners, and thus this release should be considered something of a niche album, because it will not conform to the typical "Nightwish" sound.

There are 13 tracks on this album lasting just short of 54 minutes. I won't go into every track in detail, because I would imagine that people getting this release will probably have encountered many of the melodies as heard in the previous Imaginearum release. So the question needs to be asked, what does this release contain that is above and beyond what you have heard before? This Score CD uses many of the established themes and melodies found in Imaginearum, and like CD2, the majority is instrumental - purely vocal tracks (and a rock sound) is not in abundance. For those interested, the main vocal track is "Deeper Down" (Track 9) that I assume contains vocals from the usual Nightwish band members. So with this in mind, this score CD is mainly for those who would like an orchestral/instrumental extenstion of the themes introduced in Imaginaerum. However, this CD is better (in my opinion) for the instrumental side of things because it is not simply the songs minus the vocals. This is a completely new expansion on the themes introduced previously, that makes for a great listening experience when listening to the whole album - it flows spectacularly well. If you like the Nightwish vocals, but are not interested in the instrumental sections from Imaginaerum, this is not the album for you.

Regarding the sound quality, the album is generally mixed exceptionally well. All the orchestral elements sound wonderful, and the vocal/choral aspects sound great. My only criticism comes from the final track, "From G to E Minor", where the piano is mixed particularly poorly in portions and creates a bit of distortion and sounds fairly poor. This criticism cannot be said for the majority of the album though.

Overall, I thought this was an outstanding album. For the record, I am not a regular listener of Nightwish as a band, I prefer more soundtrack style music, where for me, the instrumental side of things is vastly more attractive. For fans who like the more rock side of Nightwish, the score album for Imaginaerum might deviate too much from the norm of what you would expect from the band. If, however, you liked the themes and melodies as heard on the original Imaginaerum album, particularly the instrumentals on CD2, you will love this release. If vocal tracks are your thing, this release is very light in terms of actual songs. Nonetheless, I loved how they expanded and reinterpreted the "themes" they had written previously and is a very strong instrumental album. I hope both fans of Nightwish and others who are less familiar with their work give this score release a chance. For this genre of music, I found it to be exceptionally refreshing and recommend it highly.

Trailerhead: Triumph
Trailerhead: Triumph
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £17.17

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definition of epic - Trailerhead Triumph is a masterclass in how to produce orchestral/choral trailer music, 10 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Trailerhead: Triumph (Audio CD)
Immediate Music, the well known trailer music company have produced their final album in the Trailerhead trilogy. For those of you who are not familiar with Immediate Music, they produce epic orchestral and choral music that feature in the trailers of Hollywood's biggest film releases. I guess the main thing to ask is whether this album is worth buying if you already own Trailerhead and Trailerhead: Saga. The answer is unequivocally yes - this is my favourite of all the Trailerhead releases. For those of you who might enjoy vocals/songs over the top of this style of music, check out their commerical arm named Globus, who have released Epicon and Break From This World.

Back to Triumph, there are 23 tracks present on the CD, and 21 via MP3 download. I won't go into every track in detail - I suspect if you are looking at this page you are probably familiar with Immediate's style. However, I will mention some standout tracks for me.

"The Lords Shall Rule" (track 20) is probably my favourite track off the album. The orchestral/choral arrangement is simply stunning - for those of you who saw the trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2, this track . It does remind me somewhat of Freedom Fighters off Invincible, which I loved as well. "The Lords Shall Rule" just adds that extra bit of epic sparkle that is the reason why I love Immediate Music.

"Novus Arcana" (track 21) concludes the album with frantic strings and a choral part that will make the neighbours think the Apocalypse has arrived! Other tracks of exceptional note include "Destiny of the Chosen" (track 1), "Ode to Power" (track 5) and "Rex Imperium" (track 8). To be honest, whilst those tracks were my favourites, I can't think of a bad word to say about any of the tracks. The quality is consistently high throughout.

The quality of the production side of things is simply stunning. The orchestra and choir are real and not based on recorded samples, which greatly improves the quality of the music from the start. It is produced an mixed to within an inch of its life, every aspect of the orchestra, choir and percussive elements can be heard with exceptional clarity.

I should also make a quick point surrounding the MP3 and CD releases. The CD release contains two extra tracks, "Barbarians (Moniker Remix)" (Track 22) and "Salveus (Moniker Remix)" (track 23). I would be lying if I said I liked either of these tracks. I do think that electronics have a place alongside orchestral choral scores, but remixes just never really do it for me. In my opinion other trailer music group Two Steps from Hell are much better at electronic integration into their music than Immediate Music (although that said, the electronics on "How to Control the Dream" (track 12) was pretty good). I got the CD version because I just like having the CD, but for those of you less fussed about this, the MP3 album is much cheaper, and the loss of the remix tracks are not a loss at all.

Overall, Trailerhead Triumph is probably the best release by Immediate Music thus far. As stated before, regarding the "Trailerhead" albums, this is set to be the last. I do hope that Immediate Music continue to release their music commercially though because this genre of music has experienced a surge of interest in recent years. If you like what Immediate Music have done before, this is a stunning conclusion to their trilogy of Trailerhead releases and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 10, 2012 4:39 PM GMT

Fringe: Season 4
Fringe: Season 4
Price: £10.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant soundtrack by Chris Tilton - the soundtrack to Season 4 is the strongest yet., 5 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Fringe: Season 4 (Audio CD)
Fringe is a show that has remained on the air despite substantial drops in viewing figures as the seasons have gone on. The fact that a fifth, all be it shorter season is pretty remarkable, and a testament to the hardcore fans, and also to Fox, who have remained surprisingly loyal to the show throughout. Even with a shrinking viewership, a soundtrack for every season to date has been produced, and been progressively better than the previous one in my opinion. Composer Chris Tilton has been on board Fringe since the first season, and despite sticking to a similar musical formula throughout, I do think the music continues to improve and build on the thematic aspects introduced over the show so far.

Like the previous seasons, the orchestral side of things is dominated by string players (viola, cello and bass) and the french horn players. I for one appreciate the use of real players and think their performances cannot be understated (despite being relatively small in size). Of course, there is the usual use of synths and electronics that have remained consistent alongside the orchestral players.

Whilst the style of the music does follow the set Fringe formula, there are some great variations present. I won't go into every track in detail, there's 30 in total. A brilliant alternative version of the main Fringe theme can be heard in the middle of "Shut Your Wormhole" (Track 6). Penultimate track "The Nine Lives of Olivia Dunham" (Track 29) has a nice expansion on the main "love" theme for her and Peter. "Etta's Theme" is hinted at in "Letters of Transit" (Track 14), and gets longer statement in "What's The Etta With You" (Track 17), which also morphs into a a great string version of the "love" theme. The final track "Henrietta" doesn't appear in Season 4, but is the longest statement of her theme (it has appeared in the show in Season 5 though). There are also statements of the Observer's theme, my favourite of which merges into a string/synth ostinato of the main Fringe theme in "The Time Traveler's Wife" (Track 25).

The CD runs for just over 70 minutes and that's a pretty decent length. The sound quality is great and the mixing of the orchestral and electronics are fantastic. The tracks vary greatly in length from 38 seconds to almost 7 minutes. Despite the variation in track lengths, the album flows together nicely.

Overall, I think this is another great soundtrack by Chris Tilton. If you are looking at this product, the chances are you have the music to at least one of the previous seasons. It's true the style doesn't deviate widely from previous releases, but there are good variations on all the established themes. The integration of multiple themes in several tracks is also well done. I hope that we get a soundtrack release for Season 5, but in the case that this is the last album, I can say that musically, it goes out on a high.

Assassin's Creed 3 (Original Game Soundtrack)
Assassin's Creed 3 (Original Game Soundtrack)
Price: £7.09

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Balfe has created a great soundtrack for ACIII. It packs a decent punch, but is a little weak thematically, 1 Nov. 2012
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The soundtrack to Assassins Creed 3 falls entirely to Lourne Balfe (the often uncredited right hand man of Hans Zimmer). Balfe is fairly new to the series, coming on board to score the cut scenes in AC Revelations. Previous AC composer Jesper Kyd does not return, which I think is a shame because I thought his music for the series was outstanding. Regardless, this present album is more of an action romp than previous installments and Balfe has put his mark on the franchise.

I won't go into all of the 25 tracks in depth. The album starts with "Assassin's Creed III Main Theme" (Track 1), and this left me rather underwhelmed. It isn't terrible, but nor is it particularly memorable. I loved the main theme for the last installment > Assassin's Creed Revelations (The Complete Recordings) [Original Game Soundtrack], but this new theme packs more of an action punch, but thematically is a little weak. I should say that the theme from the AC Revelations is not reprised in any form. The track "Connor's Life" (Track 8). contains some great woodwind writing (that you wouldn't normally associate with Balfe). The same could be said regarding "Farewell" (Track 10). "Fight Club" (Track 17) also features a rather pleasent sounding Irish jig! For the action music junkies out there, "Freedom Fighter" (Track 5), "The Battle of Breed's Hill" (Track 12) and "Wild Instincts" (Track 22) were my favourites. I thought the best portion of the album were the final two tracks "What Came Before" and "Assassins Creed III Main Title Variation". "What Came Before" has a great atmospheric sound with synths and orchestra that is probably the most different in style to the rest of the album (although it is hinted at in "Temple Secrets" (Track 19)). The final track finishes the album on a high, and is my favourite version of the main ACIII theme.

The album runs for just over an hour, and I thought this was an ok length. It's roughly equivalent to the first couple of Assassins Creed soundtracks, but the mammoth 3 hour release for Revelations meant this felt a little short. Also, this will mean a substantial portion of the score as heard within the game will not be present. You would hope that the best tracks made it on to the album, but check the track samples if in doubt. I haven't played the game of yet, so everything written in this review is based on this download only.

Regarding the sound quality, I do think this is the best sounding AC soundtrack to date. The orchestral sections sound brilliant and the synth elements when employed complement the orchestra brilliantly.

Overall, I was impressed with this release. I did feel that this album lacked as a strong a thematic presence compared to it's predecessor (which is somewhat ironic considering Balfe composed the main theme for Revelations). Also, previous composer Jesper Kidd always managed to strike a good balance between action music, and music that was great when wandering around the vast cities. That might well be the case within the game, but is not present on the album. More slower paced tracks would have been welcome, but not essential. The quality is consistently high, but it has something that just lacks that final half star. A solid 4.5*, fans of Balfe or the music within the game should have no hesitations about getting this release.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2013 4:39 PM BST

Thundercats - Music From The Warner Bros. Animation Series
Thundercats - Music From The Warner Bros. Animation Series
Price: £34.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The soundtrack to Thundercats (2012) is an obscure masterpiece, it is as close to perfection as you will find for a soundtrack, 28 Oct. 2012
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Kevin Kliesch, the composer of Thundercats (2012) is not a name I am familiar with, however, after multiple listens of this soundtrack, I can say he is up there with the best film/tv composers. This album is an orchestral and choral masterpiece, with some of the finest action music I have heard for a very long time. Although action music is in the majority, that is by no means the only style present on album. In Kliesch's brief, the producers wanted a hybrid of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. A daunting challenge, but he pulled it off. Thundercats is epic, and whilst this is often a word that is overused, within this context, it almost doesn't do the release justice. Just one other point of note, in case it isn't clear this album contains the music to the new Thundercats series from 2011, not the late 1980s.

In terms of album length, there are 25 tracks (over two CDs) that span just short of two hours. The lengths of tracks range from around 15 seconds to over 10 minutes. I should note that the majority of the tracks are of a decent length, 17/25 are over three minutes, and the longer tracks really do allow for some great development.

Some of my favourites tracks were "Song of the Petelars"(Track 5 Disk 1) which contains some amazing choral writing, the slow and mournful end to "Between Brothers" is exquisite. The penultimate and final tracks for Disk 2, named "What Lies Above Part 1" and "Part 2" bring the album to a triumphant conclusion. All that remains is to go back to the start and listen to it all again! I could have mentioned every track, whether you like choral, woodwind, strings, brass or percussive sections, there is something for everyone on this album.

A mention has to be given to the overall production of the album. In the CD booklet, it says Kliesch composed over 9 hours of music for the show, and the tracks on album are selected personally by him. I haven't seen the show, so obviously if you are after a specific cue it is possible it wasn't included on the album. For anyone else, the track selection seemed spot on and I cannot think of a single bad track. Aside from the track selection, the sound quality is great, however it should be noted that samples are used more frequently than real players (Woodwinds, trombone and Tuba were all played by humans). LalaLand are known for going the extra mile to make sure their releases sound amazing. I thought that despite the fact that samples were used, it did not sound cheap and nasty.

Overall, this release is pretty much the definition of perfection. The quality of the music is extraordinary, the production/mastering is stunning . Kliesch and LalaLand have pulled it off spectacularly with this release. Sure, this is an obscure release that only the hardiest of tv/film score fans, or fans of music within the show will find. But if you find yourself on this page, take the punt on it like I did. I know there's a couple of months until the end of the year but I think this release will be my favourite of 2012.

A Song of Ice and Fire, 7 Volumes
A Song of Ice and Fire, 7 Volumes
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.99

35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy at it's finest. Epic landscapes and fantastic characters - this is a stunning body of work., 27 Aug. 2012
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I should start by saying that I purchased these books after seeing the superb show Game of Thrones (named from book one) on TV. This is not normally something I would recommend, because personally think it's better to read the source material first. That said, I was exceptionally glad I took the plunge to buy the books, because it is one of the most thematically rich, rewarding, exhilarating and impossible to put down series in the "fantasy" genre.

I should say that for those of you who are coming to A Song of Ice and Fire having seen the TV show, it makes the show look even more impressive, and yet there is a lot of additional material present in the book that makes it hugely rewarding. The writing style is wonderful. Descriptive but fluid, it has a rawness to it that makes you love and loath characters in equal measure. The style of writing has an adult feel to it, both in the graphic nature of violence and the sexual relationships of the characters. The scale of the book is huge, with most locations set within the vast continent of Westeros, which feels as big if not bigger than Tolkien's Middle Earth.

Criticisms, there aren't many. I found at the outset there are a lot of names and this can make it seem a little bewildering at first. It doesn't take long for that to pass though. The main "criticism", comes in the form of the more sexual side to the books. Within the first 100 pages of the first book Game of Thrones you encounter incest, and the marriage/sexual act of one of the main characters, Daenerys Targaryen, who is 13, with her husband. In the TV show, they have made the characters older to overcome the obvious issues, however this may make some readers uncomfortable. I should note that rarely is this stuff described very graphically or for prolonged periods of prose, and thus only makes up a tiny proportion of the overall story. That said, I, like any sane person am not condoning this, I am just trying to present it as portrayed within the books. A final note, although not strictly a criticism, Martin has not finished the whole body of work yet, so by the end of the seven volumes you will need to wait longer for the conclusion to the story.

Overall, I cannot recommend this highly enough. The quality of the writing is superb, the story is as complex as it is engrossing and George Martin cannot be praised enough for this stunning (but unfinished) body of work. As discussed, there are recurring aspects that some readers may find distasteful. Getting all seven volumes at once is certainly the best value for money, and when you get to the end of one book, you will be glad the next one is there waiting for you. For fans of the TV show, reading the source material from which it is derived will give you added appreciation for what they achieved for the show (albeit some details are different), and an appreciation for the vast and complex web of characters and stunning locations George Martin has constructed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 26, 2016 6:04 PM GMT

WD My Passport 500GB Portable Hard Drive - Black
WD My Passport 500GB Portable Hard Drive - Black
Offered by Pri.Trading

360 of 368 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick, reliable, portable and silent. The best portable hard drive for the money., 31 July 2012
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Yet another fantastic hard drive by Western Digital - this is the second that I have. Like the previous reviewer said, just plug and play and it's ready to go. One other point of note is that it is USB 3.0 (and backwards compatable with USB 2). Essentially, this just means that for computers with USB 3.0 slots, your data transfer speed will be a lot faster. I have two of these for different reasons - transferring files from home (mac) to work (windows) and vice versa. No issues with differences in operating system. The second reason is to use it to back up files using Time Machine on the Mac. For both of these functions, the drive is silent and works perfectly. I have no hesitations for recommending this for both Windows and Mac users, with speed, reliability and silence just three of the many reasons to pick this as one of the best portable hard drives you can buy.
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