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The Alcomancer - A Fantasy Review
79 minutes | Oct 15, 2017
Alcomancer 12 - Raymond E. Feist's Magician
In this episode our gaze lingers on Fantasy giant Raymond E. Feist and his 1982 debut Magician. The first installment of one Fantasy's longest running epics The Riftwar Cycle - which spans some thirty-odd books and as many years - Magician tells the story of Pug and his boyhood friend, Tomas, whose lives are forever changed when first they spy the wreck of a strange ship on the shore below their home of Crydee Castle. This discovery sets their feet upon the path to greatness and together the two must navigate the pitfalls of a world plunged into inter-stellar conflict, grapple with raging hormones, achieve mastery of most puissant arts and, worst of all, talk to girls. This is the final episode for Season One of the Alcomancer, and we don't do encores. Hold fast, for Season Two this way comes.
77 minutes | Aug 13, 2017
Alcomancer 11 - Glen Cook's The Black Company
War. War never changes… But the way we conceptualise and relate to it sure does! This episode we’re looking down the barrel at Glen Cook’s The Black Company (1984) the first installment of the eponymous series and a Grand-pappy of Grimdark as a fully realised sub-genre. Cook’s Black Company is a ragtag crew of lowlifes and ne’er-do-wells come elite mercenary unit bound together by the bonds of history, brotherhood and the certain knowledge that when shit hits the fan they’ll be the guys cleaning the upholstery. On tonight’s discussion, we get heavy on Realism and what it’s doing sobering up my Fantasies and consider the Vietnam War and the impact of history on reading and writing. It’s a hoot! Spoilers as always but you weren’t there man!Up next with the Alcomancer: we slip through a rent in time and space and journey forth to the world of Raymond E. Feist’s Magician (1982). Pack something warm.
78 minutes | Jul 30, 2017
Alcomancer 10 - Ken Liu's Grace of Kings
Back again from yet another adventure in far flung lands under alien skies we return with stories from the Islands of Dara. Stories which tell of a people beset by war, torn apart by ideals and of those amongst them who strive to build anew. On tonight’s menu its Ken Liu’s much acclaimed ‘The Grace of Kings’ (2015), the first installment of the Dandelion Dynasty series. We’ll be serving up hot topics such as the role of technology in Fantasy, the role of pig wrestling in military drills, and asking hard questions like what is a mechanical cruben really? And how the fuck does it work?Sounds delicious. As usual this episode is not without its giveaways but rest assured, unlike inferior dishes served elsewhere, this plot will not spoil easy! And for those already itching in their pants for where the life of adventure might lead next, be warned, for those who march with Glen Cook’s ‘The Black Company’, there’s no going home.
66 minutes | Jun 17, 2017
Alcomancer 09 - Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea
Tired of the whiz-banging razzamatazz of Fantasy in the modern world we decided to cast our eyes back a ways to the unassuming adventures of Ged, a man alone amongst the deep waters of Earthsea, lost in contemplation and touched by a strange darkness. In this episode we take to talking Magic, Taoism and the world of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. Be forewarned, we leave no rock unnamed and no spoiler unspoiled.And if you’re reading along or just hate surprises, next episode we’ll be reading from Ken Liu’s highly praised and debut novel The Grace of Kings. This episode we are sipping on two lovely bottles of wine generously given to us by Rathbones. Check them out here
70 minutes | May 21, 2017
Alcomancer 08 - Mark Lawrence's The Prince Of Thorns
This week we take a tipple from the cup of Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns, the first book in his Broken Empire series. Come and bare silent witness to our camaraderie. We go over and over Lawrence’s treatment of evil protagonists and find it lacking. We love the idea of an unmitigated badass to follow around, stuffing our mouths with anachronistic food stuffs as we watch the carnage unfold. We just don’t want to be stuck with a 14-year-old who keeps telling us about everything they did. Warning - the road ahead is dark and dirty and full of spoilers. Next episode's novel will be Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea.
83 minutes | Apr 29, 2017
Alcomancer 07 - R.A. Salvatore's The Crystal Shard
An episode jam-packed with changes and adventure - we welcome fan-fiction erotica historian Russ to the show to talk about the swashbuckling, genre-defining Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore. Dan talks about the collective nouns for goodly folk, and Mark offers gravelly insight into the evilest figure of the whole book - King Bruenor Battlehammer. We talk about the challenges in translating DnD character sheets into stories, the difficulties in brewing tundra mead, and why Cattie-Brie shouldn't talk like a dwarf. This episode contains spoilers. Next episode's book is Mark Lawrence's debut novel Prince of Thorns.
103 minutes | Mar 19, 2017
Alcomancer 06 - Jim Butcher's Storm Front
Harry is a wizard, a lover, a fighter, a private eye and a dick. This week we wet our beaks with ‘Storm Front’, the first in Jim Butcher’s long-running urban fantasy series: The Dresden Files. In this episode we get talking about pulp, crime, magic and take a good, hard look at the inner workings of Jim's mind. Next episode - prepare for the pure, uncut and unadulterated fantasy of R. A. Salvatore's The Crystal Shard, a classic of the Forgotten Realms stable. This episode contains spoilers.
93 minutes | Feb 18, 2017
Alcomancer 05 - N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season
This episode is N. K. Jeminin's The Fifth Season, which is a departure from our regular fare. Modern and challenging, blending genres and influences and turning traditional fantasy on its head. This episode contains spoilers.
111 minutes | Dec 11, 2016
Alcomancer 04 - Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora
We couldn't say enough good things about this novel so we got friend of the show and talented designer Matt in to help us out, who in exchange for making our show design look as wonderful as it did, was in no way contractually obliged to come on and talk about a book that he wanted to. There aren't many books that out-perform Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora in any way you care to name, or at least that's the view we're putting forward. We do try our very best to offer a counter-argument in what we imagined are the book's softer elements, but could find little wanting. We discuss modern language in the Fantasy genre, the Heist in all its glory, why you never see comedy in the genre, and a whole bunch on turtles.
127 minutes | Nov 29, 2016
Alcomancer 03 - Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear
Mark and Daniel discuss Fantasy author's shining light Patrick Rothfus and his second novel in the Kingkiller's Chronicle, The Wise Man's Fear. They talk about why Fantasy authors can't write cool, why Denna gets the short straw, and cover the Best Spring Break Ever. We would like to take this opportunity to say we won't be talking about what we're going to be doing in upcoming podcasts or on outro tracks - we promised The Princess Bride, we delivered Rothfuss. We planned for Sting, but we went back to synthpop as usual. Oh, so many spoilers, so be warned. Enjoy!
97 minutes | Nov 14, 2016
Alcomancer 02 - Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself
Daniel and Mark are back to follow up their stunning debut, which brought pleasure to very nearly dozens, to tackle Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself. Despite this book being very popular for its modern take on the genre, we found it problematic, both in the story itself and what it represents moving forward for the fantasy genre. Nonetheless, we did our best to understand the appeal of Abercrombie's work. Also Daniel starts to say 'the something itself' quite early and doesn't let up. This episode contains spoilers. This episode's outro 'Northern Boy, Northern Girl' produced with a TR-505, Roland SH-32 and a Daniel.
98 minutes | Oct 31, 2016
Alcomancer 01 - Robin Hobb's The Fool's Assassin
In this episode Mark and Dan tear open old wounds and wallow piteously through the pages of Robin Hobb’s grand return to the trials and tribulations of FitzChivalry Farseer - bastard assassin come bumbling father. The Fool’s Assassin (2014) -book one of the ‘Fitz and the Fool’ series- follows Fitz as his hard won happy ending is gradually dismantled before his very eyes. Luckily we brought a big ol’ bottle gin to the party to help things along. ----more---- In a genre known more for its blunt edge trauma than emotional subtlety the Fool’s Assassin offers a rare break from battles and babes and instead seeks to show off something of fantasies sensitive side. Hobb does a masterful job of exploring her cast and crew as contained individual characters, but it’s the way she traces the lines between them that sets her books apart. The relationships between character in this novel are expertly drawn and a genuine pleasure to read. Even when they end in tears and tragedy. In this episode we take this as our general theme and invite you to join us for a closer look at the nature of these relationships and the scenes and devices Hobb employs to exhibit them. For those unfamiliar with Hobb’s work or just looking for more (the wiki link also includes some of her work under her other alias Megan Lindholm): http://www.robinhobb.com/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hobb_bibliography#The_Fitz_and_the_Fool_Trilogy We struggled to talk about the book in isolation. Despite our best efforts, we found ourselves referring to the previous books with Fitz in them. Also, there are way too many people with Fitz in their name. So, if you want to know more about the other books we talked about, start with the Farseer Trilogy. Be prepared, these books are long, and the journey fraught with emotional turmoil. Similarly, in case other authors mentioned caught your eye, here are some equally handy links: Ursula Le Guin - http://www.ursulakleguin.com/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_K._Le_Guin_bibliography We discussed Le Guin in comparison to Hobb, specifically the nature of loneliness and the isolation of characters in both Hobb’s work and Le Guin’s Earthsea novels. Robert Jordan - http://www.dragonmount.com/Books/index.php Jordan came up when we talked about the nature of destiny and prophecy in The Fool’s Assassin. Specifically how the characters in The Wheel of Time may bitch about being The Chosen One(s) yet they still all pile in when it comes to the crunch. A nice counterpoint to Fitz’s great reluctance to do anything. Brandon Sanderson - http://brandonsanderson.com/books/ Joe Abercrombie - http://www.joeabercrombie.com/ There are spoilers abound in this podcast, so be warned. Another spoiler - gin was a bad idea. Our outro song ‘Why Me?’ was sung by a Bryan Ferry impersonator.
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