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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Reading a good novel is a relaxing and fun activity. I would say it’s a form of escape but that isn’t how I like to think of books. For me, they are more like a quick holiday from reality. In the numerous worlds of historical fiction, you can escape into something completely new, different or maybe somewhere you know quite a bit about and are glad to revisit. For me, that would be Ancient Rome. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction based around Rome. But the great thing is that each novel you read presents a different interpretation of a place, so you are always experiencing something new. Here is a list of some of the best selling historical novels which I think deserve to be in the top 10.

10. The Great Gatsby

As I’ve reviewed The Great Gatsby before, follow this link to have a more detailed look at the novel. The Great Gatsby really is that great because it combines a highly engaging plot with a commentary on its historical setting. Life and luxury in early 20th Century America are criticised throughout the novel. This combination of a critical analysis of the historical context and an exciting storyline are what historical fiction is (or at least should be) all about. Here’s a video from the recent Great Gatsby film trailer.

9. The Alexander Trilogy

Valerio Massimo Manfreidi’s trilogy about the life of Alexander the Great is a good read for people young and old. I first read the Alexander books as a young teenager, and found them thoroughly enjoyable. Manfreidi writes the narrative to Alexander’s life from start to finish from a very human perspective. Myth, history and a well-spun story are all combined in this three part historical fiction novel.

8. Pompeii

Pompeii is a great book for readers with an interest in archaeology, Roman history or the fiction genre as a whole. This work of historical fiction focuses on the time before and during the eruption of Vesuvius which buried the town of Pompeii for hundreds of years. The plot is based around the mystery of a failed aqueduct, drawing the reader in before the dramatic ending. The below picture is the true location of one of the most dramatic events in the book, you can’t get closer to history than Pompeii.

Real life location of an event from the historical fiction book Pompeii, interior of an aqueduct

Attilius and Corelia’s point of entry to the aqueduct

7. The D’Artagnan Romances

7.1 The Man in the Iron Mask

This is one of those historical fiction books which has all of the right ingredients. It is also my favourite story from the D’Artagnan Romances. Historical setting, romance, engrossing plot, well-developed characters and the mystery of the historical event upon which the novel is based all make this a true classic of the historical fiction genre.

7.2 The Three Musketeers

Second out of the D’Artagnan Romances only due to the brilliance of the above, The Three Musketeers is a great historical fiction book. 17th Century France is brought to life in D’Artagnan’s writing, once you start reading it you won’t be able to put it down. Below, some funny scenes and quotes from the 1993 film.

6. Atonement

Young love, loss, betrayal and war are all merged into a single plot in Atonement. Happily, they mix well in this novel which is a very recent addition to the historical fiction classics. The book takes you from one perspective, time and location to another, never being what you think it is and refusing to end how you want it to. But the author is right on this occasion, the story becomes far more poignant in not giving the reader a conventional romantic ending. The final scene of the film here. And below, you can see moving pictures of Keira Knightley!

5. The Other Boleyn Girl

If you came here looking for women in bodices and men in tights, I’m sorry to have disappointed you so far, but this is the post for you. Another of those historical fiction books in which Henry VIII gropes innumerable female courtiers, this novel has characters you will love and others you will hate. The Other Boleyn Girl has become extremely popular and deserves a place at no. 5.

4. The Pillars of the Earth

Life in Medieval England was pretty hard, and The Pillars of the Earth reflects this harsh reality. Politics, romance and religion fuel the action-packed plot. Read this and you will become engrossed in the lives of each character as they attempt to carve out a place for themselves in feudal society. Another extremely successful book in the historical fiction genre, a great TV series has also been based on the novel.

3. The Aubrey/Maturin Novels or Master and Commander Series

The Napoleonic Wars are a constant source of inspiration for historical fiction writers, as you will see further down the list. The plot of this series of novels flows along to the thunder of cannons and crashing waves of the ocean. It encompasses a near-perfect balance of character development and naval action. Nautical terms are used frequently, but do not worry too much about it because you find yourself picking them up surprisingly quickly. A trailer from the Master and Commander film below.

2. I, Claudius

In the introduction I talked about Ancient Rome. I, Claudius is certainly the best book of the Roman historical fiction genre, and no.2 out of all historical fiction novels. The life of Emperor Claudius is related from his perspective, including all of the nasty behaviour of his predecessors. A book which pulls no punches and leaves no gaps unfilled, this is a true literary classic.

1. War and Peace

I’ve written a blog review of War and Peace before, which can be found here, so I will try to keep this short. In this book Tolstoy takes us to 19th Century Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. Great battles are fought, romances are kindled and lives are cut short. This is the best work of historical fiction that I have read thus far. Watch this clip from the film to get an idea of the book’s epic scale and harsh realism.

What is your favourite historical fiction book  or author? Let us know by leaving a comment 🙂

Joe Malpas

What is an Open World Video Game?

Open world games are a genre of video game which do not rely as heavily on mission-based gameplay as other games. You are free to explore the game’s environment in a variety of ways, completing side-missions, mini-missions or simply interacting with scenery and characters. One of the biggest producers of open world video games is Rockstar Games. To give an idea of the open element of these games, here is a compilation of clips from GTA 4 gameplay.

1. Saints Row 3 – An Open World must-have

You want freedom? Saints Row The Third gives you freedom and then some. You have a range of activities to choose from including driving cars, fast boats and soaring through the sky in a fighter jet. The latest Saints Row game has really improved on almost all aspects of gameplay. One thing we really enjoyed was the heavy injection of insanity which the developers gave to this game. Watch the video below and you’ll see what we mean.

2. GTA 4 – Driving Down the Open World Road

I know not everyone will agree with me, but driving is what makes the GTA games great for me. Vehicles let you get around open world environments quickly, and modern driving mechanics make it as much fun as any other part of the game. See below for a high-speed car chase video from the game.

3. Red Dead Redemption – An Eco-friendly Open World Poem

Imagine for a moment an epic poem about nature and frontier life. Now imagine you get to ride around those idyllic landscapes on a wild steed, firing revolvers from the hip as you gunsling your way through an engrossing storyline. That is Red Dead Redemption, a good open world game made great by the environment and stories within it.

Soon to come…

According to the natural progression of the video game, this open world game should be jumping to the top of this list soon. It’s GTA 5 and you can find our news and review of it here.

What are your top open world games? Follow or comment and let us know!

Joe Malpas

Shogun 2 Total War is a game about the rise and fall of the Japanese Samurai. We recently published a list of our Top 10 Best Martial Arts Films, so staying on the topic of martial Japan we bring you a Shogun 2 Review. Interesting to note is the fact that Total War will be releasing another sequel game, Rome 2 Total War later this year.

The history behind Shogun 2

Find below a clip from the film 13 Assassins. The film gives a good idea of what Shogun 2 is about… Samurai warriors fighting in feudal Japan. We here at Negau watched it only recently, otherwise it might have made it into the Top 10. Feudal Japan was ruled by an emperor, through the military power of the Shogun. The campaign map is split between numerous historical factions, each led by a daimyo.

What is the Shogun 2 Gameplay Like?

Here’s a video that will show you one of the biggest differences between Shogun 2 Total War and its predecessors. The sieges are far more complex, with the AI often encircling your fortress and attacking from multiple directions. Armies can also penetrate defences by climbing walls, burning gatehouses or using artillery.

What is the Best Element of Shogun 2?

Our favourite part of Shogun 2 is in The Fall of the Samurai expansion, which includes the option to fire artillery in first-person. You can adjust the height of the artillery piece, fire a round and watch as it soars towards your foes and finally explodes among them.

Where can you buy Shogun 2?

You can grab your own copy of this game at the major retailers: http://www.amazon.co.uk/pc-video-games/dp/B003PJ6C96 , http://www.game.co.uk/en/shogun-total-war-2-49082 , http://store.steampowered.com/app/201270/

Other articles you might enjoy: Napoleon Total War Review, Rome 2 Total War News, Top 10 Best Martial Arts Films, Napoleonic Wars a Brief History

 

Joe Malpas

Bruce lee

10. Kagemusha

A samurai film with an emotional plot. A nobody is hired as a double for one of the most powerful samurai warlords in Japan, Takeda Shingen. However, when Takeda dies, how long will it take before his enemies and allies figure out the double’s true identity?

9. Red Cliff

This is a must-see martial arts film for anyone with an interest in China’s Three Kingdom’s period or fans of the Dynasty Warriors series. The armies of Xu and Wu desperately try to hold back Cao Cao’s imperial army and navy. Battles on epic scales and engrossing characters.

8. Kill Bill: Vol. 2

The sequel to Kill Bill: Vol. 1, this is a fine example of how well the genre of martial arts films mixes with revenge-based scripts. But does the sequel ever live up to the standards of its predecessor? In this case, probably not. But here’s a video of how to stop a heart with one hand!

7. Kill Bill: Vol. 1

This film beats its sequel by quite a margin. One of the modern martial arts film greats, Uma Thurman is more than just eye-candy, wielding a katana like a pro. Here’s the famous scene where she takes down 88 bad guys in a fight.

6. Ip Man 2

Another sequel which very nearly holds its own with the original Ip Man. This martial arts epic only missed out on being in the top 3 due to the number of near-perfect movies clamouring for the top spot.

5. House of Flying Daggers

The House of Flying Daggers film is one of the best choreographed movies we’ve seen. Stunning scenery and breathtaking fight scenes ensure that it has earned this spot at Number 5 on the Top 10 list. To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here’s our pic of best clip.

4. Hero

Number 4, for an awe inspiring combination of fantastic scenery and dynamic fights, all woven into an incredible plot, check out Hero. Here is the final scene, which was just too good to leave out!

3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Another oldie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a must-see for martial arts films enthusiasts. Memorable scenes involving running up walls (in a more-believable-than-The-Matrix) kind of way and through treetops combined with a riveting plot secure this old-time favourite a spot at Number 3. Watch the video below for some really fast-paced action showing what a girl can really do with a sword (couldn’t keep up eh, Kill Bill?).

2. Ip Man

Number 2 and the first Ip Man film, the story still gets me. A tale of China under Japanese occupation and one man’s fight against oppression. Ip Man moves hands and feet faster than the human eye can follow in this hit epic martial arts film. Otherwise, I’ll let the following video speak for itself.

1. Fist of Fury

The best out of all martial arts films. Bruce Lee plays the part of a young man looking to take revenge on his sensei’s murderers in this 1970s film. The best scene in the film is the final segment when Bruce Lee forces his way through his enemy’s compound with a storm of kicks, punches and blocks.

What’s your Top 10? Leave a comment below letting us know your opinions 🙂

Joe Malpas, you can also find Negau on Blogger

http://www.tvbanter.net/2013/02/ncis-quiz.html

NCIS News – Cote De Pablo


It has been confirmed that NCIS actress Cote De Pablo (pictured far right) will not be returning to NCIS as a regular for its eleventh season. Cote De Pablo portrays ex-Mossad officer Ziva David, a member of Gibbs’ team of naval criminal investigators at NCIS. Confirmation that Cote De Pablo is leaving NCIS came from CBS and the actress herself. However, we are happy to report that Cote De Pablo will be appearing in a number of episodes in order to wrap up Ziva David’s storyline. We’re hoping that Cote De Pablo’s continued appearance on NCIS will allow for a satisfactory conclusion to her character’s storyline.

 

What is NCIS?


NCIS is a long-running crime drama on CBS which follows the lives of a team of criminal investigators. The main characters in NCIS investigate crimes committed by or carried out against members of the US Navy. The team is comprised of four government agents, supported by other members of the NCIS agency.

 

NCIS Cast list


Character – Portrayed by

Leyroy Jethro Gibbs – Mark Harmon

Anthony Dinozzo – Michael Weatherly

Abby Sciuto – Pauley Perrette

Dr. Donald Mallard – David McCallum

Timothy McGee – Sean Murray

Ziva David – Cote De Pablo

Jimmy Palmer – Brian Dietzen

Leon Vance – Rocky Carroll

Jenny Shephard – Lauren Holly

Caitlin Todd – Sasha Alexander

T. C. Fornell – Joe Spano

 

NCIS Review


Why is NCIS so good? Perhaps the best quality of the NCIS series is its continuity. Having been an avid viewer since the first series, I can attest that the show has provided a consistent level of quality acting and unique plots. Crime dramas can often run into difficulty as they are forced to repeat crimes or produce similar episodes, thus becoming repetitive and losing the audience’s affection. However, NCIS has managed to keep its episodes thoughtful and unique. These plots, well acted make NCIS a great show and it will be a shame to see Cote De Pablo leave the Ziva David character behind.

 

NCIS official site: http://www.cbs.com/shows/ncis/ and IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0364845/

 

Other articles you might enjoy: What not to do on the tubeWar and Peace book reviewFreelance Writing OnlineThe US gun laws debateGTA 5The Great Gatsby

 

Joe Malpas

http://comicsbeat.com/iron-man-hour-hannah-meets-the-mechanic-in-iron-man-3/

 

Iron Man 3 Review

 

Iron Man, super rich playboy Tony stark, Marvel super hero. His story summed up in three movies, each easy and fun to watch. Now, while most films that put out sequel after sequel, each progressively worse than the next. Iron man breaks this trend. The third film managed to be much better than the second in my eyes, especially as it wasn’t a crappy attempt to fill in a story with an inane plot. In fact, it was funny, engaging and a good end to the set.

 

To summarise without ruining a perfectly good film, this final movie doesn’t skimp out on the emotional or psychological aspects, but has all the awesome action we expect and love. This may sound a bit odd, why do we need to know so much about this? But this managed to convey so much more than just “Oh no, its so hard being Iron Man!!”. While i so desperately wished to dislike it, I found myself chatting and enthusing about all the funny moments,  it’s really worth a watch.


Is There An Iron Man 3 Game?


There is an Iron Man 3 game for Android and Google Play. This is the official Iron Man 3 game, and has received almost entirely positive reviews. The game is in fact set after the events of the Iron Man 3 film, when Tony Stark has become a peacekeeper figure. One of the best-looking features of the Iron Man 3 game is the Stark Industries element. This involves researching and developing suits from the Iron Man films. You can use suits such as the Mark II, Mark 42 and Silver Centurion, which sounds pretty awesome to us!

 

Download the game here: Iron Man 3 Official Game


What Is The Iron Man 3 Soundtrack?


Several Iron Man 3 soundtracks feature in the film. Most memorable for us was ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’ by Eiffel 65. Blue (Da Ba Dee) plays at the beginning of the film as Tony Stark (Iron Man) attends a New Year’s Eve party in 1999 Switzerland. Since watching the Iron Man 3 film, we have downloaded Blue (Da Ba Dee) from iTunes and found it to be a great track to listen to. Other Iron Man 3 Soundtracks: ‘Mambo No. 5’ by Lou Bega, ‘Jingle Bells’ by James Pierpont, ‘Santa Claus Is Back In Town’ by Dwight Yoakam, and others (see below for download link).

 

Download Iron Man 3 soundtracks by following these links: Blue (Da Ba Dee)Iron Man 3 Soundtrack


Are There Any Good Iron Man 3 Quotes?


There are some really great quotes in the Iron Man 3 film. In fact, you could probably just recite the entire film as one great quote! We’ve had to leave some out but here’s a list of what we think are the best quotes from Iron Man 3:

 

-The Mandarin, “I’m gonna offer you a choice: do you want an empty life, or a meaningful death?”

 

-Aldrich Killian, “The early bird gets the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.”

 

-Tony Stark, “A wise man once said: we make our own demons.”

 

-Hogan, “When I told people I was Iron Man’s bodyguard, they laughed at me! I had to quit to save whatever dignity I had left!”

 

-The Mandarin, “Chinese fortune cookies. They look Chinese. They sound Chinese. But they’re actually American. which is why they’re hollow, full of lies, and leave a bad taste in the mouth.”

 

Alina and Joe (Happily watching films to tell you what we think!)

 

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Link


What is Napoleon Total War about?


The Napoleon Total War game is set during the Napoleonic Wars. You play the game on two levels: the campaign map and battle map. On the campaign map you control regions, cities, towns, navies, armies and agents. You also control the government of your faction, including tax rates and ministers. On the battle map you controls units of soldiers or ships as your army or navy tries to defeat the enemy.

Link

 

 

Napoleon Total War – Napoleon’s Campaigns


Napoleon’s Campaigns features a few of Napoleon Bonaparte’s most dramatic campaigns. These include the Italian Campaign, Egyptian Campaign, Europe and finally the Battle of Waterloo. These campaigns are great fun for Total War veterans and novices alike. The Napoleonic French armies benefit from the massed fire of their cannon batteries, hard-hitting bayonet charges from infantry columns and some superb light cavalry who fire their carbines from horseback. You also get to take on all of the major players of the period such as Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Prussia and the Ottoman Empire, as well as some interesting smaller nations.

Link

 

 

Napoleon Total War – Campaigns of the Coalition


This aspect of the game lets you take control of a leading faction in the coalition against Napoleon, Great Britain, Austria, Russia or Prussia, and lead their armies against the Napoleonic threat. You can sail the powerful navy of Great Britain against the combined fleets of France and Spain in a recreation of the Battle of Trafalgar, defend to the last man the aged empire of Austria in epic set-piece land battles, drag horse and cannon across the steppes of Russia to lend much-needed aid to your allies, or turn the tide against Bonaparte with the Prussian infantry – the best drilled and equipped infantry in Europe.

Link

 

 

Napoleon Total War – Napoleon’s Battles


You can also take a leading role in one the major battles of the Napoleonic Wars. These can be played at varying difficulties but each provides unique tactical or logistical challenges to the would-be Emperor of the French.

Link

 

 

Napoleon Total War – The Peninsular Campaign


A new update/expansion for Napoleon Total War, this introduces lots of new elements to all levels of the gameplay. The Peninsular Campaign is set in Spain and Portugal during Spanish resistance to French occupation which took place during the late stages of the Napoleonic Wars. Choose to play as either the Spanish, French or British as they struggle for control of the Iberian Peninsula. New agents are available on the campaign map, allowing you to convert enemy settlements’ populations. Guerilla tactics also play a large part on all levels, as you lay ambushes with you armies on the campaign map and set traps with a few guerilla units in the midst of a battle.

Link

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Joe Malpas

 

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