I Swear By Jupiter’s Cock!

I’ve been reading my first Ramsey Campbell book – Creatures Of The Pool – and after hearing so much praise for him my initial impressions are decidely mixed.  I’m a third of the way into the book and an overwhelming majority of it has been a history and geography lesson of Liverpool.  I’m a big believer in setting but this is going overboard. At this point, very little has been revealed about any of the characters and beyond the story noting how damp everything is, very little of the story itself has yet to be revealed.   I’m probably making a fool of myself at this point with my initial reaction given Campbell’s reputation.  Or maybe I just chose the wrong book to start with.

On the flip side, when I want a fun and quick read I find myself turning to Jim Butcher’s – Dresden Files series.  The book series came to my attention after the short lived TV series. Butcher writes the Dresden books in engagingly dry manner that harkens back to those old hard boiled detective noir style stories and has mixed it with wizardry, magic, and the supernatural.  Harry Dresden is a very sympathetic character who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and never seems to get a break.  Harry has a great sense of humor which leavens up the grist mill of obstacles and tribulations Butcher puts his poor protagonist through.

If the title of this post rings a bell for you then chances are you too are a viewer of the StarZ series – Spartacus.  The show is in its last season and has followed the story of Spartacus’s capture into Roman slavery, his rise in the gladiatorial arena, and the Slave Revolt he has led against the Romans.  In the final season, which is four episodes in, Julius Caesar himself has been summoned to deal with the ever growing rebellion.

Spartacus

After a first season shaky start in the first four episodes – exacerbated by the show’s signature battle scenes that are very reminiscent of the 300 movie’s slomo bloodfests – the series has crafted a complex and intricately plotted story that constantly presents characters with life and death decisions from which very few walk away alive.  The body count is high and favored characters fall with a degree of regularity that tops that of The Walking Dead.  The difference between Spartacus and The Walking Dead is that with Spartacus, character deaths consistently illicit emotional responses from both sides of the spectrum depending on where your character loyalties lie.

This is a very adult show.  Blood, limbs, heads – cloven whole or in half, and gore flow freely.  So does wine and bodily fluids.  Spartacus is an equal opportunity show – full female and male nudity, yes including that of the frontal variety – are often on display in all the possible configurations and gender pairings possible.  These were violent times and Spartacus captures it all whether it be in the arena, on the battleground, or behind closed doors of a master’s estate. 

Further props have to be given to the cast who undergo a rigorous physical regime to maintain and project the musculature of warriors.  These actors, in very physical roles, then must master many weapon types with swords the most common choice.  The physical aspects of the show are then married with modern technology to create battle scenes that, for my money, surpass most things seen on the much more lauded Game of Thrones.  Another show which I enjoy watching.

Spartacus is a great show that deserves far more acclaim than it has garnered to date.  This is a harsh, gritty world where the characters live and die hard. Check it out. Highly recommended.

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On a writing front I put together a piece of micro fiction and sent it off today.  The deadline is mid-March so it was great to get that one under my belt. Especially since it is my first dribble of fiction writing in ages.

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