Ready Player One – A note on adaptation

You may or may not remember that I read Ready Player One about 6 months ago, although devoured is probably a better word. And after saying my piece about the book, it seems only right that I should follow up with a few words about the film, seeing as it’s arrived.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

The first thing to be said, especially for those of you who’ve read the book, is that it’s quite different to the original material. (If you need it, my brief-and-spoiler-free synopsis is in the post linked above, for reference.) The challenges that stand between player and key are significantly changed, and much of the real-world action has been doctored too. But stick with me, that’s not to say it’s all bad, far from it! The Gates that a player must pass through to obtain the keys that will eventually lead to finding Halliday’s Easter Egg in this virtual reality multiverse (I most definitely stand by my comments made in the last post – I do NOT envy the writers trying to exposition this bad boy on film) needed to be changed. They were far more complex in the book, with more stages to get through, and they were not always very visual, if at all.

Yeah that’s right, I’m praising changes made to the adaptation.

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The Shannara Chronicles – Ultimate guilty pleasure TV

Someone asked me recently about what my favourite films and TV of 2017 have been, and let me tell you, that’s not an easy trophy to give out to just one film and one TV show. I did eventually manage to name a favourite TV show (Legion) in the end, but there was one show that stuck in my brain, crying out to be recognised, that I couldn’t quite bring myself to name as my favourite. And that show is The Shannara Chronicles.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

I have talked a bit about The Shannara Chronicles before, in one spoiler-heavy post from season 1, (where there’s also a brief synopsis of the overall concept if you’re interested) but there’s more to be said now that season 2 is on in the UK. It’s a fantasy series, based on an epic series of books (and epic is the only word for it, when you count up over 20 books set in Shannara!) by Terry Brooks. It’s big and bold, and I am completely hooked by it. It’s not all good though – the show is a bit crap in places, and doesn’t do the best job of hiding that fact. Yet somehow, that’s part of its charm! Hence, it gets the title of ‘guilty pleasure’ TV. I couldn’t name it as my favourite more out of principle than anything else, but it’s definitely up there in my top 5. And I’ve been itching to do a commentary on it. Who knows, maybe it’ll even persuade you to give it a shot?

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Ready Player One – Geek-fest thriller and blockbuster in the making

This book has been on my To Be Read list for a good couple of years now, and with Spielberg’s film adaptation just around the corner, it seemed like now was as good a time as any to pick it up. And it barely took me any time at all from opening the first page to logging off at the last.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

30 years in the future, most of humanity spends all the time they can spare logged into the OASIS, a global virtual reality universe, to escape the harsh reality of their slowly dying planet. And when James Halliday, the mastermind behind the OASIS passes away, he leaves his fortune to the person who can solve the hidden riddles and puzzles he left scattered throughout the OASIS.

After years of searching, by millions of people, Halliday’s Easter Egg remains no closer to being found. That is, until Wade Watts discovers the first key in the puzzle, and the contest kicks off in earnest as thousands of players compete to be the first to find Halliday’s Egg, and the stakes are raised to new and dangerous levels.

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The Black Magician Trilogy – A slow burner, but a delight

Trudi Canavan’s fantasy trilogy has been sat on my bookshelves for longer than I care to admit (I’m talking years here). After snatching them up at a secondhand bookshop for an absolute bargain, they always seemed to be at the bottom of my reading list. So a few weeks ago I finally picked them up to read, and it baffles me that it took me so long.

We are brought into the trilogy with the first volume The Magicians’ Guild, which tells the story of our heroine Sonea, a slum girl who is discovered to have unprecedented magical abilities. She treads a fine line between the Thieves (who essentially run the slums) and the Guild, who are tracking her down every step of the way. All magicians must be admitted to the Guild for training, and though Sonea doesn’t know it, for safety. But when the Magicians’ Guild are a bunch of jumped up posh-kids, who have never done anything for the people of slums except drive them out during the annual Purge, joining their ranks doesn’t exactly seem like the most appealing option. While the Guild frantically search for her, Sonea’s fate rests on her powers: how quickly they will develop, how strong they will get, and how long before she loses control.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

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Strange Magic – Everything I never knew I needed

Well … so maybe that title is a slight exaggeration of the truth. But the point is, this little film was exactly what I wanted it to be, without me even realising it. I didn’t know how much I needed a film like this until last night. Okay, let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start).

The film Strange Magic first came to my attention as a recommendation from my aunt, and I’ll admit I was a tiny bit sceptical about it, having not long watched a film she hated that I really rather enjoyed. And I’m pretty sure she only watched it because her 6-year-old daughter wanted to. But that’s beside the point. What I need to tell you about is how bloody fantastic this film is. It’s magical and uplifting and fun. But more than that, it’s refreshing.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

All based around the almighty Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, though not too closely I might add, the story revolves around Marianne, an independent young fairy after coming off the back of heartbreak, and her flirtatious sister. As the Bard once said, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” and chaos ensues with the introduction of a powerful love potion, all backed by a glittering soundtrack.

But wait. Don’t turn your nose up just yet. Not just because it’s a family adventure film.

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Dissension: The Work-in-Progress Act of Penance – The Patreon campaign

The eagle eyed among you may have recognised the style of the title from a post I wrote a few months ago, and that would be because I’m talking about the same books. (If you didn’t recognise it and are feeling left out, or you need to jog your memory, my previous post is here for you to peruse at your pleasure). And if you’re too lazy to do that – which would be a crying shame because that’s a good post, if I do say so myself – then you can have a little catch up…

**SPOILER FREE POST**

Attrition: The First Act of Penance is the first novel in a trilogy of fantasy fiction penned by the talented S.G. Night, and self-published by him at the age of 18. It’s a fantastic book and comes with all my highest recommendations of course. There’s a synopsis and more of a review in that post I mentioned earlier if you think it sounds like your cup of tea.

Well, now S.G. Night finds himself writing his Second Act of Penance, a student and self-published author, as yet unrepresented by a commercial publishing house … however, that could well be set to change, should the winds blow in his favour. Anyway, this now brings me to the point of my writing this post (finally, right?) which is this: Night has set up a Patreon campaign for Dissension: The Second Act of Penance.

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The Shannara Chronicles – Game of Thrones’s younger sibling

The MTV (I know, I know, just get past it) fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles first came to my attention via social media, and while the series has been broadcasted in its entirety in America, here in the UK, we’re six episodes in and I can’t get enough of it!

So let me give you a basic run-down before we get into the details and, ahem, spoilers. The series is based on the book The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, which is the second book in his original Shannara trilogy. He has since written a mind-blowing 22 other novels set within his world of Shannara, and was heavily involved with the creation of the TV series – always a good sign. Also, a little trivia, the series stars John Rhys-Davies, Manu Bennett and Jed Brophy, who all had places in Peter Jackson’s films set in Middle Earth.

The story goes something like this. Wil Ohmsford is a young half-human, half-elf who inherits the magical elfstones from his deceased father. Meanwhile, Amberle Elessedil is an elven princess who is selected in an annual ritual as one of the seven Chosen, tasked with protecting the ancient Ellcrys tree, however, for the first time in history the Ellcrys is showing signs of sickness. Enter the druid, Allanon; he reveals that the Ellcrys actually harbours magic that protects the Four Lands from a demon uprising, and with the dying of the tree, the magic is failing. So Wil and Amberle set out with Eretria – a human girl of questionable motives and loyalty – to a place known as Safehold, where they hope to unriddle the mystery of restoring the Ellcrys. But there is danger at every turn, for as the Ellcrys’s health wanes, the Dagda Mor creates an army of demons to cover the Four Lands in darkness, and sends out his pawns to destroy anyone who opposes him.

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