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[personal profile] alobear
Whilst away at the weekend, I finished reading The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope. I was initially intrigued by the fact that the protagonist appeared to be a man of Portuguese descent, named Ferdinand Lopez. As the opening conflict in the story related to his desire to marry Emily Wharton, and her father's only objection was that he wasn't English, I thought perhaps the novel was going to subvert Victorian prejudices and have him turn out to be the hero. Sadly, this was not to be, and Lopez was soon revealed to be thoroughly bad. Still, the development of Emily as a character had a great deal of depth, and her struggle in trying to remain true to her marriage vows, as her husband's character became clear to her, was very convincingly portrayed. All the characters were multi-faceted (Lopez really did love her, in his way), and the angst and melodrama overflowed throughout the book in a highly entertaining fashion. It was very repetitive in places (good, old, paid-by-the-word serials!), and I would have preferred Lopez to prove everyone wrong by establishing his worth, but it was still a very enjoyable book overall.


I also finished listening to Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, which I decided to try because the audio version was recommended to me as having a good narrator. This was certainly true, as I remember not really being engaged by the book when I read it in text version, whereas the audiobook got me invested right away, and kept me listening avidly right to the end. The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, imbued the hero, Peter Grant, with a very appealing, self-deprecating humour, and I was extremely happy to spend many hours in his company. The story, involving a ghost possessing people and forcing them to commit violent crimes along the plot of Mr Punch, was pretty unpleasant in places, but the world was well-drawn and the peripheral characters both varied and interesting. So, whilst I only got as far as this book when reading, I shall definitely continue with the series in audio format, as another demonstration of how much difference a really good narrator can make to a story.


There were also several games played at the weekend, all of them new to me. I didn't get on that well with Legendary Encounters (Firefly version), as it seemed overly difficult for the players to triumph, and the actual gameplay wasn't very interesting. I also wasn't particularly fond of Migration, which is one of those games where I grasped the mechanics very quickly, but failed entirely to appreciate any level of strategy. Gloom in Space was just Gloom with space-themed cards, and proved just as unengaging as I remembered the original game being.

However, I bought Via Nebula, which turned out to be a really interesting and fun game. It involves exploring a misty valley, establishing building sites, and then transporting the relevant resources to them, in order to build structures that then give you certain powers. The exploration and discovery of resources benefited all the players, whereas the buildings only benefited the person completing them, so it was a tricky balance of getting what you needed without helping everyone else too much. Definitely one to play again while it's still fresh in my mind, and a decent addition to our games collection.

We also played Great Scott, which proved very entertaining on several levels. Players collect cards in order to construct a weird invention, and then have to describe it to the other players in the manner of a snakeoil salesman trying to make a sale. There was strategy in the card-collecting stages, in that points could be earned for matching types and also alliteration. And then it was great fun listening to everyone try and explain how indispensable their inventions were, whilst also trying to sell one's own. I drew with one of the other players, though most of my points came from good card combinations, whilst he earned most of his via enthusiastic performance skills at the selling stage. My favourite of my inventions was the Clockwork Cucumber Driven Dandelion Airship.

July 2017

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