Saturday, July 16, 2016

[map] Sorbek's Redoubt

Sorbek, the hard boiled and mean leader of a glog of bandits, moved into this small cave system a decade ago claiming they would only rest here for a few days. His 'boys' as he is fond of calling the glog, can be found raiding all along the River Purgatory and its tributaries. They enter the cave system only at night through a tight and hidden crevasse, navigating  in near darkness the twisting underground waterways until a secret turn off which leads to the Redoubt. In a decade no one has been able to follow them and locate their base and thus operating with impunity.
Sorbek keeps his band small, only adding to the ranks for short term attacks and then releasing the new men (usually dead into the river). He and his small band have amassed quite a large amount of treasure and are planning to retire 'after just one more raid' that never seems to satiate their desires.

I had a request over on Reddit to add numbers to the map, so here you go! If you make anything really cool using this, let me know.


Brought to your courtesy of my badass supporters over on Patreon. Their support and comments keeps me driving to create more maps for everyone to enjoy. If you want to become a badass support, click the image below!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

[book review] The Big Showdown (A Caleb York Western)

Yes, I am a sucker for a good western. I have always enjoyed a good western film and since Hollywood does not make them much any longer - and no, please do not tell me The Bone Tomahawk or The Hateful Eight were good westerns...I will shoot you myself - I have moved to reading them.

This is actually the second in a series based off the notes of author Mickey Spillane, yes, that Mickey, who entrusted his notes and characters to another of my favorite authors, Max Allan Collins. Collins is the author of the Quarry series which you need to read.

This was a very quick read, no doubt due to Mr Collins' excellent writing. I enjoyed this book, keeping in mind what it is: A solid western.

That said, I clearly could feel Spillane's hands all over this one. Yes it was a western, with many of the usual tropes but it was also something much more like a Hammer novel with some detective work and a solid mystery in need of solving. The characters are pretty straight forward and realistic, even York's amazing gun work seems plausible. The wrapping up of the mystery seemed a little rushed but honestly this was ok because the story cycled through nicely to its conclusion.

York is tough, much like Hammer, but in a more realistic way. Compared to Det. Hammer, York seemed to have genuine doubt about situations and a little more nervous about coming out on the other side ok. He took stock in the situation, added an ally or two when needed and carefully planned his actions. Hammer seems to just wander in, confident that he is untouchable.

All in all, I recommend this. If you enjoy westerns, or even a little mystery, I would think you would enjoy this. I am hoping Collins finds these books successful and continues the series in the future.

Monday, July 11, 2016

[book review] Sharp Ends

This is the first Abercrombie book I have read, I wanted to see if I liked his writing before diving into a 500+ plus page novel. Take this review as a person who is not a gushing fan. I am glad I picked this up at the library, it did not disappoint.

I am fan of what is considered 'Men's Adventure' books, gritty, bloody, and violent stories told from the pulp days. That said, I feel this is a fantasy version of many of those books. If you have read any of Max Allen Collins "Quarry" series, that seems like a solid pairing to this. In any case, I highly recommend this book.

I know there are bits of these stories that deal with characters from the trilogy and clearly some of it is missed upon by me. For example, everyone and their mother loves Glockta Glokta but honestly the first story did little for me. It was good, but I have no connection to this character, whatever was awesome about seeing him in glory days went directly over my head.

A handful of the stories are interesting but just snapshots of life in the nasty, horrible place, much dealing with what seems to be an ever-present war that wages throughout this world. Good, but not great, and nothing to write home about. I am assuming some of these are stories to flesh out characters found in the other novels set in this world, so that could have made their impact more profound.

Now, about a third of the stories have two characters weaving through them. Shev and Javre, and they are simply fantastic. That's them over on the left. One of the stories is available online for free here: http://www.tor.com/2016/01/12/twos-company-joe-abercrombie/ However, I almost recommend getting the book and reading it as this is not the first story with Shev and Javre in the book and you might miss out on some of the fun getting to know them as their story progresses through the book.

I loved every single one of the stories and enjoyed their silly banter as they struggle to survive this hellish place and we pick up bits and pieces from their past and the events between each of the stories (some are set more than a decade apart). I actually reread the Two’s Company story because it was that good. I would like an entire novel with these two characters please. Remind me somewhat of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser but women and my are they hilarious. Probably one of the best character pairings I have read in a long while.

Good stuff, and it did it's job, I immediately went and picked up The Blade Itself, the first book in his trilogy. I guess that means I liked it.

Upcoming maps

A sneak peek at some maps I am working on for my supporters over on Patreon, thought you might like to see.

First up is a map based on a real thing I have seen for years on the internet and intended to map but just never seemed to get around to it. People seem to be liking my 'more developed' maps I have been doing lately with side views or images attached and I came across the real thing again today. This will probably be completed later in the month and be up on Patreon.

The next map is one I have been working on off and on over the last week. I have always liked the idea of secret pirate treasure coves like the one seen in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. A pirate hideout hidden away from the world via passage through a flooded cavern is just magical. This one will likely be up first to Patreon, maybe later this week.

If you like these maps and want to have the full size versions I post on Patreon, consider backing me. Most maps are posted as 11"x14" at 300dpi and would be suitable for printing at your local printer. If you are interested, drop by https://www.patreon.com/msjackson for more details.