See the source image

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, its second season, are strange beasts. On MyAnime List it has over an eight out of ten, which is stellar, and its anime adaptation got over fifty episodes and even a prequel. It was put out by one of the bigger name studios, A-1 Pictures, and had high production values. It even got an excellent dub. Yet for some reason, it’s been all but forgotten.

Why? How did a well-received shonen battle/adventure anime with a decent-length anime adaptation get memory holed a few short years after its prequel aired?

I have no idea, but I’d like to do my part to change that. I am the only person that I know who thinks “Magi” is a legitimately great show. Not good – great.

But there is no question I am in the minority here. So why? What lead me to rate it so highly?

While “Magi” does everything quite well, ultimately my opinion of its greatness really comes down to two things. Read More

Weapons (Ammoland): On the Internet, and in print, many people claim that pistols lack efficacy in defending against bear attacks. Here is an example that occurred on freerepublic.com: “Actually, there are legions of people who have been badly mauled after using a handgun on a bear. Even some of the vaunted magnums.”
OK, give us a few examples. As you claim “legions”, it should not be too hard.
I never received a response.

 

Fiction (Walker’s Retreat): As the book just went live in paperback, product linking will take a few days, but both versions are meant to be linked. I’ve set it such that any paperback purchase gets you the ebook for free. The same applies to other features such as Look Inside.

BACKERS! I’ve ordered your copies. They’re due to arrive at my house between the 8th and the 16th. I will begin turning around and sending them to you as soon as they arrive.

 

RPG (RPG Pundit): Lion & Dragon contains a bestiary chapter, which has 40 different entries for creatures (not counting 13 animals and a bunch of entries for human NPCs; and also not counting Demons which have their own section in the “Summoning” rules of the magic chapter, alongside the homunculus and the golem).  Many of these monsters have names that you would see in any number of OSR/D&D monster manuals, but their version in L&D is very different, being based on medieval lore and styling. Read More

             The concept of imaging past lives, reincarnation, wandering egos has been an idea going back over a century in fiction.

                H. Rider Haggard had the idea of past loves in She (1886). He returned with variations of the idea in The Wanderer’s Necklace (1914), The Ancient Allan (1920), and Allan and the Ice Gods (1927). Edwin L. Arnold had a different life per chapter in Phra the Phoenician (1890).

                Edgar Rice Burroughs used the idea in The Eternal Lover in 1914. Jack London’s classic The Star Rover (1915) had episodes of a man in solitary confinement remembering past lives.

                The idea had traction into the 1930s. Clark Ashton Smith in “Ubbo Sathla” (1933), Robert E. Howard’s tales of racial memory, and H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time” (1936) all used unique variations on the idea.

               C. L. Moore’s “Tryst in Time” was in contrast to Howard, Lovecraft, and Smith. All three wrote of personalities traveling through the ages as an exercise in cosmicism. Moore took the cosmic adapted as a romance story. Romance as in love and not adventure. Read More

The Invasion of the Highborn.

The mysterious enemy has come, and Tyler Barron and his allies prepare for the final battle, the desperate struggle to save the Rim. Barron’s spacers are ready to fight, as always, but this time they know little of the enemy, and they face technology far beyond their own.

They will fight to the end if necessary, battle with their final breaths to hold back the deadly enemy. They will stand alongside their old enemies, the Hegemony, united for one massive battle, one all out effort to stop the Highborn.

But, even as they prepare to make a stand, they will learn exactly what they are facing, who the Highborn truly are and where they came from…and they will discover that nothing is truly as they’d believed. From the legends of the old empire to the desperate struggle for the future, everything is about to change.


The Last Stand has hit online bookstores, bringing with it another invasion, another desperate alliance, and some vital revelations as to why the galaxy was plunged into a dark age. The 14th book in Jay Allan’s Blood on the Stars series continues to deliver a hybrid of Honor Harrington and Battlestar Galactica action without resorting to escalating tech races. Fighters and damage control win battles, and whatever tactical edge that exists gets blunted through new counter tactics.

However, the Highborn come off as the Hegemony 2.0, complete with genetic castes, superior tech, and a long war on another front. They are the same peril from beyond known space, with the same conflicts and concerns, just carried to a further extreme. And like the Hegemony, the Highborn’s hope for a quick invasion and integration of a previously unknown region gets dashed to pieces by a desperate last stand. Once again, the tactical edge lays in the Confederation’s fighters and bombers, and in the leadership of Confederation Admiral Tyler Barron. And Barron’s confidence rests in his disciplined and proven crew and the technological wizardry of his chief engineer, Anya Fritz.

However, Barron and Fritz take a back seat to Barron’s wife, Andromeda, and the Confederation’s ace of aces, Jake Stockton. Andromeda’s search through the ruins of the fallen Imperium for traces of the Highborn’s history becomes the most compelling thread through the book. The demands of leading mayflies into battle against giants wears on Stockton, even as he contributes miracle after miracle. There’s a clever and game-changing twist at the end of Stockton’s story which offsets some of the heavy-handed foreshadowing in the book. This twist is going to get a lot of people killed in the story.

Blood on the Stars never shies away from the human costs of war, both in the butcher’s bill and the cost to the survivors. As such, the cast is starting to be stretched thin, not just by the fifth consecutive major war, but by attrition itself. There’s just not enough named cast remaining for another fight after this war, and the Confederation is next to exhausted already. And there are at least two more conflicts in the works, including the continuing Union Civil War. This has been a long thread through Blood on the Stars, and what foreshadowing might exist has been played close to the vest. While it is yet to be seen how that will tie into the ongoing galactic fight, it is certain that the conflict will require Barron’s attention before too much longer. However, the repetitive nature of this fight, the weariness of the crews, and the sudden galactic revelations causes one to wonder how much steam is left in the series. Stakes can only be escalated so far, after all.

Blood on the Stars is still the heir to Honor Harrington. Hopefully, it doesn’t get stretched thin like Honor’s books were. As for The Last Stand, it is a must read for those already on this long ride, especially for the twist at the end.

In this week’s fantasy new releases, two litRPG heavy hitters team up, Orson Scott Card plays with micropowers, and a classic of wuxia makes its English language premiere.


Bibliomancer (Completionist Chronicles: Wolfman Warlock #1) – James Hunter and Dakota Krout

The vaunted power of the Mage’s College. Unbounded freedom among the Wolfmen. The best of both worlds.

Recent college grad Sam King was hoping for a backpacking trip across Europe as a graduation present. Instead he’s going to get a different kind of trip: a three-month stint in the ultimate immersive gaming experience. As a lifelong geek, gamer, and outsider, it’s a better gift then he’d ever dreamed.

But when he jumps feetfirst into the world of Eternium, run by CAL, the Certified Altruistic Lexicon, it’s not exactly what he expected. All he wants is to quest, game, grind some levels, and get his hands on awesome loot. You know, have fun! But the Mage’s College seems to have a very different definition of fun, one involving study, blisteringly strict regulations, aristocratic hierarchy, and tons of pay to play.

Sam crosses the College and finds himself running for his life with a back-talking book that is far more than it seems and a class that no one has even heard of. If he can navigate the deadly College politics and the looming war with the barbaric Wolfmen, he might just find the fun and adventure he was looking for.


Born of the Shade (Viventium #1) – D. O. Thomas

West London has always been known as the quieter part of the city. That’s true… for a human. But in reality, the streets are home to those that rule over the supernatural world.

Werewolves have their gated communities. Vampires reside within a subterranean utopia. And the magic-wielding wizards, witches, and warlocks study their arts right under the noses of general public. It has always been that way, and because of this, there has always been peace.

But when a rare blue moon settles in the sky, everything changes.

Noir, a West London information broker with his fingers in every supernatural pie, sets out to discover what the blue moon means and finds something beyond belief. With his discovery, comes the realization of a prophecy that spells disaster for the supernatural world.

He must do everything in his power to stop the actualization of this dark future that might mean the end for the peace between species that keeps his world intact.


Cirsova Magazine (Volume 2, Issue 2) -presented by Cirsova Publishing

The newest issue features eleven new tales of thrilling adventure and daring suspense.

Seeking out the Burning Fish for a client, Mangos and Kat instead find a strange cult of folk devoted to a simple life—who would kill before giving up their secrets!

An anthropologist seeks to solve the mystery of Chalchihuitlan’s “grinding woman.” What’s her significance? What is it that she grinds? For what does she wait?!

Slayer-Of-Wolf’s hunting party is alarmed when a mysterious fire falls from the sky—stranger still is the mysterious blue woman he finds where the fire has landed!

The colonists of Titan have been a fierce and independent lot since breaking away from Earth—some with a grudge might even resort to murder to stay independent!

…and more!


A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Hereos #1) – Jin Yong

A fantastical generational saga and kung fu epic, Jin Yong’s A Hero Born is the classic novel of its time, stretching from the Song Empire (China 1200 AD) to the appearance of a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Filled with an extraordinary cast of characters, A Hero Born is a tale of fantasy and wonder, love and passion, treachery and war, betrayal and brotherhood.

And then a hero is born…

After his father, a Song patriot, was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Genghis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned.

With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive. Read More

[Part 1] …there is another diabolical piece to this puzzle, one the Prosecution had failed to fit to its proper place before.

.

The Carbon Wars

.

They began a long time ago, long after the dinosaurs were gone, sometime late in the Autumn of Life. We can’t say just when. The ancient forests were the first heavy casualties, blown or burned down, then crowded out by grasslands when the carbon dioxide level had fallen too low.

In the Spring of Life there was so much Carbon in the atmosphere that animals could not live on the land- they would have suffocated. It wasn’t until sometime around the Cambrian that the CO2 level dropped enough for the air to become breathable. From that time until our time the atmospheric Carbon has been slowly dwindling. What was once plentiful was becoming scarce, a rare resource to struggle over.

What Global Devastation looks like in MS Paint. Notice no Closed Forest shows up in Australia. They were still there, dotted along the coasts, but too small to show at this scale. There were other small refugia around the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

The destroying started off a little here and there, as a patchwork of open meadows surrounded by trees. Some places became better suited for grass sooner than other places. A place with enough water, light, and warmth was still congenial for trees.

By the time of the Ice Ages- the Pleistocene Epoch- vast regions had regressed to grass, desert, steppe, tundra, and, of course, ice. The forested areas shrunk to the smallest amount of occupied land since forests were Invented, hundreds of millions of years earlier. Large areas on all the continents had converted to C4 grasslands and scrub lands. It was the time of their greatest range.

.

.

Read More

Abraham Lopez’s Going Gone stretches two definitions at the same time.  The cover names this an anthology, but the dozen short stories it contains all hinge on the death of a respected Middle-Eastern diplomat.  A modern day Franz Ferdinand, Saiid’s death proves to be the first domino in a series of calamities that bring the world order crashing down.

Imagine Johann Kalsi’s The Corroding Empire set in a future as close as next week and you’ll get the idea.  The initial story details the mechanics of the complex operation needed to penetrate Saiid’s security apparatus, with a parallel cat and mouse game played between the assassin and his employer.  From there, the stories step through the immediate and long term aftermath of the assassination.

Read More

See the source imageI take a moment here to procrastinate from my incredible amount of work to pen something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time.

I watched this video by Scamboli Reviews where he took a look at the movie “I Want to Eat Your Pancreas”. I haven’t seen it, but have seen several reviews, and you all know the plot. Dying girl, generic guy, she teaches him something about life. “Pancreas” adds a little bit of depth by making some of the girls magic pixie dreamness an act, but ultimately it is what you think it is. Also it’s super sad.

The movie is supposedly well executed. It’s not a genre I’m particularly interested in but I hold no quarrel with it. It is, supposedly, well done in its particular lane.

What I take issue with – and I like Scamboli Reviews, I recommend him highly, check him out – is an argument Scamboli makes in the video. Read More

Comic Books (Crom the Barbarian): Who is Crom the Barbarian? Crom the Barbarian was created in 1950 by Gardner F Fox and John Giunta. The Barbarian, Crom, is a small speed bump in comic book history. Gardner F. Fox and John Giunta take direct inspiration from the Robert E. Howard, Conan pulps. They pen out their version of Conan and call him, Crom!

Fiction (DMR Books): The third of Talbot Mundy’s Roman novels, Purple Pirate was serialized in Adventure magazine from May to October of 1935 and then published in book form by Appleton-Century at the end of that year.  Set in the time of the founding of the Second Triumvirate in 43 BC, this story continues the adventures of Tros of Samothrace amid the war-torn chaos of a period where half a dozen factions fought for the control of Rome and the seas were stalked by pirate kings who harassed the Wolves of the Tiber when they could and plundered the rest of the world when they willed.

Fiction (Adventures Fantastic): Tanith Lee was born on this date, September 19, in 1947.  She passed away in 2015.  Lee wrote in a variety of genres, including fantasy, horror, and science fiction.  She was highly prolific, and many of her short stories haven’t never been collected.

Until now.  Immanion Press is collecting all of her work that hasn’t appeared in any of her collections.  In observance of her birthday, I read two stories from the collection Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata and Other Uncollected Tales. Read More

I am a sucker for stories with a setting of Atlantis. I discovered Atlantis at a young age reading the entries to the first volume to the Golden Book Encyclopedia. That volume had wonderful illustrations and the scene of spired towers sinking into the sea made an impression on me.

If you want some lost continent fiction, DMR Books brand new Heroes of Atlantis and Lemuria is one you want to get. One series with an Atlantean backdrop is Manly Wade Wellman’s “Kardios of Atlantis” series. Wellman wrote these in the 1970s and 80s. They originally appeared in the Swords Against Darkness anthologies, Heroic Fantasy, and Heroic Visions II. This was some of the earliest Wellman I ever read. I liked the Kardios stories from the start. They are not gloomy and doom laden (though I like that) but more on the breezy side. A bit of blasphemy, I think Wellman did a better job of this sort of thing than Fritz Leiber with his Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser series. After reading the first one, “The Straggler from Atlantis” from Swords Against Darkness, I knew I would get an entertaining, swashbuckling romp. I read all the Kardio stories in the original anthologies. Those paperbacks were easy to come by in comparison to now. This is a chance for new readers to experience them. Read More

This week’s science fiction new releases features ancient wormholes, aviation counterfactuals, galactic civil wars, and the last remnant of Christianity in the galaxy.


Clone World (Undying Mercenaries #12) – B. V. Larson

James McGill is called upon for a sabotage mission, one that only a man of his unique talents can handle. Unfortunately, he performs too well, and our enemies from Rigel are enraged. They come for us, and war is declared.

Both sides call for aid, and it comes from the Core Worlds in the form of two great fleets. The Civil War for the Empire’s Throne spills out into the provinces. In the center of Galaxy, fantastic fleets crush one another and burn thousands of inhabited worlds. When this conflict between the great powers spreads, humanity finds itself swept up in the storm.

Can McGill escape this disaster he’s created?


Gate Quest (Star Kingdom #5) – Lindsay Buroker

Roboticist extraordinaire Casmir Dabrowski has a new nemesis: astroshaman leader Kyla Moonrazor.

She’s stolen the ancient wormhole gate the king ordered Casmir to retrieve, and she’s entrenched in an underwater base on a forsaken moon. Moonrazor is more educated and more experienced than Casmir, and she has legions of killer robots and cyborg defenders on her side. Casmir has his friends and… a submarine named the Waddler.

As if his task wasn’t daunting enough, his old competitor, mercenary Captain Tenebris Rache, is on the same quest, and he’ll do anything to keep the Kingdom from getting that gate.

If Casmir can’t find a way to defeat them, the king will never let him return to his home, his family, and the career he loves.


Gateway to War (Ruins of the Galaxy #3) – J. N. Chaney and Christopher Hopper

Hunted by the Republic. Desperate to stop the enemy.

Lieutenant Magnus survives the harrowing rescue of his unit only to find himself charged with treason by the very military he’s pledged his allegiance to. Now, he must attempt to escort Piper to the Luma homeward of Worru before dark forces discover her otherworldly abilities.

But once there, Magnus finds himself confronting new enemies in the place he least expects to find them.

Meanwhile, Awen uncovers a new plot that threatens to upend order throughout the galaxy.

She and Magnus find their way to an alien world where they must work together to build a new team from the ruins of the warriors who remain loyal to the cause of galactic freedom.

Can Magnus survive the wave of violence heading his way? Will Awen be able to help a young prodigy harness an unthinkable new power found in the Unity? Read More

The sheer diversity of output possible in the brave new world of self-publishing serves as both blessing and curse.  The crumbling walls allowing authors to skate around the gatekeepers also makes it a lot harder to find the needles of quality buried deep inside the literary haystack.  Which probably explains why you’re here – hopefully the staff at the Castalia House blog helps fulfill your your straw-sifting and needle-hunting needs.  Kevin Trainor offers readers another way for readers to take his fiction for a test drive with The Anti-Dog Tank and Other Stories.

For just under two bucks he provides five short stories, vignettes almost, about the harsh realities of life in a world following the failure of the American experiment.  As history bends towards the next turn of the generational cycle, social media is awash with those licking their chops for a chance at living a grand adventure free of the stifling strictures of the modern, complex world.  These five stories provide a useful corrective to such fantasies.  Set in a hard-nosed reality bound not just by the laws of physics, but also by the laws of human social interaction, Mr. Trainor paints brief scenes of heart-wrenching choices and grim reflections on the callous nature of conflict.

Read More