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It was an effort to get there - but Chainfire finally concludes with this book, and all-in-all it was worth the effort to read. Terry Goodkind knows how to write an interesting story, but parts of this book felt too padded out. I can only put up with characters spouting two pages worth of dialogue every so often.
That was just one of a few problems I had with the book. The other main point that annoyed me was, what felt like, Goodkind's preaching about how bad the Imperial Order and people like them are - the 30th time that one of the (good) characters decided to point this out became slightly grating and re-iterated a feeling of deja-vu. This was compounded by only allowing you access to the people fighting against the order - I guess that showing the Orders viewpoint or why people fought for the Order wasn't what Goodkind wanted to look at but it would have made an interesting side point and given them a more interesting edge other than their "We want to rule the world and rid it of bad people (but ignore the bad things that we actually do)".
Thats a minor point as, clearly, this book wasn't written to look at that. But what this book was for, included wrapping up the story and the final scenes seemed slightly anti-climatic, in that it was soo simple and looking back you feel it invalidates everything that has gone before.
Even with those things the book is still excellent and you need to read this if you have read the previous books. These things might only be standing out to me as it's been such a while between reading the previous book and then this one.
Seeking The Way: The Greatest Hits
Shadows Fall - CD
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For an album thats meant to be a greatest hits this album could do with some more tracks off the albums that were actually great.The first 3 tracks are from 'Of One Blood' which are the best off this album, unfortunately there some even better tracks from that album left off here.Track 4 'Deadworld' was a Japanese only release that saw the light of day in Europe thanks to the release of 'Fear Will Drag You Down' which includes all the great tracks off 'Of One Blood'.Tracks 5 - 7 are off 'The Art Of Balance' and apparently for the sake of ignoring balance some of the better tracks are left off in place of tracks released as singles (The Idiot Box).Of the tracks that could have been choosen from 'The War Within' the best ones have made the album.Unfortunatly there is also some tracks (14 & 15) included from the bands worst effort (Fallout From The War).All in all a pretty poor best of album considering some of Shadows Fall best material isn't on the album. There is no need to even think of wasting your money on this if you have the albums and if you're new to Shadows Fall ignore this and go out and buy 'Of One Blood/Fear Will Drag You Down' [either will do as they are basically the same album] and 'The Art Of Balance'.
The Heart Of Everything
Within Temptation - CD
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After faltering slighty with the last album, by trying to rip off Nightwish's idea of an album mixed completely with an orchestra (which Nightwish did far better) and trying to be Evanescence (why anyone would want to try this I don't know).However this album brings the band right back on track. Opening track 'The Howling' is reminiscent of 'Mother Earth', it never quite reaches the same heights but the intent seems there and it is a solid opening track. 'What Have You Done?' is a decent track, even if some of the lyrics seem a little poor ("Would you mind if I killed you?" just doesn't work) but the song goes to a whole new level when played live. 'Frozen' is a nice catchy piano driven piece. 'Our Solemn Hour' is anti-war/violence song with some nice use of Winston Churchill speech soundbites added in. The album then falters a little, with 'The Heart Of Everything' (about William Wallace) and 'Hand Of Sorrow' (about Robin Hobb's Assasin's Apprentice stories - namely the lead character Fitz) being the weakest songs on the album. 'The Cross' is possibly the best track on the album and you have to love the mandarin intro - this track is Sharons voice at its best and lets you hear why there are comparisons to Kate Bush. The rest of the tracks are just as strong with 'The Truth Beneath The Rose' and 'Forgiven' standing out. 'The Truth Beneath The Rose' is an absolute monolith of a track - grabbing you right from the start and not letting you go for the next 7 minutes. The final track 'Forgiven' has shadows of 'Restless' (from Enter) but when its similar to a track that good there's no problem. The song is just Sharon and Martijn (on keyboards) and is a fantastic way to close out the album.If you haven't heard Within Temptation before then here is a decent place to start. This is more metal than Mother Earth so if you are looking for more of that you may be slightly put off or let down.
Essential Ms. Marvel: Vol. 1
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Ms Marvel's entire solo series and then the moment that defined her life, should be enough reason to make you want to buy this if have even the slightest interest in Carol Danver's life.On top of that this also includes the first appearances of two, now, major X-Men players - Mystique and Rogue.Ok so it is a 70's comic and some of the writing can be a little dodgy at first but then Chris Claremont picks up the writing duties with issue 3 and you know it's written well.The artwork is decent enough but the only thing thats lacking is any colouring - but thats what you get with the Essentials and it doesn't ruin the book in any way.
WWE: Smackdown Vs. Raw 2008
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2007's Smackdown Vs. Raw seemed to be the pinnacle of the games throughout the year so I was wondering what they could do to make this years installment any better.
Unfortunately the answer is nothing. The terrible control system from last years game (which was the only thing that let it down) has been kept and Season Mode has been fiddled with, I assume, to make it feel even more interactive as you have more of a choice over what to do. The new Season Mode gives you much more freedom as you can choose to do things on days in-between shows but these choices are limited and they all have some sort of knock-on effect on your wrestler. Its possibly the mixture of both of these that ruined it for me.
The games saving grace is the General Manager (GM) Mode, where you take control over of the WWE's three shows (Raw, Smackdown, ECW). As GM you control EVERYTHING that happens on your show. You pick the matches, you make the rivalries, you decide who gets a contract and for how long, you slander or interfere with the other shows and battle it out with them to have the most viewers at the end of the year after Wrestlemania.
All in all if you've never played a Smackdown Vs. Raw game before this game is as good as any to start with, but if you have Smackdown Vs. Raw 2007 you're better saving your money as last years game is just as good.
Dark Passion Play (Limited Digipack)
Nightwish - CD
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Unfortunately its not that good.Theres no way of escaping it, Anette will always be compared to Tarja. The main problem is that Anette's voice just doesn't compare to Tarja's and this album is just Once: Part 2 but it lacks the power of vocals that Tarja had.There aren't any tracks on this album that jump out, grab you and make you think "Yeah this is really good". They all come and go without leaving any lasting memory.The only real highlights of the album being Amaranth, The Islander and 7 Days To The Wolves.Then theres the 2nd cd where, perhaps, Toumas ego shine's through as it is an instrumental version of the entire album. As ok as some of the tracks are, the full album instrumentally can be a pain to listen through. The album lacked any real hooks when you could the vocals without them, its just too repetitive.If you've never heard Nightwish before this is as good a place as any to start (what with the change of singer). If you're a big fan of Tarja's then avoid this like a swarn of angry bees.
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2 Discs)
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Well first things first. Its not as good as the Spiderman: The Animated Series. But then again most of these new fangled rehashes aren't i.e The Batman, X-Men EvolutionThis show has a few things going for it, but only if you can get over the animation. Its CGI but with less style. The first time I watched it, I struggled to put up with it but the stories and the voice acting drew me and now I have to say I quite like the animation.The storylines are interesting enough to keep you hooked and there are appearances from Spiderman bad guys like The Kingpin, The Lizard, Electro and Silver Sable.Its not as good as Spiderman: TAS but that doesn't stop it being good enjoyable fun to watch TV.
The Silent Force
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The main problem with this album is that the band seem to be trying to do things just because other bands are doing it.In this instance it is the use of the full orchestra. Unfortunately Nightwish used that trick first on Once and it works far better because the orchestra is put to proper use, instead of just the odd accompanying part here and there.The album still has the Within Temptation feel to it but seems to lack the light melody that made Mother Earth so good and instead seems to be replaced by an attempt at trying to be a more heavy metal type of band.The one thing the album does have going for it is that it includes Jane Doe as a bonus track, which is just about Within Temptation at there best.Not quite worth the money alone for that, probably not the best place to start if you haven't listened to Within Temptation before but essential if you already own the other albums just so have the full discography.
Science & Nature
Inkubus Sukkubus - CD
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There was never any doubt in my mind that this album wasn't going to be good and thats why I pre-ordered it as soon as was available.I wasn't disappointed (but as I've said, not that I expected to be).Intro track Science & Nature is something different and differs somewhat lyrical compared to usual Inkubus Sukkubus but thats not a letdown.The rest of the album follows the good-old style and there is nothing that should let you down.The album is finished off, by another Rolling Stones cover (check out Paint It Black on Vampire Erotica), and shows how interesting and well done cover versions can be.All in all - the only thing I can say is BUY THIS ALBUM.
Having read some of the Lady Death comics beforehand I'm still not entirely sure whether its a pre-requisite before ever watching this. I'd probably say yes otherwise there is no real point in watching this.The animation, which I have seen slaughtered on various forums, holds up fine and is everything that should be of expected of it. But thats as far as the positives go for this film.I don't know why someone thought bringing Lady Death to life would be a good idead because it doesn't come across well here. Starting with the film itself - the voice acting is nothing short of horrid. Lady Death should be powerful and commanding, the opposite of what she is here. The script leaves alot to be desired (although the same can always be said of the source material).Then for those who have read the comics there is the fact that the back story has been changed. Hope (who becomes Lady Death) is in fact the daughter of Satan (who for some reason decided to have a daughter and live outside Hell) instead of the daughter of a nobleman who works with the Princes Of Hell to overthrow Satan.The story takes awhile to build up and for Lady Death to finally appear and when she does the transformation seems to come over rather quickly. She starts to train and in a few minutes thats her Evil Incarnate. It just doesn't work well.All in all this should be avoided by most people unless you are a Lady Death fan and you're interested to see how this looks.