Thursday 27 June 2024

Shout-Out: Foul Days by Genoveva Dimova

The Witcher meets Naomi Novik in this fast-paced fantasy rooted in Slavic folklore, from an assured new voice in genre fiction

As a witch in the walled city of Chernograd, Kosara has plenty of practice taming rusalkas, fighting kikimoras, and brewing lycanthrope repellent. There’s only one monster Kosara can’t defeat: her ex the Zmey, known as the Tsar of Monsters. She’s defied him one too many times, and now he’s hunting her. Betrayed to him by someone close to her, Kosara’s only hope is to trade her shadow—the source of her powers—for illegal passage across the Wall to Belograd, where monsters can’t follow.

Life in Belograd should be sweet, but Kosara soon develops a fast-acting version of the deadly wasting sickness that stalks shadowless witches—and only reclaiming her magic can cure her. To trace her shadow, she’ll have to team up with the suspiciously honorable detective investigating the death of the smuggler who brought her across the Wall.

Even worse than working with the cops is that all the clues point in a single direction: one of the Zmey’s monsters has found a crack in the Wall, and Kosara’s magic is now in the Zmey’s hands.

The clock is ticking, the hunt is on, and Kosara’s priorities should be clear—but is she the hunter or the hunted? And in a city where everyone is out for themselves, who can Kosara trust to assist her in outwitting the man—the Monster—she’s never been able to escape alone?

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Movie Review: Boss Level

Directed by Joe Carnahan
IMDb listing

A washed up former special ops agent must figure out why he keeps reliving the same day over again, pursued by a group of assassins.

This is an enjoyable action movie. Don’t think about the plot too hard, just watch the bullets fly.

The special effects are very well done and the acting good. There are some great stunts. There are even a few laughs (especially with Guan Yin, the swordswoman).

Personally, I enjoy ‘repeat day’ stories. It’s still nice to see new twists on the old formula, and this movie has a few.

If you’re looking for a fun time waster, give this a try.


Tuesday 11 June 2024

Book Review: Eloquent Bodies: Movement, Expression, and the Human Figure in Gothic Sculpture by Jacqueline Jung

The book has 6 chapters in addition to its introduction and conclusion:
1 Encountering the Gothic Sculpture: Mimesis, Kinetics, Haptic Engagement
2 Moving Bodies, Dynamic Perception: The Slowscapes of the Strasbourg South Transept Portal
3 Movement, Media & the Quest for Salvation: A Pillar for Thinking in the Strasbourg South Transept
4 From Motion to Emotion: Encounters with the Wise and Foolish Virgins
5 The Donor Figures of Naumburg Cathedral, Part I: Presence
6 The Donor Figures of Naumburg Cathedral, Part II: Meaning

This is a very focused discussion on sculpture in the round, specifically as used in the cathedrals in Strasbourg and Naumburg. The author does branch out to show other examples demonstrating the historical progression of the Wise & Foolish Virgin sculptures in the former Holy Roman Empire’s lands.

It’s wonderful to see a book that emphasizes the dimensionality of sculpture. Books on gothic sculpture often only show a single image from a single viewpoint (in fact, you’ll often see basically the same image/viewpoint of a particular sculpture in all books). The author’s done an excellent job of photographing the examples in the round, from various angles, showing how standing in different spots to view the sculpture changes what you see and sometimes even the meaning of the piece (the South transept tympanum at Strasbourg are a great example of this, with characters coming in and out of view as you move to the opposite sides).

The author is meticulous in her descriptions of the sculptures: their facial expressions, hand gestures, clothing. I was impressed with the level of detail. For example, Uta of Ballenstedt’s statue in Naumburg is wearing a crown with a hinge, indicating that it was meant to fold.

Chapter 6 didn’t interest me as much as the others. It’s an imagined Sic et Non wherein she tries to guess why the medieval planners of the cathedral chose to place the donor’s statues in the west choir. While it’s an interesting exercise, ultimately unless they’ve written their motivations down, it’s simply guesswork.

If you’re interested in medieval gothic sculpture or visiting one of the cathedrals discussed, it’s a great read. I took a ton of notes for my trip.

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Video: Every Major Crusader Order Explained in under 14 minutes

Found this interesting video by the Based Plato talking about the medieval Crusader Orders. The video mentions a few I'd never heard of.