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Matthew T. Witten RSS Feed (Glen Allen, VA United States)

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Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica
Offered by THE BT GROUP
Price: $55.68
21 used & new from $35.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent multiplayer game for a group of friends who enjoyed the show., January 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Battlestar Galactica (Toy)
This game performs a miraculous restoration of the promise of the show before what I consider to be an awful ending. We played with a group of six. There were twists, turns, betrayals, redemption. A great experience for any fans of the show, especially if you enjoyed the first few seasons. The game mechanics give everyone something to do on every players turn which cuts down on the downtime between turns. Epic space battles, political fights, and really tough decisions make for an outstanding game. I imagine it is best with five or six players though.

Omen (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi, Book 2)
Omen (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi, Book 2)
by Christie Golden
Edition: Hardcover
106 used & new from $0.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor to Fair. (Mild Spoilers), July 15, 2009
Adventure stories are only as good as their villains. The villains set up in this book are kind of what one would imagine the J.J. Abrams reboot of the Sith would be. Or more acutely, perhaps lifted a little too much from the Blood Elves of World of Warcraft. They crave beauty, live in a beautiful city, ride around on pets and learn to be "evil" Sith in a way that makes them seem at worst, mildly unpleasant. The "villain" is a teenager who craves nothing more than to be a really evil Sith Lord. She is a perfectly acceptable young woman for most of this short novel (she loves her father, cares for her childhood pet, dedicated student, is a loyal friend), until in the last few chapters we are treated to a glossed over couple of paragraphs of her dastardly Sith deeds in taking lives and being evil. I like the character and the description of her people, but Palpatine would be rolling over in his grave to think that these people are the legacy of the Sith. Much as we needed to "see" Anakin attack the Jedi Temple it would have been useful to really get into this teenager's transition to cold blooded killer.

So without a protagonist of any note the story meanders around here and there without focus. More Jedi characters we have no attachment to go insane. Things are reduced to a couple of characters avoiding the paparazzi so they can date and do nebulous secret missions attempting to solve a mystery that clearly will be solved by other characters. Very telling is the fact that the annoying news reporter is far more sinister than any of the Sith in the novel. Empire Strikes Back it 'aint.

And for some reason the new story arc for Han Solo is Han Solo, crotchety grandfather. Meh. Han Solo and the Circus Gone Wild! Double meh. I wish somebody would go back and read the "Han Solo at Stars End" trilogy from a while back that was so excellent and try to incorporate more of those adventures.

There are bits about the relationship between Luke and his son that are quite good, continuing a good trend from Alston's decent first book. Their adventures are a bit ho hum, but the relationship aspects are nice and serve as this novel's strongest offering. Luke, in particular, feels more like a real character doing real things and interacting with his son in a real way in these last two novels. A much better approach to the character than the wise old Jedi Master who never becomes directly involved.

If this new series focused on less characters, had a really interesting villain (*paging Tim Zahn*), and perhaps focused on the most underused character in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (Luke) it would be far more compelling. As it stands we are getting watered down villains, piecemeal plots, and something less than an epic Star Wars feel.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 30, 2011 7:26 AM PDT

Star Trek: The Next Generation: I.K.S. Gorkon: Honor Bound (Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon) (Bk. 2)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: I.K.S. Gorkon: Honor Bound (Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon) (Bk. 2)
by Keith R. A. Decandido
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
38 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Continues a compelling story., January 19, 2004
Easy read. Good characters. I could have used a bit more tactical detail in the space battles and large scale ground conflicts. It seemed to read at times like a good script for a TV show instead of a novel.
This is a great little series though. Kind of like the Wraith Squadron books. Good use of quirky and memorable minor characters to the franchize who become stars in their own right. I'm looking forward to a third book.
I'd like to see Klag and the crew of the Gorkon get sent to the Mirror Universe.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: I.K.S. Gorkon: A Good Day to Die: A Good Day to Die, Book One (Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon) (Bk. 1)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: I.K.S. Gorkon: A Good Day to Die: A Good Day to Die, Book One (Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon) (Bk. 1)
by Keith R. A. Decandido
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
45 used & new from $0.01

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff., January 19, 2004
Highly amusing. Action packed. Even for non-Klingon speaking life forms. Excellent characters.
Certainly the best Trek to be found at the moment.

The Sorcerer: Return of the Archwizards, Book III (The Return of the Archwizards)
The Sorcerer: Return of the Archwizards, Book III (The Return of the Archwizards)
by Troy Denning
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
57 used & new from $0.01

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters, but a loss of originality and focus., November 22, 2002
While the first book in this series was quite excellent the last two lag. This is the fantasy equivilant of a big budget summer movie without a good deal of rational plot or interesting settings.
Most of the book is chaotic battles that are rife with super human characters that cannot possibly die. While in the first book the enemies were built up to be incredibly formadible, the heroes seem to slash and blast their way without very much difficulty here.
Perhaps hurting the Forgotten Realms setting more than anything is the resurgance of the LOTR, with the new movies. The copies of that work are showing their shallowness. Elves are threatened and the magic must be restored in order to save the world. The climax comes down to an against all odds defense of a single city. How many times has this been done before and far better? The Elfstones of Shanara do this story better justice.
The neat things about this series were the Shadovar and the potential threat they posed to the Realms. That would have invigorated the tired setting a bit, but instead that threat is rendered all but impotent at the conclusion of this novel.
Even worse is the sitcom soap opera that is so sterotyptical it's hard not to skip pages.
While the book admirably tries to make Galaeron interesting, his transformation into Shadow Wizard is still a pale likeness of Raistlin. Without giving a way too much, the tidy ending was wholely unsatisfying.
Unfortunately, much like the Cormyrian Trilogy, this one falls apart with the last two books after an excellent first book. I recently reread the excellent "Crusade" as proof that the Forgotten Realms can still be a viable setting of excellent fantasy. Unfortunately, more of the current novels lose the focus of the story and fail to stay as tight as the Hoard Saga. It would have been a far more interesting saga if Azoun had been able to form his Alliance and fought the Shadovar in an epic war. But alas, we are left with superhuman divine intervention instead of realistic and mortal heroes.

Rebel Dream: Enemy Lines I (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order #11)
Rebel Dream: Enemy Lines I (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order #11)
by Aaron Allston
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.99
163 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wedge Rules the Galaxy... at last!, April 10, 2002
Allston's Wraith Squadron series was an entertaining diversion from the normal Rogue fair. He is a solid writer who has no qualms about going in refreshing directions with his characters. This book is outstanding for it's action and the new direction he takes some of the older characters.
Observe Luke actually do something other than "sit around like a wise man on his mountain". Wedge comes out of retirement to take his true place as ruler of the galaxy. It just doesn't get any cooler than that. The Vong bad guy in this one is actually interesting as well. The whole father/son thing is intrical to the Star Wars Mythos and it works well here to give the bad guys some much needed character and flavor. Minor characters are all well portrayed. Fans of Lando, Han, etc. will be well pleased that Allston manages to get in a lot of face time for a lot of characters. They are all in good hands. Saying that Danni Qui (or whoever) was "Almost Famous" locked her in my mind's eye as that actress. I wonder if that was intended? New characters are interesting and memorable.
The story itself is pretty tight. The direction the New Republic goes in this story is refreshing. A few minor quibbles in the details (A Super Star Destroyer should have an Admiral in command, or at least a Captain), but mostly quite entertaining. Here's hoping the Rogue Squadron/Wraith Squadron series can pick up in this new universe. And that Allston finds reason to put Wedge back in the seat of an X-Wing one more time.
Now if only Zahn would come back and expand upon the political change of this book. Bel Iblis, Wedge, and Akabar are interesting characters, and should not be forgotten in the shuffle.

Star By Star (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order)
Star By Star (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order)
by Troy Denning
Edition: Hardcover
154 used & new from $0.01

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic, November 8, 2001
This book covers a lot of ground, but does so with a fast pace. The writer was skilled at keeping the action going and the plot moving. It is the only book in the series that seems to move the series forward in a productive way.
There needs to be a little more unity in how the characters are handled by the various authors in the series though. Jacen Solo, in particular, seems to wildly flip flop from being capable to being a complete panzy. Denning does an excellent job bringing back some old favorites though, like Lando, Wedge, and Bel Iblis. He handles several of Zahn's characters deftly and makes them have more of a purpose than just window dressing. I was also impressed with his portrayal of the main characters. Luke, in particular, is a better character when doing something other than sitting around fretting about the galaxy.
The much ballihood death (which several other reviewers have already irresponsibly spoiled) was an interesting and necessary twist to do some character development in some already bland characters. Unlike Chewie's death, which seemed a silly way to make the new series "edgy", the "death" in this novel projects a spin onto some bland characters and makes them interesting. Conflict causes growth after all. For my own part, the character in question is too important to stay dead. There are several small hints that are given that this is so.
The pacing was sometimes convoluted. One of the sub-plots could have been safely edited out with little loss to the novel and a big improvement to the pacing. The climax comes well before the end of the novel (with said death) and the rest seems drawn out. Ultimately though, the most epic of the bunch and very well done. For my money, the best since Zahn.
The great: Battle Droids, Wedge, Lando, New Tech Improvements (it's been 25 years, new stuff WOULD be happening), Turning to the Darkside, the complete lack of a darkside/lightside conflict in one of the Jedi, mention of Wraith Squadron (if not an appearance), and finally: important stuff actually happens.
The bad: Rogue Squadron usurped by super Jedi Squadrons. Jacen Solo's dual personalities. Silly minor character subplots that do not include really cool minor characters like Wedge and Lando. Kind of missed Kardde.

The Sunless Citadel (Dungeons & Dragons Adventure, 3rd Edition)
The Sunless Citadel (Dungeons & Dragons Adventure, 3rd Edition)
by Bruce R. Cordell
Edition: Paperback
39 used & new from $8.88

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By the numbers..., November 29, 2000
Pretty well put together starter adventure for the 3rd Edition. You have to be careful with your players though, if they are of the "charge in and slay everything" (you KNOW who they are) they will run into some serious problems lest you resort to GM fudging. In a way that's good though, as it forces and encourages a more professional approach to the dungeon (with their new characters).
The first time in my players made several nasty mistakes and ended up fighting at three to one odds. They chose to stay and fight and ended up with a total party wipeout (gotta love the new sorcerers). Well written, with some hooks that are easily avoided for the thinking man's party, this adventure has just enough bite to be challenging and dangerous. All the things D&D should be. It fits nicely into any campaign world and the premise behind the citadel itself is quite good.

Agents of Chaos I: Hero's Trial (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, Book 4)
Agents of Chaos I: Hero's Trial (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, Book 4)
by James Luceno
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
187 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solo is back..., August 3, 2000
Great story. The writer clearly has read every piece of Han Solo fiction ever written (or at least done a good deal of research) and blends Han's past with this new future in a quite believable way. As I understand it, Luceno also helped pen Robotech. I was reluctant to get into the "new" Star Wars books because I felt that besides screwing up his own D&D novels Salvatore had clearly lost his mind when he killed off the Wook. It's impossible to pass up a well written Han Solo story though, and Luceno has presented an excellent (albeit darker) story about our favorite rogue turned hero.
The character actually experiences something of a rebirth while he is forced to deal with the very non-Star Wars real emotion of grief in a very realistic way. While Solo is the focus of the story the author adeptly handles the underlying plot and characters surrounding Han in the story. The space battles, in particular, are above average for Star Wars books. They are so good, in fact, that I kept thinking Luceno would be good candidate to further script the adventures of everyone's second favorite Corelian, Wedge Antilles (provided he hasn't been killed off either).
Han and Luke are handled carefully, but are given a bit of maturity that 25 years would bring them. Solo has the age issue to deal with (much like the actor who played him) and Luke seems to be the Jedi Master in every way. In one bit I could almost detect the writer's question about whether or not to use the Jedi Temple on Coruscant as a local in the book. It would have worked, but only if it isn't destroyed in the other movies. He wisely opted to come as close to that as possible without using the real deal.
In the end, the villians are convincing and the heroes are right on the mark. There is even a deadpan Harrison Ford moment that is taken right out of The Last Crusade. While this is a darker story than standard Star Wars, Luceno certainly has crafted himself a minor masterpiece here. Solo fans unsure of this "new" series ought to check it out. Besides the lack of favorite characters Lando, Wedge, and Talon Kard, this one will have you finishing it faster than Solo could pull off the Kessel Run (and wanting more).

Rogue Planet (Star Wars)
Rogue Planet (Star Wars)
by Greg Bear
Edition: Hardcover
209 used & new from $0.01

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, May 2, 2000
I know some people will be wondering if they should get this book in light of the fact that the movie sucked. I was considering the same myself in the store today and read the first chapter (which is quite long). I must say that the characters were very well written (at least in the first chapter), especially Anakin and Obi-Wan, and the action was very descriptive and had an excellent flowing excitement about it. The inner demons the author hints that Anakin is carrying as a result of the events in the movie are very well done and do not interrupt the action. He also fleshes out a character that can eventually become Darth Vader as opposed to that Disney-Esk Happy Moron who was in the movie. This, along with what I consider dead on characteristics of Obi-Wan help elevate this book above the usual Star Wars. Despite the old question about whether or not Lucas will make this story invalid with Ep 2, I think if the rest of the story is as good as the first chapter it will be fantastic on it's own. The action seems excellent, the settings are described in vivid detail, and the characters are dead on (much more so than the movie). I suggest everyone on the fence (like me) take the time to read the first chapter and then order from Amazon. =-)

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