A Guide to Assassin’s Creed for Non-Gamers

The latest trailer for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie, starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons, hit last week. I’ve been playing the games, in order, since 2013 and from what we’ve seen of the film so far, it looks to be a fun, pretty faithful adaptation. There’s historical locations, conspiracies, ancestral DNA-based virtual reality systems, hoodies, stabbing, jumping off tall buildings. That’s pretty much the Assassin’s Creed recipe.

But for a game best known for its signature hoodies, jumping, and stabbing, there’s a surprising amount of backstory to the Assassin’s Creed games—and a surprising amount of that backstory seems to feature prominently in the movie. So, with a wide-band spoiler warning firmly in place, I’m going to take you through a quick tour of what I think we’re being shown in the trailers and through the principle tenets of the series. Welcome, newcomers! Find a nice cathedral to climb, put your best hoodie on, take a minute to reflect on the fact that Ezio was the best leading character ever, and get ready to take a leap of faith into the middle of Assassin’s Creed

[A handy guide to the world of Assassin’s Creed…]

The Weaver

Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret—she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island’s elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society.

But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver—and could she hold Eliana’s fate in her hand?

As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn’t understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island’s dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.

Emmi Itäranta, author of the critically acclaimed Memory of Water, returns with The Weaver—available November 1st from Harper Voyager.

[Read an Excerpt]

Aliens and Family Values: Lilo and Stitch

Gantu: You’re vile. You’re foul. You’re flawed!

Stitch: Also cute and fluffy!

Before I get into this post, I should perhaps confess something. I have two plush Stitches; a Yoda Stitch complete with a stuffed green light saber; a Christmas Stitch; assorted Disney Trading Pins featuring Stitch, including, but not limited to, a Star Wars Emperor Palpatine Stitch and a pirate Stitch; and a Stitch backpack which I have taken to cons.

Which is to say, I may—may—have a slight bias in favor of destructive aliens reformed through the examples of Elvis and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling.

Just slight.

So now that we have that slightly embarrassing admission out of the way… let’s chat about Lilo & Stitch.

[In which we can all learn valuable lessons from the sterling example of Elvis Presley]

The Diabolic Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of S.J. Kincaid’s The Diabolic, available November 1st from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers!

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

Comment in the post to enter!

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Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Childhood Trauma Here: Poltergeist

It’s HEEE-ERRRR! The Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia, that is! And with a special switcheroo treat—or trick, depending on your point of view!

So, yeah: for reasons both too complicated and too boring to get into, it turns out I totally lied in the last post’s epilogue about what the MRGN is covering next, and uh, also forgot to update the last post to tell you that. Sorry? I love you?

But nevertheless, I hope you will forgive me, and also still join me for my very nostalgic and eminently Halloween-season-appropriate review of My First Horror Flick, 1982’s Poltergeist!

Previous entries can be found here. Please note that as with all films covered on the Nostalgia Rewatch, this post will be rife with spoilers for the film.

And now, the post!


Series: Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia

The Offbeat Infernal: 5 Books with Unusual Demons and Devils

We all know the standard-issue demon, all horns and sulfur and dark seduction, often done up in a bespoke suit; perhaps you’d care to trade your soul for this totally sweet vintage Jaguar, or maybe you prefer to play chess? Of all the recurring characters in Western literature, the devil and his attendant demons rank among the most familiar. If we’re talking Paradise Lost, or Faust, or the many works that bear their imprint, the devil’s evil is complicated by a rebellious grandeur, a defiance both poignant and brave in its futility. But whether his wickedness is crude or nuanced, the devil walks cloaked in tropes.

But the devil is a shapeshifter, and what we find if we lift away that cloak depends on the imaginations of those who dare to interrogate the nature of the demonic. Writers who conjure up the devil on their pages have encountered fiends both coldly alien and far too human for comfort. They’ve revealed versions of Mephistopheles who offer a hideous reflection of the culture in which they’ve appeared, who expose something about the specific forms evil takes in the modern world. But they’ve also described demons who are quirky or wistful or even oddly innocent as they create their casual havoc; demons who, like human beings, are engaged in a constant struggle with their own will to destruction. Here are five of my favorite books featuring out-of-the-ordinary denizens of Hell.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Warbreaker Reread: Chapter 2

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, we met the Idrian royal family, learned of treaties and conflicts, and witnessed the critical decision to send Siri in Vivenna’s place. This week, the sisters express their dissatisfaction with the exchange in no uncertain terms, and another plot-critical decision is reached.

This reread will contain spoilers for all of Warbreaker and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. This is particularly likely to include Words of Radiance, due to certain crossover characters. The index for this reread can be found here.

Click on through to join the discussion!

[She was redundant now. Useless. Unimportant.]

Series: Warbreaker Reread

How Fantasy Author Brent Weeks Makes Space for His Readers’ Opinions

“Things on my mind,” Brent Weeks shared in his latest Reddit AMA on r/fantasy: “how much polonium is in the Ramen noodles I’m eating, the interactions of low-level fame with social media (i.e. the reasons I lurk instead of post), and how much I should be packing for book tour.”

The tour is for The Blood Mirror, published earlier this week, the fourth (of five) novel in his Lightbringer fantasy series. While much of the AMA focused on the chromaturgy, or color magic, that makes up the Lightbringer series’ magic system, one Redditor latched on to the lurking comment. Weeks’ answer was the kind of gem you find in AMAs: a short primer on making space for the opinions of readers and fans while still engaging in the art and in the fantasy community.

[Read more]

The Only Way Is Down: Faller by Will McIntosh

At the start of Faller, the new SF novel by Will McIntosh, a man regains consciousness lying on a city street. He doesn’t remember his name, the name of the city, or how he got there. In fact, his mind is almost completely blank, just like all the other people who are waking up in complete confusion around him. What’s even stranger, the world appears to end a few city blocks from where the man woke up. Rather than more streets and buildings, there’s just a chasm looking out over empty sky, as if this fragment of a city was torn from a larger whole and then tossed into the air. This feels odd to the man, somehow, even though he has no recollection of what a city is supposed to look like.

The man finds three objects in his pockets: a toy soldier with a plastic parachute, a mysterious map drawn in blood (and since his finger is cut, he assumes he drew the map with his own blood, suggesting it must be important), and a photograph of himself with a woman he doesn’t recognize. Since clues are the only thing he has, and he doesn’t recall his name, he decides to go by the name Clue.

Eventually, inspired by the toy soldier in his pocket, Clue decides to construct a parachute. That’s how he discovers that the floating city fragment on which he regained consciousness isn’t the only one. Taking the new name Faller, he embarks on a quest to find the mysterious woman on the photograph…

[But wait, as they say in infomercials, there’s more!]

Midnight in Karachi Episode 69: Sami Shah’s “Fire Boy Interlude C”

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

This week’s episode is a reading of a story from the world of Fire Boy—an urban fantasy set in contemporary Karachi, and writer and comedian Sami Shah’s first novel. Sami’s memoir I, Migrant, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the Russell Prize for Humour Writing. You can find more of his writing here.

[Read more]

Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Where to Start with Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the kind of author whose works burrow under your skin. Months after finishing one of his books, certain scenes will pop up in your memories at unexpected moments. Characters will haunt you, their travails or deaths stalking you during work meetings, Twitter scrolling, even through other books. Hill writes horror fiction with a style as eviscerating as it is visceral. His works critique and peel apart our sociocultural ideals by pushing his characters to the extreme, and he does it all with geeky Easter eggs and literary eloquence.

There was a time not long ago when I could bring up author Joe Hill and no one would have any idea who I was talking about. Nowadays nearly every reader I encounter has heard of him, but many haven’t yet read any of his works. The son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King, Hill has written numerous novels, short stories, and comics, as well scripts for two TV shows (even though neither made it to air). His back catalogue, while a boon to long-time fans like myself, can be overwhelming for a newbie unsure of which to read first. Some are intimidated by his larger tomes while others by the horror tag. But I maintain there’s at least one Joe Hill story for everyone. It’s just a matter of digging around until we find it. Let’s see if I can’t do something about that…

[“Fantasy was always only a reality waiting to be switched on.”]

This Morning in Publishing: October 27, 2016

Now here’s a cameo more exciting than a superhero crossover! Ariell Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia, is the first black woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast—and she’s also the first to appear on the cover of a Marvel Comic! Chatting it up with new Iron Man Riri Williams, no less. That’s the kind of groundbreaking news you’ll find in today’s publishing culture roundup!

[Read more]