Battle Ladies

Citing a protracted historical past of erasure and silence surrounding the Nigerian civil conflict, creator Tochi Onyebuchi wrote WAR GIRLS (Amazon) as an example the best way that the tensions that incited the battle–financial, spiritual, tribal–exist right this moment and the way they may play out in a post-apocalyptic future. I didn’t know any of this historical past after I began the guide and the story stands admirably by itself ( readers can discover further studying in Onyebuchi’s afterword).

WAR GIRLS is rooted within the specifics of Nigeria and the battle, and Onyebuchi’s expertise lies in making the futuristic world of mechs, area colonies, and irradiated wastelands really feel not like window dressing, however an integral a part of the story.

WAR GIRLS opens within the 2100s. Sisters Onyii and Ify dwell in a wholly feminine enclave of former Biafran baby troopers. They scrape collectively a residing, hiding below the radar from the Nigerian forces that may destroy them in the event that they discovered them, as they contemplate all Biafrans rebels.

Ify has created what she calls her “Accent,” a very astonishing piece of tech that permits her to hack into any community, whether or not to do college work or to take management of an rampaging mech. Unbeknownst to her, nevertheless, this identical system alerts the Nigerians to the camp’s place and the camp is razed. Ify is taken by the Nigerians, believing that Onyii died within the raid. Onyii is taken again into the Biafran army and redeployed as a soldier, additionally believing that her sister is lifeless.

The narrative jumps 4 years sooner or later. Each the Nigerians and the Biafrans consider they’re successful the conflict. In Nigeria, Ify learns that Onyii was not her savior, however her kidnapper, taking her as a younger baby from her household and village. In Biafra, Onyii has develop into referred to as the Demon of Biafra for her unimaginable skills as a mech pilot. Together with different conflict women, she is recruited into an elite forces program. Onyii’s new duties and Ify’s rise in Nigerian society convey them in battle with one another, and finally again collectively.

Alongside the best way, we see extra of the non-public prices of violence to the lives of the conflict women, the exploitative nature of colonialism, the misunderstanding of faith, and the corrosive poison of conflict at work within the lives of Nigerians and Biafrans alike.

WAR GIRLS has some very cool mech combating scenes, nevertheless it feels disingenuous to promote WAR GIRLS as a guide about mechs when at its core it’s a story about trauma, sisterhood, and the persevering with prices of conflict. There’s a good flip a few quarter of the best way by means of the novel, the place either side’s narrative in regards to the battle turns into extra obvious, and it turns into clear that the characters usually are not admitting the reality to themselves.

Quick chapters and Onyebuchi’s insistent prose drive the narrative ahead at a superb tempo, though the pacing falters within the final handful of chapters, which endure a collection of pointless motion sequences.

Onyebuchi does a wonderful job of letting us into Onyii and Ify’s heads. Onyebuchi tells his story within the current tense, which alongside along with his comparatively spare writing makes the story really feel fast and current. A few of the immediacy implies that the longer arcs are somewhat tough to parse out. For instance, whereas it was clear that Onyii was a part of a particular army challenge, the precise rationalization about her belonging to an elite corps of troopers with a secret mission got here a lot too late. There have been additionally another small signposting points, which might have made for a extra seamless studying expertise.

WAR GIRLS’ detailed world constructing and the specificity of Onyebuchi’s depiction of the conflict mix to create a compelling narrative.

The publish Battle Ladies appeared first on Elitist E book Critiques.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.