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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Off the Bookshelf: Twilight, The Gathering Storm, Star Wars Atlas

by Ken Newquist / January 23, 2010
  • Review's Note: I borrowed Twilight from my wife, and received The Gathering Storm and Star Wars: The Essential Atlas as gifts.

Over Thanksgiving break, my wife and I made a deal: I'd read Twilight if she read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It took me a month of on and off reading, but I finally did so. Completing that teen romance horror novel let me read the book I've been waiting months for: The Gathering Storm, Book 12 of the Wheel of Time. In between the two I've been sneaking quick reads of Star Wars: The Essential Atlas, which is sure to become an indespensible reference for my Star Wars RPG campaign.

Twilight

Cover: Twilight

What to say about Twilight? It's a horror/romance novel aimed at teen girls and I'm lightyears away from that demographic, both in space and time. Hell, when I was 12, I was reading Stephen King's Salem's Lot, which remains one of my favorite vampire books of all time, and remains a compelling portrait of the insidious nature of a vampire takeover.

Twlight ... is different. It steeps itself in the romance of vampires - their charm, their beauty, their utterly compelling natures - while ignoing or downplaying their murderous, corrupting and ultimately parasitic natures.

Indeed the big reveal about why vampires really don't go out in the sunlight is really rather silly.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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You see, the vampires sparkle. That's right -- they'e so amazingly beautiful, so astoundingly attractive to humanity, that they actually sparkle in the sunlight. Thus, the reason why they don't go out on sunny days. Pah. I get that there are variant vampire traditions, and I'm not saying that every vamp has to burst into flames when exposed to sunlight but sparkling? I have a hard time with that ... but I will admit it fits Twilight's approach to teen horror/romance to a T.

The Gathering Storm

Robert Jordan, the author of the 11-book-strong fantasy series the Wheel of Time, died a few years ago before completing his opus. It was a sad days for fans, but fortunately he left behind copious notes, and his wife has worked hard to see the series completed. She selected fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson to complete the series, and I have to say, he's done a hell of a job.

The Gathering Storm ties up two major storylines involving the Dragon Reborn and the Aes Sedai civil war. It also touches on several other characters (namely Perrin and Mat) without launching into any new subplots (which were always a problem with Jordan's writing). The book is enjoyable, readable, and moves the larger story toward it's conclusion; you couldn't ask for much more.

Star Wars: The Essential Atlas

I don't normally go for the big Star Wars sourcebooks; the RPG and graphic novels usually scratch that itch for me. And then my friend Nate brought Star Wars: The Essential Atlas to our weekly Star Wars: Saga Edition game, and I knew I had to have it.

This big, oversized book is filled of maps of the galaxy, a bunch of planetary profiles and timeline maps that illustrate such pivotal time periods as the Mandalorian Wars, Jedi Civil War, the Clone Wars and the Rebellion. As a game master with the Mandalorian Wars and the Jedi Civil War looming large, I instantly saw the value of this book, and added it to my Christmas wishlist. Thankfully, I got it, and a more thorough reading did not disappoint.