Ten Minutes Past Teatime – a review


This is the first post written with my new ‘one-handed’ keyboard – well, smaller than my UK-bought one so easier to use when my left-hand cramps and claws. Just need to adapt to its idiosyncrasies.

On to my review of a short story that a writer I follow sent her subscribers.

Ten Minutes Past Teatime

by

Elizabeth Chatsworth (Goodreads Author)

Please note, this is a short story/novelette.

A Victorian spinster-scientist and a Viking shield-maiden find passion and danger in dark-age Ireland.

1896: Forty-three-year-old scientist Miss Minerva Minett is determined to become the first female member of an exclusive inventor’s club. To win their annual membership competition, she invents a time-traveling submersible, and launches her vessel into the Irish sea for a quick trip to the dark ages. But when she sinks a Viking longship, accidentally joins a monastery raid, and falls into the arms of a grizzled shield-maiden, she discovers that time may not be on her side.

Review 4.3 stars

This entertaining steampunk short story had me amused and entertained as forty-three-year-old Victorian scientist Miss Minerva Minett attempted to become the first female member of an exclusive inventor’s club, by launching her time-traveling submersible into the Irish sea for a quick trip to the dark ages.

From the amusing opening through her encounter with the grizzled shield-maiden, Alfhild to the twist at the end, I chuckled at the inventive mind of Minerva and her creator.

The experiments and inventions were as memorable as the characters, including the one that delivered the twist at the end. Being steampunk, I expected alternative history, so I won’t over-judge the authenticity beyond wondering about some oddities such as a misplaced dragon-head.   

The romance between Alfhild and Minerva is a bonus with neat contrasts across cultures and time. And with a name like Minerva, there had to be goddess references.

Alfhild was the true goddess, not she. Or maybe they both were?

It was a thesis she would have to explore in more detail. For the sake of science.

But the humour is always there.

Minerva cocked her head. Surely, she didn’t hear the word goldfish in the chorus? “ . . . Minerva’s Magic Goldfish. Answers every sailor’s wish . . .” Oh, dear.

A fun read, although short.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – four stars

Characters – five stars

Authenticity – three stars

Structure – four stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – four stars

V is for Vindictus

V

 

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: Vindictus is an action-dungeon-crawling hack & slash MMORPG, and a prequel to the popular MMORPG Mabinogi, so the game is known as Mabinogi: Heroes in Asia.

Release Date: KOR: 2010-01-21; NA: 2010-10-13; EU: 2011-10-05; JP: 2011-11-30; TW: 2011-12-23; AU: 2012-11-15; THA: 2015-12-02.

Developer: devCAT; Publisher: Nexon

Genre/gameplay mechanics: FTP with shop/paywall; fast-paced combat, cloth physics, and the ability to weaponize objects in the environment; players choose one of twelve gender-locked characters, each of which has different combat skills and abilities; crafting; customizable & enchantable gear; dungeon quests.

Setting: Vindictus takes place in the same Celtic-themed setting used in Mabinogi, but is placed chronologically several hundred years prior to the first game during a period of war and strife. Semi-anime fantasy world with a few historical references.

Storytelling: Straightforward. “A malevolent force shrouds the land and monsters terrorize the last bastions of humanity. All seems lost and yet one hope remains: you.” Loosely based on Celtic Mythology, the goddess Morrighan has promised that all who aid in the killing of the Formor (the enemies of the land) will go to the promised land, Erinn, the land of Paradise. The story uses a mix of traditional dialogue accompanied by still images of character portraits, along with fully animated cutscenes during certain quests and missions. Some of the quests, characters and the chapters/updates are influenced by other genres, like steampunk.

NOTE: Formoroi appear in several video games, including my K game, King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame, where the Formorians appear as antagonists.

Formats: Microsoft Windows

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 2004 – Nexon released the fantasy-anime MMORPG Mabinogi. Although the name of the game is taken from the Mabinogion, a Welsh anthology of legend and some names are Welsh, the settings for the game are loosely based on Irish mythology.
  2. 12-13th centuries – The Mabinogion, compiled in Middle Welsh, covers a collection of eleven prose stories of widely different types. There is a classic hero quest, “Culhwch and Olwen“; the historic legend in “Lludd and Llefelys” glimpses a far-off age, and other tales portray a very different King Arthur from the later popular versions. The highly sophisticated complexity of the Four Branches of the Mabinogidefies categorisation.
  3. 11th century – Lebor Gabála Érenn(The Book of the Taking of Ireland) is a collection of poems and prose narratives that purports to be a history of Ireland and the Irish from the creation of the world to the Middle Ages. It tells of a series of invasions or “takings” of Ireland by a succession of peoples, the fifth of whom was the people known as the Tuatha Dé Danann (“Peoples of the Goddess Danu”), who were believed to have inhabited the island before the arrival of the Gaels, or Milesians. They faced opposition from their enemies, the Fomorians, led by Balor of the Evil Eye. Balor was eventually slain by Lug Lámfada (Lug of the Long Arm) at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. With the arrival of the Gaels, the Tuatha Dé Danann retired underground to become the fairy people of later myth and legend.
  4. 11th century – The Fomorians are a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They are often portrayed as hostile and monstrous beings who come from the sea or underground. Later, they were portrayed as giants and sea raiders. However, their relationship with the Tuatha Dé Danann is complex and some of their members intermarry and have children. It has also been suggested that the Fomorians derive from an older group of gods who were displaced by a newer group. The Fomorians have thus been likened to the jötnar of Norse mythology.
  5. 7th – 8th centuries – The Morrígan‘s earliest narrative appearances, in which she is depicted as an individual, are in stories of the Ulster Cycle, where she has an ambiguous relationship with the hero Cú Chulainn. The Morrígan was a tripartite battle goddess of the Celts of Ancient Ireland. She was known as the Morrígan, but the different sections she was divided into were also referred to as NemainMacha, and Badb, with each representing different aspects of combat.

Vindictus01

Recommendation: Vindictus was nominated for best MMO at E3 2010 that was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 14 to 17. IGN awarded Vindictus Best Free-to-Play MMO Game of 2010. Metacritic gave a score of 76 averaged from 6 critics. In their 2010 review, MMORPG.com gave it 8/10, while users gave it 7.8.

3.5 Stars: Vindictus is one of those games that failed to pull me in, although the combat with the ability to pick up and use ‘the environment’ was cool. However, the game felt repetitive and the storyline felt shallow compared with other games. The game controls were not intuitive, or clear, and the basic functional NPC interaction was dull. The game feels dated and, for me, lacks a reason to reach the end.

  1. Setting: 3.25*
  2. Storyline: 3.5*
  3. Gameplay: 3*
  4. Entertainment: 3*
  5. Genesis: 4.75*

Alternative ‘V’ thoughts:

V is also for Vikings as in the TV show and in the 1958 Richard Fleischer movie – and in other media. Yes, there is even a game, Viking: Battle for Asgard that I haven’t had the urge to play. Instead, I gave you a post on Hellblade that tangled with Norse Mythology, and another on LOTRO with its Northern European and Anglo-Saxon roots.

 

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

1066 Turned Upside Down – a review

 

As I am now writing an alternative history based on “what if the Vikings had settled permanently In North America”, I delayed reading this superb collection until I’d done more research and written my first draft. I was pleased to see some of my thoughts echoed and to discover how real historical writers craft their tales.

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1066 Turned Upside Down

by Joanna CourtneyHelen HollickAnnie WhiteheadAnna BelfrageAlison MortonCarol McGrathEliza RedgoldG.K. Holloway, Richard Dee

Ever wondered what might have happened if William the Conqueror had been beaten at Hastings? Or if Harald Hardrada had won at Stamford Bridge? Or if Edward the Confessor had died with an heir ready to take his place? Then here is the perfect set of stories for you. ‘1066 Turned Upside Down’ explores a variety of ways in which the momentous year of 1066 could have played out differently.

Written by nine well-known authors to celebrate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the stories will take you on a journey through the wonderful ‘what ifs’ of England’s most famous year in history.

 

REVIEW *****

As a history addict, I’ve been fascinated by alternative histories for decades so when I saw this collection was being released, I had to read it. However, I delayed delving into this until my own alternative history had evolved. I was not disappointed with any of these tales as they all took different approaches and in their own styles.

In most cases, the characters were based on the historical records, although those sometimes disagree so there was room for subtle variations – as well as believable fictional creations. Sometimes the background characters in the historical panorama have the most interesting tale to tell. As I’m part-British, I kept rooting for Harold and disliked William so cheered when the Normans were thwarted by their enemies.

However, I must admit to having a Viking bias so my favourite tale was Joanna Courtney’s ‘Emperor of the North’ about King Harold Hardrada, closely followed by Anna Belfrage’s ‘The Danish Crutch’ – never discount a ‘cripple’ (or else I’ll run you over with my wheelchair). But there were moments when I laughed as well as cried, and all the stories had me nodding with enjoyment and reading avidly. There is even an amusing and clever science fiction/time travel spin in Richard Dee’s ‘If You Changed One Thing’, and I must mention Alison Morton’s ‘A Roman Intervenes’ when her own alternative Roma Nova world impacts on events.

The collection is assembled in such a way that between the ‘alternatives’ are the related facts as they happened, as far as historians and archaeologists know – which still leaves room for these experienced writers’ imaginations. After each tale, there are interesting points of discussion to make the reader pursue the thoughts raised.

With all these writers’ credits, I now have a list of books to keep me historically entertained for months – if I don’t just keep re-reading this collection of five-star tales.