Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles series explores the birth of Camelot and the rise of King Arthur, though steeped in the history of the last of the Roman legions in Britain. The Skystone is the first book in the nine-book series, and follows the adventures of Publius Varrus, an officer in one of the legions stationed in Britain, and Arthur’s grandfather. Varrus is also a blacksmith, and is instrumental in rethinking his soldier’s ways of fighting from foot soldiers to mounted cavalry, paving the way for both the knights of Camelot, and the legendary sword Excalibur.
The Skystone brings a fascinating period of history to life, while intertwining legend and stories. For lovers of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles series, Whyte’s storytelling style brings a great balance of historical detail, while also taking creative license with the story and characters to create a very plausible foundation for the legends of King Arthur.
I first read The Skystone several years ago, and only recently rediscovered these novels. Upon my return to the series, realized that I had only ever read the first two books. I’m now well on my way through book four (The Saxon Shore), and would highly recommend the series to anyone looking for either a realistic fantasy series, or a less-rigid historical fiction! Whyte leaves out the magic that is often present in Arthurian legends, and focuses more on how the actions of individuals can create legends.
You can borrow The Skystonehere, or view the whole Camulod Chronicles series here.
If you are curious about other Arthurian legends and stories, you can explore all of KPL’s items relating to King Arthur here.
- Joseph, Information Services
What We're Watching
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
When this game first came out, I was unsure what to make of it. The Legend of Zelda games had been the same for my entire life. They followed a formula. Sure, it was predictable, but it worked. It wasn’t broken, so why fix it? Shortly after starting the game, I remembered that just because something had always worked did not mean it couldn’t be improved.
Breath of the Wild is a game that breathes new life into the Zelda franchise. Many of the aspects we know and love are still there – the hero, the princess, the Ganon, the moblins, the Master Sword, Koroks – and many more. The basic premise is still the same as in its predecessors, but this game takes everything further. The open world concept means you can go everywhere. I have yet to run into an invisible wall. If you can see it, you can go there. Moreover, you can play the game in any order you want to. You can even go straight to the big final boss right at the beginning of the game if you want. Your tree branch and three hearts might not be enough for you to win, but you can certainly try. The freedom is both fun and overwhelming – it can be hard to know what to do next. There is a quest log that can help keep you on track when you aren’t sure where to go. There is also a lot more choice in the weapons Link can use. The fact that the weapons break after so much use can be a little frustrating, but it wasn’t as hard as I feared to find new ones. It definitely helps to play strategically and use the map markers so you know where to find equipment if you ever run out. It also helps to expand as many weapon and shield slots as you can, although this does mean running around looking for a lot of hidden Koroks. A lot. (You don’t have to find ALL of them, but there are 900 hidden throughout the game.)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful game. The graphics and landscapes are gorgeous, with an amazing amount of detail put into the animation. As always, the soundtrack is epic and the story and gameplay have a blend of comforting old familiars and exciting new discoveries. Long time Zelda fans and RPG lovers alike will find a lot to love about this new addition to the Legend of Zelda series.
Thor: Ragnarok is out to critical acclaim! If you're like me, you may feel lost in the sea of Marvel films that seem to grow larger every other week. I saw Thor: Ragnarok on a whim with some friends, expecting it to feel very much like the last few installments of the Avengers-centric Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beyond pleasantly surprised, I had found a new entry for my top ten favourite films. What made this film so refreshingly different? The answer lies in the film's director, Taika Waititi.
A New Zealand native, Taika is a director, screenwriter, actor and comedian, whose work has won critical acclaim the world over. His 2010 film Boy remains the highest-earning New Zealand film. Hunt for the Wilderpeople in 2016 won fourteen awards at international film festivals, and in 2014, What We Do In The Shadows, a vampire parody mockumentary film borne out of a short film project, garnered twenty-five. Several spin-offs of What We Do In the Shadows are now in the works. A pilot for a television series version of the show is in the works, as is a second show based on the police officers who appeared in the film called Wellington Paranormal. A film sequel centered around the werewolf pack from the movie called, in the tongue-in-cheek nature of the original film, We're Wolves has also been announced.
Taika's directorial style is one of lighthearted fun, exploration and improvisation. Chris Hemsworth, who plays the titular character of the Norse god of thunder Thor, has stated that Taika's set was not only a great deal of fun to be on, but that he helped breathe new life into a character Hemsworth was beginning to grow a little weary of portraying.
Taika, who also played the character of Korg in Thor: Ragnarok, has several new projects in the works. Apart from the What We Do In The Shadows spin-offs, he is set to write, direct and star in a film called Jojo Rabbit, as well as playing the lead in upcoming film Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss By Passing Through the Gateway Chosen By the Holy Storsh.
To borrow the unique, touching and hilarious films of Taika Waititi, click here.
- Cassidy, Information Services
In the Community
Outsider Art Show
On Sunday, April 8th from 12-3 PM, stop by Kitchener City Hall to support local artists who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness. Organized by the community awareness group Homeless in Waterloo in partnership with oneROOF, the exhibit will display one-of-a-kind, original artworks by talented individuals from KW. Admission is pay-what-you-can or donation of a needed item. Art will be available for purchase through a silent auction and all proceeds will go to the artists. This charitable afternoon is not only a good way to view unique art, it’s also a great opportunity to learn more about homelessness in our region. To learn more about needed items, please click here. For more information about the event, please contact email@example.com.
- Julie, Information Services
Book to Movie
Flowers For Algernon
by Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon, written by Daniel Keyes, tells the story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally-challenged adult man. Charlie is chosen to be the first human to undergo an experimental surgery that will “make him smarter”. The effects of the procedure exceed all expectations and he becomes a super-genius. However, when the animal test subject, a mouse named Algernon, regresses back to its original state, Charlie must apply his new-found intelligence to prevent himself from suffering the same fate. The story was made into a movie called Charly. I saw the movie first, actually many years ago, and just read the book recently.
Charlie is told to keep a journal of all his thoughts and feelings, and the book is written as a collection of these journal entries. This style is an excellent vehicle to show Charlie’s progress as his intelligence grows. It also makes the book a relatively easy one to read, the three-hundred-plus pages fly by. One drawback I found though: the story is only told from Charlie’s point of view, so there are no objective accounts of the changes he goes through. Normally the strength of a book compared to a film is that there can be much more description and back story. In this case, I found that a lot of the detail didn’t add to the story much. I feel the heart of this tale isn’t Charlie’s miraculous change, but rather his facing of the potential return to what he was. And the big advantage film has over prose is in full effect here: one look and two words carry a hundred times more emotional weight than a dozen pages in the book.