November 19, 2016

Yuletide 2016: Fantasy Gift Ideas


I wanted to upload this post pre-Black Friday.

As a geeky blogger, I’ve got some ideas to share with you, which may help your shopping. I understand my blog may have been a bit quiet lately, and when I do post, it’s about books. There will be books here, and other things. But all things geeky that most people will probably love.


So here are some general geeky things I recommend to gift this season!
HARRY POTTER
With Fantastic Beasts now out, the 'mania' seems to have taken off again. While Tolkien will always be my #1 fandom, I'm kicking things off with Harry Potter / Wizarding World first, seeing how things in that fandom have been the most 'active' lately.




Of course, I need to mention the books first and foremost! Like most other books, they exist in various formats and editions. The editions I am recommending, feature artwork by Jonny Duddle. They are the most recent editions, and therefore, the easiest to find because of that. I myself own the hardback box set featuring the black dustjackets, and feature a more 'serious' tone in design and style.

The image above is the paperback boxed set, with the ISBN of 9781408856772 .



The set also exists in hardback, with the ISBN of 9781408856789 .

Finally, there is also illustrated editions by Jim Kay, which feature full page colour illustration pretty much all throughout. So far, only Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets have been released, though it looks like one every so months will be on the way.



There is also the 8 film collection on blu-ray, which is the entire Harry Potter film series in one set. The packaging will remind you of some TV shows that have come out on DVD / blu-ray.

TOLKIEN
Where else to recommend Tolkien other than the beginning of it all? As you may have seen throughout my blog, I've recommended certain editions and formats over the course of time. For gifting, however, I have the perfect edition in mind to start anyone's Tolkien collection



The ISBN for this great edition is 9780007458424. It's a standard paperback, offering nothing too special. Sizewise and design wise, it'll fit well in any library, as well as match most paperback editions of the other Tolkien books; which is great if the person wants to start their Tolkien collection and get other titles (namely The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.)

The opening chapter art is quite nice, as is the cover as you can see. This edition will be included in my 'starter pack' as long as it keeps being printed, and I have people to gift The Hobbit to. 


I also highly recommend the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings on blu-ray. It's the best way to watch the best versions of these movies.


There is also the extended edition of The Hobbit trilogy, which matches The Lord of the Rings one. These versions of the films are much better than the inferior theatrical editions, especially in the case of Part 3, which had a pretty terrible theatrical edition. Sure, the idea of The Hobbit being 3 films is questionable, and the idea that each of those 3 gets an extended edition even more so but with qualms and minor issues, I'll still take the extended trilogy over the theatrical, as they provide a better viewing experience, and feature a cut trilogy-wide arc: that of Thorin's father. 

Both trilogies complement each other quite well, and they match, too. This is the ideal way of owning all 6 movies, is these 2 separate boxed sets.

HIS DARK MATERIALS


Possibly better known as "The Golden Compass Trilogy", these are great tales, and should be read by those that enjoyed Tolkien and Harry Potter. Sadly, the movie wasn't too too good, and kinda flopped. Such is the way of 'don't judge a book by its movie.' This has been described as the "anti-Narnia."

The edition pictured above, is the one I recommend: the ISBN is 9781841593425. It's all 3 books in one phyiscal book (an omnibus, if you will) by the excellent "Everyman's Library." It's a hardback volume, and features extra content at the end of each book known as "Lantern Slides." There also exists a paperback edition, for those who don't like hardbacks. The ISBN for that one is: 9780375847226.

I recommend His Dark Materials to anyone who likes Harry Potter, and / or Tolkien. It didn't "take off" like the other two I mentioned have recently, but don't shy away from these stories because of that.

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE / GAME OF THRONES


I of course also recommend the Ice and Fire books (pictured above) by George R.R. martin, as well as the seasons of Game of Thrones (which is based on the books) on blu-ray. There are two more books to come: The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Potentially an 8th, only if the page count for book 7 runs too high.

Now, lately each book has taken about 3-5 years to come out (and no wonder, as these books aren't thin), so hopefully it won't be too much of a long wait for the next book, The Winds of Winter, but expect about 5-7 years for the final book. Lots of time to catch up, though if you'd rather wait for the series to be finished before jumping in, that's understood. There's also a prequel set about 80-100 years before book 1 starts called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms which I recommend if the giftee owns the 5 books that are out at this moment. Here's hoping that Martin is able to complete both the main series, and the rest of these prequels. Seven Kingdoms collects 3 stories in its own book, and I can see another 2-3 of those types of collections coming. [please note that some of the larger books are split into 2 smaller books in some countries / by some publishers. This was done to make reading them easier, and maintaining the same level of quality on the printing side of things series-wide.]

For the HBO series, Game of Thrones, unless I'm misinformed, it'll be ending in 2018. HBO releases excellent blu-rays of their shows, and Game of Thrones is no exception. You get all the episodes (of course) plus some great bonus material.

MALAZAN

Finally, for the book recommendations there's the Malazan series. the main series complete. The author is also writing a prequel trilogy, with book 3 the next one to come out.

I've yet to read these myself, but I can recommend them in confidence to fantasy fans. I've heard nothing but great things about this series, and that it features possibly the best world-building since Tolkien. Gardens of the Moon is the name of the first of the series, and Forge of Darkness is the first of three prequels.


SKYRIM (SPECIAL EDITION)


Moving on to video games, the game I'd highly recommend is Skyrim (Special Edition). Now, I ONLY recommend the Special Edition to console players. PC gamers, stick with the original. Why's that? While I don't use mods myself, the modding situation is better with the original, and there some texture updates (both official and unofficial) to improve the games' graphics. That said, is it worth it switching over the HD remastered special edition? That's a judgement cal. I'm personally happy with the original game and Bethseda's HD texture pack. If texture packs didn't exist, then I'd recommend PC gamers opt for the Special Edition.

But, if there are PS4 / XBONE gamers out there that have never played Skyrim? To those I recommend the Special Edition. It's an HD remastering of Skyrim, and includes all the content released for the original game. Not sure when Elder Scrolls VI is coming, but this remaster should keep you entertained for dozens of hours until then.

Last, but certainly not least, is the NES Classic. I'm recommending it despite Nintendo and their shortages. This is a real treat, as it includes 30 games pre-loaded on it, and one controller. You won't be able to add or play any ore than those 30, FYI. You should also pick up a separate controller for 'player 2'. The only downside is the length of the controller cord. However, since you'll be using that 'reset' button a lot, maybe Nintendo wants you close to the console. Anyway, due that issue, I'll most likely use this with my laptop.

The graphics / rendering looks much better and vibrant than the NES games downloaded off of the Virtual Console on the wii / wii u / 3DS. Be patient, and don't buy from scalpers, there a few 'waves' of these coming. Nintendo never said this was a limited edition item, so just because it may be sold out, does not mean that it will be forever.

I would like to see other consoles re-released by Nintendo under this 'classic' banner. Super Nintendo for sure, though hopefully the N64 and perhaps even Gamecube may follow suit someday.

So those are my ideas to help you shop either for someone, or for yourself. Hope you enjoyed, and happy shopping! Christmas isn't (only) about the gifts....though I do admit I love the feeling of finding the perfect gift for someone. Hopefully this post (or others) have sparked that feeling in you.

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