Category Archives: Books

6 Thoughts on Star Wars Alphabet Squadron (Review)

Let’s talk some Star Wars! Specifically, let’s talk about the series of novels about Alphabet Squadron, the hip new starfighter squadron that’s roaring into our hopes and dreams. Even more specifically, let’s talk about how Alphabet Squadron is definitely not a replacement for the classic Rogue and Wraith squadron books of my youth.

Book Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

This might be my first ever book review on Henchman-4-Hire. I haven’t read any real novels or books for many years. But I’ve decided to pick it up again during the pandemic. Since Star Wars Expanded Universe novels were one of my favorites as a teen, I decided to scratch that itch once again with Alphabet Squadron, the first of three planned novels set in the new Disney continuity. Could it live up to my fond memories of the original X-Wing novels, a concept this new series was clearly trying to copy?

No, it could not. But I read it anyway and now I’m going to give you my thoughts on the Star Wars novel Alphabet Squadron! Join me after the jump for my review. Expect FULL SPOILERS for Alphabet Squadron.

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Star Wars is Doing a New Thing Called The High Republic

Now that the Skywalker Saga is over, Star Wars is apparently going to really take off! They’ve just announced something called The High Republic, which is going to be a new publishing surge set a thousand or so years before the regular Star Wars stuff.

Personally, I’ve never cared much for the Old Republic era. It’s just not for me. I know there are lightsabers and whatnot, but that isn’t enough! Granted, I stopped reading Star Wars novels a bunch of years ago, so maybe The High Republic isn’t for me anyway.

But hey, perhaps it’s for you, and therefore I’m glad to let you know!

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The Witcher TV Show and the Steven Universe TV Movie Look Great!

Finally we arrive at some Comic-Con trailers I actually care about! First up is The Witcher TV show coming to Netflix. Like most people, I am a huge fan of The Witcher video games, with The Witcher 3 being one of the greatest, most in-depth I have ever played. But the show is going to be based on the books, which I have no tread.

At least Henry Cavill looks better in motion than he did in the early photographs. This show could have all the goodness!

Next up is a Steven Universe made-for-TV movie, which looks awesome! And it delivers the one thing I want most from Steven Universe: letting him grow up. Steven is a such a great character that it annoys me that he was forced to stay kid-like. They had an episode explaining that his body just didn’t age like a normal person. That is so weird and lame.

Steven is a character that I want to see grow up. Steven’s growing maturity was the best part of the show, and I want that taken to normal, natural levels. But if you go much further, he’ll be an adult in a weird kid body, and that’s just weird. Movie trailer looks good, though.

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The One Thing That Bugs Me The Most About Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald

I didn’t like Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald. I love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as much as the next person, and I relatively enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie. But the new sequel is baloney. It’s a hodgepodge of conflicting and confusing subplots, all attempting to pad out a movie that’s really only concerned with setting up the rest of the franchise.

But there’s one thing that really, really bugged me about the new film: the casual use of the killing curse.

Killing Curse 04

Spoilers: Bellatrix kills Sirius

I’m not going to spoil anything in the movie, at least nothing important. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the acolytes of the criminal Grindewald, among others, use the killing curse. It’s just how they use it that really annoys me, and how I feel it contradicts established Harry Potter canon.

Honestly, a lot of things in The Crimes of Grindelwald contradict Harry Potter canon. And as someone who enjoys the pedantry of Harry Potter canon, the detail that JK Rowling put into the Wizarding World, a lot of this really bugged me.

But what really sticks in my craw about the new movie is how casually the wizards flick their wands and administer Avada Kedavra, the killing curse.

Killing Curse 03

Spoilers: Lucius kills nobody

In the books and the original films, we’re taught that Avada Kedavra is one of the three Unforgivable Curses. It’s a big freaking deal. We’re also taught that casting spells without shouting the incantation is a powerful magic that takes years of study. And I feel that it was heavily implied that you couldn’t just cast off Avada Kedavra without using the incantation.

You’ve got to really mean it when you cast Avada Kedavra. You’ve got to put your whole damn soul behind it. Even powerful wizards like Lucius Malfoy, Severus Snape and Vodlemort himself have to speak or shout the incantation out loud to cast it.

Killing Curse 01

Spoilers: Voldemort kills Grindelwald

But in the film, wizards can casually stroll into a room, flick their wrists and people die.

The most egregious example, the one that really grinds my gears, involved an Auror, ostensibly one of the good guys. This Auror is standing there, wand down, when he’s startled by someone at his side. He quickly turns half around, barely raises his wand, says nothing, and a little plume of green magic comes out and the person at his side is dead. It goes that quickly and that simply.

Are Aurors just flinging around the killing curse all willy nilly? Does it really not take that much effort?

Granted, the film takes place in 1927, and the Harry Potter movies don’t happen until the 1990s. Maybe stuff like this is why the Unforgivable Curses were so established in the first place. But it always felt like those were old magical rules.

Perhaps all this casual killing, by good guys and bad guys alike, led to some new magical rules. Still bugs me though.

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I Finally Know My Place in the Wizarding World

At 33-years-old, the inevitable has finally happened: I’ve been sorted into my proper Potterverse house. Like everybody else on the planet, I thought I’d be sorted into one of the four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But that doesn’t make any sense. I’m not British.

Fortunately, writer J.K. Rowling introduced last year the wizarding school in America: the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And on her Pottermore website yesterday, she finally wrote in the history and origins of this mysterious, magical school in Massachusetts.

Most importantly, she introduced the houses of Ilvermorny and the Sorting Ceremony!

The full story of Ilvermorny is kind of neat, and you can read it all at that link. It involves several orphans, an evil witch and the wand of Salazar Slytherin himself! Cool stuff. And coolest of all, the founder of Ilvermorny came to America on the Mayflower with the Pilgrims, and my own ancestors came to America on the Mayflower! So I have history in my blood.

If you stick around at Pottermore, you can take the quiz to find out in which house you belong. When I first joined Pottermore, I was sorted into Gryffindor, which is fine. It’s not realistic, but it was fine. Now, however, I know the truth. I was sorted at Ilvermorny and I am…

A Horned Serpent!

Horned Serpent Pride!

Horned Serpent Pride!

I will wear this designation with pride, until the end of my days. Also, my wand is 12 1/2-inches long, made from Laurel wood and has a Dragon heartstring core. Good times all around.

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