Game: Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
Rated: E for Everyone
Status: Worth Playing
You can see more about it here.
Zelda’s been around since I was a kid, so it was fun to share it with my almost-kindergartner. She loves the game.
I’ve heard it called Skyrim for Zelda, and that’s not an inaccurate description.
- It’s E for everyone, so the violence is cartoon in nature (think Road Runner or Bugs Bunny).
- Bad Guys – Anything Link kills looks like a monster. These monsters come back alive at the next Blood Moon, so they don’t truly stay dead.
- Not Scary – My daughter can be scared by My Little Pony. There was nothing in this game that truly scared her until we got to Gannon at the end. She would occasionally get frustrated with the puzzles in the game, but that’s okay.
- Puzzles – The puzzles are challenging and thoughtful. Not something DD1 could solve on her own, but it challenged her to come up with ideas as even DH and I weren’t able to solve all of them easily.
- Memories – We all enjoyed collecting “memories” (Link has lost his) and seeing what happened that led up to the post-apocalyptic world you start in. It let us get to see the way Zelda and Link went from an adversarial relationship, to friends, to something much deeper.
- Environment – Environment becomes a factor to consider rather than just a backdrop: skeleton monsters come out of the ground at night, rain makes climbing more difficult, the sun rises and sets, the moon rises and sets, there are phases of the moon, etc. Many of these things actually feature in the gameplay, such as being properly equipped for the freezing mountain temperatures.
- Load Screens– The load screens reasonable in length. Bethesda could learn a few things about this.
- Armor Sets – DD1 loved the fact that Link could change his clothes, and she was very mindful that he didn’t overheat or freeze. These outfits were all upgradable, and really needed to be upgraded as you faced tougher monsters.
- Rewards Worth the Challenge – Some things were always a challenge. Lynells and guardians, for example, are never a cake walk even at end game. You are rewarded for the effort with amazing weapons.
- Gender Roles – It reinforces traditional gender roles. Zelda is the one who can’t master her power. Zelda is the one who falls crying to the ground. Zelda is the one yelled at by her father. Link is the one that has to save her. Blah. I almost didn’t buy the game because of this. Little girls get enough of this garbage without stuff like this reinforcing it. The game was originally going to feature the ability to choose whether you played Zelda or Link as the hero. I hope they release DLC that allows this. It wouldn’t be that difficult of a change. Not really. And it would let little girls see a girl kicking Bokoblin butt. I’ve tried to convince DD1 to think of Link as a girl, but she’s having none of it. Already. This is why not giving girls the option to play a girl is so awful.
- Graphics – Enough said.
- Ending – I won’t spoil the ending, but we were disappointed. Not with the game play, per se, but I wanted the traditional cathartic release you expect at the end of a game. Especially a game this long. I didn’t get it, and I didn’t get to keep playing to finish up all those armor upgrades. Once you defeat Gannon, the whole thing is over even if you haven’t finished exploring. Hoping for a DLC on this where you can have Zelda as a companion and keep investigating the world. Seems wrong to leave the princess in the tower holding Gannon at bay while I explore the expansive world.
- Controls – Unlike Mario Kart that my almost-kindergartener can not only play by herself, but give her father a run for first place, the controls for BOTW (Breath of the Wild) are complex. Even my husband had some issues at times. This was not a game DD1 could play on her own.
- Tedious Upgrades – Some of the clothing upgrades grew tedious. How many times do I really need to camp the dragons to shoot some part of them?
- No Real Story – There main story is pretty sparse, though the memories help. It’s really just: defeat Big Bad or else he will unleash total devastation. No explanation as to why, no character development, not even for Link or Zelda. And there’s clearly a huge opportunity with this with all Zelda has to do to unlock her power. Not even any really good side stories for Link to get involved in as he tries to regain enough strength to defeat Gannon. I suppose this is par for video games, which is really sad. They have the opportunity to do so much more.
All in, if you aren’t worried about the gender stereotypes, it’s well worth a play through.
A bit of a story snippet that came to me when I was on my way to work. I didn’t stop to write it down, but I did remember it all the way home where I did write it down. Wondering if this is the beginning of a new story.
Alex rocked back in his expensive leather chair, the scatter of papers across his desk not enough to hold his attention. Numbers scrawled across the sheets, thousands of them, but Alex knew what they said. Already knew how to turn a profit for himself and his investors on this venture.
Boredom nipped the edges of his thoughts.
He pushed himself out of his chair and stomped toward the door. He knew where boredom led, had followed it there before, and it never brought anything good.
Who is Alex? What are his hopes and fears? More importantly, what trouble has boredom gotten him into in the past? How is he going to escape it?
Is he the hero or the antagonist?
So many more questions than answers!
If this inspires a story for you, please drop me a link to it in the comments.
This popped into my head while I was in the car, and it had enough importance to my brain that I actually remembered it all the way home so I could write it down. Car time and shower time are the two places my brain does most of its thinking. Helping me resolve plot holes in a story, giving me new ideas, or helping me solve world hunger.
Most of them I forget by the time I get to a place that I could write them down.
Looks like this story really wants to be written. Or at least considered.
Have you ever had thoughts come to you in the car? Or maybe the shower? Maybe they were the solutions to problems at work or home? New characters? A new story? Maybe you’re reading something and you suddenly solve the central mystery?
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Author: Jennifer Ashley
This story was a pleasant surprise. The hero, Ian, appears to be autistic in Victorian England. While the son of a Duke, his upbringing was marred by violence and a lack of understanding or compassion.
I know little about autism, but the author seems to have done her research, and she never deviates from the character she creates for Ian. He is not magically healed or suddenly “made right”. He does learn how to love, and the foundation is laid that he’s always had emotions but he struggles with names for them.
His father sends Ian to a private asylum at the age of 12 for reasons that are divulged later in the book. The author does satisfy this curiosity, and I appreciate that.
As a matter of fact, this romance is a combination romance and murder mystery. The author does an artful job of leaving clues throughout the book that culminate in the ending. She handles the fact the heroine is a widow extremely well, not glossing over her first marriage but also leaving room for the heroine to fall in love again.
Ian, after being freed by his eldest brother upon their father’s death, uses his amazing memory and skill with numbers to significantly increase the family’s already massive wealth, helps his brother with treaties and laws, and collects Ming bowls.
In the process of acquiring a Ming bowl, he learns of Beth Ackerly. He decides she’s worthy of saving, like the Ming bowl, and proceeds to tell her truths about her fiancée and propose to her himself.
Beth investigates his claims, finds them to be true, and dumps her fiancée. She goes to Paris and Ian follows her.
This is where the murder mystery really begins, both a current one and one from years before.
I liked the hero a lot. He’s vulnerable and yet can be very much the alpha male. This, in the hands of a lesser author, is a recipe for disaster. I thought Jennifer Ashley handled it very well.
The heroine I also liked, but a bit less so. She was feisty and beautiful. While she came from the gutters, she’s cconfident, smart and now very rich. She is actually the one that solves the murder mystery.
I also appreciate that while there was love-at-first-sight, the heroine also considers the issue of lust. Rather than giving in, she takes some time away. Of course more hijinks ensue, but I liked that she didn’t just fall into the hero’s arms.
All in, I was engaged throughout the story. I liked the mystery elements. They kept things going and kept the romance interesting.
The characters all stayed true to themselves throughout the book, and I appreciate that most of all
Title: I Spy a Duke
Author: Erica Monroe
I was super excited by the premise of this book. It’s something I haven’t read before. Action. Romance. Spies. Sadly, the execution didn’t live up to the premise.
The Duke of Abermont, James, is a spymaster for the English Crown. The book opens with his sister dying after being tortured when she was caught by another spy. Gruesome opening to a romance novel. Would’ve probably been better to learn about that through the story itself so I cared more about the sister. Would’ve been easy to do as the next scene is James drinking on the anniversary of his sister’s death.
James is recently Duke as his father has just died. James is your typical brooding, powerful hero. Physically perfect and a deadly spy in his own right. Spymaster and Duke, oh my.
Vivien Loren’s brother was murdered, and the bow street runners didn’t bother with finding who killed him. She wants revenge and is willing to do anything to get it. Even bury logic and rationality.
For some reason, she believes a mysterious stranger who says he’ll tell her who murdered her brother. All she has to do is help him prove James is financing a revolution in France. She agrees. *eye roll*
Why would Sauveterre, clearly a French name, choose to appear French? Especially when he really is. Why would Vivien go along with it? Vengeance may be a powerful motive, but it’s clearly paired with blindness and stupidity. Not the traits that make a heroine particularly appealing.
The position of governess to James’s five-year-old brother has recently opened and it’s one of the first open positions in James’ household in years. Why would Sauveterre risk this with an unknown asset? Why not a French spy? Or at least a known quantity?
Vivien takes the position as governess, and lo and behold, is unable to find anything. Shocking! You sent an untrained innocent after someone you suspected was a spymaster. *eye roll*
So after 6 months in their employ, she finds James drinking to his sister’s death. Vivien joins him and drinks to her brother’s.
And just like that, James is in love with her and suddenly does a complete character reversal. For a man who’s promised to do everything in his power to serve crown and country, he is amazingly ready to throw it all away for a woman he barely knows. Especially as he’s vowed to never lose another agent after his sister.
And he fell in love with her after knowing her all of 10 minutes.
And James still loves her even after she reveals she was working for Sauveterre when Sauveterre threatens her life after she’s been unable to find anything.
He doesn’t kill her or turn her in. Because he loves her.
There is almost no interaction between them after drinking to dead loved ones to her revelation that she’s been working for the French. But our born and raised spymaster still loves her. After one drink…
Not only does James not deal with her as you’d expect from a spymaster, but he then proposes marriage to her. What?!? A shared glass of brandy, her bandaging his hand and talking about their dead siblings for 10 minutes and he’s in love…with someone that was spying on him.?!? Albeit she was spying badly, but still she was spying for the French.
He overcomes his sisters’ reticence to this highly scandalous marriage (she’s his brother’s governess). We have some narrative filler, they get married.
Then he tells her the truth about him as they head out to a safe house so he can train her to be a spy. Except, maybe she won’t want to be…more fluff and filler. There is no real tension between them, there is no real romance, and there are no real obstacles.
She just has to wrap her brain around his being a spy. Governess to duchess and now to being a spy herself…
We see him work with her, train with her, teach her self defense.
Somehow Sauveterre finds the safe house. How is never revealed. This was supposed to be the super safest of safe houses…Never did figure out why Sauveterre knew James would take her there, either. Sauveterre makes some comments about it all being part of his plan… Apparently, he knew James was stupid enough to marry her, wait, no he didn’t, because he admits that too…
Battle scene and then happily ever after ending with Vivian becoming a spy in 3 months. Um, yeah. Sure.
How to make it 5 stars
The author needs to be true to James. How he can forgive the heroine and risk his entire organization for her, I don’t understand. I also don’t see him falling in love so quickly.
Might have been better to give Vivian some knowledge from her dead brother she doesn’t know she has. That’s why the French spy wants her. Except he wants her alive to torture the information from her.
Now we fall back on James wanting to protect her, keep an innocent safe (rather than a woman who ignored reason and worked for a French spy) while he tries to figure out what she knows that’s useful to the French. Gives a reason to keep the characters together and gives them time to fall in love.
We need more romantic tension. The love between them needs to grow rather than just poof into existence.
Also, the villain needs more. Why would he be so foolish one moment by bringing in an outsider to a difficult and sensitive job, then the next moment be able to find the safest of English safe houses?
Author also needs to tidy up things. Such as in one scene James telling Vivien not to leave the house for fear of Sauveterre, then the next sending her into town so James can talk to his sisters.
Mariah Avix again posed a great question. What hero flaws are generally “okay” and don’t turn me off as a reader.
Thinking through this made me realize that in many, many novels I’ve read, the heroes don’t have too many flaws. As I think through these books, and the heroes I’ve liked, here are some of the flaws I’ve seen that worked for the character without making me dislike the character:
Demanding. Setting extremely high standards for themselves and those around them, sometimes too high.
- In Finders Keepers, the Captain was known for being extremely difficult and held his crew up to the same high standards he held himself to.
- I’ve seen this is several other books, such as the The Bride. He takes responsibility for his entire Clan, keeping peace, etc.
Bucking Society. This one usually works when something perceived as appropriate by historical society differs with today’s views. For example:
- A hero that spends most of his time with his wife and family rather than away from them. (Most Regency)
- A hero that accepts being considered crazy because he married for love and still loves his wife. (Accidentally Compromising the Duke)
- A hero that dances with his wife to the exclusion of all others.(Accidentally Compromising the Duke)
- A society that forces a woman who was raped to be shunned and viewed as a “soiled dove” (The Study of Seduction).
Interestingly, I recently read Loving a Lost Lord and the Madness of Ian Mackenzie (book reviews are coming, I promise!). I rated both of these books very high. The first dealt with a duke whose father was English and whose mother was Indian. This was a central issue of the book although it was mostly glossed over. This was treated as a “flaw” for the historical time frame, with the heroine loving him without regard to his heritage. The second had an autistic hero. The author did an amazing job with the hero, keeping him powerful, brilliant and in control. Yet, he clearly had flaws. Such as being unable to meet people’s eyes, shunning large groups, and being unable to lie.
Ruthless. Granted, this tends to be a trait the hero has to put aside for the heroine. It always makes me a little uneasy as I am not a fan of the “being saved by a good woman’s love” trope. But ruthlessness can really work. I am in the middle of reading Marrying Winterbourne, and he is most assuredly ruthless. You see ruthless heroes in Stephanie Laurens’ work as well.
Selfishness. No great examples of this in recent fiction I’ve read, but Han Solo always comes to mind. Granted, he overcomes it by Return of the Jedi. Character arc?
Arrogant. Thinking of Darcy here in Pride and Prejudice. Again, he gets over himself somewhat by the end, but that’s the point of a character arc, right?
I’m sure there are more. What do you all think? What character flaws can a character have or grow out of that you can still find them a good hero?