Archive for the ‘General Nerdom’ Category

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Audiobook Review: Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

May 16, 2016

Durotan audio

Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Media Tie-In

Series: Warcraft

Publisher: Audible Studios (May 3, 2016)

Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Toby Longworth

Warcraft: Durotan is the official prequel novel to the Warcraft movie, set to hit theaters later this summer. As a fan of the game franchise, I almost feel like I have an obligation to go out and see this film, though whether or not it’ll actually be good remains to be seen. Call me cynical, but I’ve been burned way too many times by underwhelming movie adaptations, and so while part of me is excited to finally see one of my favorite games come to life on the big screen, I will also remain cautiously optimistic for now.

Still, I picked up this book because I knew I would want the background story. A lot of people don’t realize that Warcraft is more than just a game series—it’s also an immense, indescribably huge body of lore. Its world encompasses a countless number of locations and characters, and its history stretches back thousands upon thousands of years. And as much as I enjoy playing the games, in some ways I enjoy hearing about the stories even more. I love the epic tales of legendary heroes, reading about their great deeds and how they made their mark on the world of Warcraft and its history.

The Frostwolf orc clan chieftain Durotan is one of these legendary figures. The eponymous main character of this novel will also be one of the key players in the upcoming film, and this is the story of how he led his people out of the dying lands of Draenor to find their home in a new world.

When the book begins, Draenor is already on the brink of destruction. With the spirits of the elements weakened, winters are becoming increasingly harsher and the dwindling herds mean that the orcs will soon have to abandon their territory or face death by exposure and starvation. However, when a mysterious warlock named Gul’dan arrives with an offer to save them, the Frostwolf Clan decides to turn him away, preferring to maintain their independence. No stranger to tough times, Durotan believes it would be better to take their chances on their own rather than join the outsider’s “Horde”, especially since he does not trust the warlock. But while the Frostwolf may be one of the last clans to hold out, things in Draenor are going from bad to worse, and soon they too will have to make a decision on how to move forward, or risk dying with their homeland.

Believe it or not, finishing this book actually made me feel more confident about the movie. The events portrayed here offer us a solid foundation and a promise of some fantastic things to come. But then again, it’s Christie Golden. She’s written some of my favorite Warcraft and Star Wars novels of all time, and I knew even before going into this novel that it was going to be great. I’m beyond excited that this was everything I expected, especially since Durotan’s story was one that I’ve always wanted to get to know better.

I’m also pleased that this novel was entirely about the orcs. I say this even as a diehard Ally, as I honestly believe not enough attention is being given to the races of the Horde when it comes to media tie-ins, plus fantasy in general can be so human-centric. It’s easy to get caught up in the faction pride sometimes, reducing the “other guys” to nothing more but enemies to kill, but the truth is, orcs are a complex race with values deeply rooted in their society and culture. We get to see many examples of this in Warcraft: Durotan, as our protagonist realizes that being a leader is about more than just his strength and pride. Wisdom is just as important, as is compassion—even for your enemies. Durotan often finds himself torn between his honor and what he knows is best for his people, but knowing when to listen and when you have to sacrifice for the greater good are just some of the lessons he learns first as the Frostwolf’s chieftain, and then as a husband and a father-to-be. This book is simple filled to the brim with all these feels.

Kudos also goes to Toby Longworth for doing a superb job narrating the audio version. He has a very strong voice, great for reading fantasy novels and perfect for capturing the personalities of larger-than-life characters like Durotan. In addition, this audiobook was very easy to get into; at seven-and-a-half hours in length, I finished this one in good time, probably within two or three listening sessions. Finally, the audiobook ends with an audio excerpt of the “sequel”, which is the novelization of the movie itself, also written by Christie Golden.

If you plan on seeing Warcraft, I highly recommend picking up Warcraft: Durotan first, because it shows a larger picture and puts some of the movie’s events in context. Lore hounds will also love this book, especially if you want deeper insight into those who had a hand in shaping the face of Azeroth. All told, this is a wonderful, fascinating look into the life of Durotan, who is the loving mate of Draka, a contemporary of Orgim Doomhammer, and the future father of one of Warcraft’s most prominent characters.

***A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Battle Bards Episode 73: Spooky and Magical 2

April 19, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

By popular demand — which you should read as “Syl’s imperial fiat” — the Battle Bards are returning to the fertile musical landscape of spooky and magical tunes. From undead taverns to fairy courts, the bards explore all manner of sparkly, moody themes. So turn the lights down low, brew your favorite beverage, and enjoy!

LISTEN NOW

White Forest

Episode 73 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Comfort” from Forsaken World and “Quiet Place” from Ragnarok 2)
  • “Undead Tavern” from World of Warcraft
  • “Magiteknical Difficulties” from Final Fantasy XIV
  • “Old History Area Theme” from Angels Online
  • “The Ghost Ship Navislamia” from Rappelz
  • “All’s Fairy in Love and War” from RuneScape
  • “White Forest” from ArcheAge
  • “The Falls of Nimrodel” from Lord of the Rings Online
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox: “Little Girl, Gen” from Child of Light, “Dodging Bullets” from Quantum Break, and “Harvest Hazards” from Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
  • Outro (feat. “The Magic Forest” from LEGO Universe)
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Battle Bards Episode 72: 3rd Anniversary – Listener Requests

April 5, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Can you believe it — it’s the third anniversary of Battle Bards already! Three years ago, Steff, Syp, and Syl joined forces to create the world’s first, best, and only MMORPG music podcast. It’s been an incredible ride, and for the show’s birthday the Bards have invited our listeners to contribute more of their favorite tracks for a listeners request show! It’s a plus-sized show, so enjoy!

LISTEN NOW

Episode 72 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “The Hollin Gate” from Lord of the Rings Online and “Invincible” from World of Warcraft)
  • “Tokyo 2” from The Secret World (submitted by Gryph)
  • “The Chosen” from Revelation Online (submitted by Thoroughmas)
  • “Nym’s Property” from Star Wars Galaxies by (submitted by Bree)
  • “…But Still We Go On” from EVE Online (submitted by Galactrix)
  • “Embers in the Storm” from Bless (submitted by Jaedia)
  • “The Land Will Weep” from World of Warcraft (submitted by Tyler)
  • “King Thordan” from Final Fantasy XIV (submitted by Marc Evans)
  • “Bloody Battle” from Blade & Soul (submitted by Weakness)
  • “Dream Theme” from Glitch (submitted by Tithegha)
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Outro (feat. “Valentine’s Day Theme” from FFXIV)
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Battle Bards Episode 71: Ragnarok Online 2

March 22, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Let’s get this out of the way up front: No, Ragnarok Online 2 isn’t the type of game that you’d think would have a terrific soundtrack, and yes, it totally has a terrific soundtrack. On this episode, the Battle Bards skip through renowned Japanese composer Yoko Kanno’s score, picking out their favorite tracks from this fantasy MMO. Will they convince you that this is a hidden gem? Listen and see!

LISTEN NOW

Ragnarok Online 2

Episode 71 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Beginners” and “Misha”)
  • “EverLand (Instrumental)”
  • “Yoru (Violin)”
  • “Small Dungeon”
  • “Clap and Walk”
  • “Din Don Dan Dan”
  • “Afternoon”
  • “Stone Music”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks (feat. “Sinister Euphoria” from Aura Kingdom, “A Writer’s Dream” from Alan Wake, and “The Battle of Lil’ Slugger” from Super Meat Boy)
  • Outro (feat. “Boss Battle [Karaoke]”)
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Battle Bards Episode 70: Ambience

March 8, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

While loud and brash music might be what often grabs our attention, the astute soundhound will keep an ear out for beautiful low-key pieces that weave through MMORPGs. Today the Battle Bards crew dials it back to look at tracks that exude ambience in all of its forms. From Final Fantasy XIV to Chronicles of Spellborn, interesting and noteworthy ambient tracks were unearthed, dissected, and returned to the soil for future blossoming.

LISTEN NOW

EVE Online

Episode 70 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Ambient Track” from EverQuest and “Helm’s Hold Ambient” from Neverwinter)
  • “In Golden Light” from The Secret World
  • “Snowcloak” from FFXIV
  • “Meditation of the Oracle” from Chronicles of Spellborn
  • “Smoke from Down Below” from EVE Online
  • “Vashj’ir” from World of Warcraft
  • “Spore Me” from Myst Uru
  • “Devidians Ambient” from Star Trek Online
  • Which one did we like the best?
  • Jukebox picks (feat. “Edge and Flight” from Mirror’s Edge, “Overture” from Stargate Worlds, “Enchanted Forest Pursuit” from Rayman Legends)
  • Listener request send-in
  • Outro (“Loading Loop” from The Sims Online)
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Battle Bards Episode 69: Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward

February 23, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

The Battle Bards are taking an airship back to Eorzea to cover the soundtrack to the first expansion to Final Fantasy XIV, Heavensward. How does the expansion’s score stack up to the original? How does it connect to Final Fantasies of the past? And will Syl spoil the plot for Syp? So many questions… so many mini-rants. It’s a great show!

LISTEN NOW

Heavensward

Episode 69 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Main Menu Theme” and “Alexander Boss Theme”)
  • “Ishgard Pillars Day”
  • “Heroic Moments Theme”
  • “Aetherochemical Research Facility Theme”
  • “Fractal Continuum Theme”
  • “Matoya’s Cave”
  • “Idyllshire Night Theme”
  • “Ravana”
  • Which one did we like the best?
  • Mail from WS_Dandelion about Dawngate
  • Jukebox (feat. “Oakvale” from Fable 2, “Stage One” from XCOM 2, and “A Place to Call Home” from FFIX)
  • Outro (feat. “Pharos Sirius Hard Mode Theme”)
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Battle Bards Episode 68: Housing Themes

February 9, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

When an MMO player gets cozy in his or her in-game home, the sound is as essential to the ambiance as the decor. Not every game creates special music for player housing, but enough do that it’s attracted the Battle Bards to take a closer look at the topic. Housing music and collectible tracks? It’s starting to pick up momentum in MMOs, and Battle Bards is on the forefront of the revolution!

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Wildstar Housing

Episode 68 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Free 2 Party” from WildStar and “Chrono Trigger’s Millenial Fair” from Trove)
  • “A Golden Field (Exile’s Housing Theme)” from WildStar
  • “Karazhan Music Roll” from World of Warcraft
  • “Pernon Residential” from Aion
  • “Autumn Ale” from Lord of the Rings Online
  • “Home Sweet Home” from RuneScape
  • “Where the Hearth Is” from FFXIV
  • “Hammerknell Fortress Music Box” from RIFT
  • Jukebox (feat. “Echoes of a Zephyr” from FFXI, “Seaskape” from Splatoon, “Exploration” from Star Trek Online)
  • Outro