Tag Archive: book

I’ll be Damned…

The last time many gamers saw the bald man with the barcode on the back of his head, Agent 47 and Diana Burnwood had taken down the Franchise in Hitman: Blood Money and things looked to be getting back to normal (well, as normal as they get for the world’s greatest assassin). When we begin Hitman: Absolution, however, things are far more different than we remembered, as 47 has a new handler and his new target is the previously mentioned Ms. Burnwood.

Although some of the pieces of this initial puzzle come together as you play Absolution, there are a lot of unanswered questions in regards to just what transpired between Blood Money and Absolution. Thus, we have Hitman: Damnation, a prequel novel by Raymond Benson (best known for having written several official James Bond novels) that reveals Diana’s fall from grace, introduces and fleshes out key Absoltuon characters like Birdie, Benjamin Travis, and his assistant Jade, and just what brings Agent 47 back into the ICA’s folds.

After Burnwood leaves 47 to die in the Himalayan mountains in the middle of a contract and drops off the grid, everyone’s favorite bald assassin finds himself drifting through life after recovering from yet another near-death experience. Wishing to leave the ICA behind, 47 survives on simple hits for various drug lords and other unsavory types. After all, old habits die a lot harder than most of 47’s targets.

It isn’t long before the newly reformed ICA wishes to reacquire their greatest asset, though, and with the promise of finding Diana and figuring out why she left him, 47 accepts being brought back into the ICA ranks. Wishing to see if 47 still has it, the ICA wants to test the hitman before sending him after Burnwood, should they be able to follow up on their guarantee of finding her. But what starts off as your run-of-the-mill political assassination quickly turns into a conspiracy of global proportions that will push 47’s bio-enhanced skills to their limits.

Considering how much I, like much of the EGM staff, enjoyed Hitman: Absolution, I relished the chance to see several of the blanks in the game’s backstory filled in. Benson shows off his Hitman chops almost right off the bat by how he easily allows readers to jump into the head of the near-emotionless assassin. Although 47’s internal dialogue and Benson’s narration can sometimes blend together a bit too much, getting a better feel for his motivations throughout this book really helped me enjoy what IO Interactive did with the game. This chapter in the Hitman franchise is easily the deepest slice of personality we’ve ever gotten from the cold-blooded killer.

Damnation isn’t just about deepening the character of 47, though. The book may get off to a bit of a slow start, but there’s more than enough action here to keep fans interested, as Benson beautifully describes several hits in stunning, meticulous detail. For the last 100 pages or so, I couldn’t put Damnation down as it ramped up to a thrilling, action-packed conclusion. Throw in some dynamic and interesting villains and I can’t see anyone who enjoys the Hitman games not enjoying this read. This book is more than worth the price ($9.99) considering how much enjoyment Hitman fans will get from its 300 pages. Damnation would make a great stocking stuffer or wishlist addition if you have a huge Hitman fan in your household.

SCORE: 8.5

Every adventure begins with the first step and ever since fans of the franchise Fable took those first steps eight years ago, they’ve been clamoring for each subsequent chapter since. And Fable: The Journey is bound to be no exception. But to help possibly satiate fans a little while longer before its October release, a prequel book titled Fable: Edge of the World has been released to help bridge the time gap that takes place between each Fable game.

Written by New York Times bestselling author Christie Golden, who is more than accustomed to writing in the world of geekdom with several Star Wars, Star Trek, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft books already to her credit, Fable: Edge of the World provides unique challenges because as it follows the hero of Fable III ten years into his reign, she is shaping the world around decisions many of us may not have made. This disconnect to the main character immediately left a sour taste in my mouth, but I somehow found a way to push onward.

The book’s basic premise is that the legendary land of Samarkand, best known to Fable fans for where Reaver and Garth ventured to after Fable II, has been overrun by the shadowy forces that threatened Albion in Fable III. The king and his trusted aides must now meet this threat head-on before it spreads unchecked as new and old villains alike rear their heads to cause trouble for the entire kingdom while the king is off in a faraway land.

Now, I understand that the entire premise of the book is to simply provide set-up for the upcoming game, but I couldn’t help but feel cheated after reading this book because the story felt wholly incomplete. That there was almost no feeling of resolution whatsoever and after spending all this time introducing new characters and changing what was actually the story of my personal Fable, I was left twiddling my thumbs, staring at the back of the book as if another 50 pages would magically appear to finish what Golden started here.

This was nothing more than a 250-page tease that instead of holding me over until October, has driven me into a mad Fable-frenzy as I need to play Fable: The Journey now to know how the story ends, or at least continues. In terms of selling games, this is actually a brilliant maneuver. In terms of just being an avid fantasy reader though, this blatant attempt at playing off my consumerism is infuriating.

This does give me a glimmer of hope at least for the story of Fable: The Journey though in terms of providing an interesting and compelling tale that fleshes out the myths and legends of Albion, as well as making sure that we will all have a new and interesting adventure on our hands as the idea of exploring Samarkand in a game has me very excited indeed. Of course, this is just speculation from the book as the only times the character of Gabriel, your protagonist in Fable: The Journey, is even mentioned is in the Prologue and Epilogue, but with half the book taking place there and it having been referenced several times over in previous Fable titles, it only makes sense that we would visit there at some point and that something big is being set up.

Despite the potential opportunities for adventure this book may hint at though in the October game, as a read in and of itself, I found Fable: Edge of the World very unenjoyable. Considering Fable is an adventure game that revolves around choice and this book takes very little of what you have done before into consideration, I can’t recommend this at all. Maybe next time they should do a ‘choose your own adventure’ book? Do yourselves a favor, steer clear, and make the choice that when this book hits your local bookstores today to not pick it up.

SCORE: 3.0

Why AC/DC Matters

Originally Published: October 21, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com) and Lundberg.me

Anthony Bozza is a 4-time NY Times Bestselling Author and a former writer/editor for Rolling Stone magazine. So when Anthony says he’s written a book titled Why AC/DC Matters, explaining why AC/DC is probably the greatest rock band of all-time, you should probably think about taking a look at it.

Being a die-hard AC/DC fan myself, it wasn’t a stretch for me to agree with Anthony’s assessment. After reading the book, I invited him to come by the 1050 studios to talk about what made him want to write Why AC/DC Matters and what he thinks the future may hold for the greatest rock band of all-time.

Why AC/DC Matters with Anthony Bozza and Ray Carsillo
Video by Jared Bodden

Why AC/DC Matters by Anthony Bozza is available now wherever books are sold and for more information about Anthony or any of his upcoming projects, you can check him out at his personal website www.anthonybozza.net.

-Ray Carsillo

Interview with a Vampire Writer

Originally Published: June 12, 2009, for 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

Being a true geek to my very core, it is easy to understand why I am a fan of most everything that Guillermo del Toro does. He is easily one of the premiere special effects and costume design experts in the film industry and his directorial work speaks countless volumes about the depth of his creativity. Add to that his Oscar for Pan’s Labyrinth and his résumé speaks for itself.

It was for these reasons that when it was announced that he was releasing a vampire novel, what would be the first in a trilogy, that I had to jump all over it. Already a New York Times bestseller, The Strain is a thrilling read that is everything a vampire novel should be.

I was given the rare opportunity to sit down with this visionary media emblem and talk about everything from his inspirations for the book to how his work on The Hobbit is coming to the possibility of a third Hellboy movie. Check out the interview below!

Ray Carsillo with Guillermo del Toro
Video by Jared Bodden

Originally Published: May 28, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (ESPNNewYork.com), Collider.com, and Lundberg.me

Normally literature doesn’t fall into my realm of reviews, but when the director of the Oscar winning film Pan’s Labyrinth and the comic book movies Hellboy 1 and 2 says he’s written a vampire novel, you reconsider. Guillermo del Toro, the premiere modern guru of visual effects, teamed with accomplished fiction writer Chuck Hogan, and they have released the first in a trilogy of thriller novels.

The first book in The Strain Trilogy, aptly titled The Strain, sets the stage by playing on the fears of the modern age mixed with classic figures from horror’s lengthy mythology.

A plane suddenly dies on the runway after a perfect flight overseas and landing at JFK airport. After the plane is pried open since it was locked from the inside, and almost all of the passengers are found dead, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is called in and the head of their early response “Canary” team, Dr. Eph Goodweather, is baffled by the strange findings in the plane. After examining the situation, he is left with a feeling of dread that chills him to the bone as he tries to implement his scientific methods to a situation that clearly does not follow the rules of modern science.

Meanwhile, on the Upper East Side, a pawnbroker from the old world realizes that there is an even older evil at work and it is a race against time to contain this ancient force before it spreads outside the city limits.

As events unfold to bring these unusual allies together to contain this viral invasion of immense implications, other forces behind the scenes begin to work against them in the hopes of seeing a grander plot come to fruition.

The Strain is a tremendous, thrilling read. I had to keep putting the book down after every few pages because I was so creeped out by the amazingly descriptive passages. If you can work up the courage to finish the book, you’ll be clamoring for the second and third installment of this trilogy in no time.

This story will redefine how you look at vampires; del Toro mixes science and mythology like some mad chemist. Bela Lugosi doesn’t hold a candle to the vampires depicted in this book. There are a few clichés thrown in as well which probably comes from del Toro’s previous vampire works (he directed Blade II) like a “day walker” or “chosen one” they refer to as “Sun Hunter”, but aside from these necessary stereotypes for the vampire novel, this is an experience unto itself.

This will especially appeal to anyone from or familiar with New York City. The story carries you from JFK Airport to the Bronx and Queens to Vesey St. down in Tribeca or the very heart of Times Square. The thought of vampires emerging in these familiar settings, ready to prey on unsuspecting tourists (although I wouldn’t mind a few less tourists in the area) as the lights of Broadway flash over their pale, almost transparent flesh is a terrific mental image. Even if you are a stranger to New York City, del Toro and Hogan paint such a vibrant picture with their words that it shouldn’t take away from this phenomenal read.

With the culture flooded with media that aggrandizes these classic horror figures (Twilight and True Blood just to name a couple), it was refreshing to see someone represent vampires in the way they were meant to: scaring us into leaving a light on at night. If you like a good thrill and aren’t apt to nightmares (and even if you are), The Strain is a must read for any horror fan.

The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, will be on bookshelves this coming Tuesday, June 2nd. If you want a little bit more information on the book, be sure to check out The Strain’s website by

-Ray Carsillo