Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kindle Book: A Theory of Fun for Game Design

I've been reading Ralph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design on and off for the last few weeks. A Theory of Fun was recommended to me by a friend. I was excited to find it on Kindle, which meant it was a lot easier to bring this book along with me. :)

A Theory of Game Design is not a book I would have picked up myself right now without my friend's urging. I've been focusing on books about writing video games, while this is theory about game design. That being said, Koster's book is an extremely good read. He breaks games down and starts a theoretical discussion on both games and players. He uses everyday language, making this book easy to understand. If you are remotely interested in game design, you should definitely give this book a read!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gwenhwyfar: the White Spirit

It's been a long while since I have read a Mercedes Lackey book (in fact it's been even longer than I thought- the last one I read was The Snow Queen, back in 2008 when I started this blog). I've been hoarding The Sleeping Beauty, which is the fifth book in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series (side note: I just found out the sixth book is coming this fall! I'm excited!) But my copy of The Sleeping Beauty is hard covered, so I didn't want to bring it out to camp. But then I discovered that Gwenhwyfar was also on the List. And so, since my copy is soft-covered, Gwenhwyfar accompanied me out to camp.

Gwenhwyfar tells the story of Arthur's third queen (by a twist of fate, all three have the same name). Gwenhwyfar is the third of four daughters to King Lleudd Ogrfan Gawr. As a child she has Power, and assumes she will follow in her mother's footsteps by joining the Ladies of the Cauldron. But there is another fate in store for her. For Gwen is also blessed by Epona, the horse goddess. On the advice of her hero, a female chariot driver named Braith, Gwen finds herself training to be a warrior. She falls into this life with a passion, determined to become one of her father's war chiefs.

But it is only after she has achieved all that she dreamt of that fate conspires to make her Arthur's third wife. As the daughter of a king, she always knew that such could be her fate, and so she bows to it. But how can a warrior turn her back on the life she loves?

It took me a bit to really get into Gwenhwyfar. But once I did, it was well worth the read. Gwen is a wonderful character who I really found myself empathizing with, especially when she was required to become more womanly as the High Queen. While I am not a warrior, I understood what she felt when she was confined within the palace. Someone like her will never be happy, no matter how comfortable and pretty the cage is. She needs to be free.

Something that Arthur says near the end beautifully summed this up: "I tried to make you - what you were not. I took a warhorse, and tried to fit it to a plow" (397). Gwen tries - and fails - to be what she is not in order to please everyone else. And in the end this fails because she is not meant for ploughing.

Gwenhwyfar was a beautiful book, especially for anyone who has ever struggled with trying to be something they are not.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Faerie Locket

The Faerie Locket is the companion novel to the Dungeon's and Dragons A Practical Guide to Faeries. I found it at the Bookshelf and thought it sounded rather intriguing. While it is written for a younger audience (and it's very obvious about this as soon as you start reading it) I thought it was an entertaining book overall.

Twelve-year-old Jade finds a faerie locket, which transports her to the Feywild. Once there she is transformed into a Pixie. She finds herself at the heart of a war between the Ice Queen and the Summer King. Despite having lost her trove of power, the Ice Queen is trying to conquer the Feywild by freezing it and thereby killing the summer fey. As a desperate last hope, the Summer King has sent the locket to a human girl in the hopes that she will fulfill a prophecy and end the war. There's just one problem: the locket was meant for Vira, Jade's older sister. Can Jade do the impossible and stop the war within three days? Especially when almost everyone doesn't believe she can?

The Faerie Locket is a really quick, light read. I read it in one night while I was at camp. Keeping in mind that this is a story meant for a younger reader, The Faerie Locket is an all around fun story. At its heart it is the story of Jade becoming a hero, even when all the adults dismiss her because she is too young (and later for also being a pixie). My one problem with it came from a misunderstanding: when originally reading the plot synopsis, I thought it was a girl from "our" world that is brought to the Feywild. Instead it is a girl from a fantasy world who is transported to the realm of faeries which exists alongside her realm. Once I got over that, I found the book extremely enjoyable.