Goodreads review • Dune Messiah

Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2)Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dune remains fascinating. Its universe, its clash of cultures and its eyes wide-open approach to storytelling. Reading the first chapters of Dune Messiah is basically a spoiler of the entire book. Everything is clear, it’s playing chess when you know the outcome. The book’s strength lies in playing with prescient knowledge. If you know what’s going to happen, can you still enjoy? Can you still choose? Can you still be yourself?

And thus the fascination starts anew. Paul’s trust in his abilities becomes absolute, his enemies turn him against himself, yet, the one escape left is just as terrifying. Dune Messiah feels like the epilogue that the original lacked, the indulgence of power that we expect, kept in check by terrible purpose.

It’s especially nice to read this in contrast to other ‘messiahs’ like, say, Neo in The Matrix trilogy. There the indulgence in power just upped the dials to twelve, while here we get a peek behind the curtain and the use of power is kept in check by Paul’s own humanity. My only annoyance is that this is a very short tale and its finale feels more like the end of a beat than of a book.

As mentioned earlier: it is more of an epilogue. That said, this comes recommended.

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Goodreads review • The Paleblood Hunt

The Paleblood HuntThe Paleblood Hunt by Redgrave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A methodical and engaging opinion piece about the lore of the video game Bloodborne.

It’s no longer a secret that what initialled proposed to be a game about Victorian horrors being hunted down, turned into an incredible addition to the Lovecraft mythos halfway. Lovecraft being Lovecraft, this meant the game’s mechanics, concepts and characters all took on an additional meaning without it necessarily being clear what that meaning was.

As in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, Bloodborne tells its tale through bits and pieces carelessly thrown out into the world. Redgrave takes the notes, letters, item descriptions and utterances and moulds them into something a bit more cohesive. I wouldn’t say definite; it clearly leaves room for interpretation. But Redgrave’s own interpretation is actually quite beautiful, both in assembling it and its conclusion. Occasionally there are larger leaps of faith, yet they feel acceptable.

Unless From Software itself ever takes the lid off, we might never know exactly what Bloodborne is about. Which is fine as it becomes a game inspired by Lovecraft. But for all those seeking more closure, The Paleblood Hunt comes recommended.

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Goodreads review • Good Omens

Good OmensGood Omens by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is it wrong to be utterly delighted when Death turns out to be good ol’ Death? Not the religious one, but the “I TALK LIKE DISCWORLD’S DEATH” one? Good Omens also turns out to be “what if” scenario of Discworld logic being applied to real life. Yes, we’ve had a few instances of those (or depending on world view, an entire Unseen University experiment gone wrong), but this has some choice ideas sprinkled in that make “real life” more similar to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and distinctly British as a result.

It’s thoroughly enjoyable and oddly restrained. With some of the characters being able to manipulate just about everything, there needs to be something to hold it back from transforming into a Michael Bay film. You could also say the ending is anti-climactic, which – quite honestly – suits it to a T. Still, it manages to feel a bit cheap as the build-up and rhythm beforehand suggest that other Bay-course.

A great read, but I now feel like I want a host of sequels all focusing on the four horse…-people. After all, they do seem to be back in business these days.

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Goodreads review • The Prince

The PrinceThe Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently I never clearly understood the term ‘Machiavellian’. I always assumed out of context that it meant being manipulative to the extreme. While the manipulative aspect is definitely still there, it’s a different form of manipulation. It’s when and how to manipulate, not to ignore it as it would not be right. That’s maybe a subtle difference, but it changes everything.

The world will carry on regardless of your good intent and you sometimes simply need to fight fire with fire. The Prince gives an overview of when such occasions might arise when in government (or in this specific case, while being a prince). Yet its lessons are applicable to different fields as well. Once that idea settles in, the book becomes a good read and (in hindsight not surprisingly) a potential strategy guide for the Civilization computer game series.

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