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Heart of War
Publisher: AAM Markosia
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/29/2021 12:38:46

This is a fabulous book. The story is gripping, the art is good, and the characters are engaging.

I found the dialogue to be consistently natural and believable, and all the soldiers are likeable. The Big Bad Evil Guy is very cool, and he's introduced a little at a time, which makes him even more memorable.

The artwork appears to have been done with watercolors, which I happen to really like. It sure looks like it was done using real paper and paints, which is unusual and refreshing in this world of 3d computer artwork.

I had to read it a couple times to "get" everything that went on, but it's definitely worth a reread just to see it again.

It also cries out for a sequel, which I really really hope Pearson writes at some point. I'll be first in line to buy it, if and when.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heart of War
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The Man from Z.O.M.B.I.E.: Book One
Publisher: Mutant Brainchild
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2020 21:33:21

This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time.

It's rather like "The Man from UNCLE with Zombies", as you might guess from the title. It's well crafted, well paced, and engaging, with likable characters and a pile of plot twists. The title may make you think of "The Man From P.I.G.". However, the story, though it has occasional tongue in cheek elements, is generally serious, and has a lot of the flavor of the old Man from UNCLE stories. Much of the story takes place in cold war East Germany, where some of the best spy stories originate.

The science is roughly on a par with most spy stories -- and it is a very large step up from what we usually encounter in zombie stories. There's at least a hand waving explanation given for most of the stuff that happens, which I found pleasing. (That's in contrast to, say, WWZ, where the utterly impossible nature of the zombies nearly overwhelms the plot).

Finally, without giving anything away, I'll just say there are more than enough human drama elements included in the story to keep it from ever becoming dry.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Man from Z.O.M.B.I.E.: Book One
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D&D Solo Adventure: The Death Knight's Squire
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/15/2018 16:34:10

It's entertaining, for sure, and very well done. However, I had an issue with the climactic battle sequence. The DK is given four separate stat blocks as the fight proceeds; in the first, he's got 32 HP; the second and third, 28 HP; and the fourth, "28 (minus dmg already caused)". The only "escape" out of the fight comes after we get to the fourth stat block. The wording, along with the changing HP in the stat blocks, seems to imply damage done has no effect on him, or removes only 4 HP, until late in the fight.

Since the first part of the fight is broken out by round, I expected every outcome of each of those rounds to be enumerated. So, if "He's down" isn't listed as an option, then the obvious conclusion is he can't be down yet.

I don't know if this is an error in the wording, or an oversight in the options, or if the DK magically regains hit points up to 28 after each of the first three rounds, but I found it confusing -- I pulverized the guy and yet the only option was to keep on fighting. And so I wasted a bunch of time trying to figure out what was supposed to happen here, which was frustrating.

I came in as a L2 high-dex light cleric, succeeded on the stealth check getting into the room (first time in the game, I think -- clanky armor gave me away every other time), got a surprise round, won initiative, and for those two rounds I hit with two guiding bolts in a row for 33 points in damage, and ... there was no indication in the choice lists that I could do anything except go on enduring attack after attack by the DK, who was at negative hit points by that time. Second round in initiative order, a high roll on Radiance of the Dawn put him down to -21 hit points (all radiant damage) -- but he went right on attacking; there was no option for ending the fight, until I finally got to DukeItOut.

He's a heavily modified monster, so referring to the MM to figure out whether he was using some kind of magical healing which should have been mentioned, or if there were just some choices missing from the action lists, didn't help.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Solo Adventure: The Death Knight's Squire
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